Archive for September, 2009

Equinox and International Day of Peace

Tomorrow, Tuesday, is the Autumn Equinox and today the 21st is international day of peace.  First peace, then balance.

A friend celebrates the Equinox by putting all her summer clothes away; putting up a fall wreath and displaying dried leaves in vases. I’m thinking of planting some bulbs in my window boxes (the ones on the east side don’t have anything growing in them right now.)

It’s such gorgeous weather, it seems premature to bring out the fall clothes, so maybe I’ll wait till Hallowe’en for that.


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Laurel pruning – and killing jars

Hmmn. So in Vancouver plant laurel all over the place. It grows quickly and is hardy so the first first years go well. And then… you have 30-40′ trees invading the sidewalk, the neighbour’s property and probably blocking out the other trees.

I accidentally found a site asking if it was ok to burn laurel (as it has a substance that is released in water – albeit in minuscule quantities.)

So that then led me to a wikipedia article on how to use laurel leaves for a natural and relatively humane insecticide:

A killing jar is a device used by entomologists to kill captured insects quickly, humanely and with minimum damage.

The crushed leaves of the shrub Cherry laurel are a very effective killing medium. They should be placed in the jar beneath a layer of absorbent material, such as blotting paper or tissue.

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Surfacants – Surface Active Agents

What’s wrong with them? Well, they’re not all toxic or even synthetic.

more than you wanted to know at:,%20Part%202:%20Soap%20vs.%20Detergent.php

Here’s an excerpt:

Are All Synthetic Surfactants Toxic?
No! But many of the synthetic surfactants found in detergent personal care products are under scrutiny for their toxicity to humans. These include common surfactants and emulsifiers like cocomidopropyl betaine, sodium laureth sulfate, cocamide DEA, TEA (Triethanolamine), and ethoxylated alcohols like ceteareth-12 alcohol, many of which are responsible for releasing carcinogenic formaldehyde and 1,4 Dioxane. On the other hand, decyl glucoside may sound scary, but is a gentle surfactant produced from a reaction between glucose from cornstarch and a fatty alcohol from coconuts. How can you not be confused?!

What Else is in Detergents?
Detergents usually also contain thickening agents like Polyethylene glycol (PEG) that make the detergent feel thick, even with the addition of up to 90% water. This group has some of the highest toxicity ratings and carry serious concerns about organ system toxicity and carcinogenic cell mutation. And to help detergent shampoos “moisturize” many contain humectants or additives such as propylene glycol. Propylene glycol is a very common additive in personal care products and skin and respiratory irritant which can cause liver and kidney damage and is also found in paint, wallpaper removers and de-greasers. Yikes!

My goodness, there’s a lot to learn.

Sounds like I just need a reputable recommendation for products that are recommended and I can leave all this scientific polysallabic stuff behind. I don’t even mind socks that are grey on the bottom, so…

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Tide (and probably other) laundry products

What’s wrong with Tide?

Here’s a wiki answer:

It’s common practice not to provide exact ingredient listings for cleaning products. However, from Proctor & Gamble’s website Tide appears to contain the following basic categories of ingredients (this is for the liquid version):

  • surfactant
  • fluorescent whitening agents
  • enzymes
  • fragrances

The powdered version also contains insoluble ash.


What I’m learning is many of the added fragrances are toxic – e.g. better to use tea tree essential oil than products with chemical fragrances.

Here’s Tide’s home page:

I posted this question:

Toxic Tide?

Hello, someone in my housing co-op uses Tide. We’re concerned about products with toxic ingredients. Is Tide toxic?  Do you make products that have no toxic chemicals in them – i.e. “green” or “eco-friendly”?

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Leaves on the street – not!

Turns out it’s illegal to sweep leaves onto the road. Who knew?

gives info on do’s and don’ts for leaf removal.

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FREE: Pebbles for drainage or landscaping

A few years ago when the city was redoing the sidewalk, they brought a pile of pebbles and asked (Keith, who’s no longer with us) if we wanted them along the edge of the garden. He, a non-gardener, said, “yes” – and now I’m picking them up slowly but surely – and they’re yours if you want them. There are two buckets full out front now and I’ve given away about 8 buckets so far.

It’s my personal Sisyphus project.  I turn my back and the pebbles multiply, I’m sure.

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Lambs Ears “for sale” (price: free)

I’ve dug up some more lambs’ ears – love the stuff and it’s so hardy, but it spreads. And when it spreads it gets puny and ugly, so I’ve dug some up and put it out at the corner. Please take some if you want. I joined the Freecycle network ( and after giving away lots of plants in recycled pots, I ran out of pots. So I found a freecycle friend who had about 40 pots to give away – so I’m in good supply again.

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