Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sicily Round 2

I forgot I had the big old Digital SLR so I have these photos too!!!

The ear of Dionysis or something like that. I'll look it up later.

Sunset in Siracusa

The alley our B&B was in on.

Artsy photo of the Duomo in Siracusa

The normal photo of the Duomo

This is a night shot of Castelmola which is actually above Taormina. Very small and quiet town.
Another photo in Castelmola. Not sure how that old FIAT got up the road!

Photos from Sicily

How about some photos from the trip to Taormina and Siracusa?! Remember I only have a iphone now.

Crossing the straits. It was too cold to go out on deck. This was in January!!!

Gnocchi with Pistachios. Very good. I highly recommend it.
Boats in the Siracusa harbor.
This was the most surprising find. The catacombs of San Giovanni under this church are incredible.
It wouldn't be Sicily without Cannoli!!!!

The only view of Mount Etna. The rest of the time it was covered with clouds.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Plastic in 2011

So this year we (Italy and I) are lowering our plastic usage, sort of, let me explain. Italy passed a law way back in 2007 to cut down on the number of plastics in use. The law got pushed back several times but finally came into effect on January 1, 2011. It says that plastic bags are “illegal”. Now I put that illegal in quotes because like everything in Italy it’s all relative. For one thing the stores are allowed to keep giving them out until they run out of the old stock. They are supposed to use only biodegradable after that and charge for them to give people incentive to use reusable bags. They are trying to promote cloth bags. So far this year I haven’t noticed any difference. There were some places that already used biodegradable bags and some that didn’t. It seems to still be that way. But before I knew all this I had already started collecting cloth bags last year in various ways so now I’m making the most of them. For instance last year in India I was in a part of the country that already had a ban like this on plastic bags. In 2 places I bought something and they put the items in a small cloth bag. This worked out great because now I have 2 cloth bags, one small and the other medium sized. Also last year I got 2 bigger bags when I bought cat food. They were part of a promotion and they are very ugly but they work. Two other cloth bags were given to me as promotional items when new stores opened in Brindisi. Sorry mom the cloth bag you gave me I gave toAlberta because it wasn’t manly enough! Anyway I have made it habit this year to always go out with a bag in hand, even if I’m not planning on buying anything. I figure you have to get in the habit or it won’t work. It seems to be working. The number of plastic bags that I had has diminished greatly, so what am I going to use when cleaning the cat litter boxes?!! I’ll have to get some good biodegradable bags myself.

Then other part of my low plastic life is water bottles. At work I can get a half liter bottle of water for 25 euro cents out of the vending machine. This seems like nothing so I didn’t think twice about buying a bottle once in a while. Also there are recycling bins at work so I always put the bottles there so I felt ok about it. This year I’m trying to eliminate it all together by refilling a bottle and bringing it from home. The result so far is I have bought 1 bottle of water from the vending machine at work. I don’t think I have saved much money but I would like to think that I’m doing my part to improve my habits every year. At lunch they give a half liter bottle with your meal so there is nothing I can do about that. I have started bringing in a panino for lunch instead of always eating in the cafeteria.

In a related story I bought a new CD case. This is the book-type of case that holds just the CD. I took all of my CDs out of their stupid individual cheap crap plastic cases and put them into the new book-type case. I saved the CD cover/booklet with the CD because that’s important part of these old CDs. My first reason for this was my CDs were taking up too much space on the shelves of the apartment and I never use them. This change made it so my CD collection takes up A LOT less space, which in turn gave me room for other crap that I’ve been collecting on the shelves. Also I felt good throwing out all cheap plastic. Many were already broken or cracked so feel a little liberated by doing this.

Last year was LED light bulbs and solar panels. This year plastic. Hmmm what else can do to be greener? That reminds me that I’ve seen LED light bulbs on sale lately. I think a new generation of bulbs are about to come out and they need to sell off what they have in stock. I think this year they will come out with bulbs that give off “good light” and by this I mean truly equivalent to incandescent but they will stay be too expensive. I say in 2014 LEDs will replace 90% of the lights we use. I already see more and more styles and types in the store. I saw some being used to light the tunnels on the A3 fromSalerno to Reggio Calabria on my way down to Sicily. That should be a good test of them. If they can take being on all the time and in the conditions of the tunnels then they could prove their worth.