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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

March on Monsanto

This Saturday at 2PM I will be in Oshawa marching with my daughter (if she can stay awake) against one of the scariest companies on the planet - MONSANTO.
I first became aware of this company after watching the incredible film Food, inc. They are a seed and pesticide (among other things) company that have taken over corn, soybean, and cotton production crops - just to name a few. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are plants/animals created through gene splicing and merging DNA from different species. The concept of GMOs started out as a good idea with supporters touting how they could create bigger and better crops and be the solution to world hunger. Instead, bugs and weeds that were supposed to be blocked by GMOs and their partner pesticides and herbicides have evolved to super strength so farmers have to use MORE chemicals to beat them.

Another issue (that is more ethical than environmental) surrounding GMO seed is the idea of patents. Before GMO seed farmers would save seed from year to year to start their next crop. This is a practice that has been going on since humans started to plant anything! Now companies like MONSANTO own patents to their seeds and require farmers to sign contracts that prohibit saving and re-planting seed. This restricts biodiversity AND makes the farmers beholden to the company for their livelihoods. Since 2001 the price of Monsanto GMO soybean and corn seed has more than doubled. Cases have gone to court (like Bowman vs. Monsanto where patents have successfully been defended at the expense of the 'little guy.'

Finally, many companies that patent GMO seeds also "develop and patent the pesticides and herbicides to which the unique seeds are resistant. Monsanto is the largest seed company in the world and owns about 86% of GMO seeds sown globally. It is also the parent of Roundup." (, Queen of Green, Understanding GMO) So once the farmer pays through the nose for the seed, signs the contract, and ensures that approximately. 70% of their inventory is from the same supplier (to avoid cross pollination), they then need to spray continuously with Roundup (what the seed is genetically modified to withstand) which is owned by the same parent company! I love farmers - especially ones who are independent and want to grow good food for me and my family. So not only am I marching for the environment and against big corporation on saturday - but I am also marching for that farmer who is trying to do a good job. Join me and find your closest march by clicking this link: occupy monsanto.

P.S. The Non-GMO Project is a great organization/site to visit if you want to learn more about GMOs and how to avoid them. They have an excellent search engine where you can verify products and see which ones have earned their third party verification seal:

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

What's that Garbage coming outta yo' Mouth?

All small changes can have an impact. I am on a quest to eliminate all single-use plastic from my life. This includes plastic wraps, bags, packaging etc. One area I have found particularly needling to my conscience is the life of take out garbage.

I wish I could stop myself from ordering take-out all together - but I'm far from perfect and sometimes I really want that burger/drink/sweet treat. I avoid contact with styrofoam at all costs - preferring to go without than contribute to that waste stream - but cutlery and straws have required a little more effort. Rather than accept that plastic utensil (sometimes wrapped in MORE plastic to keep it sterile in a take-out bag) with my order, I now say a polite "No Thanks, I have my own." This is my Reusable Bamboo Utensil Set that I bought from a company called To-Go Ware. The utensil holder is made from RPET - a fabric made from recycled plastic bottles, and the utensils themselves are bamboo - an incredible renewable resource. The pack comes with a fork, knife, spoon, and chopstick set. It's great for tossing in my purse before I head out the door.

Another piece of disposable plastic that comes in contact with your mouth are straws. Usually they are also individually wrapped in paper or plastic and are tossed without a second thought. Me? I'm switching to stainless steel! Once again I went to one of my favourite online shops, Life Without Plastic, and placed and order for four stainless steel straws that come with their own cleaner. Unfortunately they were made in China and were incased in plastic packaging - but if they stop my straw garbage for the rest of my life (and my kids too) - I think they're worth it.

Now even though my work colleagues are pretty good at bringing their own utensils for lunch - I did get a bit of teasing about my set. (mostly because it looks like it could attach to your belt or fanny pack) That's o.k. - I feel better stopping my plastic consumption and decided to provide them the opportunity to avoid plastic consumption with me. I easily found extra stainless steel cutlery at my local re-sale shop. So I bought a bunch of forks and spoons and left them in the office for 'that day' when a person forgets their cutlery or we're having a particularly messy treat day. They are there for anyones use - and I'm not constantly promoting or tracking it. I really try not to harass people about environmental choices so as not to turn them 'off' or away. So - although I could continue this post with the sad impact plastic cutlery can have on one's self and the environment - I'd rather let you read that (if you wish to do more research) by clicking on this link to a great and comprehensive article by Andrew Bernier: Living the Life of a Plastic Fork.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

I love this company

Have you heard about the company TERRACYCLE?

This is one of my new favourite institutions. I read about it in Amy Korst's "Zero Waste Lifestyle" and I couldn't believe my eyes! It's a company that strives to find uses for and/or recycle the pieces of waste that your local waste management department can't. Here's how it works:

1. Go to Terracycle's website and click on the subheading "send us your waste." A grid of brigades will pop up. Here you can scan for waste streams that you contribute to but can't recycle or repurpose in your own hometown. I currently am a member of the diaper packaging, cereal bag, and coffee bag brigades. I want to do more - but I'm trying to start slow so I don't bite off more than I can chew.

2. Sign up for the streams you wish and start collecting! I collect my own waste and some from my daughter's daycare as well as donations from my work colleagues. I set up some 'pink boxes' in the staff room and let my fellow workers know that they could put their 'junk' in the 'boxes' any time they felt like it. I was quick to let them know that the 'size of their junk' didn't matter - it's what they do with it that counts :)

3. Once I have enough 'junk' I just log into my account at and request a shipping label to be sent to my e-mail. They PAY for me to ship them my collection!

4. Finally - as if curbing waste isn't enough of an incentive to ship to terracycle - they credit my account with points that can be turned into a donation to a charity of my choice! Once I have enough I'm donating to the David Suzuki Foundation. The environmental benefits just multiply!