I think I’m moving to Norway

According to this article, Animals in Norway could soon feel much safer, as the country’s government has announced plans to set up a police force for animals. The animal cops will initially work on a three-year trial period, with the move being hailed by animal rights activistsUnder Norwegian law, acts of animal abuse and cruelty carry a maximum three-year jail sentence.

This is what I call an enlightened nation. Gratulerer, Norge


					

Sprouted bean miso soup

I love miso soup, especially if I am fighting a cold or the flu.  There are lots of variations of miso soup that one can make, and mine depend on what’s in my fridge much of the time.  The version I made last night used sprouted mung beans; not a common variant in miso soup, but the results were very good.  There is no way to make miso soup look pretty, I’m afraid 🙂

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups water.  I don’t use broth for miso soup, as I don’t want anything to compete with the unique flavour of the miso
  • 1 tbsp brown rice miso.  There are different types of miso, but brown rice is my favourite for soups
  • 2 handfuls (sorry, this is as precise as I can get) of sprouted mung beans (I sprout my own beans)
  • 1 diced onion.  I prefer to use green onions, but I didn’t have any on hand
  • 1 cup diced mushrooms (I used cremini)
  • Braggs soy sauce

Preparation

Place all the ingredients in a pot, boil, and simmer for about 15 minutes.  Add Braggs (or your own brand of soy sauce) to taste.  I don’t add the salt, as the miso and Braggs are sufficient.

New bag from DZYN

I am the proud owner of a new bag, made my beautiful and talented friend Megann, the owner and creator of DZYN, a company based in Saint Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia. Megann reuses fabrics from clothing, sofas, curtains, and so forth, to create beautiful, original, and highly functional bags. Handbags make me weak at the knees, so I know I will be a frequent buyer.  My bag Avocado’s Number, is a lovely shade of green (my favourite colour), and is a square-shaped tote, which is perfect for my daily office use. The lining is a beautiful combination of shades of green and dark teal.  The bag contains many functional interior and exterior pockets. I use a portable handbag insert (or organizer), as I like to transfer easily the contents of one bag to another (I switch my bags often), so I probably won’t use all the pockets, but I still appreciate having them.  Most importantly, Megann’s bags fit my lifestyle, as they are vegan, made locally, and reuse existing materials.  Megann is happy to make custom orders, too, and to repurpose some fabrics you might have at home.

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Shampoo Bar from Earth Elementals

Most shampoos, even those that are sulfate-free, strip my scalp and hair horribly. I tried the no-shampoo method of using a combination of baking soda and water, but after a while, my scalp, which is on the dry side to begin with, became even drier and very irritated.

I know some people might get turned off when I write this, but I shampoo my hair only once a week; any more, and my scalp becomes very dry. In between shampoos, I will rinse my hair and scalp with warm water, when needed, and apply conditioner. In North America, people tend to wash their hair every day, which is unnecessary unless you sweat profusely or have a very oily scalp (I suspect that over washing might make your scalp oilier). Because liquid shampoos, even those without sulfates and parabens, dry out my scalp, I’ve been on the hunt for a soild shampoo bar, since these bars are much easier to use when travelling, and don’t produce unnecessary packaging. I have tried a number of brands, but most still dried my scalp. My quest ended with the shampoo bar from my friends at Earth Elementals, a company based in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia. I have been using Earth Elemental products for several years, such as their body and laundry soaps. The shampoo bar works wonders for my hair and never strips the scalp. For those who are used to a lot of lather in shampoos (lather does not clean the skin, but serves to only dry it), you need to get used to the different feel of a shampoo bar. I finish with one of my Aveda conditioners (I use a deep conditioner after I shampoo, and a regular conditioner during the week). I purchase Earth Elementals from the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market and Pete’s Frootique.

I usually apply some pure argan oil to my scalp the night before I plan to wash my hair. Not the nasty commercial products that you can find at many salons and pharmacies, which have argan oil far down the list, mixed with several silicones, and phthalates.   I am talking about pure argan oil, which you can buy from most health food stores.  I use argan oil on my face every night, too, and add it with a number of my DIY products.

Vegan shoes from Nice Shoes

Finding good, well made vegan shoes can be a challenge at times.  I bought the Vuno Bronze and Megan Slide from Nice Shoes, an online vegan store based in Vancouver. Both pairs of shoes fit perfectly and are very comfortable. I don’t wear heels any more, as years of sports injuries have left me with bad knees and ankles. This store has a good variety of vegan handbags, socks, and belts, too.

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Vuno Bronze

 

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Megan Slide

My Earth Day 2015 review

I would like to think that I live my life as though every day were Earth Day.  I’ve posted before about the daily products I use to reduce my carbon footprint, but I think it’s time to do my yearly review to evaluate what I’m doing, and where I can improve.

This year marks 8 years since I gave up my car.  When I had a car, I would still take public transit to work, since finding parking on campus can be very difficult.  I used the car on weekends.  I found this practice to be too wasteful, so once my car lease expired, I decided to simply go without a car.  I used to buy a monthly bus pass, but for the past two years, my employer has provided me with a yearly pass at a reduced rate of 20%.  Transit passes are tax deductable, too.  I don’t miss owning a car.  Buses get me around easily, and I like to walk.  When I need a car, for example to go to the airport, or to buy larger items, I rent one from my local car rental company (I get a special university discount).  I don’t miss the insurance and car payments, and certainly not the fuelling costs.

I make a lot of my own products, using earth-friendly ingredients, namely:

  • Face toner
  • Leave-in hair conditioner
  • Hand soap
  • Dish soap
  • Laundry soap
  • Dusting spray
  • Deodorant
  • Body powder
  • Milk bath (soy based)
  • Floor cleaner
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Hand cream
  • Sugar scrub
  • Air freshener

Cleaning: I use microfibre mops to sweep the floors and dust the furniture.  A broom works wonders, as well.  I use a vacuum cleaner only every two weeks to clean the stairs, which are carpeted, but otherwise simply sweep the wood, cork, and porcelain floors. I use a wet microfibre mop to clean the floors, as well as a steam mop with a reusable microfibre head. As listed above, I make my own cleaning products. I have a sonic essential oil diffuser that helps keep the air fresh, which is important when you live with two cats.

Cooking and dining: I use linen or cotton napkins. I buy organic products whenever I can. For cooking, I use stainless steel or ceramic pots and pans, with the exception of one non-stick pan I use for sauteeing tofu, which tends to stick to all surfaces, and has ruined a few stainless and ceramic saucepans.  I make my own dish soap.  I run my dishwasher only once a month, as I prefer to hand wash my dishes.  I make my own dish washing soap as well, and use white vinegar as a rinse agent. I have not used paper towels for years; instead, I use microfibre cleaning cloths, which can be washed very easily.I have a counter top water filtration system.

Bathroom and laundry: I use cotton eye-make up remover pads and hemp face cloths. My towel, sheets, and duvet cover are made from bamboo fibres. I air dry my laundry, with the exception of sheets and towels.  I hand wash many of my clothes.  I use vinegar in the laundry in lieu of fabric softener, and use laundry balls in the dryer. I use a fabric shower liner. I have a shower head filter to reduce chlorine in the bath and shower.

Cats:  Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about the waste generated by cats.  I use clay-based litter.  There is another product, which I like very much, which is made from wheat husks, but it’s very expensive, and with two cats, does not last too long.  I use biodegradable dog poop bags to collect the waste.  Baking soda keeps the litter box fresh.

Shopping and travel: I carry a thermal travel mug with me, as well as a micro cutlery set (spoon, knife, fork, and steel straw), so that I don’t need to use disposable cutlery if I order something to go. I always carry foldable shopping bags with me, as well as larger cotton bags for going to the market and grocery store.  I buy local products as much as possible from local businesses, including food, pet food and supplies, clothes, housewares, and so forth.  I declutter my home twice a year, but I’m still too fond of buying items I don’t always need.  Handbags, jewellery, boots, and coats are my weakest areas. I am trying to use the capsule wardrobe approach, but I am nowhere near where I could be, so this is definitely a work in progress.

Not perfect yet, but I think I’m making a good effort.  I’ll continue to look for more ways in which I can live in a more sustainable way.