Heather Conn Blogs

spoutin’ about by the sea

SmartKlean washing ball — it really works

When I bought a SmartKlean washing ball on Earth Day in Roberts Creek, I’ll admit to some skepticism. Was this strange, bright-green ball, full of ceramic pellets and a double magnet, truly going to clean my laundry?

Friendly local vendor Neale Smith explained the impact of the various pellets, from chlorine removal to “the far infrared effect.” The latter breaks down the water’s hydrogen molecules, which causes more molecular motions. Negative ions then weaken the water’s “surface tension” so that dirt can be removed more easily. Apparently, it’s all about friction.

And those two magnets, stuck together? They are supposed to generate electrical charged particles that cling to dirt and bacteria, which then disappear with the water outflow.

It all sounded impressive, albeit dubious. My husband was even more skeptical than me. But I liked the idea of not polluting water or using chemical-laden detergents. And one small washing ball was supposed to last for 365 wash loads. That would save on a lot of detergent.

I bought the ball. Like the directions said, I threw it into the washing machine full of clothes, ensuring that there was enough room for it to bounce around. When the laundry was done, it looked great. Better still, the wash had not left white streaks on the clothes, like detergents can.

Even my husband was impressed. We’ve since done several more washes and all have turned out really well.

I’m delighted to be using a new product that delivers what it promises: “practical, economical, ecological.” There’s one more bonus: you don’t need a rinse cycle because there are no chemicals to rinse out.

We need more balls, so to speak. Let’s get these out in popular use and put laundry detergents and fabric softeners out of business.

Besides, in a pinch, you can always use one as a percussion instrument.

The SmartKlean washing ball is available at IGA and through It’s About Time Eco Product Distributors. The initial $50 outlay is high, but it’s worth it when you consider how many tubs or boxes of laundry detergent it will save you in a year or more.


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May 15, 2012 at 9:36 pm Comments (0)

Proposed clearcuts threaten high-use Day Road forest

A woman riding English saddle on a sleek, tall horse stops on a forest path and waits for our group of about 20 to enter the woods before she proceeds. We’re making her horse nervous. Elphinstone Logging Focus (ELF) has invited us here, into the Day Road forest in Roberts Creek, B.C., to see what could soon be gone due to logging.


This heavily used recreational area, part of Island Timberlands’ (IT) private forest, is the northern section of a 120-hectare (300-parcel) parcel already logged by IT. Part of district lot 2674, it is an important wildlife corridor, containing patches of old forest, a network of high-value trails and a gorgeous waterfall. I am amazed at how serene and pristine the forest entrance and the woods itself look and feel, only a few kilometres north of Highway 101.

Some might argue that since this is private land, Island Timberlands has a right to do what it wants with this piece of forest. But Elphinstone Logging Focus sees it as part of a community legacy, an opportunity for sustainable, rather than clearcut logging. This informal conservation group is calling on Island Timberlands to donate this parcel to the Crown, to be added to an expanded Mount Elphinstone Provincial Park.


“You can see in one section where it was selectively logged in the early nineties,” says ELF president Ross Muirhead. “There’s a lush underground of salal, the hydrology is controlled. It looks like a European eco-forest.”

Muirhead, who has spent years lobbying passionately to stop clearcut logging on Mount Elphinstone, emphasizes that if IT chooses to log in the Day Road forest, he would like to see the parcel, as a compromise,  selectively logged, leaving old-growth timber, and only the trees that are ready for harvesting taken. He emphasizes that the Roberts Creek Official Community Plan calls for selective logging, but no clearcuts.

Island Timberlands’ plans to clearcut the Day Road forest contravene a community agreement made with MacMillan Bloedel, who previously held the timber licence to this parcel, says Muirhead. Following a roadblock in March 1997, MacMillan Bloedel agreed to a selective harvesting plan. Logging was done off the main trail network so that the forest maintained a balance between cut areas and intact forest.

We stop and admire a tall red cedar, which has a series of high scrape marks caused by cougar claws. It’s the animals’ marking tree, the same one used repeatedly.


With the waterfall as their backdrop, a visiting couple poses for a photo on a high point on the steep trail. We discover that they were married in this exact spot roughly a year ago; they have returned, from off-coast, to revisit the beauty. An activist woman in our group tears up when recounting how much this forest means to people; she sees this couple’s anniversary gesture as a poignant symbol of that.

Our group ends up at the “knitted trees” (I had thought it meant intertwined tree trunks), where community members have decorated trees with colourful yarn-bombing. (For more on yarn-bombing and its origins, see my archived blog post “Woolly public art: better than tea-cosies” I decide that I like this form of human demarcation, admittedly quirky and funky, a lot more than clearcut destruction.


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May 7, 2012 at 9:25 am Comments (0)