Friday, November 27, 2009

Fitness Experts Advise to Eat Snickers?? Cookie Dilemma!

European Minimize Waste Week is almost over, and I've been feeling very guilty for not doing more. Well, hopefully next year. Ideally, I'd send articles or at least a press release to Slovenian media, but I just didn't know what to write. The waste issue in Slovenia just seems soo CHAOTIC!

Do I tell people the bad truth about recycling, or do I try to encourage them to recycle anyway? (It's probably better to recycle WELL - wash/clean the recyclables etc - than not at all, as DIRTY and moldy recyclables definitely don't get recycled. I do understand people who say, 'But it's not recycled then' because in some cases it really isn't - if the stuff is too dirty or they don't have a buyer. So, what to say?)
I wanted to get a 'list' of what is really recycled and what isn't, it seems not so easy to get by, and these things seem to change. As in any market it's about 'demand'. So, what to do? Any ideas?
I wanted to get together with another 'expert' on this, and it just hasn't been possible yet. Big dilemmas, yeah!

Also, my backache flared up again.
(Word of advice: if you see your backache appears after a changed monitor set-up, change it back as soon as possible and don't hope your body gets used to it!! And stay away from cookies!:)
My back got all better after 2 days away from the computer and some lovely company, and then it went worse again!

At least I'm being pretty much zero waste about the backache. I don't believe in pills or medicines (except when REALLY needed). Instead, I'm staying away from all cookies and sweets (again) and also - just in case, from gluten/flour and milk.
Also took a lovely walk today (these are imperative for my back's wellbeing too!) and it's already WAY better!

I'm afraid I haven't been able to stay away from cookies in the house, or offered at charity 'do's' - so no idea how to solve the Sis dilemma.
She started going to fitness and bought a bunch of 'trash'! (Her words!) Basically chocolate bars etc. She says the fitness instructor told her to eat them!! (Then explained he said it's better if she doesn't eat too big breakfast and eats an energy bar after fitness training, like Snickers because it has peanuts and thus more protein.)

I couldn't believe it!!

These bars don't even have a 'green dot'!! (They're 'supermarket brand' with metallicized plastic foil and would probably just go to incinerator anyway!! Even if they DID have a green dot or whatever.)

Sis said she bought them cause 'there was nothing at home' - and 'anything would be okay', muffins or cookies or whatever..

I'm afraid to bake for fear my backache would flare up again..
Do you have a secret recipe how to stay away from cookies/yummy sweets that are in the house/freezer?
Sis wants to lose weight, so the whole thing seems highly unethical - but it's better to have DIY zero waste cookies than store-bought trash?!!

Maybe just bake 1x/month and freeze? (And she takes them out as she needs them?)
She'd have cookies every week if she could, possibly every day, but I couldn't stay away from them if they'd be outside in the kitchen, and possibly my backache would flare again?

Baking just a few doesn't seem very energy-friendly, so probably best to freeze baked ones. Are they even any good, out of the freezer directly?
(I've frozen muffins before, they were inedible even before the freezing, but Dad still ate them! Sometimes my relatives amaze me!)
And yes, I can bake edible cookies, but usually there are none left to freeze! :)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

European Minimize Waste Week! How to Green a Charity and a Church?

It's the European MINIMIZE waste week, and since it's my not-so-eco sister's birthday this week and she said 'Noo, no zero waste week, it's my birthday!!' I decided to work on the community efforts. So far I've:

- been to a really cool charity concert and afterparty and nagged everyone about collecting plastic bottles separately afterwards, when cleaning up ('It's the European minimize waste week!' lol - people were nodding, one said her son gathered 30 kg of tins/Coca Cola cans and then got only 3 Euro for it! Which really is a crying shame! She said her husband makes them recycle, and I was very happy to hear it! Some others were not-so-green, and too much plastic and aluminum foil was used for leftover cookies and meats and such, stuff for stars and everyone to carry home etc - hope by next year we'll find better options? I mean, some boxes people brought cookies in remained empty - why not use those again?)

- got a bag and collected some plastic bottles separately (there were two big bags with mixed waste aready!) It was a 'they can't stop me' moment lol! Best way to do something like this is to just do it.
I was a bit shy at first, and shocked everything was in mixed bags, as they have 'being eco' in their 'legislation', and since there are mostly older women there, but well, the European minimize waste week gave me the extra energy needed! :)
Next year ideally I or Mum would be there before anyone started, and would put big labels on bags or boxes: PAPER, PLASTIC BOTTLES, organic stuff for compost, etc.
- fished some plastic bottles out of other bags
- saved some pretty little glass bottles of fate worse than the worst (there has been a really COOL suggestion of using them for art workshops for kiddies, to paint as vases, as they were prettily shaped; & ultimately they were taken by a lady to be filled with yummy tomato sauce!!)
- came to clean up next day and the bags were gone! (some are too hardworking! Yikes!)
- found the bags, set them aside to pick up with the car later - then they were gone again! At least our intentions were good, next year I must put them in the car before anyone can do anything evil with them!

- avoided the polka dancing
- talked to a major Slovenian pop star (YAY he's cute live!)
(didn't dare to talk about trash as there wasn't enough time, maybe next year?;)
I realized too late that the minimize trash week could be advertised on stage!

- inspected the priest's compost (apparently he has one!)
But why is trash NOT collected separately in the church coffee club, and old veggies are put in with the rest??
- talked to the priest about when to talk (next week!:)
Our priest is great and is head of the scouts who are very eco, but he likes Coca Cola and sweets like my sister!! :( So, I'm not sure how it will all go?
I hope at least the scouts would be interested in some eco actions? :)
Like giving cloth bags to people in front of supermarkets... Any good ideas for other eco actions?

- suggested cloth diapers to a local women's shelter boss lady (okay, Mum did! She brought it up herself, after I talked to her about it in the spring!)
The boss lady was somewhat shocked, and said other things were more important at the time, we're not taking it as a final no and are going to look for cloth diapers online! (Then if the moms want to buy own plastic diapers they can buy them with own money, or they can use the cloth for free? At least that was the idea.)

- networked with some really cool people (and got invited to sing at a local choir - am still contemplating it!:)
- sort of managed to change my biorhythm and get up EARLY!
Was online VERY little or not at all in the past two days, so saving electricity!:)

- checked out a local sweet shop and saw some ways they could minimize waste!
(shocked the sales assistant by not wanting ANY packaging - neither paper wrapping or paper bag - 'I'll eat it here', I said and grabbed it! Shocking, I know!;)

So, small, tiny things.. hope it'll snowball into something bigger!! :)
And I'd love to have a zero waste presentation for the charity in forseeable future! (They're keen to get supporters and want to get more young people 'in' soo...? ;)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Eco Elvis Saves World From Plastic Bags! :)



Found at the awesome yert blog!

Blurb from their site: CHECK IT OUT!!
"Your Environmental Road Trip (YERT.com) is a year-long eco-expedition through all 50 United States. With video camera in hand and tongue in cheek, Mark, Ben, and Julie explore the landscape of America's unique approach to environmental sustainability." LOVE 'EM!! Awesome trailer!!

And they went (almost) zero waste ON THE ROAD from one excellent & inspiring (or plain weird;) eco project to another! Making soo little trash!!

Check out old archives - WOW, this is waay better than TV!!
From museums made of trash - to interviewing Indians!! Awesome!

Can't wait to see the movie!!

They're visiting California now, so if you're from Cali, check 'em out!!

I can especially relate cause Julie gets backache from bad eco news too!! :(
Good luck Eco Elvis is here to save the day!! :)

I wonder who the baby will look like!! :)

PS Beware of elk burgers.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Falling Leaves for Yummy Compost! :)

Sorry I wasn't posting last week - had a bunch of posts planned, and still need to get some pics (of 'final products' he he..) and was kinda busy... (and my SD card is full /sigh/ Not sure if it's very eco to buy a new one? Or how to store and back up pics and little films safely in a zero waste way?)

So, let's see.

On Monday Dad and I took a neighbour's leaves off her grass - we need the leaves for our compost and she's had a hand injury! (Beware chemicals-sprayed thorns in your hand!! She's had 2 operations already and it's still not good! Her neighbours sprayed a fruit tree that's close to her roses, and apparently it then all got infected badly?)
It's good to have a big mouth (sometimes) though.

On Tuesday we got more leaves, as another neighbour I spoke to while handling the leaves (she gave us an odd look!) told a guy who didn't know what to do with them that our Dad might take them. So Sis and Dad went off and got a big load from a local sometimes-marketplace.
(Dad brought the guy a beer and was happy to chat about all evils of modern world afterwards too.)

On Wednesday I finally got to bring the 'zero waste reusable plastic containers' to a lady who makes the yummiest cheese ever!! (With walnuts or dragonwort or other yummy spices!) She was in town for a mini-event: November 11th is St Martin's Day and widely celebrated in Slovenia with new wine and ducks or geese!
Mom bought some cheese in a plastic foil ('Do you have the containers with? Do you want me to unwrap the foil?' the lady asked with concern - Mum shook her head and took two and phoned me and sent me to town with containers for future exchange. That involves a castle and a friendly pub owner. We'll see how it goes! :)
/We had to first empty some old cottage cheese plastic tubs from raspberries and such. This year almost 90% of our freezer stuff was in reusable boxes!:)/

On the way home, I caught the sub-mayor's wife handling the leaves!!

You can guess what followed. :)

Next day, Dad and I took the leaves. (There weren't many but I was furious at their pretty bags full of leaves and grass and other compost stuff whole year! I think a sub-mayor oughtta be an example, no?)
She was quite happy to give 'em to us, and told me she 'didn't know what to do with them'! /sigh/
My Dad had been embarassed to ask sub-mayor, his pal, and so I was at first a bit shy about it too.. Seeing how the other neighbour gave us leaves gladly, I decided to approach Mother Sub-Mayor directly - and, yup, sometimes women can be wiser!!:)

I was also in contact with some guys from another town, reading and listening to some stuff.. (That I wish I didn't know perhaps! /sigh/)

I still feel quite guilty for not doing more, you know!

At least we saved some bags of leaves from the incinerator!!
Any organic matter or plastics is BAD in an incinerator, as toxic dioxins and other poisons may be formed! And of course, when it's all mixed together with other trash, it can't be really usable, can it?

If composted, it'll make yummy compost for our garden!

Oh, and we made some YUMMY zero-sugar pear marmalade!! (That I'm now quite addicted to! /sigh/)
Previous years, often Uncle's pears just got thrown away to the compost (at least the compost got 'em!:) this year when apples are scarce, I thought it would be wise to get all the pears we can!
And yup, Uncle deserves at least a small jar! :)

I talked trash to Mother Sub-Mayor, one of the local girl scouts (they might be interested to hand out cloth bags!! Keep your fingers crossed!) and today, surprisingly even to my not-very-eco cousin! (He had good info on what it's like in Austria!)

November is a good month to sort and start again your compost, if you don't have one already? :)

What do you do with your organic waste, is it collected separately where you live? (Here it isn't, yet. Many people have compost, but not everyone. I was happy to see at least one new BIG compost heap (made of leaves mostly) - maybe result of my talk and articles? I'd love to think so!:)

And remember, November 21st-29th is European minimizing waste week!! What will you do to celebrate it? ;)

Thanks to the lovely Danda's blog for the info - apparently in Slovenia there is no official organizer? :( They just want to build incinerators??
I did see the 2nd biggest Slovenian city put up a notice for getting funding from EU for an incinerator there? :(

So, this week was full of ups and downs, of good news and bad.. I got invited to help film a documentary, it was sort of short notice though.. Got some cool new info though..
And today I just saw a local MP and almost invited myself to a meeting...? ;)
Probably better to get my act together and know what to say though!:) Any suggestions? ;)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Changing the Antifreeze in the Solar Water Heating Panels! (On the Roof!)


(Yes, I was up there! Right at the top, holding a funnel for Dad to pour the new liquid in after he poured the old one out at the low left corner of the solar panels!)

Today, Dad and I changed the antifreeze liquid in the solar water heating panels on the roof.
We've had them for almost two decades and they're fabulous! Hot water for free even in Winter! (On sunny days!)

Still, they're not completely eco friendly. That green antifreeze liquid looks suspicious! (And has to be bought and changed when necessary.)

Dad has scientific methods for when it's necessary. He pours out some existing liquid and if it freezes in the freezer - it's necessary!

I thought changing the antifreeze was a 'routine operation', and honestly, never thought much about it before this.
It was one of the things that 'Dad did'.

But this year more liquid needed changing, and Dad had some suspicious methods in mind!

So today I got woken up by an argument - Mum and Dad quarrelled if he can use the cannikins used to water the plants or not!

If Mum gets upset over Dad's iffy practices, of course there's probably a call for action!

So I nagged my way into helping him!

He was furious and didn't let me.

I'm not one for 'men's jobs or 'women's' jobs, basically, what needs to be done, needs to be done - frankly, I'm more of a tomboy and prefer doing 'Dad stuff' lol!
But it never even occurred to him to invite me with!

We both love it on the roof, the sun is wonderful and the view is fabulous!
(Dad said he was thinking about setting up a 'room'/opazovalnico there - to escape the crazy women if they get too cranky, lol!)

At first he was really furious at me for 'meddling' (I didn't let him use more than one cannikin for pouring the possibly toxic antifreeze! & he accused me of 'complicating'! We use them to water edible plants!) Well, later on it turned out his injured left hand thumb was not completely cured yet, and he was thankful for the help. Also, two people do stuff easier than one.

And two people can get much better ideas than one alone. I lamented my hands getting wet in the funnelling process (did you know antifreeze liquid can regurgitate like little babies, and spit the green nasty stuff back at ya?!) thought about using some cloth to 'mop up' - and Dad came up with the excellent idea to put some string or wool on the cannikin to prevent spillage. It worked!
(He said he observed something similar in pubs! To prevent wine from spilling from bottles! Excellent idea, it was much easier then, and my cold fingers really appreciated it!)

He was always left alone cause Mom doesn't get on the roof (later she said she used to get dizzy, I know Sis doesn't like the heights either and gets scared of them.)

I'm not so strong, but I can be very badass! (read: stubborn!)
And I love the heights, such a clear view to down below!

Some shingles needed replacing, so he replaced them. And I watched, like a good apprentice. In any case, it's good if a few people know how to do this so you don't need to hire outside help if needed.

So we fished some shingles out of the cobwebs (my left arm is stronger than I thought!), and Dad put some sillicone where there was risk of leakage (yes, it looks like a gun, lol!)

I even had the idea to put sillicone on 'future holes' (mini holes that could turn into major holes whereupon the shingle would need replacing. Not particularly eco either, but I didn't fancy the idea of water leaking over my head either.. & replacing all the shingles would surely be more costly and resource-intensive too!)
Dad liked it and so we checked the roof for possible holes together (his eyesight is not so good anymore, and he appreciated the help!)

He even bragged about me helping him to the neighbours! lol! :)

So, things to plan for next year: actually schedule this and not be surprised mid-sleep! (My Dad is an EARLY riser!)
Have things prepared ahead, including easy access to the shingles and tools needed.
Think out the cans and cannikins available and what could be used. (Previously, Dad had re-used old plastic bottles, but with more quantity this year, he was afraid he couldn't mix the old and new liquid so well in just plastic bottles.)
I still hope to refine the process somehow to make it more eco-friendly. Or get a more innocent-looking antifreeze? Does natural eco antifreeze exist?

There are systems without antifreeze. Our neighbour uses pure water (which is most eco!) and simply turns off the solar water heating in winter! (And uses more wood for heating, which is not so eco: since everybody uses wood for heating here again cause oil is costly, the air here is quite BAD, especially in the evening!)

Dad said there are systems that involve just water and work through the winter too - they involve a small electric pump (45W or so) Maybe now there are even better systems, if you're buying a new one, definitely worth checking out!
(It also depends on roof angles and panel angles etc. whether a pump is needed or not, we don't need it, but the current system relies on antifreeze for the winter.)

And yes, once we descended and I was left to mop the floow, I admit my legs were a bit wobbly, but probably due to kneeling and mopping the floor, methinks!;)
/I really hate such 'householderly' duties! Couldn't really trust him to mop up well though, either!)

Do you or your relatives/friends use a solar water heating system - and if so, what kind? (With or without antifreeze?) If not, what kind were you thinking of buying? ;)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NaNoWriMo 2009! Eco Romance in Writing!

I resisted for years, but somehow this year I signed up!

Okay, we all know sitting behind a computer isn't too eco, so why choose to do something like this?

Using so much paper isn't exactly eco either, at least I managed to buy ECF paper (elemental-chlorine free) locally and saved some one-side printed paper from burning today! Let's hope we'll find even more eco paper!

Why I first got involved in this zero waste thing is through my first novel (SF romance) I started writing a couple of years ago. I couldn't just 'do nothing', my characters kicked my ass into 'doing something'!!

I've always wanted to be a writer, since I was a little girl and read Heidi and Tom Sawyer! (And Astrid Lindgren!)
I fully believe books can change people's views and lives. (And sometimes create future.)
And they are cheapest and probably most eco means of travel to far-off locations (and universes).

Do you know how they say, 'A pen is stronger than a sword'?

In Slovenia, when Slovenian people had zero political power (like in 19th century or earlier) most education and 'enlightenment' and even political 'togetherness' came through literature, the written word.

When black people in USA were slaves, they still had the blues.

And no one could take that away from them.

When direct political speech was prohibited, fairytales and folksy songs were still okay, and passed the eyes of censors.

I thought about this muchly, and wondered, what to do. Then, I thought if one simple book could inspire me so much, maybe it could inspire others too? Empower and encourage people who'd otherwise just 'walk away' or think 'nothing can be done'?
Imagine if all people worldwide could be inspired to go more eco and do their best to go zero waste.. Or even just start making even the smallest changes!

My friends got inspired to really be more eco after I read them the Eco Cabaret and asked them to star in it! :)
(It's not finished yet and they're busy with other things now, we still hope to make it happen! And I told them they must set an example for others, so they're doing some awesome eco things already described!)

If everyone does just a little, together, we can do A LOT!!

If everyone on Earth would recycle just one can more - that would be A LOT of cans!!

I've learnt so much about zero waste inbetween that I can't possibly fill it all in the 1st book, especially as it's 3/4 written already! (and happening in Outer Space!)

So a few months ago I started writing a new eco romance, and then just run out of gas mid-book. I got this fun new idea for characters and conflict a few days ago and thought, 'Why not do NaNo'?

Check out my novel synopsis and please give me ideas, cause I almost ran out of what to write already! :)

Of course it's going to be an eco romance! :)

Do tell if you've signed up too, and friend me up! (I'm EcoLayla there!)
Oh, and do post your bodycount, oops wordcount!

Did I tell you I was slightly competitive? ;)

And YAY my first checque for the eco articles just arrived!! :)
It's not so big, but it's not so small either, so now I'm encouraged to write more articles! :)

Oh, and I had the brilliant idea to explore what it would be like to start an eco NGO or an eco biz (because a friend was telling me to do either or both!) - so what better way to do it than through a book? ;)

And there definitely aren't enough fun books with sassy sexy eco heroines!
There are films like Erin Brockovich or Princess Mononoke, but books? Do tell me if you know of any!

Do you read books? What kind of issues or questions would you like to see explored? What kind of heroines and heros would you like to see?
Any names for good guys or bad guys that you must see? ;)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Zero Waste Flower Arrangement - Tutorial! (with pics)


Due to popular demand, I'm posting pics and a quick tutorial! :)

Gather moss (easily spotted on a hike through the woods!) or get it from a farmer or a friend! Farmers on farmers' markets in cities might have ideas or might sell it to you if you ask them in advance, so they can gather it and bring it to you..
Also, gather flowers and greenery from your garden.. Find adequate space for doing this (garage or such may come handy).



Put moss in a 'dish' (bigger dish for bigger flower arrangements!) This is a small one for a smaller arrangement. Add water if needed (or add water later on!). Start with the greenery: put in the highest central piece/green branch 1st!


(It doesn't matter if some of the lower leaves are not so photogenic, with more green branches added in, you won't see those anyway!)

Get the green in first!



Then, start adding the flowers! And - voila!



Totally homemade, totally DIY, totally Zero Waste!
(It can all be easily composted later on. Since most cemeteries here lack true composting facilities, it will best be collected and brought home to our compost, or into Granny's 'green bins'!)
Still need to educate our relatives to compost and not trash this one!

Mum made two of those very quickly! One bigger (1st pic above) and one smaller (other pics later on)..
No chemicals added!!

She said moss is great to 'stick stuff in', so I'm expecting we'll be using this from now on, or grow/plant our own flowers! (Which might be not-so-easy, as Mum says the chrisantemum grown in pots need special 'care', sometimes special chemicals are used, etc! If you plant the ones from pots into your garden, big ones will grow! So, how to grow not-so-big ones?)

Cousin and Aunt planted pansies on the grave they tend, and into a bowl with some greens from last year. So they may actually even be greener than us! :) /gasp/
(no pic, it was dark and my SD card was full!!:)

Pansies don't survive after flowering, so it depends on what they do with them later on too! (Hopefully they'd get composted?) And of course it also depends how they are raised and where they are bought.. Local gardeners are better than big supermarkets, it depends what chemicals might be used in getting them to grow and bloom!
We did instruct our relatives on the glass candle, so hopefully they'll reuse that one! (Another set of relatives still needs to be instructed on that too!)

Remember, my Mum made this flower arrangement, so it reflects her taste - she made quite similar ones with plastic foam before! (Actually these two look waay better!!)
You can make what *you* personally prefer, what reflects your personality and style, and of course use what grows in *YOUR* garden! (Or your friends' or relatives'! - All this greenery comes from my Uncle's garden actually!:)