So it’s been a few months since I published this guide to sustainable coffee and I thought I would update it with some seasonal suggestions! So, as summer winds down and pumpkin spice *ahem* autumn sneaks in, I thought I would share with you some of my favorite seasonal syrups! You can go the pre-made route from Flavoragnics or you can try out this DIY recipe from According to Elle! You can swap all the ingredients to organic ones to make it more sustainable. Since I am not a PSL fan *GASP* I prefer this delicious caramel recipe from Lindsay at Tales From the Cottage. I also would take this time to stock up on your favorite bulk herbs and spices which may have been depleted over the spring and summer.
So get a jump on fall this year by preparing some of your very own syrups and ditching the disposable cups for some homemade comfort.
So as many of you know, I have a small caffeine addiction, meaning I consume more than the Canadian Health Guide recommends… just a little more… But it also means that I need to be cognizant of the types of coffee I purchase. You see conventionally grown coffee contributes to a myriad of environmental problems including but not limited to soil and water degradation due to erosion from irrigation and the use of synthetic fertilizers which cause nitrification of local waterways resulting in massive algae blooms, deforestation of tropical rain forests, destruction of fragile habitat due to monoculture crops and social justice issues associated with poorly compensated workers and exploitative working conditions. In general, coffee is marked up by 80% by the time you pick up your latte from Starbucks with growers receiving $0.30-0.50 USD per pound of coffee.
So when buying sustainable coffee beans and coffee products what do you want to look for? Look for packages with the following symbols:
Organic symbols from the USDA and Canada indicate that the foods or products sold contain a minimum of 70%- organic content, and may not contain any prohibited ingredients. Only 95% and 100% organic products may be labeled as so. Organic symbols indicate not only has the product been grown organically (not using prohibited synthetic fertilizers and pesticides), but that they have met certain environmental management requirements and undergo 3rd party audits. Fair trade symbols from Fairtrade Canada and Fair Trade Certified indicate that not only do farmers work in co-op’s and have collective agreements with buyers, but that their products receive a minimum price and a fair trade premium which in 44% of which is spent on local community improvements. Fair trade also prohibits the use of GMO’s. The Rainforest Alliance symbol indicates that the product has some of the highest standards in their growing and production on the planet. Their products are both held to very high social and environmental standards including meeting those of Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and Global Sustainable Tourism Council.
So where can you buy organic and fair trade coffee? Well basically every grocery store will carry organic and fair trade coffee, but not all are created or priced equally! So here are my Top 5 Organic and Fair Trade coffee brands and where I buy them.
If you are weary of buying whole beans because you don’t own a grinder or don’t like the idea of having to grind coffee, take your beans to the bulk section of the grocery store. They usually have a industrial coffee grinder there and you can grind up your beans before you even leave the grocery store by dumping them all in and then dispensing them back into the same bag or the bags they have available. I have gotten some weird looks from the cashiers, but no one has ever scolded me … LOL
Looking for green ways to enjoy your coffee beverages? Ditch the disposables and check out these awesome Stainless Steel Tumblers with Straw and these adorable KeepCup Brew Glass Reusable Coffee Cups.
Organic and Fair Trade certifications are great as they promote and attempt to monitor the quality, price and soundness of their products; however, they don’t come without their faults. Becoming certified requires a certain amount of financial investment and knowledge, resulting in many farmers and cooperatives being left out of the market due to their socio-economic conditions. Being cognizant of this fact will keep you open to new products which may be labeled with certifications other than the ones mentioned above such as those steps taken by the Doi Chaang Company. If you like the sound of a product but aren’t sure of the potential of greenwashing (aka deceitful marketing) do a quick google on the company and read their story. As always avoid products which claim to be “natural” or “environmentally friendly” without any explanation.
Just thought I would write a quick blog about this amazing little mushroom growing kit by Back to the Roots, a California based company. They are producing these organic mushroom kits in addition to aquaponic herb gardens and other DIY vegetable growing kits.
I picked this kit up at Home Sense of all places for $11.99.
In BC we are lucky enough to have fresh mushrooms grown right here in the Fraser Valley under Canadian requirements. However, most canned mushrooms that are available in grocery stores are actually farmed and processed in China. Although reports of Chinese mushrooms being grown in human waste is unsubstantiated (as far as I can tell), the carbon footprint associated with imported foods is enormous. So avoid canned mushrooms when possible and always (Always!) buy fresh organic mushrooms-their ultra absorbent skins make it next to impossible to wash away the pesticides used to protect them.
As always, I encourage my readers to branch out and try some new eco-habits like growing your own fruits and veggies in addition to visiting your local farmers markets!
I will keep you all posted with our mushroom growing endeavors!
So today I would share with you all one of my green cleaning solutions! It has been one of the rainiest springs on record here on the West Coast and now that we have Juno, I have been battling muddy paw-prints in my foyer and therefore have been sweeping/mopping like crazy everyday. So this solution is for my Swiffer Wet mop- you know, that thingy with the expensive pads which dry up before you can use them.
Yeah. That thing. We all have one, or if you don’t head to your local thrift store and pick one up there. It is great for cleaning up in between “deep cleans”. I opted for a DIY solution when I read about the chemicals that are found in the store bought cleaning solution and how it isn’t terribly healthy for pets to ingest (ie. when they walk across your clean wet floors and then lick their paws looking at you in disdain.) For my cleaning solution I use 4 ingredients, and 2 of them are optional. But here are the basics! It is fast, cheap, and earth-friendly!
So the recipe is essentially a simple 2:1 ratio of distilled water and vinegar. The essential oil is to leave a nice scent, but isn’t necessary. The vodka is also optional, but I found on my laminate floors it helped leave them streak free.
A typical recipe for my needs is 6 cloths, 2 cups distilled water, 1 cup vinegar, 15-20 drops of essential oil and 1 ounce of vodka. Mix it in all in the tupperware and then soak cloths in mixture. Boom! Ready to go! And to be honest, I usually eye-ball this and don’t bother with a measuring cup.
What you will need:
That’s it! In fact, I will let you all in on a secret… You can clean your ENTIRE house with varying ratios of those ingredients plus Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. I make an all-purpose surface cleaner, tub and shower cleaner, and glass cleaner all out of some combination of vinegar, distilled water and vodka. For those with little ones, I would recommend the actual cleaning vinegar as it is stronger and has better disinfecting abilities.
After you’re done simply throw the cloth in the wash and dryer like usual. Once you use up all the cloths, make a new mixture and start all over again.
Happy cleaning everyone!
Mother’s Day is right around the corner and I wanted to give you guys some last minute green gift ideas that your Mom’s are sure to love! Giving green gifts not only is a great way to treat your family, but also a fantastic way to introduce them to healthy, green products which they may have never thought of trying. Here are some of my favourite last minute gift ideas!
Hope that helps those of you with last minute shopping ideas! Have a good weekend everyone!
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Happy Wednesday Everyone!
I just wanted to share with you the recipe we used for this week’s meatless Monday, Black Bean and Avocado Enchiladas!
We got the recipe from Garden Grazer and is actually vegan! The recipe actually was created to avoid the dairy, but I would say if you like cheese, add it, I love cheese so it seemed like a natural pairing! Otherwise it’s tasty as is!
Have a good one!
I am super excited to unveil Cedar Coast’s Logo finally! It was an interesting design process, but I am so happy with the result. Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming announcements which will feature our logo front and center!
#business #sustainability #domesticsustainability #green #greenliving #ecoconscious #blogger #blogging
Happy Monday Everyone!
So this week’s posts are going to be addressing the use of plastic in our lives and its impact on the environment. As some of you may know I went to the Canadian premier of A Plastic Ocean, and it was eyeopening. I already had a strong grasp of the ecological implications of plastic in our oceans, but the message in the film highlighted that it is also very dangerous to human life across the planet. So I am dedicating the next few posts to plastic and how to mitigate it’s damaging effects. Today we are starting with a question from a friend of mine and then an email question from a reader who emailed me. I love getting emails from readers asking questions, looking for advice and with suggestions for future posts! So thank you for your comments and questions.
Alright, now for the details.
So just this past week a friend of mine asked what could they use instead of those flimsy plastic produce bags from the grocery store. They are distinctly one-time-use only, so what options are there? Lots!
We currently use these Flip and Tumble mesh produce bags. They are sturdy, stretchy and are machine washable. I use them for produce and larger bulk food items like pasta and nuts. You can buy them online, at Whole Foods, Pomme Natural Market and Crate and Barrel (where we bought ours.) While we are talking about it, it is worth looking at the quality and shape of your current reusable grocery tote bags. I realized that they get kind of gross, so make sure you wash them from time to time.
Alright, on to our second question, which admittedly made me laugh out loud.
“What do you recommend for disposing of cat litter in? I feel bad about hermetically sealing the cat poop in plastic shopping bags for eternity…”
Now, I know a lot of you guys are thinking. Are we really going to talk about pet waste? Yeah, because according to my calculations, our kitties “go” roughly 5000+ times in their lifetime. That’s a lot of waste. And since they are integral parts of our household, we should talk about it. There are LOTS of biodegradable litter options at your local pet store, so have a look. The wheat and corn based ones are pretty good.
So our kitty poop is scooped into Poopy Sacs (the ones you carry behind Rufus on walks). You can buy those baggies everywhere (pet stores and grocery stores) for really inexpensive.
So thanks for all of your questions! Please keep them rolling in, I love answering them. If I don’t have an answer right away, rest assured that I will research that for you and share my findings!
Question: If you don’t use the Flip Tumble baggies, which do you use? I would love to hear back.
** Reference Here
Well, many of you can see that Cedar Coast has gone pro! We are officially http://www.cedarcoastbc.com ! I am tweaking and working with a new system so please bear with me while I work out the kinks. Also, I have brought over my existing blog posts, so feel free to scroll down and have a read through. I have reposted my original blog here for those of you who are new to my website. Thank you again for your support and readership!
August 1, 2016
When thinking about starting this Blog, I was initially inspired by my Sister (who is amazing) who has repeatedly asked me for the past 4 years:
“So…. What are you studying in school again?”
“What will you do with that?”
Haha and for the longest time, I never really knew how to respond. Yes, technically I am going to get a BA in Environmental Geography, however, I was not entirely sure ever what my career choices would materialize into. In many cases I would describe to her what I was studying during that semester currently such as climate change, consumerism, cultural ecology’s, or environmental histories. To which her response would be a subtle glazing over, sadness over the topic in which I described, and/or statements such as:
“How can we do anything about that? That’s a HUGE problem! Doesn’t that depress you? I can’t fix it!”
The last two are the most common heard statements I hear. “Doesn’t that depress you?” Yes! Of course it does! The world is going to hell in a hand basket, of course is makes me sad! BUT, I have hope because of the number of people who said that they couldn’t make a difference, collectively can. This collective change is the easiest and most effective way to make positive changes in our world. We are not talking about a drastic shift such as moving to a commune, but simple everyday changes which ADD UP, person by person, household by household. We can do something, and it is actually fairly easy to begin with.
That’s where this blog is going to begin. I am writing this for individuals and families who have the intention and desire to be better to this planet. This spinning blue ball gives us everything we need to survive… We are going to need to look after it.
This blog is for my Sister and those a like. People who want to make a change, but are busy, tired, have families and their corresponding chaos. People who work, are students, live in the city, or live in the country. I hope to provide suggestions, tips, and advice on how to work sustainable lifestyle methods into your everyday life. So let’s not be afraid of change, let’s embrace it.
Sustainable lifestyles are 50% intention. You want to make a difference? You can. They are 25% organization. Yep, organization. “If you fail to plan you plan to fail” they say. By staying organized or creating better organization in your life you can become a better citizen of the planet. Lastly it is 25% implementation. Humans are the most adaptable creatures on the planet, it’s why we live all over the world. Once we implement a lifestyle change, we adapt! Once that becomes a part of your life, time to make another step. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon (just less hard and sweaty haha).
If you’re already a ZeroWaster, Permaculture advocate, or environmentalist, you’re probably not going to read this blog, although you’re welcome to! It will be full of funny stories, sarcasm, and likely pictures of my cats, so there is that. However, it’s likely you’re already on your way.
I hope to provide simple steps, easy to follow advice that can be implemented into all walks of life and all budgets. You already have the intention (you’re reading this!) So I hope to provide the other 50%. I want to help you learn how to organize your shopping, home, and habits in a sustainable manner and then provide you with useful advice to take into the real world to implement it!
Let’s make sense of sustainability.
Hey Everyone! Happy Monday:)
So I have been doing my best to limit the amount of meat I have with dinner (most breakfasts and lunches are already vegetarian for me) and I thought I’d share my first recipe here with you guys. I was a vegetarian for 10 years and a pescatarian for 3 years, but food allergies have made me change my diet despite my political will, so having a meatless Monday fulfils that need for me.
But first, here’s the Gist about Meatless Monday:
Alright! It’s a short Gist tonight…lol
So I have never been able to cook Lentils unless it has been in soup… I always cook them until they are flavorless mush. But not this recipe! So tasty! I got this recipe from my mother in law, who originally got it online. It’s really easy, takes about 45 minutes, but the prep could be done well in advance. The only thing I recommend halving the salt (as per the MIL instructions)
Check it out!Warm French Lentils
Sorry about the delay in our second installment of our discussion about sustainable wardrobes and clothing. So as a quick recap, the first of this series was about taking care of your clothing, organizing what you have and mixing up your wardrobe. These steps help us get a feel for what we actually own, what wardrobe pieces we still need, how to selectively purchase new items, and how we can use our existing pieces with current trends. This second installment is focused on our first foray into the secondhand market! So let’s get this boat in the ocean!
1.) The fashion industry is the second dirtiest industry in the world next to petroleum production- Eileen Fisher
2.) Consignment Stores can be designer clothing havens. Google search consignment stores in your area and read their websites/reviews to get information about their products, standards, and product turnover.
3.) Search Facebook for local “Buy/Sell/Swap” pages. You can find A LOT of awesome garments for yourself and your kids there.
4.) Secondhand sales of durable goods are worth about $30 billion per year in Canada. – Peter Spiro
5.) Ask Grandma/Grandpa, Nana/Papa about their wardrobes and if they have any of their vintage pieces stowed away. I have some wonderful pieces in my wardrobe which are classics from relatives.
Okay, so for those of you who are sticking around, let’s get down to business. The rest of you, get back to work 😉
Shopping secondhand gets a bad rap. This is because discussions about the secondhand economy in the media paint it in a negative light and associating it with lower socioeconomic status (ie. only poor people shop secondhand.) This takes aim at fragile our egos (our perceived wealthiness, status and elitism) but if we think about it with a clear mind and realize that those narratives are told to us by the people who benefit financially from us buying new, we can look through the marketing and see a wonderful opportunity to lessen our consumerism and save some money.
So, let’s break it down a little and see what the secondhand economy actually is and why it is important for the environment.
– Americans threw away more than 67 lbs of clothing and textiles per person per year in 2007, increasing to 82 lbs in 2015, and over all a 400% increase in the past two decades.- Luz Claudio, True Cost
– Cotton agriculture accounts for 25% of the world insecticide use and 18% of the worlds pesticide use. –True Cost
Benefits of the Secondhand Economy
– 2.5 billion lbs of post-consumer textile waste was diverted from American waste streams by the secondhand economy and textile recycling in 2007. – Luz Claudio
– Secondhand sales of durable goods are worth about $30 billion per year in Canada and the average Canadian family saves $1150 by shopping secondhand. – Peter Spiro
I have a special insight into the inner-workings of the secondhand economy as a family member worked for a large Canadian charity for 15+ years and I grew up with a lot of experience within it. So how does the secondhand economy work? The answer is: it depends. There are A LOT of charity secondhand stores in my area which either receive their merchandise from direct donations. In contrast other companies purchase large quantities(like multiple shipping containers) of used clothing from various collection agencies. Other secondhand stores are consignment shops. These are my favorite.
Consignment stores often have strict rules and standards about the clothing they accept as the individual who is giving it to the shop is also receiving money for their garment. The shop and the consignmentee split the profit of selling the garment in some financial arrangement, which is why it makes sense for only the best products to be accepted for sale. Most often these garments are quality vintage pieces, on trend recent garments and/or are new with tags. I know one local shop I frequently haunt requires that all their pieces are dry cleaned prior to being placed for sale, which makes the store smell like fresh laundry, not musty. Side Note: My crowning achievement in shopping consignment was finding a pair of Rock and Republic jeans (this was before they were bought out by Kohl’s and their quality was great) with the tags still on ($179.99) for $25.00. Anyway, back to our discussion…
Where do these places exist you ask? Well you will have to Google your area for consignment shops. Read their websites to get better intel about the brands they sell, if they have a minimum price point, and if they are unisex or multi-generational (sell kids clothing)
I know of several great consignment stores in my area which are entirely for kids 10 and under. And this makes perfect sense! Kids grow out of things quickly (sometimes before they even wear them) so these items tend to not have a ton of wear and tear on them, and I know only clean, unstained pieces are usually accepted (ps. why do they even make white children’s clothing? That seems counterproductive….)
Goodwill and Thrift Shops:
Goodwill and Thrift Shops are also great places to shop, but be prepared to thumb through a few racks for a good find. I have a few pairs of jeans from thrift shops which were in what seemed like unworn shape. It is also worthy discussing that these shops are PERFECT for those one-off purchases you need for Halloween, themed parties, kids themed school days (anyone remember Sports Day? Some how I was always team Red, and I never owned anything red). These are awesome opportunities to buy something secondhand. Note: Most charity shops don’t wash their clothing before it goes for sale, so I always make sure to wash things immediately when I get home, but that rule should stand for everything you buy, new or used.
You’re already a secondhand Champion and you didn’t even know it
I bet many of you don’t know that you already participate in the secondhand economy, but you should because it means you’re already on your way to living more sustainably (Easiest change yet right?! Right!) But if you have ever bought or sold a used car, returned a leased car, sold that old TV on Craigslist, donated clothes to charity, gave or received hand-me-downs from a sibling,
bought a used treadmill off Kajiji or swapped some clothes with a girlfriend, you have already forayed into the secondhand economy. It was so easy, you didn’t even notice. But by making these kinds of choices consciously you can take your sustainability up a notch. So the next time you are looking for that next special outfit, head to your local consignment store, because there are a thousand other people out there who also want to switch up their wardrobes without breaking their banks.
Check back in a few weeks for our 3rd and last installment on sustainable wardrobes: buying new ethical and sustainably made garments. I will discuss my favorite stores (online and brick & mortar), how to shop smart ($) and which pieces to splurge on and which to save! Thanks for again for reading everyone!