Saturday, September 4, 2010

Nevermind Martha - these are Great Things

A potpourri-style posting today to include several unconnected news items and concepts (I am feeling mentally disorganized today!). (beta)
Forget the “free” section of Craigslist and sign up at today. Here’s where you can easily give or receive free no-strings-attached items in your neighbourhood without weird spam and scams (so far) appearing in your inbox. Already I’ve met a lovely lady in the Dunbar area who is giving away some perennials from her garden. I’m meeting up with her on Monday to adopt some Lady’s Mantle and hardy geraniums for my street garden. I’ve also recently posted a wanted ad on Freecycle for crochet hooks and knitting needles (I’m hosting a “Learn to knit and crochet” event for other students in my department this month). Fingers crossed!
Screenshot of my account this morning. Fantastic site!
Freecycle is easy and flies under the radar – some of the “free” offerings are quality items that would otherwise be going for $50 to $100 on Craigslist, such as solid wood tables, non-flat screen TVs, and couches. Many of the wealthier neighbourhoods (Point Grey, Kerrisdale, etc.) are represented here as well – I suppose that if you own a mansion, you wouldn’t be overly motivated to post an ad for a used chair and have to follow-through with the sale for the sake of $40. Today on offer: boy’s soccer cleats that were outgrown in one season; a 3-seat leather couch in good condition; a pelorus compass; motor oil & windshield washer; a giant emptied Bick pickle jar; and a litter box. Straight-to-the-point updates are directly delivered to your inbox daily.

MOV (Museum of Vancouver) exhibit – “Home Grown: Local Sustainable Food” by Brian Harris
The only reason that this subject has not warranted its own posting is that someone (me) forgot to bring their camera to the grand opening (on August 25th) of Home Grown: Local Sustainable Food. And I even got to meet and chat with the photographer himself! I asked him how he learned of his photographed subjects and their gardens. He said that some of the gardeners, like Enrio (an Italian man who has proudly grown his own tomatoes and produce in his home-built greenhouse for ages), he met by riding his bike down alleys in Metro Vancouver. 
Free seeds (and MOV button) given away at the Home Grown exhibit, MOV

“Home Grown” documents the different sustainable food production schemes (commercial to back alley to rooftop) and is truly inspirational. I’m already planning on enrolling in a Worm Composting workshop at City Farmer. It’s a good thing that today's post is in potpourri format – the MOV website is down and I can’t state the end date for this exhibition! Find it (eventually) here:
(Thanks to Ash for buying me this magnet!)

My Ravelry friend Sarah’s Homemade Laundry Soap
I’m smitten with – I have become completely hooked (pardon the pun) on crochet, and this website has done nothing but fuel the fire of my obsession! Not only do you get to see all sorts of fantastic patterns (lots of free ones!) and finished projects, there’s also this rich and social online community of knitters and crochet lovers. I’ve made several buddies already, one of which is Sarah who is also living in Vancouver (the vast majority of Ravelry members are from the USA, but there’s also loads of Europeans as well. Not so many Canadians yet, though!). I asked her if she had any tips worth sharing on the cheap-and-eco front, and she very kindly sent me a homemade laundry detergent recipe! I haven’t tried this yet, but Sarah says it works great and is very, very inexpensive (alright!).
Here is the link to the original recipe at DIY Natural: . Sarah recommends whirling all of the ingredients in a food processor to get it nice and homogenized, and also says that adding some vinegar to the wash in place of commercial fabric softeners helps freshen and reduce static cling. She also has been testing out some dryer balls and has positive things to say for the results. Thank you for sharing, Sarah!

WE rumour of a downtown Joe Fresh store
On the way to work yesterday, I flipped open a communal copy of the West Ender (a free publication) to read about a start-up veggie plot in the parking lot of an apartment block in East Van (the landlord is not crazy about it, but the tenants are fighting back to protect their harvest!). Read the article here .
I also thumbed to the ‘fall fashion trends’ section and found that Joe Fresh is apparently set to open its first retail clothing store downtown . . . Vancouver first, not Toronto for a change (this Joe Mimran fellow has good sense and taste, so it’s not surprising that he picked us). Article here:
Opening this October, it’s slated to be on Granville by the H&M – how convenient! Two cheap and chic shops in the same area, easy to get to with public transportation. Now if only the clothing was made of organically-sourced sustainable fibres and was sweat-shop free… I’ll give them time to make the appropriate changes. 

Planet Veg gets even better!
As if I didn’t have enough trouble choosing a meal at Planet Veg, they added new offerings to their assorted subji plates - dal maharani, palak paneer and aloo gobi, the latter two being my all-time favourite Indian dishes. The plate comes with pappadum, side salad and pilau rice. Although I don’t remember the exact price, it was affordable (under $10), which means I’ll be saving $7 or $8 everytime I order it (compared to other Indian restaurant prices).
I fear I’ll be eating at Planet Veg more often than I eat at home - it’s already a close race!

De Serres junk mail leads to Eco finds
I’m not one of those people who has a “No Junk Mail” sign on the outside of their mail cubby, but I’m considering it. I think I get 8 flyers a month from Best Buy and Futureshop (which are the same company) trying to sell me plasma TVs and multi-user war videogames. Talk about missing the mark with the advertising – I don’t even look at them. I also get a gazillion real estate flyers although I’ve no interest in them and coupons for nasty places like Nando’s and KFC. Groan.
De Serres (formerly Loomis art store) sent out a flyer this week, and I have to say that they come just infrequently enough to get my attention (take that, stupid marketing execs!). This flyer contained Back-to-School specials, as all do in September, but the very first page was quite encouraging: $1.25 for a 5 pack of pencils made from recycled paper (like the Earthzone ones! Coloured pencils in a tube, too!); $1.95 Pilot gel pens made from recycled water bottle plastic; Biodegradable PaperMate pens and refillable mechanical pencils made from corn-based plastic for $2.95! And even MORE happily, a set of erasers, ruler and pencil sharpener made of recycled materials that are PVC-FREE for $1.29! Pinch me!
De Serres has several locations – the closest one to Kits is in the South Granville area (Broadway and Granville), just a B-Line trip away. I’d get there quick if I were you!

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