Tag Archives: environmental

A Plastic Nest

8 Sep

September 8th, 2013

My boxes arrived on Friday, which was like ten years’ worth of Christmases all come together, and brought along at least two weeks’ worth of backache. My apartment happens to be on the 3rd floor of a building that has twisty windy hallways with many misplaced staircases, and of course no elevator. I won’t tell you how long it took me to carry 14 boxes up those stairs, because it didn’t take that long. However, it did make me feel a bit like the Atom Ant, crawling up and down the stairs with boxes almost bigger than my hundred-pound self. Long story short, I made it, the boxes are currently blocking out most of my hallway and probably constituting a fire hazard, and I could really use a new spine.

The process of settling in is a slow and painful one when I don’t have a vehicle. Today I finally got a second-hand kitchen table with a chair, which the gentleman who was selling was kind enough to deliver. I gave up any hopes of being able to scavenge a second bookshelf until next month when more people move in and out of the building, so I resorted to building one from milk crates and cardboard. I covered the cardboard with wrapping paper, so it actually looks better than the wooden shelf I got from the neighbors. The greatest challenge of a car-less life is still the guinea pigs: I like getting their hay and bedding from a feed store (where they cost a fraction of a fraction of the price I’d pay at a pet store), and apart from the feed stores being in the boonies by definition, I can’t exactly walk onto the bus with a bale of hay. Until I get through my Carshare application, the oinkers are getting grass and fancy bedding from the pet store. Such is life.

Trying to avoid plastic is even more difficult than trying to bring a bale of hay into an urban apartment. Part of this is plastic objects, and part of it is the packaging. For example, short of trying to use a quill, I can’t avoid plastic pens. (Pencils are great for everyday use, but don’t work well for letters and documents.) Toothbrushes are plastic, as are mop handles, clothes hangers (even the outer lining of metal hangers), the quills of hairbrushes, and almost all pet accessories. (Leather collars are available, but harnesses and leashes are almost exclusively polyester. I did find one litterbox made of recycled paper, but it looked too flimsy to last over a couple of weeks, so I’m stuck with plastic on that as well.) We’re also wearing a lot of plastic- most knitting yarn is made of polyester or a polyester-natural blend, most socks are made of polyester, and I don’t think there’s such a thing as a biodegradable swimsuit. Even my watch is plastic, thanks to my nickel allergies. As for electronics- let’s not even get into it as I type on a plastic keyboard, shall we?

Still, packaging is what really makes me pull my hair out. Every non-plastic alternative I find (eg. kitchen knife with porcelain handle, wooden cat toy, metal shower curtain rings, bamboo cutting board, etc) comes wrapped in plastic. Argh. And no matter how much I shop in bulk, from independent stores and farmers’ markets, I still can’t get away from it. Cheese and meat still come wrapped in plastic (once I did buy grass-fed beef wrapped in butcher paper, but it seems to be a rare occurrence). No matter how hard I try to avoid it, no matter what I choose to buy or eat or wear, I seem to bring plastic home with me like a parasite hitching a ride. Is it possible to go without it? I’d love to find out. Maybe someday I’ll make a lifestyle experiment out of it, and go live somewhere in the woods without any plastic for a year. Just to see if it can be done.

Anyway, that was my rant for the day. Now I’ll go back to my nesting behavior, preferably with a cup of coffee made in a saucepan- I’ll tell you about that next time.

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East For the Winter

4 Sep

August 29th, 2013

Yesterday, I moved to Halifax. From Victoria. This is not even close to my first cross-continental move, but it was nevertheless a long and frustrating journey, as most plane trips tend to be. I settled into my corporate one-bedroom apartment, virtually identical to my corporate one-bedroom in Victoria. (By settled, I mean I signed the lease and managed to get my suitcases up three flights of stairs without blowing my back out.) I moved here to attend the Atlantic Circus School, which brought on may questions from friends and family, as well as the half-joking remarks of “You should blog about this!”, so I figured it was time to revive rainydaycircus.

I’m currently camping out in my bedroom, which is empty save my suitcases, my sleeping bag, and the bits of garbage so kindly scattered around by my kitten Lemon. I adopted Lemon a couple of weeks before moving- smart move, right? She was born with a malformed hind leg, and as all veterinary professionals and staff, I’m not allowed to have normal pets, and I’m a sucker for gimps. So I took her in. It made sense at the time, and still does, in a backwards sort of way.

The rest of my apartment is likewise empty, save two lawn chairs that I picked up at a thrift store today. They are my living room furniture. Hopefully a table of sorts will be added at some point. My supper was tomato scrambled eggs, cooked in the one and only pot brought along. I cut the tomato with paper scissors, as I don’t know where my Swiss army knife is hiding. Seeing as I no longer have a dishwasher, I reverted to my old ways and ate it straight out of the pot, feeling very un-grown-up and oddly homey.

My balcony (yes, I have a balcony!!) has a view of the circus school, and I can’t wait to fill it up with plants, winter or no winter. (Kale is frost-hardy, right?) Along with the circus school, I’m also looking at the industrial park it’s located in, which does give the apartment a dirty urban hole look (which it totally is, though it’s still too new to be dirty, give me a few weeks for that). I can’t help but feel like one of those Russian gymnasts that lived in dorms with a window looking directly into their gym. At least I won’t have to walk far to get to classes.

My earthy hippie views haven’t changed since I last wrote in this blog. I’m still pretty gung-ho about organic and local food, and old school living. I got rid of my car before I moved here, and I’m not intending to buy another one. Yesterday I rented a car (a beast of an SUV, which was somehow the cheapest option) and did all my heavy shopping- flour, oil, milk, etc. all the stuff that would be too much of a pain to carry in a backpack. Got a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap, a giant box of baking soda, and yet another giant box of washing soda, which I’m hoping will be all I need for cleaning. I even got a corn broom, which I was surprised to find at the dollar store of all places. I’m trying to avoid plastic as much as possible, which is an interesting road to walk. The darn stuff is everywhere. Even at the thrift stores, I’m trying to stay away from it. It’s more of an experience thing (ie. “how will my living space feel without plastic?) rather than a must-not-waste-fosil-fuels thing (thought that’s a worthwhile reason in and of itself), hence no second hand plastic. I once met a rather interesting lady from the Shi’shal First Nation, who spent hours telling me about her childhood in the bush and how she picked some of her few western habits. She told me how she wouldn’t let her daughter play with plastic toys when she was young, because her tribe believed that “plastic gets into your soul, it turns your spirit into plastic”. (I was later shocked beyond belief to find out that today most children are born with plastic in their DNA. I haven’t researched this myself, though, it was hearsay as one friend was told by his family doctor.) I’d love to test this out fully some day, and live in a place completely devoid of plastic, though this is not a possibility in my rental apartment so I’ll have to contend with reducing.

On my two-connection and zillion-hour flight, I alternated between reading “the People of Sparks” (yay for post-apocalyptic pioneer life) and crocheting a circular disaster, which is currently serving as my dishwashing cloth. Lemon slept most of the way, and spent the layovers on her leash, charming the passengers at the airports we passed through. She’s proved herself to be an excellent travel cat so far, a trait I fully intend to exploit. And we both caught a head cold. (Someone tell me, do cats catch cabin colds, or is this the quintessential kitten upper-resp-probably-herpes combo? Anyone with veterinary nerdity?) As I write, she’s lying between my elbows, rubbing her eye goop on my arm and fulfilling her function as the resident purrbag. I can handle that.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to brave the public transit into downtown Halifax. My mission is to find a bike. And a shower curtain, preferably non-plastic. Rain or shine. Probably rain.