Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today for Waste-Less Wednesday, we are going to talk about something a little scary… I hate to break it to you, but you have a monster lurking in your home. It is a master of disguise, an unexpected fiend, a treacherous vampire. It is the dreaded energy vampire, also known as standby power.
This monster of many names (standby power, energy vampire, and phantom load) is both a drain on your power bill and your wallet. But what is it you’re asking! Well simply put, it is anything that is left plugged in while not in use. This includes your toaster, microwave, laptop/desktop computer, cellphone chargers, DVD players and game consoles, televisions, AC units, air purifiers, fans etc. You get the picture. A good test to know if your electronic device has been sucking power while not in use is to touch it. If it’s warm, it has been sucking energy.
On a daily or even weekly basis, this energy cost doesn’t add up to a lot of money; however, over the lifetime of the appliance such as a microwave, it will likely use more energy sitting in standby than actually warming your food. According to BC Hydro, up to 10% of a homes electricity bill can be attributed to vampire appliances.
But don’t worry, you’re not the only one with a monster in your home. I in fact had 12 items unnecessarily plugged in, just zapping energy and money from the walls. Prior to writing this, I walked around my house and unplugged all of these hidden monsters which included the toaster (we use it maybe twice a week), my photography lights, air purifier, fan, cellphone chargers, laptop for the TV, printer, heating pad, and dust buster charger.
So what is the solution? Well like all things in life, a good place to start is admitting you have a problem. The second is to exorcise the house of its demons. Do exactly what I did: spend 5 minutes walking around the house and unplug items that you deem unnecessary. That old tube TV sitting in the basement for when the grand kids come over? The desktop computer collecting dust while you use your tablet? Toaster or blender? Cell phone charger? According to BC Hydro, in 2017 30 percent of households still had a VCR plugged in somewhere in their house. VCR’s?! For real?
I prioritized items which had digital clocks or had programmed timers in them like our coffee maker, microwave, and alarm clocks on the nightstands (yes, we still have alarm clocks…) The ones we rely on, or are a pain in the butt to reach were granted a pass for convenience sake. But items like my photography lights and accessories I plugged into a power bar as this allowed me to turn off the whole lot of them with one simple click. This is also a great solution for electronics chargers and home office supplies. Another solution is to change the settings on your computer from screensaver to sleep mode.
So go forth and free your home of its demons! Then reap the reward of a cheaper electricity bill.
Thanks again guys- Heather
Hey Everyone! After a small hiatus of Mix It Up Monday, I am happy to say that it will be back along with Waste-Less Wednesdays. For those of you who are unfamiliar with MIUM, it is just a short blog post about something you could try out to increase your household and personal environmental sustainability! This week’s MIUM is reusable tea bags.
For those of you who are tea lovers, you are likely to be familiar with tea balls or baskets which are an excellent option of brewing loose leaf teas. The problem that I have with my tea ball is that it is too large to fit in my travel mug. Yes, I could probably buy a travel mug which had a basket steeper in it but I truly couldn’t fit one more mug in my cupboard. So, for those of you who are in my predicament, I present to you reusable tea bags!
These little guys allow you to use your favourite loose leaf tea in any vessel of your choice. Simply fill and use like a standard tea bag. Afterward, turn it inside out and empty the contents into your compost bucket, rinse and wash by hand, hang to dry!
So next time you stop in at your favourite bulk loose leaf tea provider, keep your eyes peeled for these little guys. Simple swaps. It is the way we at Cedar Coast like our sustainability!
Cheers – Heather
Hey Everyone, thanks again for joining me here for the social experiment which is my life. Some of you may know from my IG account, that last week I had to opportunity to travel to Japan with the Hubs for work. I always have an internal conflict and discussion with myself in regard to air travel and my personal carbon footprint. Flying to Tokyo from Vancouver is essentially my entire transportation CO2 budget for the year (it is more because I don’t drive a whole lot), so there are significant impacts on my carbon footprint. However, I love to travel. I love experiencing other cultures because I find it cultivates a greater level of understanding, empathy, and connection within me for Others. Being insular culturally leads to biases and assumptions which are not helpful or constructive in these divided times.
So, to combat this increase in CO2E, I find travel encourages me to live an even greener life when at home and abroad. This trip was no exception! I decided that in this blog post I would share with you guys the tips and tricks that I use to reduce my waste while I am abroad to offset the carbon costs of traveling. There is a lot to cover so stay tuned for a part 2.
Packing is ESSENTIAL for a waste reduced trip. Having an international flight means I had the opportunity to check two pieces of luggage. However, I was only going to be away for 8 days and I believe that (even if it is a minuscule amount) that if we all packed lighter, the plane would be more fuel efficient because it would be lighter. Therefore, I carefully packed a single carry-on bag, as did the Hubs. Not only did this come in handy on the plane and in the airport, but it was extremely helpful navigating public transportation and the busy streets of Tokyo. There wasn’t a need to rent a car, call an Uber or a taxi.
The focus of my packing was on creating a capsule wardrobe with pieces that could be mixed and matched to create several different outfits. Examples of this was a striped t-shirt and jeans worn during the day with a hoodie and a pair of runners for cruising Osaka, then taking it from day to night, could be worn with a blazer, necklace and heels for a chic casual evening look. That same blazer, necklace, and heels could be then paired with a casual daytime sweater dress on a different evening, elevating it once again. If you want more information on creating chic travel capsule wardrobes, there are no shortage of them on Pinterest. A great place to start is here at EverydayEcoLiving.
Channeling my inner Marie Kondo, I always roll my all my clothes keeping them wrinkle-free and packable. My clothing included 15 items plus socks/under-roos and 4 pairs of shoes.
In addition to slimming down my outfits, I also slimmed down my makeup and toiletries. This is because taking a carry-on means you can only have so much liquids and gels, but also because I wanted to keep it down to the essentials. I packed my trusty Ordinary brand moisturizers since they are small and come in great reusable and recyclable containers.
Additionally, I utilized refillable travel sized containers for my Pacifica face wash, Carina shampoo & conditioner. As for cosmetics, I only brought organic Physicians Formula tinted moisturiser and mascara, Pixie by Petra eye shadow duo and eyeliner. All of these items fit amazingly well in my new favourite Mason Jar Merchant travel tumbler. I knew that I wanted to take a travel tumbler with me to Japan as I knew caffeine was going to be essential for me to battle jet-lag. It is amazing what I could fit inside the 24 oz tumbler!
Traveling with a greener conscious is fairly easy as long as you apply your existing green habits from home while you are away. The first thing I knew I wanted to pack was a travel mug. I opted for my Mason Jar Merchant West Coast is the Best Coast tumbler as it can handle both hot and cold drinks easily. I love this local Surrey-based company as they create adorable travel mugs and decor items from mason jars. Additionally, they sell essential zero waste mason jar accessories and vintage jars. The love that they put into their work is undeniable! Mason jars are tough suckers, so I had no concern packing it in my luggage.
I also made sure I packed the matching straw and Cuppow mason jar drinking lid. So not only did my tumbler act as my cosmetics case, it also doubled as a cup. The Hubs packed along the smaller Mason Jar Merchant Botanical Quartet Seeds tumbler for his daily cuppa as well. This was super fortunate because, it turns out hot coffee is not big in Japan. In several hotels, we were given these interesting fold-out coffee sachets which needed to be held over a cup or a mug. Unfortunately, they only provided us with disposable plastic cups! Tumblers to the rescue! These hardy little guys handled the job of brewing our morning coffees perfectly. Instead of using the tiny one-time-use creamers, we learned to call down to the front desk to ask for a fresh cup of milk, so we didn’t create plastic waste.
Additionally, when out and about we opted to ignore the thousands of cold-coffee vending machines and stopped at local cafes having them make cold-brew coffees in our tumblers. As always, the Japanese workers were polite and took our cups without a second glance. The smaller of the two easily fit in my purse, and we were able to easily take it with us while site seeing
Eating at restaurants was inevitable in Japan as none of our hotel rooms had kitchens. Therefore, we were careful about where, what and when we ate. I had previously thought about bringing my own reusable chop-sticks; however, I thought they may think I was being rude by not using theirs. In a culture that is so proud of their heritage and graciousness, I thought better of it. However, I was pleasantly surprised that most restaurants used reusable plastic or wooden chopsticks! Only on several occasions at more fast-food like places did I use disposable wooden ones, which I didn’t mind.
Ordering intelligently was also imperative as I was concerned about having leftovers that we couldn’t store. When ordering food, we made sure not to over-indulge and get too much, ensuring that we finished everything that was brought to our table.
Snacking was difficult in Japan, as they do seem to have an affinity for single use/wrapped snacks and convenience stores. On the opposite side of the coin, is that there is a distinct lack of garbage cans anywhere. Heaven forbid you have a tissue you need to throw away, because you won’t find a trash can anywhere. This was the interesting aspect of Japan for me, as there didn’t appear to be anywhere for their garbage cans or dumpsters to be. The alleys between high rises in Tokyo and Osaka contained more restaurants, not dumpsters. I kept asking the Hubs “Where is all their garbage?!” Upon returning home, I did some research into Japan’s recycling and waste rates.
So how does Japan deal with its waste? Well you will have to tune in next time, because it is an interesting story – I know I know, you just can’t wait to hear me discuss their waste system.
In part 2, I will be covering transportation- trains, Uber & taxi’s, micro-hotels, consumer cultures, and how I kept my sustainability goals in mind while being bombarded by the lights and excitement of Tokyo and Osaka! Additionally, I will be discussing how Japan uses Waste to Energy systems and where they stand on the world stage for waste recovery.
Cheers – Heather
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Happy International Women’s Day! Today I wanted to just share with you guys a brief post about one of the most influential female environmentalists who has inspired me through my entire degree and career.
Rachel Carson famously published Silent Spring in 1962 which described the indiscriminate use of pesticides and their impact both on the environment and human populations. Her research on the effects of aerial distribution DDT and other pesticides mixed with fuel oils in the 1950’s was unlike any other at the time. It was integral in unveiling the problem of developing resistant strains of pests, damage to bird populations, and the concerted efforts of the government and producers to cover up the long-term consequences of such projects. Eventually her research and book would influence the formation of the EPA, lead to important court rulings on environmental protection, and was an important role model for many women who would join the environmental movement in the decades to come. Posthumously she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Beyond publishing Silent Spring, Rachel Carson was an accomplished Marine Biologist and author of award winning books such as The Sea Around Us and The Edge of the Sea (reissued as Under The Sea Wind). She was one of few female environmentalists of her time, and navigated the male dominated field making way for female scientists, scholars, and environmentalists in the future.
Her research has gone on to inspire many female scholars who study a huge array of topics of sustainability and environmental protection. These include the ways in which environmental destruction and race, poverty and gender intersect, how pesticide/fungicide resistant insects and fungus are developed by overuse, and how chemical agents effect both the environment and human populations.
So if you want to know more about Rachel Carson, I highly suggest you get a copy of Silent Spring – I especially like this edition as it has some of her essays and notes. Additionally, if you want more information on environmentalists who are making waves, check out this great list by BET of 16 Black Environmentalists You Should Know.
Thanks again everyone – Heather
Hey Everyone, hope your week is going well for you during the doldrums of winter. I feel like no matter how many sunny days we get, it is not quite enough to chase away the rainy day blues this time of year… I am starting to understand Snowbirds… So to comfort myself I did a little retail therapy on thredUP!
Anyway! I was recently on IG and an add popped up for an online thrift store called thredUP. Now this wasn’t the first time IG has shown me ads for consignment stores, but normally those are smaller independent ones from my area. They have thousands of brands, varying qualities and all the “latest” trends according to them. But I am totally into a thrift store option that doesn’t require me thumbing through hundreds of racks of clothes searching for that one perfect piece… I have never been a treasure hunter, just a green shopper.
According to Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART), 81 pounds of textiles per person are thrown away annually, and nearly 95% of used clothing and textiles can be reused or recycled. That is almost 15 million tons of used textile waste in the US alone, and they aren’t even close to other nations who’s economies are largely based in garment production. If you would like to know more about how textiles are recycled and reused, I highly recommend reading through the FAQ page on SMART’s website.
So, I spent some money for us so we can have an unbiased look at this service that thredUP offers which claims to reduce textile waste and make consignment shopping easy. They do have an ambassador system, but you know me, I won’t put my name behind something unless I have tried it.
I have fully documented the process for you all so you can see what I am talking about. This includes screen shots of the website, items I chose, and how a description of how to go about using thredUP.
So how I did this test is that I set a $100.00 budget – which didn’t turn out to be $100.00 in the end, and you will see why at the end. Nonetheless it wasn’t too bad.
The thredUP website is much like any other online retailer except in one respect. In order to limit how much scrolling, you need to do, they ask you to sign up for an account which keeps your sizes on file. This mini survey asks you top, bottom, and shoe sizes then pre-filters all the clothing in your sizes.
Then like with regular online shops you narrow your field to different types (shirts, sweaters, dresses, etc.) or by colour, by brand/designer, skirt length, neckline, material, and even by level of wear/condition (new with tags, like new, gently used, signs of wear). They also have a premium section which has brands like Prada, Vince Camuto, Michael Kors, Armani, & Kate Spade. In this section it’s not uncommon to see a $1300.00 dress on sale for $350.00. The most expensive items for sale in the premium section today was a $7760.00 dress by Roberto Cavalli on sale for $1784.00 and a Tom Ford coat originally $9900.00 on sale for $2499.99. So, if you think thrift shops are for poor people, think again.
Personally, I chose to shop for the most part by brand and need. I chose to shop by specific brand because it would ensure that I would know how the item would fit more or less. For example, I know I typically fit a size small top, 27 pant, 6 shoe, and 4 dress from Banana Republic, so I was comfortable ordering items from those brands. The brands I targeted were Anthropology, J. Crew, LOFT, Banana Republic, PrAna, Lululemon, Nike, The North Face, Patagonia. Brands I didn’t find were PACT, Aritzia, and Encircled.
For the test I did my best to order one thing from every category condition. I ordered 6 items: a unbranded jumpsuit (signs of wear), Banana Republic knit dress (gently used), PrAna capris (like new), We The Free/Free People sweater (new with tags), Banana Republic blouse (like new), and LOFT t-shirt (like new). Prices were fairly reasonable, and the “new with tag item” from Free People was labeled $69.99 and I only paid $18.99.
In total, I spent about an hour shopping. It was easy to find things I liked, and the one thing I didn’t order that perhaps I should have, was a pair of jeans. However, those are so difficult to fit for my body that I didn’t feel like taking on that struggle – oh the woes of doing too many squats. I did agonize over a silk Anthropology top, but I decided that I can’t own nice things like silk, so I declined it.
Once I paid for my purchase it said 5-7 business days. For signing up I received a 20% discount and paid a whopping $26.00 in shipping. They calculate the shipping based on weight of the clothing, so it isn’t a flat fee. The fine print also said that it may be subject to duties, but I ignored it… and was unpleasantly surprised to know that I owed $22.00 in duties when the package arrived yesterday. So, I did end up going over my budget unfortunately and I still don’t really know how duties work, because it seems like roulette whether if you must pay it or not…
So, like I said, although I like the second-hand economy for it’s environmental and economic benefits, I hate the way thrift stores smell. Can’t. Stand. It. So immediately upon opening the box I braced myself and took a large whiff. I am so happy to report that it didn’t smell like thrift store at all- just kind of like laundered clothing that was put in storage for the winter.
All the clothing was nicely folded and wrapped in tissue paper, making it feel like you were shopping from one of your favourite retailers. All the clothing inside seemed to be well pressed or ironed and none of it had any significant wrinkles.
Alright, so how was everything? Fairly great to be honest. I would say the quality or condition of the clothing was significantly better than I expected. The unbranded jumpsuit was the “worn” item and it was in great condition. All the buttons were present, the fabric was solid, and didn’t show any signs of significant wear other than being prone to wrinkling. I am also not sure what kind of fabric it is as the tags are missing, so I have no idea if it is supposed to look like that.
The grey cotton Banana Republic dress did have a very minor coffee stain on the skirt, but I washed it with regular detergent, and it was almost completely gone when I pulled it out. I showed it to the hubs and asked him if he could see the stain and he reassured me that it wasn’t visible. Beyond that, the fabric of itself is in great condition without pilling or stretching. The close-up image below is before washing it.
All the other items labeled as “like new” were exactly just that. Looked new just without the tags on it. Additionally, I tried on all the items and they fit well.
Well, I think it is good option for those thrift-store-phobes like myself are looking to add some pieces to your wardrobe. With most pieces 70-80% off, it is easy on the pocket book and the styles available were current and trendy. I recommend that either you shop with intention, meaning you know you need a specific piece like a blouse for work. Or if you are more of an inspired shopper, dedicate a little time to scrolling or utilize as many filters as possible. This is because there isn’t any shortage in choice, which is both a blessing and a curse. I will be definitely be shopping on thredUP again, especially for specific items like dresses for weddings, tops and dresses for work, and perhaps I will try their accessories one day!
Tell me what you think! Will you try out thredUP? Have you already? Let me know what your experience was like.
Cheers and happy shopping guys!
This post is mostly for the ladies/femmes, but if you boys want to know more stick around. So, periods are a topic I have been asked to write about for the past couple of years but always balked at. Mostly because I just was a little turned off from the zero waste menstruation products that were on the market. Period panties, diva cups, and lunapads oh my! It was just so much to take in. This post is going to be a frank look at what works, what doesn’t, and what to expect. Can you really have a greener period?
Last year I finally took the plunge and bought my very first product, the Diva Cup. This menstrual cup is sort of the gold standard of cups. They come in three sizes- 0 (for those under 18 years old), 1 (for those who haven’t conceived) and 2 (ones for those who have had children). I chose the 1 for obvious reasons.
These silicone cups are quite flexible, have a small pull tab at the bottom for removal and measurement lines on the sides.
So what did I think of the cup… Well, I’ll tell you honestly: it’s great and kind of a pain all at the same time. Why is it great? Well like the old TV infomercials used to say “You set it and forget it!”. For real. The cup can stay in for about 12 hours, but I’ve only pushed it to 8.
The other thing I love about it is that once you get it in position it’s comfortable and you don’t even know it’s in there. Also, it doesn’t matter if it’s a heavy or a light day the cup does it all without any painful removal.
The upside, is once you have mastered inserting the diva cup, it is really so much better than tampons or pads. Not only are you not creating waste, but you’re not subjecting your body to an assortment of chemicals which are found in those other products. Chemicals found in tampons commonly are dioxins, fragrance, aluminum, and drying alcohols. All of which you don’t want absorbed into the body.
Alright, the down side is that changing your routine is hard and this calls for a change. You need to spend some time learning how to insert the diva cup which requires a fair bit of silicone origami and toilet yoga. Once you get it though, it’s like riding a bike and I haven’t had a problem in months. Another thing is that it needs to be emptied, which is difficult in public bathrooms, homes which are not your own, and, heaven forbid while camping. Trying to not drop it in the toilet is literally my biggest hurdle.
The other thing is that it needs to be appropriately sanitized between uses- that means at night and in between periods. They make a special wash for the cups which is safe for the silicone, but personally I wash it with plain water and then boil it for 5 minutes to really clean it.
There are many different companies who make different kinds of cups now as well which will be suited to different body types. So it’s best to read reviews about specific cups if you think you may need one.
The cost is fairly reasonable for something that you can use for years. Diva Cups are $37.00 and their competitors range from $25.00 to $40.00.
But you can’t wear a cup all the time since you are still at risk of toxic shock syndrome still, like with tampons. So what do you do then?
Well I purchased my very first Lunapad when I bought the Diva Cup, and it’s still going strong. Made in Vancouver, this company designs pretty good reusable pads in varying levels of absorbance and lengths. There are now hundreds of companies who make these products now, so there isn’t any shortage to choose from. The anatomy of the pads is fairly standard- an absorbent section with two wings which clasp together with a snap.
Again, the upside is that you’re not creating waste and they are fairly comfortable. I personally don’t wear them during the day, just at night because they are a bit bulkier than your standard disposable maxi pad. They do produce various sizes as well ranging from pantyliner to regular to maxi, so they are accommodating for most needs. I think I will be adding a few pantyliner’s to my roster this year.
Additionally, like your cup, there is a certain amount of maintenance. They need to be wash daily/nightly and have a small arsenal of them on hand for this reason. I wash mine by themselves, in the washing machine on hot/warm and then hang to dry. The Luna Pads I have are black, so there isn’t any unpleasant staining though I have seen some companies who only use natural cotton for theirs.
So, I also started a little experiment for you all. I ordered 8 Bamboo Reusable Pads from Wellwear on Amazon and were EXTREMELY affordable. 8 pads for the price of just one Lunapad… These were made in China, so not local whatsoever, but they are said to be made with organic bamboo liners, charcoal for odor neutralization, a waterproof membrane, and colorful exterior patterns. I will test them out, rate their usefulness, and durability and write an update for you all. I haven’t had a chance to use them yet, so stay tuned for this in the future!
Have some thoughts you want to share with the group about your zero waste period routine? Leave a comment below! We would love to hear from you. Also,want to read more about green and sustainable products I have tried? Click here for my Top Product Reviews.
Thanks again everyone,
Hi Everyone! This blog post is going to be a little different than most . I have had a couple requests from readers for a post round-up of my green product reviews, so we are going to call this the Review Round-Up: Green Product Reviews. Instead of making you all search through my various posts I thought I would put them all up for you here to access! Everything from natural hair care, to tin foil, and cleaning products.
You can find all (or most) of my green product reviews here. Later this year I will also be posting a review on natural and reef safe sunscreens, my favourite vegan and cruelty makeup brands, body lotions, sustainable online clothing retail companies and a few more for the men-folk including men’s deodorant and anti-aging serums. I will be updating this post regularly and I think eventually pin it to the top of the page, or perhaps even make a dedicated page to this… But for now I will stick with this post. So have a look through the list and see what tickles your fancy!
There are more to come, so stay tuned! Also, if you have any requests or suggestions let me know. I often get texts from friends asking for reviews on products I have tried and think “I need to write a post about that…” So leave a message below or send me a DM on my Facebook or Instagram pages!
Happy New Year Everyone!
This year I have decided to try and make sure that I post more consistently about my everyday sustainability. I hope this will help inspire you guys to try and achieve daily sustainability, rather than view it as one or two time events to do throughout the month or even year. Sometimes I take it for granted that I already live a fairly green life and that perhaps even the small things we do in our household may help you guys reach your sustainability goals.
Some of these are gadgets for the kitchen, garage, and garden. Over the past couple of years we have accumulated a sizable cache of reusable and zero waste items which help us create less waste. One of my favorite items has been the Cookina Parchminum tin foil replacement. This is a tinfoil like silver sheet which we use as a liner for our baking sheets and pans. It’s non-stick but not Teflon, oven-safe, and even dishwasher safe (though we don’t do that). It comes with a ring for storage and a scrubber. I also want to mention that this isn’t a sponsored post, I just really like this product!
This sheet is fantastic! The food just slides right off and even stubborn things like burnt cheese just wipes off. Cookina also makes a BBQ safe liner as well (the black one pictured) which is excellent from grilling salmon, small vegetables like asparagus, and pizzas.
Over the past year we have only purchased one roll of tinfoil and it hasn’t even been 50% used. This $14.99 purchase has saved us money, time, the energy and resources that are needed to produce tinfoil and the energy needed to recycle it.
It might seem like a simple change, but one that over time will reduce our carbon footprint. 316 million Americans regularly use aluminum foil still in their kitchens, amounting in 2.4 million tonnes of foil ending up in landfills in 2015, up from 1.5 million tonnes in 2012. So as you can see, we aren’t getting any better at recycling nor reducing our consumption of such a high value material.
So check these handy sheets out on Amazon, at Canadian Tire, and Superstore the next time you’re there. You won’t regret picking one up!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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?
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.
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
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.
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!
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