Latest posts in Queen of Green

Five electric car FAQs

January 13, 2017 | 1 comment
Photo: Five electric car FAQs

Chargers range in speed. The quickest provides 80 kilometres of range in as little as six minutes. (Credit: Paul Krueger via Flickr)

Like many of you, my family plans to buy an electric car.

I asked for your electric car questions and you came through! Here are answers from Steve Kux, David Suzuki Foundation renewable energy and climate solutions policy analyst:

How much do EVs cost?

Prices vary depending on battery size, make, model and options. They start at about $16,000 for a smart EV with a battery range of around 110 kilometres, to $100,000-plus for a fully equipped luxury model. The Nissan Leaf starts at about $32,000 — before subtracting government incentives — with a range of up to 172 kilometres. The first EV with mass consumer appeal is anticipated to be the Chevrolet Bolt EV (sales start in 2017). It starts at almost $43,000 with a range of 383 kilometres.

What's the lifespan of an EV battery?

Most manufacturers offer a warranty on their batteries for 10 years. Warranties guarantee that the range will not degrade significantly. EVs use lithium ion batteries like those found in laptops and cellphones. Over time, performance can become an issue if batteries are routinely overcharged or completely drained. Most manufacturers build programming into their cars to protect the battery from overcharging.

Tip: Avoid completely draining the battery.

Continue reading »

Twelve ways to green your holidays

December 12, 2016 | 2 comments
Photo: Twelve ways to green your holidays

Give the gift of time, it's precious. AND it's something you never get back (or have to dust, recycle or regift next year). (Credit: Nancy Lees)

'Tis the season of overconsumption and all its consequences — intended and unintended.

Here's a "best of" my holiday blogs to help get you through:

Tip 1: You have at least six options for holiday trees. Some you can plant to start a Christmas tree forest!

Tip 2: Ask for "presence" instead of "presents" from friends and family. Giving the gift of time is precious. AND it's something you never get back (or have to dust, recycle or regift next year).

Tip 3: Follow regifting etiquette 101.

Tip 4: Need a teacher gift idea? Make organic, fair trade shea butter lip balm with ingredients safe enough to eat!

Tip 5: Who needs gift wrap? Forego paper, scissors and tape! If you can tie a knot, you can wrap using furoshiki.

Continue reading »

The delicious benefits of edible perennial plants

November 29, 2016 | 1 comment
Photo: The delicious benefits of edible perennial plants

Oca is from the Andes and the bulb can be harvested after frost, once the above-ground greens die back. (Credit: Fluffymuppet via Flickr)

I aspire to eat more local foods — out of my own garden, if possible.

So I took a perennial vegetables workshop by Solara of Hatchet and Seed @hatchetnseed. She introduced me to a new term, "edimentals" — edible, ornamental plants — and supplied a list.

Perennial vegetables are great because they:

  • Keep coming back!
  • Withstand pests better than annuals
  • Build and improve soil quality
  • Don't need tilling, leaving mycelial culture (mushrooms and other fungi) and soil structure intact
  • Increase aeration and water absorption
  • Create compost, add to topsoil and bring up nutrients from deep down when dropped leaves die back each year
  • Are edimentals — delicious AND beautiful!

Artichokes

Need a warm, protected spot. Varieties include globe and cardoon (wild). Blanch stalks and eat them cooked, too! Warning: sunchokes or Jerusalem artichoke spread.

Asparagus

Buy crowns or start from seed. From seed to shoot takes three years! Before prepping your bed, think long-term (they live up to 40 years) and keep soil mounded.

Continue reading »

Three DIY recipes that are healthy for your skin, hair and the planet

November 21, 2016 | 1 comment
Photo: Three DIY recipes that are healthy for your skin, hair and the planet

Make my banana facial mask recipe with fair trade, local and organic ingredients. (Credit: Lindsay)

Many beauty product ingredients aren't pretty.

In fact, they're pretty ugly.

In 2010, the David Suzuki Foundation asked Canadians to read labels on their cosmetics. We were looking for a Dirty Dozen ingredients, including parabens, PEG compounds, parfum (a.k.a. "fragrance") and petrolatum. Eighty per cent of entered products contained at least one of these toxic chemicals!

Download a wallet-sized Dirty Dozen shopper's guide to help you avoid harmful chemicals in soap, shampoo, deodorant, etc. when you shop.

You can also make your own! These simple, effective recipes contain no toxic chemicals. They're healthy for your skin, hair and the planet.

Makeup remover recipe

Time needed: five minutes
Shelf life: approximately two months

15 ml (1 Tbsp) castor oil
15 ml (1 Tbsp) olive oil
Optional: 10 ml (2 tsp) sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil

Combine oils. Store in air-tight container. Use with washable cloth or compostable organic cotton balls/pads.

This recipe will help you avoid parabens used as preservatives in a variety of cosmetics. They're suspected endocrine disrupters associated with breast cancer and may interfere with hormone function.

Continue reading »

How to prevent bird window strikes

November 11, 2016 | 12 comments
Photo: How to prevent bird window strikes

Bird collisions with man-made structures is a leading cause of bird death in North America. (Credit: Andria Lavine va Flickr)

Windows are deadly for birds.

More birds die each year from crashing into homes and buildings than are killed by wind turbines and vehicles combined. In Canada it's the third leading cause of wild bird death, after cats (domestic and feral) and power lines, collisions and electrocutions. Window strikes kill about 100 million birds in North America each year.

Birds can't see glass. And they fly so fast, any collision is usually fatal.

Here are some simple, affordable changes you can make at home or work to prevent these deaths:

  1. Close blinds and curtains
  2. Move indoor plants away from windows
  3. Hang old CDs, aluminum pie plates or chimes to break up the expanse of exposed glass
  4. Plant a shade tree to cut down on reflection
  5. Dim or turn off lights, especially during spring and fall migration
  6. Install special screens to cushion impact
Continue reading »