Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Since becoming vegan...

Since becoming vegan, a lot of changes have happened over here! Mostly, we're getting weirder.

Yep, I've officially decided that becoming vegan makes you more than a bit...different. Joe and I are living life pretty far from the norm these days. Most people think we're a bit nutty (or a lot nutty, depending on who you talk to!) But it seems that once you start thinking with your health/the environment/ethics in mind, you can't stop! The more you learn, the more you research, the more you feel compelled to change. Is this a good thing? Well, we think so!

For example, Joe and I have reduced the amount of oil we consume. Drastically. Rather than vegan, Joe prefers the term "Whole Food Plant-Based diet". It is much more specific. We are drinking green, kale smoothies for breakfast every day. We even feed that stuff to Henry! We try to incorporate green, orange and raw veggies every day. In an average week we eat about $80-100 worth of fresh fruit and veggies, plus a bunch of beans and nuts and seeds and grains. We are trying to avoid refined flours, oil and sugar. We have reduced our salt use. We use a pressure cooker. We have even been moving more and more towards eating organic, especially the dirty dozen. We make almost every.single.thing from scratch. It goes on and on. Needless to say, eating this way makes you skinnier, and full of energy! But it keeps you busy, too.
Some home-made vegan yummy food!
And the changes I'm talking about go beyond diet, too.
Learning about veganism makes you begin to question the rest of your life. Your leather shoes...do you continue wearing them? (We do, since we have already purchased them, but it is something we will consider next time we need new hikers or dress-shoes!) Your CAR! (You all know we're car-free, so I won't go on that rant again). Our clothes... I don't know the last time I bought something that wasn't previously owned. Our toiletries and soaps/detergents... we have been slowly switching over to all-natural products - Lavender is my new thing. We buy local and support local whenever possible.

And let me talk to you about plastic: While this is something we've been doing for a long time, Joe and I are trying even harder to reduce our plastic/garbage:
- We choose our grocery store based on the one that lets you bring your own jars in for their bulk section. And we use glass jars over plastic where possible. Yep, we carry (yes, carry, since we walk!) glass jars to the store.
- We use care-bags for fruits/veggies/nuts/seeds/anything we can
- We use cloth bags when we shop/buy food, but I know most of you do, too!
- We stopped lining our garbage bins with plastic bags. We put our garbage loose in the garbage can. It works!
- We buy things used. It helps to avoid new plastic packaging.
- We use cloth diapers for Henry

And house stuff.... now all of our changes to our house have an environmental factor. For example, we got a REEP evaluation done this past summer (which gave us an idea of the energy efficiency of our home). That inspired us to spend a lot more money on a furnace when ours decided to give up, so that we had the most energy-efficient one. Sigh. 

All of these changes definitely keep things interesting. It kind of makes your head spin! But it does make you feel good inside.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Community Carshare

We have officially been a car-free family for about a week! And so far, so good. It is very liberating.
That being said, we are also now officially members of Community Carshare. Joe and I went on our first Carshare outing this past weekend (sans Henry), and it was super easy and pretty fun!

The best part: We got to drive this gem:

Yep- That is a fully electric vehicle. Pretty nifty! And very quiet to drive! You could sneak up on people in that thing it is so quiet. It holds a decent charge, too. We drove about 60km and it still had quite a bit of juice left. Apparently it gets less km in the winter, though (about 50km). Still, I will definitely use this car again.

Using Community Carshare is super simple. We booked our car online (about 30 minutes before we left, but you can book up to a year in advance), and used our key-card to unlock the car, and lock it once we got to our destination. The keys are attached under the steering wheel. 

We went to Dryden Tract/ Alps Woods near Cambridge for a great fall hike. I recommend checking it out if you've never been. It is a gorgeous area, especially in the fall. And without Henry, Joe and I got some great chats in. It was a really great afternoon.

All said and done, we are really happy with our decision to go car-free. I'm not going to lie - I had my doubts and almost wanted to renege my commitment to go car-free the day we sold our car, but I'm glad I didn't. Of course, Joe and I are aware that *most* families would not be able to do this. We are in a perfect situation to do so (living within walking distance to work/groceries/some family/etc, only needing a car once every week or so, AND living close to a bunch of Community Carshare cars). We would recommend Community Carshare at this point to anyone in a similar situation as us, or anyone wanting a second car the odd time (or who wants to go down to one car but still have access to a second). It is a pretty great set-up.

Some other benefits that we've thought up so far on being car-free:
- It makes you really aware of your car-use and the cost of driving
- It is environmentally friendlier than owning our own car
- It helps us to consider alternative transportation when possible (walking, biking, bus, train, etc)
- It helps Joe and I to live in alignment with our values
- It helps us to be more active: We walk a lot!
- It is much cheaper than the alternative
- And so on.

If you are at all interested in joining, talk to me!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Going Car-Free

Recently Joe and I made a big decision and we are so excited!
We decided to go car free and are selling our car.

Yes, this might sound crazy to most people, but hear me out!
Now that we live downtown, Joe and I have been using the car on average about 1-2 times per week. So, we decided to tally up what our car was really costing us to see if it is really worth having.

Once we added up the car payments, insurance, gas, repairs, maintenance, etc. we were floored. We split it up and figured out that if we use our car 2 times per week, it was costing us $110 per trip on average. What?!?! That is definitely too much money.

So, we talked about our options. Obviously, we can walk most places we go. We are also looking into buying a bike trailer for Henry. (We will probably go with the Chariot Chinook, but are still doing some research to finalize our decision). That way, if we want to go a little further than what is easily walkable, we can easily hop on a bike.

That left the problem of trips that require a car. Some of our family members and friends live out of town and we’d like to still be able to visit them without it being a big ordeal. Joe and I also like to go hiking on trails or on mini trips that are driving distance. We definitely still need to use a car sometimes. Luckily for us, in Kitchener there is something called Community Carshare. Basically, you pay a membership, and then you can book the Carshare cars when you need them. You pay an hourly or daily and per km rate, and it seems super simple. The best part is, there are a number of cars located within walking distance from our house. There are also different kinds of cars to suit your needs. If we ever need to, say, pick up a piece of furniture or move something big, there is a cargo van. If it is just one of us running a quick errand, there is a mini electric car. Perfect.

We had a community Fall Festival last weekend and the Community Carshare had a tent set up there, so we signed up! The cool thing was that one of my old students’ mom’s was there promoting it. She has been a Carshare (and otherwise car free!) member for a few years now, even with 2 kids and one who was 6 months old when she joined. That made us feel better about doing it with Henry in tow, and possibly with future children as well. 

This whole decision has felt very liberating for both Joe and I. I'll let you know how it all goes once the car is sold!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Henry at 8 months

Sorry that this post is up late... internet problems!!

Yet another month has gone by.
Henry is 8 months and is cuter than ever! I am amazed every day by how much personality Henry has. 

He is super social, and gives anyone and everyone a big smile. He absolutely loves getting any kind of attention.

Playing with his new friend, Wirachat
This month he has tried a lot of new foods. In fact, Joe and I sometimes just share our dinner with him. He seems to prefer eating what we are eating. For the most part we have stuck to making him purées, though. He is getting a little better at eating a variety of foods. And he seems to be growing like a weed!

Henry isn’t quite crawling yet, but he is almost there! He shuffles and rolls around a room pretty well, though. It has been nice that he is playing a little more independently these days so I can do a bit of work while he’s awake.

This month has been a little bit more relaxed since Joe is back at work and we are all settled in. Henry and I have been really enjoying living downtown. We go for pretty great walks most days, which usually include a stop at one of the many nearby parks. 

Enjoying the fall weather at the park!

Here are a few more photos to show what we've been up to this past month.

On a coooold market day. Thanks for the hat, John and Nancy!

Picking Daddy up from school

Great day for a fall wedding!