Saturday, 6 October 2012

Seventh Generation Laundry

Earlier this week, I was watching a YouTube video posted by Deepak Chopra ( The Time for Change is Now ) regarding the current state of the environment and what the future will look like if we continue to live the consumerist lifestyles that we are living right now. One of the gentlemen on the panel was a representative from Seventh Generation - a company that produces "household and personal care products that help protect human health and the environment". He made some really great points, and I enjoyed learning about the corporation but I didn't think much of it. 

Two days later, I was at the grocery store grabbing a couple quick things for lunch and what did I see on the sale shelf? Seventh Generation laundry detergent. I figured it was meant to be, so I grabbed a bottle. Although I love my homemade detergent, my clothes haven't been coming as clean as I'd like, so I thought I'd give SG a go. Unlike other store-bought detergents, it doesn't smell toxic! How refreshing! 

Anyway, check out the Seventh Generation website. I think you will be pleasantly surprised :) They are based in Burlington Vermont - so yes, the products do have to travel here, but so do the baking soda & washing soda that I make my homemade detergent from. In terms of packaging - it is a lightweight, recycled fibre, compostable shell. My only concern is the "Innovative Inner Pouch" - I'm not sure what it's made of. 

In general, it seems like a great company. Let me know your thoughts. 

Oh, one last thing! I really enjoy the fact that they offer the ingredients and material safety data sheets right on their site. Nothing to hide! Check it : http://www.seventhgeneration.com/

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Veggie Vixen: Cold Relief w/ Zero Waste :)

Be cool ... check it out: The Veggie Vixen: Cold Relief w/ Zero Waste :) : Icy and sweet! Heat waves without a/c are a pretty interesting time - everything's sticky, you can't sleep, and eating hot food is impos...

Friday, 13 July 2012

Recycle your carpet!

Yesterday we had a totally awesome recycling experience, and I'm super pumped to share it! 


About a month ago, I decided that I couldn't handle living with the off-white carpet that covered our entire condo. So, when Krista went away for a weekend, I got to work right away! I cut it into manageable sizes, rolled it up, threw it on the balcony and covered it with a tarp. Little did I know at the time that it would be sitting there for a month :s After exhausting my resources in Halton, I came to the conclusion that there was NOWHERE to recycle this carpet in the region. My options were to 1. Take it to the dump, or 2. Take it to the Reuse Centre. Although I do love the Reuse Centre, I knew that there wouldn't be anyone who wanted to purchase this "well-loved" carpet. And the first option? Well, I can't even imagine how long it would take for all of that carpet and under pad to breakdown ... not cool. 


I finally found a place in Toronto: Carpet Cycle. I sent them an email, and I got a quick and friendly response from a gentleman named Kelly. After exchanging a couple emails, we were set. We borrowed a van, loaded it up, and headed off to Toronto. 


When we arrived, they checked the carpet with some kind of carpet reading device - I'm not exactly sure what for, but I'm guessing that some types of carpet are better for recycling than others? He said it was 6.6 and he was thrilled with that! The guys that unloaded it were incredibly friendly which made the whole experience just that much better. Once it was all unloaded, they shook our hands and Operations Manager, Luis Correa, passed us a business card for future referrals. 


So there you have it ... A five-star referral for Carpet Cycle Canada because: 1. What they do is amazing; and 2. the people who work there are awesome!


Be an eco-champion and check out their site :)

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Worm Bins!

Things got a little crazy this semester between teaching, coaching and training, but guess what? It's SUMMER!!! Which means my blog is back in action! So let's jump right in!

The first thing I want to talk about is my worm bins. Yup, worm bins. The whole idea of "Zero Waste" is zero IN and zero OUT right? Our friendly little worms help us with the zero OUT part of the equation. 

Getting the bins going was a slightly more difficult task than we had initially anticipated, but once the bins are balanced, vermicomposting is a breeze. 

Ready to start your own? Here's what you'll need:
  1. A large deep opaque bin. Suggestion: Rubbermaid Roughneck (check your local reuse centre, garage sales or Kijiji)
  2. Drill & 1/8" bit
  3. Combination of: Newspaper, brown cardboard, and/or brown paper bags
  4. 2 tbsp of crushed eggshells
  5. 1 lb of Red Wigglers (available online from http://www.cathyscomposters.com/
Step 1: Order your worms.

Step 2: Drill 10 - 20 holes in your bin. I drilled them in the lid, the top part of the bin, and then on the bottom for drainage. 

Step 3: Tear the newspaper etc. into 1 inch strips. (Helpful tip: the paper tears very easily in one direction but not the other!)

Step 4: Fill a bucket of water and drop your shredded paper mix into it. Let it soak through, then ring it out so that it is the consistency of a wet sponge.

Step 5: Add your soggy mix to your composting bin. Your bin needs to be about 1/2 full of wet materials.

Step 6: Add in your crushed eggshells and mix the bin up a bit. 

Step 7: Add some food scraps about an inch below the bedding, ensuring that they are well covered to avoid attracting unwanted visitors. 

Step 8: Add DRY shredded newsprint. Now be patient. Prepping your bin before your worms arrive creates a more favourable environment for your worms. 

Step 9: Add the worms on top of the bedding under direct light. The light will encourage the worms to head down into the bedding. 

Step 10: Let your worms adjust for a day or two and then begin feeding them small amounts. 
Place a second bin or tray under your bin to catch any runoff water.

Bedding: shredded damp newsprint & cardboard

Air holes in lid

Dry shredded newsprint on top of bedding

Our bin after about 3 months of vermicomposting

I currently have 2 bins on the go. I plan on taking the 2nd bin to school in September to bring composting awareness to my students. 

If you have any questions or would like to share your composting stories, please comment  :)



Saturday, 14 April 2012

Save your Food Scraps!

Reduce the waste in your kitchen! Check out The Veggie Vixen's blog to learn how to turn your food scraps into a delicious broth! 

Monday, 12 March 2012

Behind the Bathroom Door: 5 eco alternatives for a healthier you

It's time to talk about what goes on behind that bathroom door. 


More and more people have been asking about how to reduce waste in the bathroom. While some may think this particular topic is taboo, I've decided to cover it nonetheless. Below I have suggested alternatives to 5 products that you would find in the bathroom of most North American homes. While I do encourage you to eventually make the switch, I suggest that you use up whatever product you have left. Remember, becoming a zero waste home is a process. Throwing all of your bathroom products in the garbage today isn't the answer. Patience. 


1. Antiperspirant / Deodorant - Why stop? Antiperspirants are designed to keep you from sweating by clogging the pores with aluminum salts. We all know that skin is our largest organ, and that it absorbs what's put on the body, and brings it in. Here's the issue with putting aluminum ON your body: Once IN the the body, it is a neurotoxin - poison for your brain, and it has been linked to neurological diseases such as Alzheimers. Both antiperspirants and deodorants contain parabens which once absorbed, get stored in the body and mimic female hormones. The main issue with parabens is that they have been linked to breast cancer. (They are found in most cosmetics).
  • Alternative: "The Crystal" - reduces bacteria to control odor. Astringents such as witch hazel have antibacterial properties and constrict the pores. (I'm still in the process of figuring out exactly what works for my body.) Thanks to a FB post by Allison, I learned that Lush makes a waste-free deodorant bar. I haven't checked out the ingredients yet, but this might be another option. 
For more information on parabens, visit ControlYourImpact.com

2. Shampoo - Why stop? In short, shampoo is a detergent that strips your scalp and hair of natural oils it needs for optimal health. In addition to being a skin irritant, it also absorbed through the skin and into the blood. Why is this a problem? Well, when the chemicals of the shampoo and the shampoo bottle interact with each other, it creates carcinogens. These carcinogens then have to be filtered out of the blood by your hardworking organs. The same is true of many face washes, body washes and conditioners. 
  • Alternative: Shampoo - 1 tbsp of basking soda 1 cup of warm water. Conditioner - 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar in 1 cup of warm water. I measure out what I need in 2 separate glass cups and take them into the shower with me. Depending on the length of your hair, you can use less/more of each. With short hair, I can usually get away with a little less that 1tbsp. The cider vinegar is quite strong smelling, so I add 1-2 drops of lavender essential oil. Join the Poo Free movement! For body and face washes, I use a little bit of my baking soda mix and a wash cloth to scrub down my face and body. If you want something separate, check out castile soap. 
3. Tampons & Menstrual Pads - sorry boys, you'll probably want to skip over this one ;) Ladies, why should you stop using these? 1. For the environment: keep applicators, tampons, pads & wrapping out of the landfills; 2. For your own health: putting bleached cotton inside of your body for up to 8 hours is toxic to your body. 
  • Alternative: A menstrual cup. There are many available on the market but only one that has been approved by Health Canada. I've been using it since 2005, and love it. It's called the The DivaCup, and it's available at Burlington Health Foods, Goodness Me and Whole Foods. The DivaCup is made from top quality silicone that is free of latex, chlorine, dyes, colourings and additives. (Krista made the switch as well, and she pointed out that an added bonus to being environmentally-friendly and better for your health, is that you also save some serious cash!)

4. Toilet Paper - Ever thought about it? Next time you watch a toilet paper commercial, REALLY watch it and you'll notice how ridiculous it is. North Americans want it to be white (bleached), 4 ply, and extra-soft (virgin trees). Many of Canada's forest are no longer just forests - they're farms. The trees are logged then shipped off to Asia where they are turned into toilet paper, then shipped back to Canada and the US for our use. What an incredibly negative impact on the environment! Once an area has been cleared, hippy treeplanters like my sister move in to help the forest regenerate so that the process can be repeated again and again. 
  • Alternative: Water. Recycled non bleached toilet paper.
For a good TP read, check out The Truth Behind Toilet Paper

5. Toothpaste - Fluoride. It's in our water and it's in most toothpastes. Fluoride disrupts the endocrine system and it can contribute to hypothyroidism. Many also contain parabens, dyes, and triclosan, an anti-bacterial that's another hormone-distruptor. 
  • Alternative: Tom's of Maine, Burt's Bees, Nature's Gate (My fav) or Dr. Ken's. The downside to these is that you still have a tube left at the end that has to be recycled or worse, thrown out. Some people have suggested using baking soda, but I'm not 100% sold on this idea yet. My main concern is that baking soda is quite abrasive and could damage enamel if not used correctly. Any opinions on this? Or personal experiences?
Happy healthy living :) Stay tuned for Part 2!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Places you can feel GOOD about shopping at

If you've been reading my blog, you probably feel the same as I do. You're learning more and more about how every decision you make affects the environment, and your health. It's getting increasingly difficult to shop at big box stores and the mall - your conscience is speaking to you louder than ever before.


The question is, what can you do about it? Especially in suburbia, right? 


Family owned stores are few and far between, but they ARE out there - you just have to seek them out. For those of you in South Burlington, check out Marilu's Market for your groceries. Read their "About Us" tab on: http://www.marilusmarket.com/index.htm. For organic foods (non-produce), bulk items, teas and vitamins, stop by Burlington Health Foods on Fairview. If you can't find what you need there, Goodness Me is just down the road (this IS a chain however). For local produce, I suggest Plan B Organics, or a weekly trip to the Hamilton Farmers Market. Once the weather warms up a bit, visit the Burlington Farmers Market at the Burlington Mall. 


For items around the house, I now try to find a "previously loved" version of what I need so that I can keep my eco-footprint to a minimum. Initially this seemed quite daunting. I was used to dropping by a store, getting what I needed, and walking back out shortly after. Now, it's a process, and it takes time - but when I finally do find what I need, I feel much better knowing that I have made a more environmentally friendly choice. My favourite places to shop for household items are: 

  • Kijiji - Find/sell anything and everything. The best place to find previously loved furniture that's in good condition for a great price.
  • The Reuse Centre (located on the North Service Road) - this place is amazing. You have to be prepared to search, but what you find will be well worth your time.
  • Value Village - I'm a big fan of VV for glass jars to store my bulk items in. They also take donations, so when you go to pick something up, try to drop off something that you don't use anymore. Clear Clutter for a Cause - donations support local nonprofit programs :) Although they are a chain, I support their initiative to positively impact our planet through waste reduction and natural resource conservation. 
  • Plato's Closet (Burlington location on Upper Middle) - this is where you'll want to shop for your clothes. Also, a chain, but a great alternative to the mall. You won't find your Grandma's old sweater here - everything is brand name and was probably sold in the malls less than 2 years ago. If you need a wardrobe update, check it out. They also buy your gently used clothes - so again, take something with you. 

From now on, when you're heading out to make a purchase, keep these words in mind:

  • Family owned/run
  • Independent
  • Secondhand
  • Local

Happy guilt-free shopping!