Green Gift Wrap: Options Galore

Hello and Happy Holidays Everyone!

I am assuming, like myself, you are all running around like crazy trying to finish your Christmas shopping, baking and decorating. Next comes the wrapping right?

Well I have three greener gift wrapping options for you guys to consider this season to dazzle your guests and give the planet a break. Two are beautiful and traditional, and the last is extremely easy and the greenest of all of them! But why should you consider ditching the traditional gift wrap this year? Well Canadian’s threw out an estimated 540,000 tonnes of gift wrap in 2017, which is 100,000 elephants in weight (if you needed the visual). This accounts for a large part of the 25% increase in waste generated by each Canadian during the holidays. And yes, I hear you somewhere out there saying “but gift wrap is paper, and paper can be recycled”. True, however, it takes 10 litres of water to produce a single A4 sheet of paper, not to mention the energy and chemical inputs to create that colourful wrapping paper. So, recycling isn’t going to be our planets saving grace, reduction and adaptation will be! So, by changing the way we look at our current habits and practices and giving them a green spin you can get a better, healthier result without having to compromise too much!

3 Green Gift Wrap Ideas Blog

This first option for you is the most traditional and should satisfy the most nostalgic of gift-givers. Brown kraft paper made from 100% recycled materials is an excellent option if you like the act of wrapping. Just check the label to ensure you are getting recycled fibre paper and not virgin fibre. Although you will still use a significant amount of unrecycleable tape, this a better option than using regular printed wrapping paper. If you are feeling crafty and artistic feel free to doodle, stamp or colour a pattern on your gift wrap, or just go au natural. I purchased a roll of 100% recycled kraft paper with these lovely polka dots on it to keep things interesting and useful for many occasions. Another source for kraft paper is actually in your shipments or packages from online orders, as long as you don’t mind a few wrinkles here and there – which in the right context could be very charming and rustic looking. 

Recycled paper giftwrap

Additionally skip the plastic ribbon and bows and embrace a more natural tableau. Adorn your gifts with cotton or wool yarn, jute twine, pine cones, real holly, eucalyptus and cedar sprigs. These items can all be composted at the end of the evening once the gifts have been opened and won’t end up in a landfill for the next 200 years.

Reuse boxes instead of buying new
Measure twice, cut once to ensure you don't waste your paper.
Use yarn instead of plastic ribbon to decorate your gifts. It can be reused for crafts and rewrapping.

Another beautiful and unconventional option which is very sustainable is wrapping gifts in festive fabrics. This Japanese practice called furoshiki, traditionally used to transport clothing to and from bath houses was eventually used to transport goods and eventually made its way into everyday society. There are many ways of wrapping your item depending on the shape and size of it, so sky is the limit! My MIL introduced me to this option and I have loved it ever since! Check out this link here for some ideas via 1MillionWomen. 

 Furoshiki is using fabric to wrap gifts

You can use any fabric of your choice; however, I personally recommend a thinner (not translucent) fabric so it is easy to fold and tie. You can use scarfs, fabric off-cuts, bandannas and tea towels. I have purchased discount fabrics from the clearance bin for photography backgrounds at Fabricland and this would be a great place for you to start if you like. If you are a sewer you can fold over the raw edges of the fabric to prevent them from fraying, or you can do it like me and just fold over the raw edge to hide my laziness.

Last but not least, is my favourite simply because it is very easy and beyond the original manufacturing, is fairly zero waste – gift bags aka Santa Sacks. We purchased these bags on clearance about 5 years ago half price from Michael’s. About 24″x 35″ in size and they hold basically anything with their draw strings. We ensured that we got enough for all of our family members and just ask for them back at the end of the gift opening.

Felt Santa Sacks

These could be EASILY made by hand with fabric off-cuts, Christmas themed pillowcases, or felt like these. Use fabric glue or no-sew iron-on adhesives or sew if you have the talent to do so! I have even knitted a few smaller ones to accommodate small gifts. You can get a similar style to mine here (actually I think they are cuter!)

A bonus tip from the hubby is to purchase gifts which do not need to be wrapped such as potted houseplants like orchids and cactus. Giftcards, although somewhat impersonal are also great options because you can give the gift of an experience such as a dinner date, a comedy show or a sports event. 

So this wraps up this blog for the day (yes, pun intended). Do you have any tips you would like to share with us for a greener gift giving experience? We would love to hear about it, so leave a message in the comment section below! Check back next week for my take on a low-waste Christmas dinner and how I intend on implementing it!

Cheers,

Heather

Get Green this Holiday Season: Green Host/Hostess Gifts

*This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase something through our website, you are directly support us! So Thanks in advance!*

Hello Everyone!

I have been trying to get back into writing for Cedar Coast after my short hiatus; however, it has been a challenge because of my other side hustle working as a professional product photographer. It had started as a couple of my readers who produce green and natural products were admiring my blogging photography and asked if I would do a couple sessions for them. So, now here we are haha… Life is weird and exciting isn’t it?

BK Naturals
Photo from Heather Youl/Photography by Marlow. BK Naturals Stain Remover

Anyway, speaking of being busy, we are heading into the busiest season of the year for us in the western world, Christmas and New Years. Our American neighbours have just wrapped up their Thanksgiving, so they are ready to kick off the holiday season too.

So, I have to admit, I struggle with my strong desire to buck the trends and social norms surrounding the holiday season and also my fear of becoming a social pariah for doing so. This is difficult for me due to the fact that I see the holidays as major sources of consumerism and wasteful spending. However, as I grow older and network a lot more for work I find myself more and more at parties, gatherings and events where it is appropriate to arrive with a host/hostess gift. Long gone are the days where you would roll up to a friends Christmas party will a case of beer and a bag of chips as a contribution to the evening. So I was thinking about how to reframe some of my ideas on consumerism which both respect my values and social proprieties and norms. I think the next few blog posts leading up to Christmas I will be focused on how a socially and environmentally minded individual can find a compromise with the expectations of the holidays.

Today we are diving into green, natural and socially conscious host and hostess gifts for your holiday party needs! This was actually a really fun list to put together as it challenged me to think outside the box, but not too far… haha… Host gifts usually encompass two realms during this time of the year: booze and chocolate. These are already somewhat environmentally friendly in my opinion because they are consumable. But for anyone who has played host in the past will understand that moment at the end of the night when you see the 10 different bottles of wine and 6 boxes of chocolates on the sideboard which are vowing to make your Christmas diet difficult. So, I wanted to give you all potential guests some green alternative ideas which your host and hostess will love.

brown pinecone on white rectangular board
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Organic, fair trade loose leaf tea and a travel tumbler diffuser. This gift is a great option if you know your host or hostess’s tastes, like a co-worker, friend or workout buddy. I love the Rose Glow Tea from Lake & Oak Tea Co for its festive ruby red colour. It is organic and GMO free and as loose leaf tea you get to pass on all the unnecessary packaging. To complete the gift set I recommend the Clef des Champs Glass Herb Tea Tumbler. This double walled tea tumbler is by Clef des Champs, a Canadian owned and operated company based out of Quebec. This gift option is unique, low-waste and guaranteed to be a hit with your host’s.

Wine & Spirits. It is my personal favourite to receive as a hostess and it is one of the staples of holiday gift giving. But switch it up this season by introducing your host or hostess to your favourite organic, local and sustainable wines. We are located in British Columbia Canada which means we have a beautiful selection of BC VQA wines and organic options.  My favourite wineries producing organic wines locally are Rollingdale,  Summerhill Pyramid, Kalala and Sperling Vineyards. They either have organic growing practices, organic production or a combination of the two. If you are outside of BC or are more familiar with American/Californian wines I would recommend you checkout Starmont Winery and Vineyards in Napa Valley, as their facility is one of the most sustainable in the industry. Another suggestion is to buy your host or hostess a bottle of a craft spirit from your area. Many breweries are concurrently starting to distill spirits, such as Deep Cove Brewing does with distilling gin and vodka

wine image blog
Photo from Kalala Winery

Flowers always make their way into a hostess gift at some point. You are either running behind, don’t know your host enough to get them something more personal or getting a little fatigued with the holiday season. Well spice it up this time with this adorable basil planter for the kitchen. This kit by Modern Sprout comes with everything your host or hostess will need to grow themselves some delicious herbs for pastas, margherita pizzas or just as a lovely houseplant. This modern and smart hydroponics kit comes with the growing medium, seeds, stainless soil basket, wicks and stylish glass container. It is adorable on any windowsill.

In my opinion, the best gifts are memories, not material items. So this suggestion is great if you know what your host or hostess is interested in doing. Give the gift of an experience by purchasing them tickets to a show that they are interested in or a date night cooking class for them and their SO, or even just a giftcard for dinner at their (or your) favourite restaurant, cafe or brewery. This gift may be a bit more expensive than a typical hostess gift, so perhaps it can do double duty as their Christmas and hostess gift depending on the dollar figure.

adult alcohol blur candles
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

Holiday baking is always a welcome gift in my household as neither Steve nor I are great bakers, and as long as you are aware of your host or hostesses allergies this is a fantastic option. I always look forward to a friend of mines’ Cranberry Bliss Bars, a Starbucks inspired recipe. This recipes is from Belle of the Kitchen because my girlfriend covets her personal recipe haha. Another AMAZING homemade gift I have received is Bailey’s Irish Cream. This recipe is by the great BakePlaySmile and only requires 6 ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. The best part of homemade food gifts is that you can make enough for the entire season for all your gifting needs. Wrap both up in  reusable containers like a cookie tin for the bars or in glass bottles or mason jars, tie with some raffia or a yarn pompom and you are set to go for the season!

Do you have any green or natural hostess gift ideas? Share them with us here at Cedar Coast in the comments section below! And for next week, join us again as we discuss green holiday gift wrap. This is a topic I have touched on in the past; however, I wanted to share with you guys some great DIY projects, some surprising wrap alternatives and some easy reusable options you can purchase!

Cheers!

Heather

Into Sharing? Pin This!Easy No-bakeBirthday Cakes (1)

Natural Hair Dyes: swing and a miss or a home run?

Hello Everyone!

Thanks again for joining me on yet another adventure where I put my body (and hair) on the line for you as natural product consumers. So, normally I have my hair professionally done by Savannah Falk co-owner of Joy Hair Studio, and she does an amazing job of making me look my best. But we both took one for the team here while I tested henna hair dye for the very first time this week.

Henna is a dye rendered from Lawsonia inermis a tree grown in sub-tropical and tropical regions of India, Sudan, Egypt and Morocco. Traditionally henna has been used to ornament skin in the form of mehndi. Additionally it has been used for centuries to dye and colour hair.

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How it works on the hair is by acting like a varnish coating the shaft of the hair. Unlike synthetic dyes, it doesn’t raise the cuticle of the hair, meaning it doesn’t penetrate down into the cortex. This means your hair will stay vibrant for about 4-6 weeks before fading. If you have chemically treated hair such as highlights, henna will show them through the tint and will not block out the original colour completely. This means if you have a harsh set of roots, those will also show through. Additionally, I read some mixed reviews about chemically treating your hair after henna, so I would consult with your stylists prior to beginning that process.

henna 2

So how did it work you ask? Well, I purchased a box of henna hair dye by Colora from Roots Organic Groceries. They have a wide range of colours to choose from – 18 I believe. It surprised me that they had shades from blondes to strawberry blonde to auburn to brown and black. I chose auburn as I am a mousy red head and I thought this would deepen my natural colouring. I have also heard fairly good things about Lush’s henna products; however, online they only had a limited selection of 4 colours.

The most notable aspect of henna dyes is that they are mostly within the warm/red tones due to the fact that it’s base colour of henna is burnt orange. So if you’re looking for an ashy cool tone, this isn’t going to be for you. How companies create a variety of shades is through the use of additional ingredients like indigo, cloves and moisturizing ingredients like shea butter. The use of indigo with the henna allows for deeper and darker colours to be obtained.

henna 3

Price

So, let’s begin with the price. The box of dye was only $8.29 Canadian at Roots. Not bad at all. As someone with short hair, I could have used half a box of the powder as I threw out most of it.

Process

Clean freshly washed hair is essential for even distribution and dying, so I began this endeavor with washed and towel dried hair. I recommend you do the same if you try this out.
The powder has a spicy earthy scent which made me sneeze a little when I poured it into the glass bowl I used as it is highly friable. I was sure to use a glass Pyrex bowl for this job as I knew it would be likely to stain my white kitchen mixing bowls. I recommend a fairly large bowl as well because mixing it is a somewhat messy endeavor.

The instructions just said to mix the powder with tap water until it was the consistency of soup. That’s it. Well, it was actually a bear to mix. It was clumpy with dry blobs of henna. I actually gave up on the spoon and opted for both a larger bowl (6 cup capacity) and a whisk. Once mixed I prepared my space carefully. I put down a towel under the bowl, changed my shirt to a dark one which wouldn’t show henna stains and diligently wiped Vaseline along my hairline, ears and neck, also to prevent stains on my skin. Additionally I wore nitrile gloves to protect my hands and nails.

Originally I thought I could apply it then brush it through from root to tip. I was mistaken. This stuff is gritty and difficult to spread through the hair. Eventually I just hung my head over the bathtub and began palming henna on to my scalp and massaging it throughout my hair. This method actually worked really well, and it fortunately didn’t take very long so it didn’t even make my back sore.

The instructions direct the user to cover the hair with a shower cap or plastic bag and wait for an hour. I grabbed a travel shower cap from a recent hotel stay and settled in for the hour. The henna stayed put with zero melting or dripping and didn’t have any smelly chemical funk.

After an hour I washed and shampooed the henna out of my hair and followed it up with a deep conditioner. Although the box touts that their product is moisturizing and good for hair, mine felt a little stiff and dry, so I used a healthy amount of conditioner which helped.

Results

Well, let’s give it some perspective with a look at the before shot.

 

 

I have some roots, a little fading of the dyed copper colour and a lot of mousiness to my natural colour. Now for a look at the after shot, freshly washed and dried after the henna.

 

 

Needless to say, the colour is vibrant and full. I had highlights prior to this and the henna replicated those in just a lighter red tone. My roots are still present but definitely less noticeable and overall it produces a very even result over my whole head. The scent lingered for a day or so, but it was a sort of a pleasant spicy chai smell, so I didn’t mind. Do I like the colour? Yes actually! It made my hair vibrant and the following few days I received a lot of compliments on how natural it looked on my skin tone. Would I necessarily call the colour Auburn? Ummm, maybe not. However, it does explicitly say on the box that any colour that is underneath the henna will effect the final henna colour, and I did have a fair amount of blonde highlights from the summer.

Several days after this little experiment, we traveled to Mexico and I decided to postpone publishing this post. **  Yes, Mexico, and Yes, there will be a blog about the carbon footprint of air travel and what can be done about it. We will get there 😉 ** I thought the sun, salty air and water and chlorine would be a fantastic test to the longevity of the henna dye. Although I wore a hat quite a bit of the trip to protect my scalp and face from the sun, I did spend a lot of time in the pool and the ocean with my hair exposed. Also, it’s worth noting that I washed my hair 2-3 times more than usual that week due to all the sweat, pool water and salt.

 

 

I would say that it held up pretty well under all the circumstances! Although it does appear that it faded a little, it did maintain its vibrancy for the most part! It did feel a little dry when I came home as well, so I did a deep condition yesterday and it is back to feeling soft any shiny.

So what of the experience of using henna dye overall? I would say if you are someone who is content dying their hair at home, this is a fantastic option! I think if the colours that are available that you like, then there isn’t a reason to choose synthetic dye over henna dye. It was affordable and it lasts. Was it a little messy? Absolutely, but I think with a couple applications you will get the practice you need for future ease. Will I use it again? Maybe if Savannah doesn’t kill me first… haha All kidding aside, I think I would use it again if I decide that I just want an overall colour and not foils or highlights.

Have any of you had experience using henna dye? Anyone with grey’s have experience using it? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below, I would love to know what you think.

Cheers everyone,

Heather

Swap! Freezer Bags

Hi Team!

As summer comes to an end, I have been rushing around to find recipes to preserve my harvest and seasonal fruits and veggies from my region. Typically I go one route for preservation: freezing. Why? Because I think there are only so many uses for pickles and jams and I am too short on space to store a lot of jars or cans. Plus I’m a little lazy, let’s face it, and this is super easy…

My favourite way of preserving basil and other herbs is to freeze them into pre-made pesto, leaves in olive oil and leaves in water. Basically it allows me to thaw some essential herbs for future use in pasta sauces, stews and tajines. I pour them into ice cube trays and freeze them into dinner-portion sizes. I also did this with about a dozen somewhat overripe peaches (pitted, peeled and blended) before pouring them into icecube trays. These are perfect for smoothies and our overnight oats.

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Thai Basil leaves in water, olive oil and with chili flakes

However, last year when we denounced plastic zip-style bags and freezer bags, it created a void in our kitchen. Normally I would pop these into a freezer bag, but when we finally ran out I switched to some of our glass storage containers. We then had an unfortunate incident where one shattered upon reentry…. So… we had to find a new solution.

I had been meaning to find 1 gallon freezer bags for the last year and this was the catalyst finally. After doing a great deal of research I landed on the Full Circle brand 4 litre (1 gal) zip style bags. These heavy duty bags are clear so you can see what is inside easily and they are gusseted at the bottom so they fit a range of products in them.

They are top rack dishwasher safe, BPA free, Full Circle is a B Corporation and their standards are top notch. I also spill tested them and they are leak proof so feel free to put some extra soups in these guys and freeze them flat for future lunches.

So far, I give these guys a 10/10 in use and durability. The price from Amazon wasn’t cheap ($17 CAD) each (edit: I didn’t mention originally that I purchased 3 bags, totalling $51.00) however; I am a firm believer that you get what you pay for and that it is difficult to put a price on sustainability. I expect that I can use these for 3 or more years. A rough estimate is that the average family uses 5 large freezer bags a month (thanks sister Julia for the #!), so about 60 a year, which at $8.00 per box of 10 is $48.00 a year in bags. Not much at all. But for an extra $3.00 you can have a sustainable option instead and you save yourself several years of future costs.

So, that’s that! Let me know in the comments section below what you guys use as an alternative for freezer food storage. I’d love to hear!

Cheers,

Heather

PS. Pin this while you’re at it!

1 year without plastic wrap: How’s it going?

*This post contains affiliate links which support Cedar Coast as an organization. Thanks!*

Well it sure didn’t take long for it to feel like fall did it? Here on the coast September 1st came and Boom! Cool weather and rainy skies have become the norm yet again.

So today I wanted to give you guys a little review of how our household has been managing without plastic wrap for approximately the last year (I think it is more like a year and a half) and give a review of a new product which I just introduced into my house this month.

Plastic wrap is typically not accepted in municipal curbside recycling programs, however many recycling depots in BC are beginning to accept plastic packaging and all London Drugs in Canada. The issue is that this still requires energy to process and recycle. Additionally, although the debate still rages on, there is evidence that plastic wrap and plastic food containers can leach harmful endocrine disrupting phthalates into foods when heated. The FDA has determined a “safe” level of of these chemicals, but of course it is all based on a moderate amount of exposure. Harvard Health Publishing has a great article outlining the do’s and don’t of microwaving plastics, so have a read here.

So, the ways in which we have gotten around that stretchy clear devil has evolved this year. At first we used these Russbe reusable baggies to store excess fruits and veggies in the fridge along with our trusty Anchor brand glass storage containers, including two casserole dishes which also have lids (great for transporting food). Additionally we have been getting great use out of our Evercoast Handmade beeswax wraps (I also like the Abeego wraps) for everything from veggies to bowls of soup which need to be refrigerated. The bonus is that the glass containers and the Russbe baggies both are dishwasher safe.

However, just recently a girlfriend of me asked about how we microwave foods and or store/transport large items like bowls of salads… And she had a point… there are times that I struggle to take containers to potlucks and end up using about an acre of tinfoil with ultimately falls off and then ends up in the recycling bin. When we microwave I typically cover my dish with a second dish, however this does result in some spills and one chipped plate. So I began to search around for some eco-friendly solutions which would work for our needs. I came across these great bowl covers made from food safe silicone by Culinary Couture. 

These silicone covers come in a pack of 5 sizes (two are missing in these images because they are in use!) and have amazing sealing ability… When you get the right size for your bowl (about an 1″ extra around the rim) you can slightly depress the middle forcing out some excess air. This creates a SUPER seal and you can even pick up the entire dish by the little handle! Would I trust it to be slosh proof with a container of soup in the car? No… But it definitely will stand up to a pot-holed road and potato salad. BPA free, dishwasher and microwave safe, these bad boys can even be used to cover a frying pan as a splatter guard (safe to 450° F).

So far they have stood up to both the dishwasher and hand washing, coming clean easily in both situations even with sticky baked beans splattered on them and doughy bun glued to them.

Recap of plastic wrap alternatives:

Anyway team, hope this helps you out and I will be back next week with a second product review for you guys. In the mean time, tell us how you have skipped out on the plastic wrap in the comments section below!

Cheers,

Heather

Educational Depression: Dealing with the environmental blues

There may come a time in your journey to a more sustainable lifestyle when you get discouraged or even a little down about the whole process. This can come from reading a book, watching a powerful documentary or just watching strangers repeatedly throw recyclables in the garbage. You may feel like you have been investing a lot of time and energy into your personal environmental sustainability, only to feel it is a Sisyphean endeavor.  This is a completely natural feeling. Like with any diet, exercise program, and other goal setting you can become easily discouraged if you don’t see or feel progress. Due to the external nature of environmental sustainability, it can be difficult to see your personal progress through the sensational headlines and sad animal pictures. So to help you get through the funk, I have some suggestions to keep you going strong and ways to help you measure your success because sometimes numbers resonate better with us.

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Photo by Gabriela Palai on Pexels.com

 

Turn off subscriptions to major news agencies or environmental advocates. I am not saying to shut your eyes and plug your ears to the newest or latest research and political events, but give yourself a break for a week or two. It might seem strange to be a little ignorant, but many of us turn on our Facebook or Flipbook to very negative headlines and it brings us down. You might be feeling defeatist about your progress due to the actions of other countries, environmental accidents or political climates. I know it does for me! So take a little news break and environmentalist holiday.

Write a letter to a member of government, group, or agency who you think should hear and know your opinion about an environmental topic on your mind. It might seem like a HUGE shot in the dark, but our elected public officials are there to serve the public, even though we feel like they don’t sometimes. Don’t just write and vent to them, but lay out your personal reasons why you think a pipeline shouldn’t go through, or how plastic bags are still given away freely in your community or how agricultural waste is managed. Whatever gets you fired up, let them know that you want some change and eyes on a topic of importance to you. Be sure to mention your age, location, and employment. I can’t count how many times I have heard a politician brush off an environmental issue by saying it isn’t a “concern for the average Canadian/American/Australian” etc. We are ALL average citizens with opinions, so make sure they know that you are thinking about these topics. You may think they won’t read it or even give it a second thought, but there is a chance they might, and as the saying goes The Pen is Mightier Than The Sword.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Goal setting and measuring your success is a great way to stay focused. It sounds a bit weird, but you can collect and/or weigh your trash. Since most “wet” garbage like paper towels (if you are still using them), napkins, food scraps etc should be going into your compost pail your actual garbage should be dry and not smelly this shouldn’t be gross, but if you are squeamish then you can skip this one. You can choose to weigh your trash for two weeks, and try and get the second week to weigh less than the first. A major trend with the Zero Waste community is to only produce enough trash for a year that can fit in a large mason jar. You could challenge yourself to only create enough non-recyclable/compostable trash which fits in a mason jar for a week. Keep it to the house or maybe to the office. This is a great way to visualize your progress.

Trash Mason Jar- Trash is for Tossers

 

Try something new and take on a new goal or habit. Try spicing up your routine to feel energized and excited about your journey again by trying something new. Clean out your closet, challenge yourself to use a minimalist wardrobe for a month, try only using public transportation for work or recreational purposes, try a new swap such as getting a waterpik water flosser instead of using traditional floss.

Turn off the documentaries. When I was in university, I had to take a documentary hiatus for almost two years. Fellow environmental students would come in an say `have you seen that new doc on Netflix about the cows and climate change?` or something of the like. Unfortunately being bombarded with information school, the news and documentaries I noticed it was getting to me. But as a general rule, we should all take documentaries with a grain of salt because it is EXTREMELY easy to cherry pick data to support any argument. Regulations are different from country to country, standards are different and in the end all documentaries and movies are made for profit. So take a break if they are continually bringing you down or at the very least do your own research on the topic to see both sides of the argument.

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Photo by Isabelle Taylor on Pexels.com

Last but not least, get outside! Nothing re-energizes your soul and love for the environment than spending sometime in nature. Go for a hike, read a book in a park or take your bike out for the afternoon and enjoy the sun (or the rain). It truly does make a difference.

Have a way you shake off the environmental blues? Share your ideas in the comment section below, I would love to hear from you!

Cheers- Heather

Health, Wellness & Change

Hey Everyone!

Thank you so much for bearing with my recent radio silence and short time off this summer. I am still continuing with my physical therapy and working on strengthening my body and learning about Ehlers-Danlos syndrome but lets face it, I am pretty lousy at doing nothing.

So, during this time off I have continued my research into my projects and hot topics and decided that I would like to give a vegan diet a chance again. Actually, it was the husbands idea and encouragement to try this diet change to challenge ourselves and our traditional mindsets. No, for real, this was his idea. For the past year we have been steadily decreasing our meat (beef & poultry) and seafood consumption to just several times a week and have been learning to increase our plant-based proteins, vitamins and minerals. For the last two weeks we went entirely meat free and felt great, so we decided this was naturally the next step.

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Photo by Burak Kebapci on Pexels.com

So we have challenged ourselves to 57 days of Veganism! 57? That’s a random number right? Well actually it is a count down to a vacation we are taking in October, so we thought if we had to pick a goal, why not that? If we are feeling good, fit and happy we will continue on with it.

But this isn’t my first foray into an alternative diet. When I was 13 years old, the 3rd day of eighth grade my Humanities teacher put Baraka, a non-narrative film about the people and places around the planet. A small portion of that film was about industrial agriculture. Being a film which lacked narration, it was simply images which showed how animals were raised and slaughtered, a reality that I had been sheltered from my entire life. At that time, I didn’t really understand how animal agriculture impacted the environment, but I did have an understanding that it was an industry not isolated within its self.

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Photo by Burak Kebapci on Pexels.com

I am sure to my parents dismay, I came home that day from school and said I didn’t want to eat meat anymore. It just didn’t look right to me. For the next ten years throughout my teens and early 20’s I struggled through a typical North American diet trying to not eat meat in a household environment that I had no control over. My Dad certainly tried to accommodate these needs, but it was truly a reeducation during a time when we didn’t have the ability to Google vegetarian meal ideas. There was a lot of failure, illness and fatigue which could be attributed to the bad vegetarianism, chronic asthma and acute allergies to various foods. So at some point in my early 20’s I resigned myself to being an omnivore again as I simply didn’t have the time nor the energy to tackle meal planning, two-three jobs and schooling.

shallow focus photography of vegetable
Photo by Burak Kebapci on Pexels.com

According to the Recommended Dietary Allowance, I should be consuming 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. I am about 115 lbs, or 52 kgs so I should be consuming about 41 grams of protein a day. So, for those of you who decry “but where will you get your protein?!” Here is a list of 17 protein laden vegan-friendly foods from Health Line. This is a big contrast to the actual amount of protein we consume in North America, as the average man consumes 102 grams per day and women 70  grams per day (NIF). So about 30 grams more than I actually need. I figure if I can distribute these needs throughout my meals (10 grams of protein per meal) then I will be good to go on that front. So, I will say time and time again, I am not a dietitian, nutritionist or expert on nutrition, so follow your healthcare providers advice.  But, I do know that the UN reported in a 2013 FAO study that animal agriculture contributes to climate change in a significant way:

specifically

  • Accounts for five percent of global anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions;
  • Represents 44 percent of anthropogenic methane emissions, the primary driver of  climate change related to livestock, as methane is 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide over 100 years;
  • Comprises 44 percent of all anthropogenic nitrous oxide emissions, the most potent GHG; and
  • Makes up 75-80 percent of total agricultural emissions.

(Climate Nexus)

So, in preparation of this endeavor I have downloaded a trusted food tracking app (I personally like My Fitness Pal) and Vegan Bell, a recipe idea app for those days when I feel like I have run out of ideas. I am planning on meal tracking for the first week to keep an eye on my diet and get a feel for my numbers. I also already take a vitamin B50 supplement and a magnesium supplement as suggested by my healthcare team, so I have some vital minerals covered.

So, I hope to be sharing this challenge with you guys, the highs and the lows, and hopefully dig up some more research and numbers for us in regards to animal agriculture and the environment.

 

Thanks for having me back you guys,

Heather

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Plastic Free Kitchens

Hello Everyone!

I know we have all been craving spring this month, but the rain just won’t let up! Ugh. I’m over it and my green thumbs are starting to itch and I want to plant some herbs and flowers soon. Oh well, it is just not meant to be, and as a result, I have had a fair amount of time inside this month to work on some projects for Cedar Coast clients and myself including getting my kitchen back in line.

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Do me a favour. Walk into your kitchen pantry and take a look around. What do you see? Packages I bet. A lot of plastic and cardboard packages of food. I’m not sure when it became normal for our food to be stored in plastic bags or cardboard boxes with little plastic windows, as if they need a little peak of the outside world, but here we are.

I can go on and on about the potentially harmful nature of our food products being snugged up against plastic for months on end, but truly the science isn’t that great to create a great argument against it that will stand up to heavy criticism. However, I do advocate for plastic free kitchens for another irrefutable reason. Pollution. Soft plastics are one of the most difficult items to be recycled because they are often an unknown amalgam of resins. For instance zip style sandwich bags are two different types of plastics which contaminate eachother when melted down, and therefore cannot be recycled. Many municipalities just don’t even have the option to recycle them, depot or roadside.

According to Stanford University “One ton of recycled plastic saves 5,774 Kwh of energy, 16.3 barrels of oil, 98 million BTU’s of energy, and 30 cubic yards of landfill space.” which is fantastic, but I’m talking about the plastics that cannot or will not be recycled such as those for coffee, pasta, croutons, chips etc. Not to mention produce bags, bulk food and spice baggies and non-paper tea bags. In fact the use of single-use plastic packaging, has grown from 120,000 tons in 1960 to 12.7 million tons in 2006.

So the solution I’ve come up with is a plastic free kitchen conversion. It can be done within a day by myself, or if you’re feeling up to the task, over a weekend or week if you’re up for it. These conversions include the audit of your pantry and grocery needs and removal of plastic food containers and packaging. Finally, the replacement of harmful plastic storage containers for day to day leftovers and  fridge storage. I bet you would be surprised to know that majority of your dry goods can be purchased in bulk such as granola, pasta, protein powders, spices, baking ingredients, candy, snacks and even bath salts. Organic and conventional options abound! Very very few things are packaged in our home simply because I changed the way I shop and how I store things. And once the system was in place, I never really noticed a difference.

The first thing you will need is a plethora of glass containers of varying sizes. This is where an audit of your pantry comes into place, so you know just about how many of each size you need. My favourite place for jars is Ikea.

They have a variety of sizes, styles, and means to fasten (twist lids or wire bail.) These jars will be the vessels for you to store your pantry goods. This is a list of all the items we purchase in bulk form from our local grocery store and now (just recently opened near me) Bulk Barn.

  • pastas
  • protein powder (my Bulk Barn has 7-8 different kinds!)
  • tea
  • coffee
  • peanut butter
  • seeds
  • nuts
  • granola
  • snacks (corn nuts)
  • flour
  • sugar
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • spices
  • salt & pepper
  • soup mix
  • boulian
  • shredded coconut
  • cake mix
  • candies
  • pretezels
  • rice
  • dip mix
  • honey
  • chocolate chips
  • dog treats
  • cat treats
  • pie filling
  • icing sugar
  • soap
  • bath salts
  • dried fruit
  • pasta sauce mix, like alfredo
  • and so so so much more than I can remember

There are several ways to transport your bulk items too and from the grocery store including light-weight mesh bags which can hold both your fruits and veggies and larger bulk items like seeds, nuts, and granola’s.  Secondly there are thin linen bags which are great for powders or finer grains like protein powders and rice. And since you are going to ask, no I don’t find that my powders leak through the fabric.

Next, you want to recycle or donate your existing stockpile of plastic tupperware. You know that drawer in your kitchen where you can’t find a lid for 50% of the containers and nothing completely fits? Yeah. That drawer. When I go into a client home I donate the entire pile and start fresh.

Depending on the size of your family and their needs, you will need to buy 2-5 sets of new glass containers. Deciding what you need will depend on the number of family members you have, whether they take lunches with them to school or work or if they eat out, and how much food preparation your household does. This is key because I store my half-used peppers, onions and various leftovers in these same food containers, so you are going to want enough to cover both needs because you are NO LONGER GOING TO USE PLASTIC WRAP! 

How exciting is that notion?! Okay, so well, maybe not that exciting for everyone, but it still is great for me after all these years. We will talk about plastic wrap options next, but hold tight.

So which containers should you buy? Well I love the Anchor brand round containers. Normally you can buy them at stores like Canadian Tire, Bed, Bath & Beyond and other home stores. They are ALWAYS on sale, so if they aren’t wait a day and they probably will and they are on sale for 4 sizes for $6.99! That’s a steal!

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Anchor Containers

So we’ve got bulk food containers, leftover and lunch food containers, and vegetable/fridge food storage containers covered. Next we can move on to plastic wrap, zip-bags and bread bags. These can all be replaced by reusable options which may or may not be plastic based depending on your personal preference. To me the importance falls on not creating as much waste and less about exposing my food to plastics. However, I don’t like to microwave or heat my plastics, so I have only two of these kinds of items.

The first are bags for storing my bread and buns. We, and when I say that I mean my husband Steve, bake our own bread and buns and therefore need something to store them in and preserve them. We have a three pack of Bread Armor bags which have lasted us now 3 years. Once you use them you just simple wash it out and reuse!

Harold Import Co. 3-Pack Bread Bags
Bread Armor Bags

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Homemade Dinner Buns

There are options which are both plastic and fabric to replace zip-bags such as these from Russbe and Evercoast Handmade. I mostly use the fabric-fox bags, however for some slightly messier items like celery and peanut butter or whatnot, I prefer the plastic ones. PS. Did I mention that the Russbe bags are dishwasher safe? Yeah they are! You’re welcome 😉

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“But what about the bowls?!” You cry. Fear not. If you have the desire to cover your bowls of salad or leftovers with plastic wrap, they make a reusable analog for you. I am a fan of CoverBlubber. Though I don’t personally own any, I did use my lovely Mother-In-Law as a guinea pig and purchased her a set of these intriguing BPA free rubber covers. Sue thought they worked fairly well, though were a tad bit tricky to spread over wider bowls with one hand or wet hands. Fair enough!

Harold Import CoverBlubber® Food Cover
CoverBlubber

Although they are super strange to look at, they do make a great alternative to plastic wrap. Thanks for taking one for the team Sue!

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I personally use Beeswax Wraps made by Evercoast Handmade to cover my bowls and find them very easy to wash and reuse! Plus they smell amazing, so who doesn’t like that. Both the CoverBlubber and Beeswax Wraps are not microwaveable, so please don’t try it. My preferred method of covering something to be microwaved is simply just putting a plate over top of the bowl or plate to keep the steam in.

Totally Bamboo 6-Piece Bamboo Utensil Set

Plastic utensils? There is an easy replacement for those as well. Try bamboo utensils as an alternative which are safe for all surfaces like Teflon and ceramic so you don’t have to worry about scratching anything. We also own some silicon covered spatulas and whisks which have lasted a very long time.

Well, there you have it! There are some very simple ways to reduce the amount of plastic you generate or consume in your kitchen. It doesn’t have to be a transition completed all at once, but a refreshing one once you do! But remember to try and donate the items you are discarding in order to keep them out of the landfill for as long as possible and to give someone who could use them access to quality goods.

Environmental sustainability in the home is a learning experience and a goal to work towards. I read earlier today someone rebuking the movement to ban plastic straws saying that straws were just a minuscule portion of plastics found in our oceans, and I agree. However, I feel as though the straw has become a sort of mascot for the movement to do away with one-time-use plastics in general. Straws are a great example of how we as a society have normalized the amount of time, effort and resources to create an object which has a use-life of less than 15 minutes. One-time-use plastics are a financial weight for companies to carry without any value added, meaning they swallow the costs of plastic stir sticks, straws, cup lids, cutlery, takeaway containers etc and are expected to not pass that cost on to their customers as “its just the cost of business”.  But making these changes as a whole is in many ways a teaching opportunity.

So, is this system perfect? No, absolutely not because many people cannot afford to transition to an plastic free kitchen all in one go or at all. But for those of you who can shouldn’t let that stop you from generating unnecessary plastics, because as we normalize this new kind of sustainability it will become second nature and the new normal for younger generations.

So, off you go! I challenge you to make one change in your kitchen this week, and don’t forget, Cedar Coast is more than just a blog! I do kitchen and pantry conversions for those of you living in Vancouver and the surrounding area of Metro Vancouver, Kelowna and the Sunshine Coast! If you are interested in becoming a client of Cedar Coast Sustainability, contact me today!

Cheers- Heather

Earth Day 2018: Upcycling in the Name of Nature!

Happy Earth Day Everyone!

Earth Day is this Sunday and I wanted to share with you guys an activity idea to celebrate all things green: Upcycling. Upcycling is taking something that was destined for the landfill and reinventing it into something else! This spares you and the planet from A. the need to buy a piece for furniture & B.  saves something that would have been thrown out.

Traditionally people think of planting a tree or picking up trash from a beach or park on Earth Day. Though amazing in it’s self, it makes conservation feel like a chore. So I think this is a great activity to do with children because it shows them that there is more to sustainable living than just reduction and cleaning up the environment.

As although you may not need a nightstand or a new piece of furniture, I think you should check out my Pinterest board on DIY & Upcycling ideas for Pinspiration! There I have pinned some of my favorite easy upcycle ideas.

So to show you what is possible and inspire you, I am going to show you step-by-step how I transformed trash to treasure in the name of Earth Day. In the spirit of all things cottage chic at the moment, I upcycled a boring 70’s throw back to a creamy white and glass-knobbed nightstand duo worthy of Joanna Gains (at least I think so!)

Fortunately I had the wherewithal to document most of my steps except a “before” image prior to my husband cutting it in half- now that part doesn’t yet make sense, so let me explain! This gem of a table was gifted to me by the neighbour who was cleaning out her home and found out that we were decorating our guest room.

First off I started with a four-legged side table like this which it ended up with two tables like this!

If you wanted to complete a similar project, I suggest the following tools and materials:

So, next I will outline the project steps.

  1. Steve used our circular saw to slice the table in half (parallel to the faux drawer) – this is what I do not have photos for
  2. If your table is glossy then I suggest you sand and prime the table. I lightly sanded the table with 60 & 80 grit sandpaper and used a can of acrylic spray primer left over from a previous project.

    night stand primed
    Nightstand Primed

     

  3. After letting the primer dry overnight, I applied the chalk paint on with both the roller and the brush to get into the detailed areas and flat surfaces.

    Nightstands drying- the cat helping.
    Both halves drying after first coat

     

  4.  Once the tables were dry I used the spray clear coat over all the surfaces with a focus on the top where the wear would be the most intense.
  5. Installation: I chose to install these tables in my spare bedroom. It was easy to use two L brackets on each table to secure the tables to the wall, making sure that at the very least one of them went into a stud for additional security. If you don’t have a stud within range be sure to use drywall plugs so the screws don’t just rip right out of the wall.

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    L-Bracket

     

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    Finished Product!

    And there you have it! The finished product are these adorable matching side tables which saved a beautiful piece of furniture from the landfill! So on this Earth Day, think outside the box. It doesn’t have to be all about planting a tree or picking up litter on the shoreline- although those are great initiatives as well!

Happy Earth Day Everyone,

Heather

Wasteless Wednesday: Bulk isn’t just for food!

Hey everyone!

It has been a while since I’ve written for Cedar Coast. Some of you may have seen on my IG and Pinterest feeds, I’ve been transitioning to a focus on consulting rather than blogging. And beyond that I’ve been working for Photography By Marlow. Many side hustles for my side hustles haha.

Anyway, it is Wasteless Wednesday and I wanted to share with you guys some helpful information about some amazing local stores you may or may not know about which can help you drastically reduce your household waste and recycling. First off I want to say that I am not affiliated with these stores or have received compensation for writing this from any of these stores. I just want my readers to succeed at their journey to a greener life through waste reduction!

My focus today for wasteless Wednesday was refilling my detergents. So I thought I would share with you guys three amazing stores from the Eastern Fraser Valley to Vancouver who sell bulk soaps, detergents, shampoos and much more.

I personally go to the Chuckling Duckling Farm store in the ever so dreamy Fort Langley (#100- 9188 Glover Road, Langley BC.)

I personally buy the Live for Tomorrow brand dishwasher powder and Sapadilla brand counter top cleaner and dishwashing liquid in bulk, refilling my own old containers. Nope, you don’t have to pay for the weight of the container. They have shampoos and conditioners, shaving supplies for men and women, clinics and classes for special events and more.

Our next Fraser Valley store is All things Being Eco at 7388 Vedder Road in Chilliwack. They have a substantial bulk section of soaps, oils and detergents in addition to organic women’s and men’s clothing and eco-friendly gifts! If you’re out that way I suggest to add this to your shopping stop!

And last but not least I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Soap Dispensary and Kitchen Essentials store in Vancouver at 3718 Main Street. This gem of a shop was like a harp song from heaven when I first walked in. Soaps, shampoos, hygiene products, food staples like flour and teas and so much more can be found at this unassuming shop in the Heart of Vancouver.

As always! BYOC – bring your own container. These stores happily tare the container so you are only paying for the product you purchase not the package, and some of them even give you a discount for doing so.

So there you have it! I finally got back to writing and you have some awesome stores to check out!

Happy eco-shopping

Heather

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