Monday, December 22, 2008

Green amidst the white

Readers might have noticed an absence of tips on having a "Green Christmas" on this blog. That was partly an oversight (I got busy and the holiday sort of snuck up on me) and partly deliberate. There are a lot of sites out there offering advice on minimizing the harm from your celebrations, and really, the best thing to do is to consume less of the cheap plastic trinketry we ship by the container load every year at this time.

But I'm no Scrooge. I'm fond of this holiday and really enjoy spending time with my family. I have a tree in my house, and am fully cognizant of how bizarre this practice must seem to other cultures. The lights on it are the new LED variety, and the two strings it took to decorate the tree draw a total of 8 watts. That's less than the compact fluorescent in the lamp on the other side of the couch, and plenty to navigate the room during these long winter nights.

My main plan this year is for minimal travel. I'm going to make one trip to be with family and stay for a few days. No running around this year. Speaking of family, some of the members of my family have great ideas for the holidays. For some good holiday blog posts and great ideas, I suggest visiting My Web of Life, the personal blog of Jenni Boles. Like her, I've made decorations with my son and done all sorts of unimaginably wholesome things. But unlike me, Jenni has three kids and a husband all competing for her attention. And, together with her husband Steve (Full Disclosure: he's my cousin), she is also working on launching their new business,, which will offer people a choice of carbon offsets, much in the same way that we buy airline tickets today through sites like expedia.

This can be a difficult time of year for environmentalists. As you can see from the above photo, taking my compost out will require slogging through a couple feet of snow. The car-free life is challenged by the weather (it was -12 C when I left this morning). And there's no opportunity to connect with the earth through gardening, since the ground is frozen solid.

But I take inspiration from my composter, which continues to generate enough heat to keep converting my kitchen scraps into rich soil. Besides, with a warm parka, I'm comfortable in all but the most inclement of weather. The snow is beautiful, and it's also the season for tobogganing and cross-country skiing. So get out there, enjoy the winter, and turn down the heat so you've got an excuse to snuggle up under a blanket with a good book.


KarenInTo said...

Why doesn't my (free city-provided Earth Machine) composter work very well? Should I move it to a sunnier location when the ground thaws?

Anonymous said...

Hey Craig!
Thanks for the plug! I ended up not putting up many posts over Christmas-my intentions to simplify turned out to be a bit of a pipe dream! Hope that you and the family had a great holiday!

Craig Saunders said...

Karen: Sorry to be so long in responding. There could be a lot of reasons for the problems. I use one of the standard municipal black plastic bins. I've used one in a shady location with great success.

When did you start using it? If it was late in the season, it may not have got up to temperature before winter. And they do slow down in winter.

Also, what's the air circulation like? Are you alternating layers (some green material, some brown material, some kitchen scraps)?

I don't know this particular model. If it isn't exposed to the ground, you might want to toss a shovelful of soil in. This can introduce the various critters that make a composter work. Mine's exposed on the bottom, but I still throw a small shovelful in every so often, just to help it along.