Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Those dreaded car emissions

One of the things I always say to the children is that if they've tried their best the outcome is fine. They can be pretty hard on themselves so I try to lighten their load a little. The thing is they come by it honestly but I don't apply the same philosophy myself; self flagellation is my style. So it has been with Footprints. The problem is if I'm not happy with what I've done and it becomes an on-going struggle with myself I'm inclined to give up. I definitely don't want that to happen.

We do a fair amount in the city; things which are part of our lives that we would not want to change. However, it is a 40km round trip from our house into the city. Furthermore, moving closer is not on the plan in the short-term. My husband and I will have to do at least three round trips into the city this weekend for various activities. That kind of thing really bothers me these days - causing all those emissions. Eeww. Unfortunately, public transport isn't an option because of time of day and/or location.

I could get really down about this and annoyed with myself. However, I think it would be more productive now and in the long-term just to focus on the things that I am able to change in the present and be proud of what we're achieving. We both drive four cylinder cars. I try to batch my errands and walk when and where I can. It may not offset what we're emitting but at least we're trying. That's got to be good enough for now.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Smells like salad dressing

The one area where we haven't had to make any changes is cleaning the house. Several years ago, worried about what nasties there may be in cleaning products, I began to clean with bicarb and vinegar. I noticed no difference in the quality of the cleaning the house was getting so I've been using it ever since.

The children know when I've cleaned the house because they get home from school, take a deep breath and smell the vinegar. Not that pleasant but it doesn't linger long. Recently, I read that lavender oil was a good anti-bacterial and antiseptic so I mixed up a batch of water and lavender oil in a spray bottle. I used that today instead of wiping the bicarb/vinegar with a plain damp cloth. I also used it on the floors. As a result, the house smells very fresh.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Dreaded Electricity Bill

It was never an aim of Footprints to save money. It would be great if we could but our two aims have always been to try to reduce our impact on the environment and increase our impact on humanity - in a positive way, of course. Our expectation was that financially the net effect would be zero. We would reduce expenses in some areas and increase them in others.

Having said that I was pleased with our most recent electricity bill. There was a reduction in the cost but what pleased me more was the graph comparing our emission output from the same time last year to this year. I don't remember all the whys and wherefores but the bar from this year was significantly lower than it was for the same period last year. For that to occur at the end of winter means that all the seemingly small things we began early in the billing period paid off.

We don't know how we're doing with all this. As far as I can tell, my rubbish and recycling bins are as full as they've ever been and I seem to be driving as much as before. Furthermore, it's difficult to learn which companies actually source their goods ethically. It's easier with groceries and I love getting to the supermarket check out with a basket mostly full of goods produced by ethical and/or eco-friendly companies. So, to receive a bill that can chart our progress was very gratifying and another indicator that we may be reducing our Footprint.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My son's new European cushion

My son turned 13 in July but he was still using a Bananas in Pyjamas U-pillow. It was third hand when he got it in his toddler years and the cover was ripping and the stuffing falling out. In addition to that, it simply wasn't cool for a boy of his age to have it propped up on his bed.

I realized around this time that I also was storing two Queen size flat sheets that were probably never going to be used. Rather than give the sheets to the Salvos and then go and buy my son a new U-pillow, about which I'd inevitably do research first to find an ethical manufacturer/supplier, I decided to used the sheets to make him a European pillow.

We have three European pillows in the lounge room which I set out to reproduce.

For me it was a major project because I'm an unskilled and inexperienced sewer. I drafted a pattern, sewed a pillow, stuffed that pillow with the stuffing from the old B.I.P. U-pillow and made a cover. At one stage I got a little over-confident and cocky and was forced to unpick some of what I'd sewn. That glitch was caused purely by not checking the existing cover before launching into the new one.

Anyway, ultimately, I completed the pillow and now my son has a new and much more age appropriate one.