Living rural in the city is hip and urban – and you can, too.

Category: Eco-Living (page 1 of 4)

Spring 2021: a long hiatus

Sorry about my long, long absence – I haven’t blogged in so long that the interface WordPress shows me is thoroughly unfamiliar, and between this novelty and overdue maintenance, I’m distracted by the new things I see and even more ideas of things to do on this blog.

In both 2019 and 2020 I had the intention to write much more, but I couldn’t bring myself to. I’d log in, do the routine maintenance, and like I’m experiencing now, a strong bout of snooziness overtakes me. And then the longer I failed to do something new and different here, the more I feel guilty. Not posting when-I-could-have is a lost opportunity to show thousands (at least several hundreds) of people the beneficial things I’d learned, or maybe the fun stuff I’d been up to that they might try.

The fact is, I’ve already set up my home with bird strike-proofing. I have a garden that grows food (or…not; last summer I got a grand total of 6 apple-sized tomatoes and maybe a pint basket of autumn-green, kitchen-ripened cherry tomatoes), flowers, and native plants. These activities may not be common, but they’re as quotidian to me as going through the motions of private daily life. So writing about them isn’t a constant source of inspiration like they were when I was adopting new, green practices. They feel more like empty bragging: look what I have; hope you can do the same!

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Question: Would you want to countrify your city home?

Folks, you could be anywhere in the world and not have a specific service like mine or local resources to make your urban home have a real, rustic appeal (whether house, townhouse, triplex, or unit in a building) – or so you might imagine.

I just had a new idea and wondered if you would find it useful to have an e-booklet showing you different ideas and approaches to countrifying your city home. Do you want it to appear charming and actually be more rustic, wild, and wildlife-welcoming? If so, please sign up below. I’ll be making a note of whoever supports this idea. If we can generate enough interest, I’ll send you design and content questions along the way. Thanks!

The payoff from my green eco renovation — results you can see

A quick note to readers from outside Quebec: now that the dams are over 40 years old, our hydroelectricity is probably the cleanest in the world (this acknowledges that dams do produce GHGs and have negative environmental effects by flooding ecosystems).

Electricity is also very inexpensive for Quebec residents. We pay a low rate on the first 36 kWh per day and a premium on the remainder we use to incentivize us to conserve energy. This premium is usually applied in the winter. The premium is more than it used to be, which may be why we predominantly use electric heating.

This contextualizes the value of the kWh expressed in the article. Your mileage will vary depending on your own household energy mix; I hope it might encourage you to switch to non-petroleum/non-carbon-sourced energy for your needs.

Now that it’s been five years since I first published “Saving Electricity in Winter,” I thought it was time to do an update. After all, I’ve installed a pellet stove, added insulation to my attic, and gotten a new Ener-G-guide rating for my home through Quebec’s Reno-Climat program. I did this by participating in the Réno-Vert eco renovation scheme from Revenu Québec that assists home owners in making energy- and water-efficient upgrade to their homes.

Last year, I posted the following status update to Facebook to celebrate my results. (I’ve posted a lot of good stuff to FB that I should’ve posted here!)

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How cracks in my asphalt driveway revolutionized my life

If you’ve been to this blog or my Facebook page at least once before, you’ve probably seen photos of my green driveway. They’re all over the place, like in the video here. And yet every year, just like several years before I put it in, some contractor dude who’s thinking “that ain’t right!” drops by with a card to “fix” it. (I can’t blame him for pounding the pavement looking for clients, but still…).

Sometimes he even jots a quote on the back as to how much it would cost me to rip out my green driveway and put down some blacktop asphalt driveway. You know, my green driveway cost a little more than what he’s quoting, because it was kinda fancy underneath, but I won’t have to “repair” the crack every five years like he wants me to. No, thank you.

I used to have an asphalt driveway. About the only thing you can do on an asphalt or concrete driveway that you can’t do on mine is play basketball. And maybe make chalk drawings, but you know, the city sidewalk’s right there, so that’s no biggie.

See, for a long time I had cracks in the driveway where plants would grow. That’s why they’d wanna “repair” it. But why would I let that bother me? Water percolating into the soil and being taken up by plants actually cools the air through transpiration.

“But frost heaves!” – it’s a driveway, not a highway; a little bump from a crack is not a problem.

“But bigger cracks!” More plants!

Why would I want black top + hot sun make my driveway and home hotter, rather than something cooling it down? Besides, when the plants were growing in the cracks in my driveway, guess what the bunnies’ favourite outdoor snacks were?

That’s right – CRACK SALAD!

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