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.

alone animal bird clouds
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.

man standing and facing trees and gray rock mountain photo
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.

white and purple eggplant
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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Sustainable Furry Friends

*This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing through these links, I receive a small commission which allows me to continue to bring you quality content. Thanks for the support!*

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

Blue showing off her favorite carrier
Blue showing off her favorite carrier

Whether you are a cat person or a dog person, you know that our fur babies come with a certain level necessities: food, accessories, grooming tools, litter, toys, treats and more. So how can we make their routines a little more green?  By shopping a little smarter and putting in a tiny bit more effort, you can make leaps and bounds in your pets sustainability.

Play

Switch out your pets toy’s with some sustainable alternatives. Rope toys will be the easiest item to find for your pooch. Many of these are hemp, jute or organic cotton. Jute is a renewable fiber resource which has a very small environmental impact since it does not require irrigation or fertilizers to grow. As for hemp, there is growing demand for other aspects the plant in North America, meaning that there is a surplus of the stems and stocks available for textile use. Both jute and hemp are some of the oldest fibers in the world and are known for their resiliency and strength. Additionally organic cotton requires 71% less water then conventional cotton and cannot be fertilized or treated with harmful chemicals during growing or in post-harvest manufacturing. As always, look for pet toys made in or near your country to reduce their transportation-related carbon footprint.

West Paw Zogoflex Tizzi Tangerine Dog Toy
West Paw Zogoflex Tizzi Tangerine Dog Toy

If you are  into DIY check out this great tutorial on how to make easy rope toys out of upcycled t-shirts and sweat pants! And as always, supervise your pets with their toys to avoid unnecessary accidents!

Old sweat pants make great dog toys!
Tutorial by Purfylle.com

And although cats are typically less needy than dogs, they also enjoy a good play! Look for toys stuffed with organic catnip, hemp or cotton fabrics which are dyed with non-toxic chemicals. I love this hemp mouse toy by From the Field.

Shelby the Hemp Mouse Cat Toy
Shelby the Hemp Mouse Cat Toy

Sleep

Sleeping is a huge part of our pets lives, in fact cats can sleep 16 to 20 hours per day.   In that case it is even more important for your pet to have a good place to sleep. These universal pet beds are made from 78 recycled plastic bottles in the US. Durable and washable, they will withstand a lot of abuse and will be more resilient than other beds.West Paw Eco-Friendly Heyday Bed

West Paw Eco-Friendly Heyday Bed

Feeling crafty? Well check out this no-sew DIY dog bed project from Miss Frugal Mommy. To green it up a little further, I would personally use thrifted fleece blankets or fleece blankets which are going unused in your home (why waste a brand new blanket on a dog or cat?) Just be sure to launder them thoroughly on hot. Additionally fleece is a great option because when it is cut, it doesn’t fray at the edges, which means no flyaway threads.

Waste

All dogs are going to go, and it is our job to clean up after them (as good citizens) but don’t hermetically seal your dogs business in a plastic bag, make sure it can compost away with these corn-based baggies from BioBag. Another note about compostable poop bags is that they aren’t all created equally. Some bags need a composting facility which brings the waste to a certain temperature to break down. Most backyard composters won’t reach that temperature. Plus due to potential health risks, pet waste should  never be used on edible garden spaces, only on ornamental plants. If you are interested in backyard waste composting, check out Ensopet’s Waste Composting Kit.

BioBags Dog Waste Bags On A Roll
BioBags Dog Waste Bags On A Roll

Let’s not forget about our kitty friends. Most cat litters are clay based, dusty and heavy. Try an ecofriendly kind like Blue Naturally Fresh litter made from walnut husks! There is also litter made from pine chips, newspaper pellets, wood shavings, coconut husks,  and corn husks. The choices are endless! Additionally, I have seen some individuals use shredded paper from their shredders, though I am unsure of it’s effectiveness in odor control.

Blue Naturally Fresh Quick Clumping Cat Litter 14lb
Blue Naturally Fresh Quick Clumping Cat Litter 14lb

Treats

Let’s face it, the best part of having a pet is spoiling it to pieces. However given the face that our dogs and cats are carnivores, they are subject to that same meat-related carbon footprint. Many pet treats are produced from the by-products from human-destined meats. This means there is a lot of mixing and matching of these by-products like chicken meal or beef meal aka meats unsuitable for human consumption. In actual fact, this eliminates a great deal of edible meats from going to the landfill. As long as these treats are made by quality producers, I personally don’t mind this! Our girls really enjoy freeze dried liver, tripe and raw bones (both the cat and dog!)

Nature's Variety Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Minis
Nature’s Variety Instinct Freeze Dried Raw Boost Minis

Crumps Naturals Cat Treats
Crumps Naturals Cat Treats

Have any green pet hacks of your own? Share your ideas in the comment section below! Thanks again for reading everyone, and have a great week!

Cheers- Heather

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It’s The Pits: A natural deodorant review

*This post contains affiliate links. By purchasing through these links, I receive a small commission which allows me to continue to bring you quality content. Thanks for the support!*

Happy Thursday Everyone!

I’ve got a confession… I stink… I have been a avid antiperspirant user for 18+ years now and I am not even sure if my body knows how to sweat properly anymore, so the days that I forget to use it, I realize my mistake mid way through the day with a horrified whiff.

So what is the deal with antiperspirant? Is it really bad for you? You will read many articles which demonize the ingredient aluminum, the active ingredient which physically prevents perspiration. However, although there are correlations to health issues like breast cancer and neurological diseases, the science behind those studies are weak and generally unsubstantiated by the larger medical community.

So, why am I ditching the antiperspirant if it isn’t a health issue you ask? Well, for one, I kind of think the body is meant to sweat. Call me a hippy, but I think if the body didn’t need to do it, it wouldn’t sweat. So that is one aspect, and the other is the environmental impact of aluminum sulfate on the environment. We often overlook the origins of ingredients in the products we use. But the basic building blocks of our hygiene routines start in the earth. For example borax, sodium sulfate, boric acid and sodium carbonate (all used in cleaning products) are mined directly from the earth, in the case of Searles Valley Minerals, they are pumped out of an underground lake in the Mojave desert. It’s tailings pond is an enormous salt lake which is extremely dangerous to waterfowl, trapping and killing birds regularly.

But I digress, we were talking about aluminum. Aluminum isn’t like many metallic minerals, you don’t just find a vein of aluminum in the earth, it is found in the mineral bauxite. Bauxite must be processed through heat and electrolysis to render the aluminum. Almost 5% of the electricity used in the US is used simply in the manufacturing of aluminum, or  23.78(45.21tf) kWh/kg of aluminum.

I know you’re like “Woah! Don’t throw numbers like that around at me for a discussion about deodorant!”. But that’s the point I like to make to my readers and clients. Everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, comes from something and therefore we shouldn’t disassociate ourselves from the simple things in life and take them for granted. Everything in our lives comes with an environmental cost. So where does that leave us? Well, with deodorant which has some major plus’s and minuses including efficacy, scent, and application beyond environmental friendliness.

deo-5I highlight environmental friendliness because the active ingredient in most natural deodorants is baking soda aka sodium carbonate, the very same mineral mined from Searles Lake, so it isn’t exactly environmentally neutral though it does require much less processing than aluminum sulfate. However, what I will say is that (all but one) the natural deodorants that I list here have essential oils which have been both farmed sustainably and are organic. In addition, they tend to have ingredients which are non-irritating like benzoates and fragrance.

Nonetheless, the upside of switching to a natural deodorant brand is that many of the do not contain petrochemicals like mineral oil, don’t test on animals and are vegan, so it means you are doing a lot more for yourself and the environment than using contemporary antiperspirants.

I have tried upwards of 5 deodorant brands over the past two years and only just recently found one that works really well for me. But I will give you a run down of the pros and cons of each one, however, I have noticed it has a lot to do with your specific chemistry. What works for some individuals may not work for others, so it is still trial and error.

Let’s start with the deodorant I recommend the most: Lafe’s. This US based company started out small potatoes in the 1990’s and has grown significantly without losing sight of its goals in quality and sustainability. They pledge that all of their products are:

・Proplyene Glycol Free
・Parabens Free
・Triclosan Free
・SLS/SLES/Sodium Laurel Sulfate Free
・PEG Compounds Free
・Petroleum Free
・DEA/TEA/MEA Free
・VOCs Free
・FD&C Colors/Dye Free
・Mineral Oil Free

product sample feb (18)-11974962342..jpg

What I really like about this product is the liquid roll on. It doesn’t leave a chalky residue or muck up your dark shirts. Most importantly, it works! The active ingredient is alum mineral (different than aluminum sulfate.) This naturally occurring (and manufactured) mineral is like a salt or crystal in a sense and absorbs moisture and neutralizes odor. It’s smell is fresh and clean and the formula doesn’t cause any irritation (something that will come up here later.)

Pro: Great initial scent, non-irritating and best longevity.

Con: Can only be purchased at Natural Foods retailers and those alike. Pricey.

Our runner up is a Canadian product called Green Beaver. I had really high hopes for this brand since it is produces my favorite mineral sunscreen. The smell (Geranium) was amazing, floral and delicate. I also liked the idea that it was a pump spray, not a rub on product and I thought it might leave less residue, which it didn’t. The Green Beaver had a longevity of 6 hours before I could start smelling myself under scrutiny but after 8 hours I could smell myself without a lift of an arm. That wasn’t good.

deo-1

Reapplication worked in a pinch, but once stress sweat kicked in, it really couldn’t stand up to any scent I produced. Too bad, because it’s formula contained organic and responsibly sourced ingredients and was made on Canadian soil.

Pro: Great initial scent, non-irritating.

Con: Can only be purchased at Natural Foods retailers and those alike.

Our third runner up was Tom’s of Maine brand deodorant. Tom’s has been a household name for decades and was one of the original natural personal care brands. I used the scent “beautiful earth” although I wasn’t able to pin point what the actual scent was supposed to be. Nonetheless it didn’t offend my nasal cavity, so I went with it. This traditional swipe on type of deodorant is a bit more chalky than I would have liked. It does not contain baking soda to odor neutralizing power but states that they have “odor protection by using hops and zinc ricinoleate, sourced from castor beans and the mineral zinc, to help absorb bad smells and neutralize odor.

During the time of this testing period, it was summer, so the Tom’s had a little more work to do than the other brands. However, it didn’t stand-up long term, similarly to the Green Beaver. Within 4 hours I was getting unpleasant hints and I would be forced to wash and reapply halfway through the day. Not exactly ideal in a public restroom on campus or the office. Additionally, the scents mixed together to create a sort of clean laundry gym clothes melange. Not good.

Pro: You can buy it at most large grocery store chains and pharmacies.

Con: Lack luster longevity. Weird smell after a while.

Our fourth contestant was Adidas Cotton Tech Aluminum Free Women Deodorant. When I first purchased this product I was pleased to find it at Save On Foods, where it is next to impossible to find women’s deodorant. The cotton scent is also very pleasant, however, I wasn’t sure what cotton was supposed to smell like so the moniker isn’t great. I suppose the closest description would be that it smells like clean laundry, not bad, but not great and I worried about the amount of fragrance which was used.

This product had one of the worst rates of longevity. Within several hours I was stinking up a storm on public transportation and I felt terrible for everyone around me. I spent the day at school constantly worried about my odor, eventually succumbing to shame and washed my underarms three times throughout the day. Terrible. Just. Awful.

In addition, it caused a great deal of underarm irritation, which was probably worsened by my constant washing. But I wasn’t sure which came first: the itching or the washing. Nonetheless I give this product a D-, and it would be the worst on the list if it wasn’t for the next ridiculous product.

Pros: Can be bought at the grocery store.

Cons: Literally everything about it. Longevity, irritation and smell.

Lastly is a little pot of disappointment called Schmidt’s. Look past the trendy label and alluring promise of Bergamot and Lime scent and you will see what a joke this is.

deo-2

Now, most of you know by now that I am fairly diplomatic when it comes to my product reviews (more or less) but this product was stupid. This little pot was $12.99. It comes with a tiny little plastic spatula (better suited to a Barbie kitchen) which I was not sure what the intention was. Was I supposed to ladle it on to my skin? Nope, it is just to transfer it to my palms according to the instructions on the back. You are meant to warm the hard, chalky paste in your hands for a minute prior to trying to smear it into your underarms.

The first attempt on scooping the paste from the jar resulted in the spatula snapping in half and leaving its embedded end in the center of the white blob.

20180222_1731151457031259.jpg
Broken spatula bits

I then subsequently had to scoop it out with my fingers which meant it all ended up under my nails. I warmed it as directed and tired to smear it on my underarms where 50% of it promptly crumbled off on to the floor, 30% of it stayed on my fingers and 20% ended up where it should be.

After washing my hands, I noticed my underarms beginning to itch. And itch. AND ITCH. It was horrible. Even after removing it with a facecloth and soap, I was  left with irritated underarms for a week. After a little research I read that baking soda based deodorants can be very irritating to some individuals and can cause over-drying as well. So perhaps that was the issue with this product.

Pros: Cute Label.

Cons: Everything.

Another point I want to address is the notion that one needs to “detox” their armpits to increase the efficacy of natural deodorants. The idea is that antiperspirants have been clogging up the glands in your armpits and therefore you must remove the toxins which have accumulated there with a mask. To provide you all the a great baseline, I humored this idea and went for it despite the fact I couldn’t find one lick of evidence to support it. Many of these detox recipes call for activated charcoal and bentonite clay. I fortunately have a face mask of both those ingredients by Sukin, and applied it for twice a week  for two weeks like directed by various natural gurus. Did it make my natural deodorants more effective? Nope, not at all but my pits were silky smooth and blemish free haha.

What have I learned? Well for one that everyone’s chemistry is different and the bacterial on our skin varies from person to person. When speaking with a sales woman from Pomme Natural Foods about it, she insisted that what works for one person may not work at all for another.

I hope I have shed some light on the mysterious and at times aggravating world of natural deodorants. Whether you’re looking to change due to potentially harmful health issues of antiperspirants or because you want to avoid petrochemicals or looking for a vegan option, than perhaps one of these would work for you! Personally, I would start with the Lafe’s.

 

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