So yesterday I was asked a great question about the environmental impact of paper towels versus washing and reusing bar mops. Is it really better to reuse them or does tossing a paper towel equal to the amount of energy and water used to wash a reuse a bar mop? I was also asked what the difference is between a dish cloth and a bar mop? Really there isn’t, one is just for cleaning up in general (bar mop) and it’s what they are called in the restaurant industry. But feel free to call them whatever you like.
As for the first question, that’s a complicated one to answer because manufacturing of paper towels and mops vary so differently from place to place. But if you break it down into two factors, water consumption to produce paper towels and compare it to the amount of water to wash towels then we can get a bit of a insight into the issue. I am using information found of the web and from my own personal HE washing machine to do the math here, so this isn’t 100% definitive due to variation in manufacturing, roll size and what not. Just basic numbers to give a general idea with a margin of error.
So let’s start with some paper towel numbers. So it takes 20,000 gallons of water to produce 1 ton of paper towel. If a roll of paper towel is approximately 1/2 lb, then there should be about 4000 rolls of paper towel per ton. That makes each roll consumes 50 gallons of water each in production, which doesn’t include the water needed in the production of the fossil fuels to create the towel nor the fossil fuels to transport it to the store or any of the water needed for its packaging.So, that’s about 1 gallon of water per sheet of paper towel.
In comparison a bar mop in our house can be used 5-8 times before needing to be washed (as long as it wasn’t soaked or used for raw meat etc). So for easy math, let’s say 5. So one bar mop is equivalent to 5 paper towels, but can be used for 5 years before needing replacement. 5 paper towels a day, means the average home uses 3 50 sheet rolls of paper towel a month, 36 rolls per year (the Bounty website actually says Americans use 4 times this amount! I am going with my personal households estimation of use), making that 180 rolls over 5 years. And that is 9000 gallons of water in paper towel use in 5 years.
Okay, so we got that down. Let’s see how the bar mop does over 5 years
Now my HE washing machine uses 13-15 gallons of water per large load of laundry. My front loading HE washed accepts 18 lbs of clothing, or in a measurement of bar mops, 4 bar mops per pound, so 72 bar mops per load (but I only own 10, so they generally go in the laundry with other dish towels, this is just for the sake of math). With a usage of 15 generous gallons of water per load, that’s 27 oz of water per mop per wash.
So, that’s one mop per day, or 30 per month, so 600 single mop washes per year, and making that a grand total of 125 gallons of water used to wash the bar mops for the year and 625 gallons of water in 5 years.
There you have it. Paper towels 9000 gallons of water used in production (not including packaging and transportation) over 5 years on comparison to 625 gallons of water for the wash and reuse of cotton bar mops.
But wait, there is more! Some of you are going to say, what about the production of the cotton?! It’s a heavy water user! Yep it sure is! It takes on average 350 gallons of water to produce one pound of cotton from seed, to farm to fiber. That is about 88 gallons of water per quater pound mop.
So let’s wrap this up. 88 gallons of production cost plus 625 gallons of washing is 713 gallons of water for the production and maintenance of a bar mop compared to 9000 gallons of water for paper towels over a 5 year period.
Could we talk about the water use of detergent sure! The cost of chemical treatments for both sure! But we would all probably be asleep by the time I finished here. The question was about the overall use of water and the impact on the environment. In that catagory, bar mops win over and over again.
So, even with a generous margin of error, I think we can agree what the numbers tell us.
Something to mull over right?
Happy Tuesday Everyone!
Sorry about my delay on Mix it up Monday! I have been dealing with my neighbors renovating their townhome and it sounds like WW3 in here and I can’t seem to focus. Anyway… I decided on doing our MIUM on a Tuesday!
Today’s swap is a fairly easy one, but I challenge you all to step outside your routine to do this. For YEARS I was buying Ecos brand laundry detergent from Costco. It is $16.99 for a 210 oz bottle and says it does 210 loads. But honestly, for a large load of laundry it required 4 oz, not 1oz, so the label is a bit deceptive. You can also buy it from well.ca for $11.06 right now on sale. There isn’t anything wrong with it, it is great detergent free from harmful chemicals, vegan and palm oil free.
However, I recently ran out of my gigantic jug of it and decided now was the time to switch to a brand which I could buy in bulk/refillable. Introducing an amazing, local, Canadian company: Live for Tomorrow!
I purchased this little bottle at The Chuckling Duckling in Fort Langley where they have bulk soaps, salts, shampoo bars, deodorants and much much more! To use it, I have been using 4 pumps of the soap in our HE washers dispenser. That’s it! 4 pumps!
For the same number of washes and the same price as the Ecos brand from Costco, you get a refillable option which takes up less than a quarter of the space! Look at the size difference! You can also buy LFT products online through their website and at other dispensaries in Vancouver and around the lower mainland!
So if you are still using conventional brands, give a brand like Ecos or Live for Tomorrow a shot. They are just as effective in cleaning and getting stains out, but are biodegradable and are safe for our lakes and oceans. If you want to know more about the detriments of detergents to our oceans, read up on it via my hair care blog (yep, the same detergents used on your hair as your clothes… yuck.) If you aren’t sold on the bulk options yet, don’t worry. Take a smaller step which works with your routine and just try a ecofriendly brand instead such as Seventh Generation, Ecos, and Live for Tomorrow (you don’t have to buy it in bulk, just recycle your container.)
So happy laundry day folks!
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So I have recently had a lot of questions in regards to worthwhile swaps, and what I mean by that is how and which products are worth getting rid of and which are great alternatives. So I am going to introduce Mix It Up Mondays! These will be posts which are quick and easy to read and I will post fantastic alternatives to everyday disposable items with the locations in which you can buy them or links online of where to pick them up!
So for my first Mix It Up Monday I present Ressube zip-loc bag alternatives. These reusable zip baggies are great for wet foods and snacks that traditional fabric baggies can’t handle. In fact, I use them for storing things in my freezer because they have a much higher volume capacity than traditional baggies and take up less room in my freezer than my Anchor containers. Win! For $6.38 for 4 of them, you can’t lose. Plus they are dishwasher safe, so you don’t have to worry about getting them clean. So if you’re not ready to let go of plastic baggies altogether, give these ones a shot!
Merry Belated Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!
So, yes, I know there is a joke in here somewhere about procrastinating and New Years resolutions, but I have been super sick over the holidays which is why my annual Resolutions post is more than a little late… But as they say, better late than never, but not me because I still have laryngitis!
We spent our New Years away from the city at Steve’s family cabin on the Sunshine Coast. Having the flu meant that I basically bundled up in front of the fire with the dog, played Scrabble and went for a couple chilly winter morning walks. It was a great time to sit back and reflect on 2017 and all that I accomplished including graduating from my program at Simon Fraser, starting the ball rolling on Cedar Coast as a business and being a expert guest on the Health Wellness and Lifestyle show. I am really looking forward to working with new clients and on new projects in 2018, which I will announce in just a little while here.
Now I’m excited to share with you 18 easy resolutions that you can implement (some or all!) in 2018. I myself will be taking on a few of these resolutions, so check back on the blog and Instagram for progress reports!
4. Brush Wisely. Try something new with your oral hygiene routine by switching to either bamboo tooth brushes which can be composted or to a toothbrush with a reusable handle. Bamboo toothbrushes are an excellent way to have the traditional toothbrush feel, while being greener. Some brands come with plastic bristles which need to be removed before composting, while others come with bio-based bristles which biodegrade. We personally use Radius Source toothbrushes which have reusable handles made with recycled fibers and resin. The heads of the brushes can be recycled.
5. Be safe. Safety razors are fantastic option to switch to this New Year. Disposable razors or razors with disposable cartridges are wasteful as they cannot be recycled due to their mixed material natures. Safety razors use only a stainless steel double edge blade which can put directly into the recycling bin. I personally collect our blades in a clean tin can and dispose of them once or twice a year. Although they are usually marketed to men, I find that safety razors do a fantastic job of for my needs as a lady. I do recommend that you use a good quality shaving cream to get the closest shave possible. I personally I love shaving lotion bars like these from Enfleurage Organics and lotions from Lush.
6. Get organized. Now, I know I am a bit biased when it comes to organization (it is part of my business) but I believe a large part of personal environmental sustainability can be achieved from minimalism and minimalism can’t be achieved fully without organization. By choosing a small task such as cleaning out and organizing under your kitchen cabinet or laundry room, you get the chance to evaluate what you own and why. Expired cleaning and beauty products should be emptied and properly recycled while things such as unused paint and stains should be taken to your municipal recycling depot for properly disposable. Not feeling up to the task of purging your home of environmentally harmful products and getting organized? Contact me for your consultation!
7. Get local. Make an effort to shop locally. Not only do you support your local community, but you get to discover new designers and companies. Buying local can be done in many facets of your life. From produce and meats, to jewelry and clothes, shopping local can be a great adventure. We switched to locally growth meat last year by purchasing through Meridian Meats and Hopcott Farms. This year my goal is purchase my clothing from Canadian designers only by locally owned shops like Be So Real.
8. Think outside the box, big box that is. Last year’s resolution list included breaking it off with Dollar Stores. They sell cheaply made products which have a faster failure rate than a Trump immigration policy. This year I suggest you take that idea one step further by avoiding big box stores. Many of the retail giants pay their employees unfair wages (remember the in-store food banks Wal-Mart started for their employees because they didn’t earn enough to feed themselves?) In addition they also sell poorly made products which are designed to fail after a short amount of time. Start weaning yourself off the big box stores by doing a little research about alternatives in your area for household items (or what you would normally buy there.) Write a list of these alternatives for yourself and post it to your fridge. The next time you need a new duvet or blender, make an effort to shop at these alternatives first. It may not always work out, but it is the small steps that lead to great strides eventually.
9. Wiggly squiggly worm bins. I often hear from owners of condos or townhouses that they can’t compost or their buildings do not participate in a municipal composting program. There is a solution! Worm bins are self-contained units which rely on the hard work of worms to compost your green waste. The compost and worm castings can be either used in patio gardens, given to friends, used in house plants or just returned to nature. The blog Chunky on Chia by Sarah Claire has a wonderful post about how to build your own worm bin here. I am also a HUGE fan of Hungry Bins by Greentools Canada, their self-contained units come all ready to go, just add green waste so check them out if you are serious about reducing your overall food waste.
10. Aerosols. Ditch the aerosols. Using aerosol hairspray and dry shampoo is convenient yes, but is also damaging for the environment and atmosphere because their propellants are harmful. I found that Giovanni brand hairsprays are excellent options for those looking for great distribution without an aerosol. Additionally, Captain Blankenship makes a great smelling dry shampoo for those days in between washes.11. Buy bulk more often. This is a weird one and will require more explanation. Sometimes the bulk bins aren’t the most economical for things like flour, sugar and pasta. So I suggest that you buy the largest quantity of the item you need instead to cut down on packaging. Instead of buying 6 1lb bags of flour this year, buy the largest bag you can get at your grocer (I think 10lbs is the largest at my store.) It will save you packaging overall!
12. Eat your veggies. Take up a meatless Monday! Buy reducing the amount of meat that one eats, you can greatly reduce your carbon footprint. A single pound of beef requires 6813-9462 liters (1800-2500 gallons) of water to produce and the livestock industry in the US uses more than 50% of all corn grown to feed animals. That is a lot of agricultural land that could be used to produce nutritious and healthy veggies instead.
13. Gift smarter. Buy better. Next time you’re invited to a baby shower or house warming, try to buy one or two quality items. For example, instead of loading up on cheap onsies from Wal-Mart, buy some quality pieces that will be wearable once the baby grows out of them. Baby clothing swaps are a big deal (I hear) so why not make sure that the items you give don’t need to be turfed after a month of use? If you are crafty, or know someone who is, give a meaningful gift which is handmade. I love these adorable nursery wall hangings made by Aly. She upcycles fabric and uses foraged driftwood for these adorable cloud hangings which add personality to any nursery. Contact her for more information!
14. Pick something to recycle. This is a big one and it’s easy! Try to find an item in your grocery list or pantry to swap out for a recycleable. For example, if you buy eggs in the Styrofoam carton, try to buy them in the cardboard (even better buy cage free and organic, but it’s up to you) instead. Cardboard is much more easily recycled or composted compared to styrofoam, so one switch can go a long way!
15. Go Organic, beyond the plate. You have heard me talk about the environmental detriments of conventional farming techniques for food; well, those also apply to crops like cotton. So try switching from conventional cotton balls and swabs to organic ones, even at regular grocery stores, the cost difference is very little. Organic cotton uses much less water throughout its processing, doesn’t require synthetic fertilizers or pesticides and has marginal differences in yield when compared to conventional cotton. Other options include using jute or hemp dish scrubbers rather than steel wool or plastic scrubbers and making an effort to buy organic cotton, wool and sustainably made vegan leather.
16. Pick something to not buy. This was a tough one for us, but we are making the plunge into not buying chips in traditional foil-plastic packaging. I love chips. I love chips and wine together. But from now on we are purchasing tortilla chips because they come in paper packaging. This can apply to lots of items such as granola bars and crackers (make your own or buy in paper boxes) and even feminine hygiene products (switch to a Diva Cup and Lunapads!) Overall, it is a great step to reducing your packaging related waste.
17. Donate. Donating your unwanted goods and clothing not only gives a new life to your items, but it gives someone else access to an item they may really need. Along with buying quality items for your own use, when you’re done with them they can keep going with someone else and not end up in the dump. Don’t like to have to drive to a donation center? Groups like Big Brother will come to your house and pick them up for you! It doesn’t get easier than that. So next time you go to turf that old suit, don’t! Donate it.
18. Waste Less or Wasteless Wednesday. This is a fun one that Steve and I are taking on this year as well. Every Wednesday we plan to not produce any waste. This doesn’t mean we are keeping our garbage on the counter until Thursday, this means whatever we cook or do can’t produce actual garbage. Compost and recycling only! I will be chronicling it on IG for you guys, so follow me there for ideas and progress! Find it daunting? Try to produce less waste on Wednesday (hence the Waste Less Wednesday) by planning a meal in advance with bulk ingredients and produce!
Alright guys! Now feel free to share this post with your friends and family, encourage them to make some sustainability goals for themselves this year. I myself am going to make a large pot of tea and lay on the couch with the dog… if there is room for me…
Sorry for my silence over the past few weeks… But you know that feeling when you get home from vacation and just can’t get your head in the game? So I thought I would write about something that I do want to write about. Christmas!
I know most of you completed decorating for the holiday season by now, but I thought I would share with you all my new decorating strategy which both cut down on my usual holiday consumption and upcycled some things!
Although I admire the visual beauty of a themed tree and decorations, I can’t but help wondering what people do with their old ornaments… Turf them? Store them? Give them away? It seems wasteful. So for that very reason our family has a variety of ornaments which are family heirlooms (mostly from my grandma) and select ornaments which Steve and I have got while traveling.
My first tip is to either snag some vintage or family heirloom tree trimming decorations from your family. My Dad had a box of older ornaments which he didn’t hang anymore so I said I would take them. They are quirky and fun and certainly make me smile every time I unpack them. The other place I recommend looking for vintage Christmas ornaments are at thrift stores and especially flea markets. They often have partial sets of glass ornaments and interesting one-off pieces.
In the past I have decorated the exterior of our home with either store bought or forged greens. I would need somewhere between 45 and 60 stems to do the front of the house. This year I decided to try something different which would be reusable year after year. I went to the local thrift shop and found a couple boxes of plastic ornaments. I removed their hangers and strung them along a meter of floral wire (twine or yarn would work as well.) I then used Christmas tree trimmings and a handful of foraged greens to fill the cedar window boxes and I wound multi-coloured twinkle lights through them. When that was complete I laid the garland of balls over top of the greens and in between the lights. Now I have a charming window display which uses less than half of the required greens and I managed to upcycle existing ornaments which will last for years to come.
As for the remainder of the house, I have always aired on the side of minimalism as a decorator. This year I decided to utilize leftover wedding decor items from my own wedding (the cedar slice) and from my friend Rebecca’s wedding (thanks for the birch candle holders Bec!) Again I inherited a handful of vintage apple ornaments from my Dad which I displayed in various spots around the house such as with the birch candles and in a Christmas serving bowl. I also filled two simple 12″ glass vases with unused plastic ornaments, arranging them along side a recycled milk bottle filled with curly willow branches wrapped with twine, and seveal Christmas crackers.
I find that by being creative and utilizing existing decor items (like vases, platters and candles) you will find that you will consume and accumulate less items for the holidays in the form of decorations. This means that you will have less to store, organize and pack up every season, leaving you more time to enjoy the real purpose of the holidays, spending time with family and friends, enjoy good food and drink and most of all, relaxing.
As I hinted at yesterday, I am looking forward to my next post, my annual Sustainability Resolutions! Again I will be counting down 18 resolutions ideas for 2018, so if you would like to suggest one feel free to leave it in the comments section!
Cheers and Happy Holidays Everyone!
Happy Holidays Everyone!
Before I post my annual Sustainability resolutions I thought I would share and highlight some of My favourite parts of the 2017 list!
#8, #11, & #13 were my absolute favorites this year. Not only did we try more organic wine (#8) but we also tried local ciders and did a wine tour in the Fraser Valley and Okanagan (#11.)
We staycationed A LOT! Having Juno in our family now meant that we had a travel companion for our road trips. We went to the interior camping several times, road tripped to Washington state once and played tourist in our own backyard a lot by going to Glow a Christmas light display just minutes from our home.
Last but not least I managed to get a lot of people on board with being more conscious about their actions, like using plastic bags vs reusable bags. Being asked to be on the Health Wellness and Lifestyle show in October, November and December allowed me to reach such an amazing audience and new clients.
I’m so lucky to have had such a great year, and I am looking forward to hearing your successes as well in the comments section below!
New to Cedar Coast? Well it’s not too late to read through and adopt some habits outlined in the post below, so check it out!
Sorry for the lack of blog posts this month! Between Finals and Christmas, I was away from the computer a lot!
Anyways… New Years has appeared out of nowhere! As always I had a flash of genius while in the shower this morning (why is it always the shower??) I want to give you guys 17 EASY resolution ideas to make for 2017! Now I know 2016 was a bit of a bust for some of us (Trump, David Bowie etc etc.) but on the flip side both the Canadian and American governments have put in legislation which prevents oil exploration in the North, the Northern Gateway pipeline in BC was cancelled and beyond all odds, Keith Richards is still with us! So, let’s say goodbye to 2016 and welcome 2017 with some sustainability resolutions to make the up coming year even better! Let’s get the countdown started!
1.) BYOM – Bring Your Own Mug! It seems simple enough, but even I forget to grab (or wash out) my travel mug. So this year, make a resolution to pack your mug around with you! If you need something to make you more excited about it, buy yourself a new fancy mug or like my Momma did, get your favorite coffee mug personalized! How awesome is that?!
-Adorable Personalized Mugs-
2.) Swap it- Swap out one household product that you currently use for an environmentally friendly version. It could be dish washing liquid, laundry soap, kitty litter or doggie doo baggies for biodegradable baggies, toilet paper, or toilet bowl cleaner! Anything. Just one item OR even better, swap one out every time something runs out, replace it with something greener.
3.) Take Public Transit- You don’t need to start taking transit everyday for work or to the grocery store. Making a couple trips to downtown to a concert or football game using the subway, bus, or skytrain instead of driving not only saves you money on parking, it helps reduce your carbon footprint. Plus, I find easing yourself into using transit is the best way to make a more permanent shift.
4.) Go Paperless- You’ve seen the ads on TV and your banks website for paperless statements, but your always too busy to sign up. Well this New Year, take 20 minutes out of your day and make all your statements paperless. Not only does it mean less trees are being wasted for something that gets recycled anyway, it means you don’t have to waste time shredding!
5.) Go Electronic- Do you have a magazine subscription? I don’t but I LOVE magazines… they are so nice to have around… But they are a total waste of resources! So look up your favorite mags and subscribe to them online. There are also tons of apps which provide multiple magazine subscriptions which means you only need your tablet or phone. It lessens the clutter in your home and again there isn’t any needless waste.
-Paperless studying. Check out the Logitech wireless keyboard I use-
6.) Buy Organic- This is kind of like #2, swap out one favorite food product for an organic alternative. Organic produce is not processed with the same pesticides and herbicides like conventional produce, which means there is less soil and water degradation which protects the environment. By switching one produce item at a time, it is less sticker shocking, and it allows your to taste the difference (trust me you will)
7.) Carpool- This one is fun and easy! Have a group of friends all headed to one place like a friends house or restaurant? Why not carpool if you all live in the same area? Make the round-robin picking up friends. Not only do you have a great time getting to where you are going, you can all share a taxi home AND you have a bunch of friends with cars to take you back to your car in the morning! Win! Less carbon, no DD needed, and a ton of fun!
8.) Try Organic Wine- This one is on my 2017 resolution list. Like #6, organic wines are not treated with the same harsh pesticides and herbicides while they are grown as conventional wines. Plus, I have heard that there are some amazing organic wines from California and the Okanagan, Who doesn’t want to do some wine tasting??
9.) Cut out Convenience- I know, we are all super busy, so buying those convenience products which are individually wrapped are soooo easy. But they create a lot of waste needlessly… Try cutting out one convenience product like Snack Packs or individual yogurts. Make a whole package of pudding once a week, or buy a large tub of yogurt and divide it up into reusable containers. Once you develop the new habit, you won’t even miss it I promise. Plus, you save SO MUCH MONEY! All that packaging and processing isn’t free, you pay a premium for it!
10.) Breakup with the Dollar-store- I know the allure of cheap and easy toys or things from the dollar-store is sometimes irresistible, but those cheaply made products come with a cost. Not only are they all produced overseas so they need to travel very far to get to the store, they are produced in areas with very lienient environmental manufacturing standards. Also, they are cheaply made products with little to no longevity! Save yourself the annoyance and invest once in a quality product not dollar-store stuff if at all possible.
11.) Staycation- My Geography of Tourism Prof is cringing at the term, but I like it! Staycations are vacations at home or within a short distance. Be a tourist in your own Province or State, not only will you discover some really neat things about your home, it’s cheaper (usually), and you don’t create nearly as much carbon from travel! You’re money stays within the community, and thus supports the people you live alongside! The money is them reinvested in the community. Win!
-Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada-
12.) Ditch the Plastic- Plastic containers are super popular, cheap and easy for almost all households. And while I appreciate their reusable nature, they still aren’t great for you or the environment. Depending on what studies you read, and the discovery of BPA and other plastic related toxins, these containers aren’t optimal for longterm use. Glass on the other hand is sturdy and stable for food storage, it’s 100% recyclable, meaning nothing is wasted, and it’s inexpensive. A 24 piece set of Anchor brand containers will set you back only $25.00- $30.00 CAN. Or you can switch to mason jars and use screw on lids (which are plastic but don’t come in contact with foods) for a really cheap alternative. I use both!
-Mason Jar for instant coffee mixes and hot chocolate mixes-
13.) Go Cloth- So this one comes from my Sister: switch to cloth diapers permanently for your little ones or in her case, switch to reusable swimming diapers. They are heading south soon for a family vacation and don’t want to pack whole suitcase of diapers so she has bought a few reusable ones! Smart Lady!
14.) Ditch the Disposables- Bring your own cutlery to work or school instead of using the plastic cutlery in the lunchroom. Yeah it can be recycled but that is also energy which could be conserved or used elsewhere! They make amazing travel cutlery sets from metal, bamboo and plastic so they are easy to pack around. Or bring some from home, or do what I did and buy some sets from the local secondhand store and leave them in the lunchroom for everyone to use.
-I love this adorable To-Go Wares bamboo travel cutlery set –
15.) Buy Local- I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again! Buy local! The next time a birthday, baby shower, anniversary or holiday comes around, look to buy one gift locally this year. Instead of heading to Walmart to buy a bunch of onsies for baby showers, I head to a local artist cooperative and buy one of a kind pieces there. Yeah they are a little more expensive, but it’s always worth it since the garments are quality and usually made from sustainable fabrics like organic cotton or bamboo. Good for baby, good for mommy and good for you (cause who really likes going to Walmart? Yuck)
– I love this one of a kind ring from Coastal Dreamer Designs, a Canadain designer-
16.) Give up plastic wrap- Plastic wrap is the bane of my existence. It gets stuck to itself, tears unevenly or falls out of the box… Instead, invest in a silicone microwave safe lid for heating foods, or ones for storing food in the fridge (they are dual use) They sell them at all home/kitchen stores like BBB and Hudsons Bay.
–Soledi Silicone Universal Lid Set in 5 Sizes-
17.) Recycle- Most of us are fairly good recyclers, however there are quite a few things that don’t go directly in the service pickup boxes. Pick something like plastic bags, Styrofoam, or tetra packs (or something your city doesnt accept) to collect at home and take to the recycling depot directly once or twice a season. It will save something that is fully recoverable from going into the landfill, and it’s a great habit to start. Forming new habits slowly like this eases people into a new routine, and makes it easier to take on new habits in the future!
-Look at this recycling beauty! Space for recycling, green/food waste and garbage (or if you were me, soft plastics)-
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So throughout my education at SFU, many of my professors tried to instill their students with an understanding of how travel is a major source of our individual and cumulative carbon emissions. Honestly, when I would hear these lectures I would squirm in my seat and frown because of my own selfish desires to travel. One single trip from Vancouver BC Canada to Kahului Maui, Hawaii will create 1.19 tonnes of C02 emissions. And no, that number is per person, not per airplane. An additional complicating factor about air travel related pollution is that much of these emissions are created high in the atmosphere at cruising altitude. This is an issue because these emissions are more easily wide spread over greater distances due to winds and jet stream.
As a “serious” environmentalist, I hated that I would and could embrace many parts of life which contributed to the peril of the planet. But also I know and understand that travel is one of the best ways in life to grow as an individual, develop compassion and understanding for cultures beyond my borders and a means of supporting economies which may falter without tourism.
So what to do… ? Well I decided that if I was going to travel, I wasn’t going to do it in an all out pollution and garbage orgy. I was going to take my daily practices at home and adapt them to my new situation in order to offset (even if it’s just a fraction) my emissions. I was originally going to write just a single post about this topic but I’ve decided that I will make it a three part special. In this post I will list 6 things you can do to limit your waste while traveling. The second will be about what and how to pack and organize yourself for your sustainable travels and the last will be about the importance of buying the right sunscreen for the health of yourself and of the oceans.
6. Take a hike, or ride a bike! Look for alternative forms of transportation on your trip! Rent a bike, take transit like a bus or train, try ride sharing or walking instead of renting a car. You get to see so much more of the place you are visiting by using a slower form of transportation which enriches your experience that much more!
Thanks again for reading guys! And as I get ready to jetset off to Maui this weekend, I will be sharing with you guys how and what I am packing to make my trip a little less polluting. Plus while we are in Maui, myself and the family will be putting our skin on the line testing out natural, coral friendly sunscreen for you guys!
Yet again, I am trying something new on the Cedar Coast blog: a green business profile. From time to time I come across amazing people doing amazing things and have thought “Man, I want to share their story! It’s so inspiring!” So when one of my good friends made some changes in her life towards environmental sustainability I jumped at the chance to share her story with you. So here we go!
For many years now I have been a self-admitted hair addict, with my partner in crime being my stylist and friend Savannah Falk. As some of you may remember in my posts A Hairy Situation Part 1 & 2 & 3 Savannah was a wealth of information about product do’s and don’ts, so when she told me she was making a huge leap towards sustainability in her business I couldn’t turn down to opportunity to share her story with you.
But a bit of back story first. Savannah and I met back in 2009 in North Vancouver. I was having a bad day and walked down the street to a hair salon in my new neighbourhood (I had just moved to North Vancouver) and begged for a hair cut. My go-to vice for bad days has always been to cut or colour my hair (I blame my sister 😉 ) Savannah was the one who obliged (or pulled the short straw, I am not sure which) and got to work on her very first Heathers-in-a-crap-mood-chop-it-all-off haircut, the first of many. Over the years I have had as many hair colours and I did jobs, and more cuts than I did boyfriends. Savannah has been there for every step of the way!
So when she called to discuss this big change of hers, I was delighted! Turns out all those years of griping about pollution and talking about the environment had paid off: she was going sustainable!
Savannah told me she was converting her product line completely to Monat (that’s pronounced Mo-Nate because I kept mispronouncing it myself LOL). “So what’s the big deal?” I asked her since I had done a great deal of research on hair products this past summer and had found several brands that I loved. What made these ones different? Well for one, this list of Monat “No’s” is straight from their website:
Monat comes at their product ingredients largely from a personal health perspective, but as I have same on more than one occasion what is good for you is usually good for the planet. As we discussed in previous posts, phthalates, parabens, phenoxyethanol, fragrances, PEG and sulfates all wash down our drains and into our waste water systems. Despite our best efforts at treatment facilities, these chemicals are still discharged into our marine ecosystems. What may be considered”safe levels” of these chemicals for humans are now found to be dangerous and harmful for marine animals and their ecosystems.
For years Savannah has bugged me about how often I was my hair, damaging it and washing my colour out along the way. She would tisk tisk me for needing to come in every 6 weeks for a colour because I was basically washing it all down the drain while damaging my hair and scalp. Savannah posted this amazing picture and caption which highlights the health and strength of her hair now that she has been using Monat. She needs to wash her hair less and less and experiences less and less breakage every week due to her infrequent washing. This not only does this cut down on water consumption but also her overall need for product which reduces packaging and plastics.
[I’ve used] “curl cream” this is day 2, post sweaty workout, I dried my sweaty hair and twisted my hair into approx 6 “zulu knots” and let it sit while I did my makeup! Took my hair down and light diffuse to break the curls up and look and the curl and volume!!!
In addition to embracing a product line which is both good for her clients and for the planet, she has joined a new salon called Joy Hair Studio in North Vancouver which is a Green Circle Salon member. Additionally, Joy is committed to philanthropic work, meaning that partial proceeds from every service is donated to local initiatives which help those battling mental illness. Located in Lonsdale Quay, Joy is easy to get to via public transit with buses and the seabus terminal located within the same building which can cut down your style oriented carbon footprint even further.
Green Circle Salons aim to be as close to zero waste as possible by recycling foils, diverting hair clippings from landfills, recycling tubes and aerosols, collecting and remediating chemical products, and by participating in traditional recycling and green waste products. In total Green Circle Salons have diverted almost 2.3 million pounds of salon and spa waste from landfills around North America since 2009.
“We further serve our salons by coaching them in making green changes to the operations of their salon such as LED lighting, renewable energy, organic tea and coffee, eco-friendly cleaning products, and installing water saving faucets” – Green Circle Salons
Investigation into the ingredient lists of Monat products raised very few overall concerns for me. Yes their products contain fragrances and some surfactants which are considered irritants to some, but in the grand scheme of things Monat products strive to make healthy/green performance oriented products not just green cleansing products. This is leaps and bounds ahead of many other salon grade products and companies which don’t even attempt to make changes to their ingredient lists. Can Monat do a little better? Yes, and I assume that through their active research and product development they will be constantly striving for improvement.
Savannah has taken such fantastic steps towards making her business responsible, ethical and environmentally sustainable proving that effective change is possible within the beauty industry. Between using Monat and through the services at Joy Hair Salon, Savannah has began to eliminate and divert much of her businesses pollution and waste which would either go into our water systems or into municipal landfills. She isn’t a “die hard” environmentalist, super crunchy or a hippie, just a normal person like you and I who wants to make a difference in her life and the lives of her clients by providing healthy hair products which are good for them and the planet. We should all be a little more like Savannah shouldn’t we?
Want a green stylist in your life? Contact Savannah to purchase the whole Monat product line via her website, on Instagram or at Joy Hair Salon and by traditional means 778-836-5171 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks again for reading you guys!
As some of you may have noticed in the past couple of weeks I am trying something new on Cedar Coast: sharing environmental and climate change oriented news. This is because I feel that our primary media sources do a poor job of reporting on the subject. As a result, from time to time I am going to share links with you guys that I find fascinating. Let me know what you think in the comments sections as it will help me tailor the content as I go.
Several years ago I received a set of these amazing reusable zip bags from It’s Sew Kara, a company in Courtenay and Victoria BC Canada. Two years later, these well-used bags are still going strong in our kitchen. When I heard that Kara and Cheryl had created a new product, I was so excited to get involved with their project.
This new project was their first line of Beeswax Wraps. These wraps are made from 100% cotton fabric inundated with melted beeswax made locally in Comox Valley.
If you are like my husband asking “what are they for?” don’t feel left out. These handy wraps are designed to replace disposable plastic food wrap. The beeswax wraps are reusable, washable and should last 6-12 months (I would like to see plastic wrap do that!)
My pack of three includes one large wrap, one medium wrap and one snack pouch which is about the size of a traditional zip style sandwich bag. When I opened the package I was greeted with the wonderful fragrance of beeswax and was delighted by the pattern that was chosen for me. Although fairly rigid when I first pulled them out, they quickly became malleable with the heat of my hands yet without leaving a waxy residue behind.
These wraps are fantastic for bowls of leftovers, salads (who wouldn’t want to take one of these bad boys to a potluck?!) cut veggies and fruit and snacks. So far I have used them for all of the above including wrapping my wedge of Parmesan cheese in one where the existing waxed paper wouldn’t suffice.
Cleaning is a breeze too. Just some gentle soap (I use Dr. Bronner’s soaps) and lukewarm water to clean them up. Hang to dry or like me lean them up in the dish drying rack (mine are still quite firm.) According to Kara and Cheryl, their wraps will show signs of aging eventually, but that is not the end of the wraps. To “refresh” them you simply place them on a baking sheet on parchment paper and bake in the oven at 180º F for 1-2 minutes to redistribute the waxes.
I feel as though this goes without saying, however I should remind my readers that beeswax wraps of any kind are not tolerant of heat. So do not (I repeat Do Not) put them in the microwave or on hot surfaces like a glasstop stove unless you want some hot melty waxy mess to clean up.
Although I feel like my regular readers are aware of the perils of plastic wrap on human health and the health of the environment, I think it is worth discussing yet again.
Plastic’s traditionally are softened with a chemical called phthalates which makes them malleable during production. And in recent years, governments across the world have sought to eliminate the most harmful of them from our food storage products like water bottles and plastic wrap. However, eliminating BPA and BPA’s, if I may summarize a great saying in the stunning documentary film Plastic Oceans, that
“eliminating BPA and BPS from our lives is like arresting Al Capone and expecting that all organized crime will be forever gone.”
These two phthalates are just two of thousands of harmful chemicals found in plastic products. Additionally, a study by Liberte Environmental Associates and Biotech Research and Consulting found that within the state of Washington through government authorized industrial discharge permits
Metals, PAHs, phthalates and PCHs can be attached to permitted levels of effluent suspended solids in proportions about 33,000 to 6,250,000 times greater than safe levels for organisms. Additionally, PAHs, phthalates and PCHs may also be contained in authorized oil and grease discharges at levels about 400 to 670,000 times greater than presumably safe levels.
The researchers went on to describe the effects of bioaccumulation of these harmful chemicals to local fish species such as Chinook salmon and how the chemicals retard the fishes abilities in growing and developing normally contributing to their populations steady decline. Additionally, we are already very well aware of the harmful effects that bioaccumulation has on humans and fetal development, including hormone disruptions, kidney damage and infertility.
So on that dreary note: let’s discuss what positive steps we can take to eliminate toxins from plastic from our environment.
First and foremost the easiest and most obvious step is to stop buying plastic wrap. It is literally the first place to start because if you have it in your kitchen, you will use it.
So your next question is “What do I do with the half onions or peppers?” We personally use a combination of Anchor brand glass food storage containers, our beeswax wraps from It’s Sew Kara and parchment paper/elastic bands or butcher twine. I have yet to ever have a moment in my kitchen where I cry out “man I wish I had plastic wrap” in literally 4 years.
“But what about microwaving food? What about splatters?” you say. I say use a plate. Yes a plate. Get a spare plate out, flip it over and use that to cover your bowls of soup or pasta leftovers. The last thing you want to do is heat plastic wrap with your food (especially oily foods) because they are more prone to leaching that way.
“What about meats and cheese?” Well we use both parchment paper and our beeswax wraps to store those smellier foods. The envelope style wrap I have is now dedicated to my cheddars and does a great job in keeping the crusty edge at bay. As for meats, if we are marinating, I just choose to do it in a Pyrex container with a lid. Easy peasy.
I know it’s kind of a tough love mentality, but once you take a convenience item out of your life it really does force you to get creative and use the existing items in your house. For example, we don’t use paper towels in our house (a paperless kitchen post is on its way by the the way). We use bar mops. Yep. Good old fashioned washable cotton bar mops. Seems embarrassingly simple right?
Anyway everyone, I really appreciate you all taking the time out of your schedules to read our little blog. If you like what you read, please show your support by sharing this post with your social media and by visiting our partner It’s Sew Kara!