Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Long-Term Resolution

A couple weeks ago, I read a thought-provoking article "I Don't Recycle" written by Ronnie Citron-Fink and published by While I don't know the particular "editor of a well-known national magazine" Citron-Fink mentions, I've met many like her and they're represented by every gender, age, and ethnicity. They all have excuses. Some have suggested recycling is low-class or only done by "tree-huggers" – intimating it's unwarranted, merely the product of unreasonable fear. Some cite the loss of coveted space and time, or extraordinary effort, or hindering commitment, or the possibility of dirty hands.

Let's face it; recycling is not sexy, nor fun. It takes room to organize. It takes time. And, there's no direct reimbursement or remuneration for one's effort.

But, why should incentives be required for participation? Recyclables take no more space than the usual garbage, if disposed of regularly. In fact, since many recycled items are broken down, rinsed, flattened and/or folded, those materials take less space and smell better than regular garbage. Once a system is in place in the household, very little extra time is needed to sort and organize waste that would otherwise be sent to a landfill.

I've heard recycling-abstainers say there's "nothing in it" for them. That depends on perspective. In my view, there's tremendous compensation for recycling. Its ultimate value is priceless. The problem is, delayed reward – clearly a death-knell for a modern society hopelessly addicted to instant gratification.

The reward I speak of would be claimed by our children and our children's children. It may yet be possible for them to
live in an untainted environment if efforts are made today. Our pretty blue planet, like any living organism, could survive the overly-exhaustive stressors we place on it, and remain healthy (viable for human occupation) for generations to come. But, all depends on whether humanity deems recycling a worthy enough investment in a future they won't personally see, and whether we then make the time and put in real effort to fully implement this hygienic practice.

This, after all, is what recycling is: global hygiene. Humans no longer drop food peelings on the floor or toss broken dishes in a pile outside the door. As the self-proclaimed intellectual species, we've discovered it can be dangerously unhealthy to live as our cave-dwelling ancestors did, "fouling the nest" with all the waste involved in everyday living. Recycling merely refines discoveries made, over centuries, by people like Louis Pasteur and many others who strove to raise the quality of life for all by teaching simple sanitary routines.

And what could be simpler than rinsing out a soda bottle and then throwing it in a recycling bin instead of the garbage? That nominal effort, alone, could help prevent some of the 2,500,000 plastic bottles Americans use every hour (Recycling, recycling-facts) from ending their days in an already over-taxed landfill or one of many garbage patches floating on the world's oceans.

If you're already a recycler, thank you. You've made a wise and responsible choice, and are doing what you're able to make this world a better place. We can only hope future generations never fully appreciate how dire the situation once was.

If you don't yet recycle, it's time to embrace reality. Recycling is no longer an option. It's necessity. Now is the perfect time for a long-term resolution to contribute some of your own selfless action. Together, we may just enable humanity's survival on this one-in-a-million planet.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Yule Blog

This blog will be short. My son and his young family are coming for the holidays and I've been hopping. As their arrival draws closer, excitement builds and it's difficult to focus on anything else.

Most of the remaining preparations involve food and drink so you'll understand why I thought to share a recipe today. As I was sorting through the many traditional and seasonal-favourites recipes, deciding on menu-plans, I came across this hot drink mix. It's tasty, easy to make, and relatively economical.

Cinnamon-Mocha drink mix
Instant coffee or espresso powder
Cocoa powder, unsweetened
Combine sugar, coffee, cocoa and cinnamon in a blender and process, stirring once or twice, until mixture is well blended and a fine powder. Store in air tight container.
To Serve:
Put 2-3 heaping teaspoons of mixture in a mug and fill with hot milk (or boiling water for a lighter drink.) Top with a dollop of whipping cream, if desired, and add a sprinkle of cinnamon.

For those of you looking for do-it-yourself ideas for the holiday season, you might find something to pique your interest on one of my favourite television shows by BBC-UK called Victorian Christmas. Their web-site offers instructions on twenty-five traditional projects.

As for me, it's back to our yuletide preparations – Danish cookies will fragrance our home tonight.

Until next time, I wish you and yours a very happy holiday season!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Vinegar, a Winning Solution

Answers are sometimes found along convoluted paths. Occasionally, if we're really fortunate, those answers travel with friends. Plain white vinegar was just such a result I discovered.

For years, hubby has suffered with a persistent case of eczema, the after effect of plaster casts. He found no ointment to ease the symptoms. Dietary changes had no significant effect. Altering hygiene practices did little to lessen irritation. It seemed he would just have to live with it.

One day, while discussing this issue with my mother, she told me she had stopped using liquid fabric softeners because they were irritating my father's skin. A light bulb came on. Could this be contributing to hubby's problem? Following her example, I switched from liquid softener to dryer sheets and it seemed to help. Hubby's eczema diminished, but it didn't disappear entirely. Winter, the worst season with the wearing of close-fitting long-johns and brutal weather conditions, still aggravated it. I kept searching.

A girlfriend had once mentioned her love of "dryer balls," how eco-friendly they are and how well they soften and fluff fabrics. Always on the look-out for thrifty and ecologically-conscious methods and products, I wanted to try them but, at that time, was unable to find any. Months later, I finally found a set and was impressed by their reasonable price and how well they worked. Better yet, hubby's eczema occurred rarely once I replaced dryer sheets with them.

Then we moved. Cache Creek's water has a much higher mineral content than Vulcan's and soon our laundry showed signs of it. Fabrics felt courser, colours appeared duller, and fibres flattened. Worse, the eczema began acting up again. Something had to be done but having quit commercial fabric softeners I was reluctant to use them again. Aside from the environmental aspects, the possibility they might aggravate hubby's problem kept me searching for other, more natural laundry rinse agents.

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That search led me to vinegar. Would it really work? Certainly it was more cost-effective than using commercial fabric softeners. I'd often used vinegar for other cleaning and disinfecting purposes, but never thought to add it to laundry. Still, I hesitated, unsure if our clothes and linens would smell like pickles. Realizing the laundry could be re-washed, if need be, I gave vinegar a try.

What a find! With the very first wash, fibres of our favourite bathroom linens loosened and, folded, they had plumped to nearly double the fullness they had before using vinegar. Colours brightened and bedding felt soft and inviting again. Happily, no garments smelled like condiments. From that point on, only white vinegar and those dandy little dryer balls soften our laundry and control static cling – yes, for some reason, vinegar helps control that, too. As the foul weather blusters in, we watch and wait. For more than a month, hubby's worn long-johns and has been working in cold winter weather, yet his shins remain free of irritation. This may finally be the long-sought solution...pardon the pun.

My search to alleviate hubby's eczema began with single-minded purpose. I wasn't particularly seeking thrift or environmentally friendliness when starting the journey. Those dividends were simply travelling companions of the answer discovered down a long and winding trail.