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Wednesday, 26 December 2012

I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas

Well - tis' the season for silly cliche's right?
This Christmas I really wanted to stay in the spirit but was having a hard time being bombarded with consumption advertising, plastic packaging, and rampant commercializing. So I made a vow - I would try to be as green as I could without being a Grinch to those around me. I think I did pretty well! Here are some of the things I did:
My children go to daycare and JK and I wanted them to still be able to give that special thank-you to the adults who spend so much time and care on them. Instead of giving another mug or bath-and-body product, my son picked out two books that the teachers could add to their classroom! Win Win:) My daughter has a number of teachers/EAs/helpers in her world so we got them each a cool reusable tote with a fun silk-screen design on it from a shop on etsy

What's nice about having little children (o.k. - ONE thing that's nice about having them) is that they haven't been shaped by society yet. My little ones don't know what's new, what's old, what's expensive, or what's 'trending'. They just know what they like. And lucky for me two of those things are Sesame Street and Fisher Price toys. I'm talking old school here. So when I saw the Sesame Street clubhouse and cash register at a local thrift/antique store I was super excited! Not only did we save money buying these gifts, but we stopped extra plastic from being created AND they required no extra packaging to be the most played with toys for the last two days. Fisher-Price - your old stuff rocks!

That last image is from another etsy seller whom I've bought a lot of vintage FP toys from and was able to get some coins for the cash register. Check out her shop at

I love it when people listen to me - really listen to me. I've been on this enviro. kick for a while now but I don't expect everyone to jump on board with me. However - my mom and hubby have been the ears to my rants lately and I guess some of my passion has stuck. Not only was my stocking full of Canadian Enviro. bath products (can't wait to try the toothpaste!) but I also got some new literature on being a force for optimistic change and waste-reduction. Thanks guys!

We did a number of other environmentally conscious activities this season: cut up old Christmas cards for gift tags, bake with organic ingredients etc. but I can't list them all here. I couldn't hack a buy-nothing-Christmas though I love the idea. I am going to try and do 'buy-nothing' days throughout the year though to take stock of my consumption habits. I hope everyone is having a great holiday out there!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Result of an Energy Audit

Nuts - we missed haveing even a PART of an energy audit covered by the government. They now won't subsidize ANYTHING! Grrrrrr.... Oh well - we got it done anyway and paid handsomly (almost $450) to be assessed by a rep. from GCC - Windfall Ecology Centre
She was very professional and did a thorough job. I think I was just expecting something more. I would have liked to know if our heating system was efficient and our appliances - but the assessment just covered the insulation of the house and basics we already knew. (like the dryer sucks energy)
The consultent used this device to seal the front door and vacuum the air out so she could test for air seeping in from the outside. Once the vacuum was in place, she surveyed all windows, doors, outlets, basboards, floors and ceilings to check for air tightness. Our house turns out to be pretty good. We need to do some caulking around outlets and baseboards, and our attic needs to be better insulated - but other than that - not bad! One other recommendation that we have already taken care of is the ceiling of the spare room in the lower level. We recently had some plumbing done and some of the ceiling tiles were removed and a hole was cut in the drywall.

This created a crazy draft which the rep. suggested we seal immediately. This has now been done! We had some extra tiles but we don't know how to drywall - but cardboard and duct tape does the trick :)

This little improvement has inspired me to do some of the other home improvements AND re-decorate the spare room envro-consciencely.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Deciphering Labels - Leaping Bunny

I am trying to be a more informed consumer but it is damned confusing! There are so many labels to understand to make sure a product is not harmful to the animals, workers, yourself, AND the environment. I want to make sure my consumption choices are environmentally sound and that I don't become a victim of "greenwashing" - when a producer claims environmental benifits in regards to it's products yet they are LYING! I think one of the best ways to ensure a product lives up to it's environemental promotion is to look for third-party verification. There are many independant organizations that investigate manufacturers and I am going to try and become familiar with them and their logos. The first one I am researching is the LEAPING BUNNY:

I have seen this logo on some body care and cleaning products and assumed it had something to do with animals. And guess what - my steller instincts were right! This independant organization ensures that the products sporting their logo have not been tested on animals durring any stage of their development. The ingredient suppliers also have to comply in order for the product to be approved. This does not mean that the product is organic or not harmful in any way to the environment - only that it has not been tested on animals. You can learn more about this certification by visiting the website

Me? I found this logo on a new product I'm going to try :) I'll post about it later - stay tuned!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Go ahead - bake my bread

One thing I am striving to declare war on is plastic consumption. It's everywhere! So - every little reduction helps right? Every time I buy a loaf of bread or six-pack of bagels at the grocery store - I consume another cheap plastic bag that may be able to be re-used once or twice, but is not accepted in my recycling bin. Also - have you ever read the ingredients on a loaf of bread? The chemicals for preservation make me squirm.
SO - I am trying to bake my own bread whenever possible. I have a great breadmaker and have figured out the timer so I can wake up or come home to the awesome smell of baked bread any day. BONUS - no preserving chemicals, it's cheaper loaf for loaf, AND I can sneak in those veggies once I understand the balence of a recipe.

Now I'm not obsessed with parsnips - really I'm not - but I have so much mash (see two posts ago) that I'm putting it in everything. Here's my recipe for Sweet Parsnip Bread:


Put all ingredients in this order into your breadmaker
1. 1/2 cup water
2. 1 cup mashed cooked parsnips
3. 1 egg
4. 1/4 cup skim milk powder
5. 1 1/2 tsp salt
6. 3 tbsp. brown sugar
7. 2 tbsp. oil
8. 3 1/2 cups flour
9. 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
10. 1 1/2 tsp. bread machine yeast

Set machine to Sweet Cycle for a 2lb. loaf. Yummy!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Stopping Menstral Plastic

I want to feature a product that I was ignorantly NOT into when I was a teen but have since seen the light even though it has to do with my most uncomfortable time of the month. I am talking about re-usable sanitary pads! If they are quality made - they work! They stop an incredible amount of plastic from going into our landfills as well as being produced in the first place! I recently watched a film "Addicted to Plastic" and was horrified how prevelent it is in our lives and how harmful it is in SO many ways (leaching toxins - who wants that next to our intimate parts?) This item I got from a wonderful seller on etsy, Bambi, Here is the awesome product she makes:
It is made out of cotton flannel (prewashed to help prevent against shrinkage, 3 layers), Warm & Natural batting (2 layers), and fleece. For pads designed for heavier flows, she adds a layer of PUL (polyurethane laminated fabric) to help make it waterproof. Each pad consists of 2 parts: the top pad and the underpad. Each top pad is quilted for comfort and I use a minimal amount of stitching to attach the top pad to the underpad, to help prevent against leakage. All pads have wings that wrap around your undergarment and snap together to help them stay put.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Local parsnips

Wow, sometimes trying to go Green can be time consuming. (especially with a four and two year old) This weekend I tried to put local produce a priority. We did a farm share this past summer/fall through Lunar Rythms Farms (link on the right) and I can still purchase some in-season items from them. SO... I bought 10lb of parsnips from them to prepare for the freezer. Once washed and peeled I boiled and mashed them to get aprox. 13 cups of parsnip mash and 5 cups of broth to freeze. This mash is a convenient staple to have on hand to add to soups or hide in baking (the cookbook Deceptivly Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld is a great one for sneaking in the veggies). Parsnips ae an excellent source of fibber, anti-oxidants, vitamins C B-6 K and E, iron, calcium, and potassium. Buying local helps reduce my carbon footprint and support my local organic farms. However - the process did take most of my 'free time' on Saturday (free time with little kids - what's that?).

Friday, 30 November 2012

A beginning

Here we go! This is my first blog so I hope I don't make too many mistakes. I am upset. I am frustrated. I am going to change. Recently I started teaching a high school course called IDC. This is a course that combines two credits - English and World Issues. After watching many documentary films and researching areas of interest for my students I felt inspired to "practice what I was preaching." The first unit was on Human Rights and the second we are just completing is on the Environment. I already consider myself an Environmentalist - but there is just so much more I (and my family) could be doing. So - I have given myself a year to be better. A year to help the environment. A year to educate myself and others. A year to change.