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Be Green

Green Resolutions

If you've resolved to get in shape this year, why not start by reducing your eco-footprint?
I spoke with Jasmine Stuart of Sustainable Concordia and together we came up with a "Be Green" program that's simple, effective and beginner-friendly (while still being fresh enough to appeal to harder-core greenies).


The Be Green way to cook pasta
Okay, that's pompous--I certainly didn't invent this. I can't actually remember where I stumbled across this simple idea, but there you go. 'Twas a greener mind than mine.
So this is how you do it:
1. Use only enough water to cover the pasta plus an inch.
2. Boil water as usual. i.e. add a bit of salt to lower the boiling point and keep the lid on.
3. When the water's boiling, throw in the pasta (or egg noodles, etc)
4. Crack the lid and boil for one minute by the clock.
5. Turn OFF the stove and leave the pot covered for the amount of time specified on your package of pasta.
6. Voila, a lovely low-energy-consuming lunch!

This low-energy trick is also one you can use while baking. Here's how:

1. If your dish requires baking for more than 20 mins, there's no need to pre-heat the oven. Just pop it in cold and cook as usual.
2. If you DO preheat, you can usually turn off your oven a good 15 to 20 minutes before the recommended cook time.
NOTE: This ONLY WORKS IF YOU KEEP THE OVEN DOOR SHUT! Curiosity will not help your baking! It let's all the heat out!
3. Use glass (Pyrex or Corningware or similar brands) bakeware. Because of the way glass conducts heat, you can cook your dishes at 25 degrees Farenheit or 20 degrees Celsius LOWER than the recommended cooking temperature.


Start with your food habits.
Okay, buying organic and fair trade stuff can be expensive. So if you aren't already doing it, here's the easiest way:
Replace one item at a time.
This means that you choose an item a week or per month and stop buying the "regular" non-green version. If we use milk as an example, this would mean buying only organic milk. While your budget adjusts to this, continue shopping the way you usually do for everything else (but quit using plastic bags! Please!). Once it's comfortable, move on to the next item on your list.
How to choose items?
1. You MUST replace items that are "regular" buys. So no cheating: you can't only buy occasional fair trade and organic items and say you're done.
2. Cocoa, coffee, tea, sugar and chocolate are the best items to start with. You can't ever buy them locally and the little extra you spend will go an incredibly long way ensuring that kids and adults on the other side of the world have the basics that you and I take for granted. Regular coffee and chocolate are produced in ways that are akin to slavery for the workers involved. Read CBC journalist Carol Off's award-winning "Bitter Chocolate". You'll never want a Hershey bar again (but there's still loads of ways to enjoy this yummy treasure that are earth and humanity-friendly)
3. If you're already very green in your eating habits, make it a point to buy products that come in as little packaging as possible. Just because Montreal accepts certain plastics and paper into its green bins DOESN'T mean they're being recycled (see my previous blog entry for more).

So that's what Jasmine and I came up with. I'd love to hear YOUR ideas. What are you doing to be greener this year? Leave me a comment or call our Talkback Line: (514) 597-5626

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Comments (4)

Yvonne Wall


I am sitting here with 10 ruined muffins thanks to your Concordia University, know-it-all-guest this evening. Turning off the oven and leaving the food to coast to doneness, does not work and she owes me a new package of Quaker Banana Muffins. THEY ARE UNEDIBLE.

Get real and stick to something you have tried. O.K.

Posted January 16, 2009 08:43 PM

Alison Proteau


Hi Geeta. I have been trying to shop for produce in what I percieved to be a better way such as organic produce or if not organic, then at least produce from Canada. Its not working out at all. There is very little organic produce available in the supermarkets and what is there is shipped in from far and away. As for "local" produce, its practically non-existant. Every thing seems to be from Mexico or California and I am finding it really disheartening.
I know Montreal has great markets but off the Island we are stuck with fewer alternatives. I even checked out an organic grocery in Laval and the produce consisted of beets, really nasty looking apples, and I think squash...?
So, there went that resolution..... :o(

Posted January 18, 2009 09:09 PM



From now on, I'll be posting stuff that folks call in to our Talkback Line as well. So we can all share:

-I did my share for the environment. I changed the oil in my car and hugged a tree.

- My name is Kevin Duckworth. I want to tell you about an act I do to keep the planet green. I work in a four storey building, it's a hospital. Instead of taking the elevator up and down, I take the stairs. So if I'm the only one using the elevator, at least it saves the trip and the electricity to run the motor for the elevator

Posted January 19, 2009 01:01 PM



My neighbour tends to throw good foods out, so now and then she will ask me if I want them. A while back I accepted some mustard, but it's really not good anymore. Do I throw the full jar in the garbage? Do I get rid of the contents (how?) and put the clean jar in the recycling bin?
Thanks for your help!

Barbara, the best thing to do would be to put the mustard in the garbage and recycle the container. Glad you're stepping in to prevent food waste! Good luck.

Posted February 18, 2009 04:07 PM

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