Island Life, so far

It’s been a week since I’ve been living over here on the east side of Vancouver Island and it already feels like home.

Probably that’s because the wind has been such that I haven’t smelled the stupid pulp mill once this week.

Still running all around town, mostly to and from Wal-Mart for things like the low-hanging second-tier closet rod so I can double hang clothes in my closet:

and other assorted crap. Like this morning I realized that 1. I couldn’t find my razor, and 2. I was starting to look like an East Van feminazi, so that was yet another trip to Wal-Mart to get a new razor before anyone think I was growing my leg hair out on purpose as opposed to because I have no idea where my razor is.

And, y’know, all the other little trips for things like Lysol, new houseplants, getting to scope out the local quilt/fabric shops, etc.

Plus I figured out that Thrifty Foods is simply the island version of Safeway, so I have secured a source of my favorite croutons without which I cannot stand eating salad, so that’s good.

So far the worst issue I’ve run into was last night when I learned that 1. the sprinkler system comes on at 3am every other night and 2. when it does, it sounds like a car doing donuts on the gravel driveway under my bedroom window. Scared the crap out of me until I almost got sprayed in the face looking out the window to see what was going on.

I guess the last few times the sprinklers have been on I was in a much deeper sleep.

I’ve gone through about half my boxed-up wardrobe and purged 2 big bags of stuff for donation, even though I swear I purged my wardrobe before I boxed it up. I guess my criteria are stricter now. Or at least my current closet space is tighter. When we’re done changing the floor and painting the walls of what will be my room downstairs, I’ll have a much bigger closet, but I’d rather have it more sparsely filled anyway instead of stuffed.

And I have been thinking a bit about minimizing the junk anyway. Probably should have done that before packing and moving but oh well, better late than never.

I’ve been thinking more seriously about green living in general, actually.

Must be something in the water, except when I arrived last Thursday my village was under a boil water advisory and though it was lifted on Friday, I still haven’t drunk any tap water.

But anyway… had to go up to Nanaimo yesterday and bundled a few errands there together to make a day of it and make the journey worthwhile. On the way there I passed by the pulp mill, and I was shocked and maybe a little sickened to see a truckload of logs going into it. Somehow I had always thought that paper was made from forestry waste — spindly twisted and stunted logs, branches, logs that could be used for no other purpose, etc. I have no clue where I got this notion, probably one of the lies I was told in school in social studies class.

But these were big straight logs that surely could be better used for lumber and building things.

It gave me something to mull over on my drive, imagining those logs being fed into the wood chipper to be made into what? Shopping list pads? More copies of shitty erotica novels?

And on the way back a few hours later I saw a double truckload going in. Sigh…

But I looked it up when I got home and apparently they do take logs from tree plantations grown just for that purpose. And there are barges laden with sawdust pyramids coming into the bay all the time which seem to come from sawmills, so there is some of that forestry waste coming in to be used, and Wikipedia claims only 21% of the pulp sources come from whole logs as an average stat… Still seems like a waste — but that’s how our society is, eh? — but at least it’s not wild forests, I guess.

The thought occurred to me, though, that I also passed lots of corn and hayfields and surely there’s cellulose in them thar agricultural waste. I mean, we take the ears of the corn off and that leaves a 6 foot tall plant that must be good for something if we figure it out. And someone in Vancouver is working on just that: agripulp. Maybe in 50 years that’s how all paper will be made… mind you, then I guess all the forests will get chopped down in favour of cornfields. Go figure.

Anyway, it got me thinking of how much paper I use, even though I recycle religiously. And that got me thinking of a few other areas where I’ve idly thought here and there of more eco ways of doing things.

No, I ain’t giving up my car. And I ain’t turning vegetarian, either. And for now I’m probably going to keep on being a bleached blonde.

But I am thinking of other things, small things: last time I went to the beach around the corner from my new house, I forgot to take a plastic bag and sure enough there were a couple beer cans and other detritus I could have picked up. Now, the beach here is vastly cleaner than any in Vancouver:

(At least in terms of litter. Thanks to the pulp mill, this whole area has signs warning not to harvest the shellfish, so it’s not really that clean…)

When I started hiking a bit last fall I did that and usually found at least a couple items needing picking up along the trails.

And I’ve been thinking of a kind of home detox thing. Look into natural cleaning products, natural beauty products, etc., especially the DIY sort. I sorta like the smell of my shampoo, but it is a bit artificial in a bad way, and I do wonder about the chem-tastic shade of purple and I can’t pronounce half the ingredients.

Meanwhile for all of human history until recently none of us used any of that crap on our hair and no one had any complaints. And I think earlier this year I had two straight weeks where I was busy and disorganized and didn’t have time to wash my hair, just quick showers to clean up and I left my hair in a bun because I didn’t have time to dry it. At the end of the two weeks, my hair actually looked and felt better than at the beginning. Didn’t smell bad, either.

And we have a septic system here, not to mention a creek running down one side of the property that groundwater may eventually leach into, which makes me wonder about the chemicals that go down the drain.

Part of my motivation for coming here was a healthier lifestyle more in tune with nature. Yeah, that’s about hiking and having deer napping in the driveway:

but it makes little sense to get gung-ho about seeing nature and wandering around in nature (all of which is good) but then being awash in chemicals on the home front and on the beauty front. At least if the goal is being healthy, not just being in good shape and seeing pretty things.

So maybe it’s time for me to get a little crunchy.

I have a passing fascination with off-the-grid living, and though I don’t know nearly enough about it to actually make any serious attempts yet, I can certainly make a few changes here and there. We’ll probably be getting some rain barrels this fall, and there’s talk of a heat pump combined with solar hot water heating to supplement things later on as well.

There’s a big garden area in the back and while right now I’m ignoring it, I’ll be getting into planting some vegetables next spring to start growing my own food. I might be learning to spin my own wool for knitting (though I guess I should use up all the commercial yarns I’ve been hoarding, first) and also to make my own soaps.

And I do want to get some bees as well.

Anyway, enough rambling for now. I’ll be making small changes here and there that will hopefully add up. This isn’t going to turn into a crunchy DIY website, though I may occasionally mention certain things here and there if they seem relevant or particularly interesting/effective.

Point is, I’ve lived here a week and things are already a whole lot different from my life in the city.

Sorta.

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