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|Written by April Yorke|
|Thursday, 22 April 2010 00:00|
I like to think of myself as a moderately green person. I use a Brita, I carry reusable shopping bags, and I made the switch to Meatless Mondays. As for that golden standard of green, I'm a recycler par excellence. I recycle everything I possibly can, I check my city's website to see if there's more I could be recycling (turns out I can put all of a frozen juice container in the blue bin!), and, in one of my more dedicated/obnoxious moments, I do other people's recycling for them, pulling recyclables out of their garbage and tossing the objects into their blue or black bins.
That said, I could probably do more to be green, so I took the opportunity to review The Living Series's Green DVD Library. The set is designed to give "practical advice on how to make the transition to more eco-friendly lives." It boasts eco-friendly packaging: printed with soy ink and made out of mixed fibres instead of hard plastic. Each DVD case features the smiling face of the expert who will talk you through that DVD's material: Green Cleaning for a Healthy Home, Energy + Conservation for a Greener Home, Green Gardening and Lawn Care, Eating Green: Organic Foods and Cooking, Green Consumer Choices for the Entire Family, and A Comprehensive Guide to Going Green.
I started with A Comprehensive Guide to Going Green, which consists of approximately 10 minute segments from the other discs. It's excellent if you want an indication of what you are getting yourself into or as a gift for someone you know is just getting started going green. If you want to go deeper into any of the other subjects, though, this probably isn't the disc for you. Also, for apartment dwellers, there isn't much applicable information on Green Gardening and Lawn Care (in fact, no information for indoor gardeners) or Energy + Conservation for a Greener Home. While I normally keep unused appliances unplugged (otherwise, my microwave is just a really expensive clock), Ford Underwood on the energy disc did make me realize that my printer was plugged in for no good reason. I also now try to remember to turn off my modem/laptop power bar before I go to bed.
Eating Green: Organic Foods and Cooking made me feel better about the fact that I shy away from the expense of organic foods. For the budget conscious, Julie Daniluk recommends buying organic thin skinned produce (that is, produce whose skin you eat like apples or pears) and saving on the thicker skinned stuff where you throw the skin away. Her disc's recipes are available on PDF, so you can load them on your computer for easy reference. Rob Grand's tips for green giving on Green Consumer Choices for the Entire Family were my favourites, though his suggestion to wrap gifts in the funny pages made me smile. My grandparents, who grew up during the Great Depression, always wrapped our birthday gifts that way.
Aside from Ford Underwood, it was Emmanuel Rey who brought about the most immediate change in my household. On Green Cleaning for a Healthy Home, he reveals a simple recipe for an all purpose household cleaner: 3 parts water, 1 part white vinegar, and a drop of dish soap. Since most recipes I read for such a thing involve Borax or some other ingredient I don't already have, I jumped at this one. If you struggle with parts to parts ratios, work with 1 cup: ¾ c water, ¼ c white vinegar, 1 drop dishsoap. I mixed up twice this amount in an empty spray bottle and immediately tried it out on my kitchen counter since I spilled a little bit of vinegar on it anyway. The results were alright, but I wasn't convinced it was any better than a little elbow grease and hot water could have done. It was bathroom cleaning day anyway, so I decided to give it a real test.Counter, sink, toilet: all the same feeling as before. Things were going well, but nothing particularly astonishing was happening. By the time I was scrubbing the bathtub, I started to wonder if I really wanted to rely on cleaner that made my house smell like white vinegar. Finally, I turned to the mirror. Despite the fact that the mirror isn't even over my sink, it still gets pretty obviously dirty over the course of a week. To really do right by Emmanuel, I sought out a piece of old newspaper (eventually I found an old Bytowne guide). Finally, the results I was looking for: my green mix cleaned my mirror just as well, if not better, than the glass cleaner that I normally use. So well, in fact, that I also cleaned the bathroom window, the living room mirror, and the transom between my foyer and living room. Yes, as Rey says, the cleaner does need a minute to dry (it might look a bit cloudy at first), but you can't argue with that shine.
In addition to the tips that I've already put into practice, the experts were my favourite thing about the DVDs. I found the fact that they weren't all TV ready charming. Instead of slick Vince-style hucksters, they sometimes stumbled over their words or seemed a little awkward in front of the camera. It made the idea that they were real-life experts seem all the more viable. Green gardening expert Cheryl Shour, for example, talks about getting started after she and her child-in-stroller were sprayed with a chemical someone else was having applied to their lawn, and she worried about what they just got all over them. It almost makes you think that they could have done without host Shannon Leroux (or at least her hammy husband).
I'm going to go green by passing along the Green Gardening disc to my lawn-having co-workers and the Energy + Conversation disc to my parents. You go mix up some of that cleanser.
Learn more about The Living Series from its website, www.thelivingseries.com.