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Today I needed to buy laundry detergent.  I noticed one from Arm and Hammer that touted itself as biodegradable and phosphate-free.  Great, I love having an environmental option when I shop (whoever tracks the groceries I buy on my credit card must notice this).  But as usual, I looked to see if there was an even better option.  And I noticed that all the Tide bottles I looked at said phosphate-free.  In tiny writing on the front.  Sunlight didn’t even say anything.

I had to look up later the significance of phosphates (here it is – wikipedia) and it is the sort of thing that could be more prevalent on the label.  But the bigger issue is how the hell have none of the major companies made a biodegradable laundry detergent?!  The market is there – the EU has already mandated it.

I bought the Arm & Hammer.  It was also way cheaper than chemical-rich alternatives from other companies.  Now let’s see how it cleans…


Thinking Green: 200 ways to reduce energy!

Head over to Wikibooks for the list. Part of the key is that even if something doesn’t save you a lot of energy, if enough people adopt the change, it will make a big difference.

Recycling: doing it wrong

I realized that I still wasn’t up to date on what can and can’t be recycled in Toronto.

I thought it couldn’t, but it can be recycled:

  • styrofoam meat trays
  • disposable/one-use aluminum pie plates
  • shaving cream cans, but not their lids
  • the “window” parts of envelopes, and I had been separating them all this time!
I thought it could be recycled, but it can’t:
  • clear plastic containers for berries
  • clear plastic egg cartons
  • plastic cutlery
  • lids for mason jars
  • pizza boxes can, but you have to remove the parts that are stained with grease


I saw Avatar recently. Fantastic movie, by the way. Anyway, what struck me as noteworthy was the social commentary. On another planet, a mining company has hired mercenaries to help them procure a rare and valuable metal from the sentient species of the planet. The company manager is only concerned with profit, and the general is a war-hungry American. When the native populace refuses to cede their land, the mercenaries attack mercilessly. The message is essentially, “One way or another, we’re getting what we want.” It seemed like a pretty obvious commentary on the Iraq war, and how the Americans bullied until they got their way.

That wasn’t all, though. A friend pointed out the commentary on the environment. The humans were very destructive, and did not appreciate the connections between species of the planet (one of the main themes of the movie). That was a trait that only the native species seemed to possess. The point is developed further (for instance, why the humans were on this planet, and even social values) and I can’t believe that I missed this at the time. It reminded me of my disenchantment with the human race, especially shortly after the Copenhagen summit, where Canada’s political leaders offered so little that I was ashamed to be represented by them.

It seemed that most nations were either finger-pointing (“They caused this problem, so why should we pay for their mistakes?”, or leveraging (“Are you really asking us to commit this much? Country X has committed far less. We can’t afford such disparity.”) Fine, so money’s a concern. This really won’t do much good unless the whole world comes together.

I need to figure out how I can be part of the solution.