17 Sustainable Resolutions for 2017

Hey All!

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.

bamboo-utensil

-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.

 silicone-lids-affiliate

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!

 recycling-system-affiliate

-Look at this recycling beauty! Space for recycling, green/food waste and garbage (or if you were me, soft plastics)-

*Note: This post contains sponsored links. Thank you for supporting Cedar Coast*

Compost Origami

Happy Sunday Everyone !

Just cruising through Pinterest this morning while having a cup of coffee and found this awesome post about folding your own green bin liners. So after you are done reading the Sunday news try out this tutorial.  Check it out here on my Pinterest board about Clean Green  http://pin.it/rDYQl4D Check back tomorrow for this weeks blog post!

Clothes: A Girls Real Bestfriend. Part 1.

Well Halloween has come and gone now, and in the following weeks we are all sure to feel our clothing get a lliiiittttllleee tighter, especially with Thanksgiving (for our American neighbours) and Christmas around the corner.

So lets talk clothes this week! In a three-part series I hope to share with you guys the importance of Minding your closet and the detrimental effects the Fast Fashion industry has on our environment. This first post will be about the EASIEST and CHEAPEST way to have a sustainable closet.

So for you busy folks, here is The Gist!

1. The Garment/Fast Fashion industry (ie. clothing which is a “steal” bargain or super trendy) is the SECOND largest polluting industry next to Big Oil.

2. The FIRST place to start creating a sustainable wardrobe is to take care of what you already own. Don’t rush out to buy  new ethical brands or sustainable fabrics to replace your existing items, that is expensive and wasteful. Buy QUALITY DETERGENT free of phosphates and harmful surfactants which can impact aquatic life in freshwater and saltwater ecosystems. Brands like Seventh Generation, ECOS, Mrs. Meyers and Nellies Laundry Soap are both affordable and effective!

3. Make your clothing LAST by pre-treating stains with concentrated laundry detergent (no need for special pre-treating products) and wash dark coloured things like denim inside out to protect their colour.

4. Mix up your wardrobe! Check out Pinterest for outfit ideas and put together new outfits with your existing wardrobe. I do this ALL THE TIME, too often if you ask my Husband, but I get that “new outfit feels” when I get to try a different combination out.

So! For the rest of you who can stick around, keep reading to find out how I started out my sustainable wardrobe journey with tips and tricks that worked for me. The rest of you? Get back to work 😉

I will be the first to admit that I am not the most fashionable person… Yep.. I love me a comfortable pair of jeans and a t-shirt and converse runners. Which in some ways makes sustainable fashion easy and difficult at the same time. When I began this I tried to keep in mind two things:

  1. Keeping my existing wardrobe was the best option! I found a similar Ethical Closet guide like the one created by into-mind.com and I use it regularly to help me stay on track.

  2. I surveyed my closet. Know thy enemy! I regularly take an afternoon to sort through my clothes. I donate what I am not wearing anymore and make a list of staple pieces I would like to replace or add to my wardrobe. This prevents me from impulse shopping during moments of “I have nothing to wear” or “Ohhh… that’s a good deal….”

When I first started thinking about my closet I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make many changes; however, I took a couple simple steps which helped me figure out where and what I could improve on while also cluttering and organizing.

First I surveyed my closet. How many pieces have I owned for 2+ years? 3+ years? 5+ years? A large part of sustainability is resisting the temptation of fast fashion (ie trends, impulse shopping, and brands which have great prices but terrible track records for quality) So keeping clothing for a long time requires them to be durable and timeless.

If they still looked great, I turned the hanger around  (this is step one, and I come back to this later.) If they didn’t or didn’t fit, I donated them. I was fairly surprised to see that much of my closet was full of long-term pieces (considering I wasn’t a big spender and I love a good sale)

Second, I surveyed the amount of clothing I had received secondhand. Did they still fit? In style? Misshapen or pilled? After conducting this survey, I turned the keeps hangers around and donated the rest.

Third, I looked at my closet to see what was left (easy to spot since some hangers were turned around! Ah see! I told you I had a plan!) I surveyed these. Where did they come from? Are they still in style? What kind of shape are they in? Not surprisingly what these pieces were, were the “fast fashion” pieces purchased over the past year. These pieces were brands like Joe Fresh, H&M, and Le Chateau. They hadn’t kept their shape well or had pilled badly. Some looked okay, and I decided that they got to join the “long term” clothes, but would receive better care in the future.

The same kinds of surveys were conducted with my t-shirt collection, sock and underwear drawers and what I was left with were two medium sized bags of donations and about two dozen empty hangers. What had I accomplished? Well beyond organizing and purging my closest, I became cognizant of my wardrobe. What many of us take for granted in the access we have to clothing, and its immediacy at stores.

Now I was prepared to replace clothing with sustainable items and knew what essentials I already had in my closet. Next, taking care of what I had.

Now, I have always used a “earth-friendly” detergent. In our house we use ECOS brand liquid soap because it is affordable (from Costco) and effective for our needs- not a ton of stains or spills. We also ditched the dryer sheets, scented beads and fabric softener years ago after finding out that they not only contain chemicals (similar to those in detergent) which pollute waterways, but they can damage fabrics like nylon, spandex, elastic (basically everything athletic oriented), microfiber and microfiber blends. Not only that, they cause build-up on clothing which discolouurs whites and dulls colours. AND lastly, for many people the fragrance and softening properties irritate skin and allergies. So not only do the shorten the life of your clothes, but are irritating in multiple ways.

So I am guessing many of your are going “But… but… I like the smell of fresh laundry…”

Solution? Felted dryer balls! We have two that we use and I put 3-5 drops of essential oil on them once a month to impart a nice smell on to our clothes. The felt removes any static too. My Sister asked if the oils stained our clothes at all and I would have to say no, I haven’t seen any! When I add the oil, I always let it soak in a little before throwing them into the dryer.

I bought these at FAVOURITE Gifts in North Vancouver (you can find them on Facebook) for I think $5.00 each. Well worth it considering that a box of dryer sheets run about $4.00-$9.00 per box and only last 120 washes. I have had my felt balls for 2+ years, so well worth the $10.00.

Next week we will talk about the Do’s and Don’ts of shopping for vintage or thrift clothes and one of my best kept secrets: consignment stores. Our last post of this three part series will talk about what to look for in sustainable clothing brands and who some of my favourites are.

Here are some links which I found helpful! Hopefully they will be to you too!

http://www.ecowatch.com/fast-fashion-is-the-second-dirtiest-industry-in-the-world-next-to-big–1882083445.html

http://www.lenntech.com/aquatic/detergents.htm

http://www.reviewed.com/home-outdoors/best-right-now/best-eco-friendly-laundry-detergents

Lighting the Way- LED Bulbs

Lighting the Way- LED Bulbs

So, here is comes! A second post, whoohooo! Yay go me! haha! I have been trying to balance school-studying and blogging unsuccessfully, so I hope to get a better pattern down in the future! But here is the goal: every post will have a “Gist” section at the beginning which will outline the simple key facts of the post in 1-5 points. If you have time, or are interested keep reading for the details. Otherwise, take the info and run with it!

The GIST

  1. 1. LED’s use 83% less energy than incandescent bulbs!!!
  2. 2. They can last up to 22.8 years (based on 3 hours/day usage)
  3. 3. Membership Big Box Stores generally sell them the cheapest: I have seen boxes of 8 60w equivalents for $15.99 can.
  4. 4. All sorts of styles are made: vintage Edison, halogen, pot-lights, track-lights, table lamps and flush mounts.

Edison Bulbs: Super Fashionable, Not Super Efficient. Check out LED Edison styles!

The Details:

So why make the change?

LED bulbs such as this 60W Equivalent Daylight bulb by EcoSmart only uses 10W or 83% less energy than a incandescent bulb. Additionally the manufacturer says it lasts up to 22.8 years (based on 3 hours/day).

LED light bulbs have been on the market for a few years now, but haven’t really caught on. In Canada incandescent light bulbs were banned and phased out about 5-6 years ago and replaced with CFL’s or compact fluorescent lights – those curly light bulbs.

LED’s are versatile and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes for all applications. Regular lamp style bulbs are available in addition to vintage Edison styles, globe, candelabra and pot-light styles. Bright white and soft white options are available, so you can set the mood in any room or outdoors.

Why ditch the CFL’s?

Well we don’t have to ditch the CFL’s entirely. They are extremely affordable products so it makes them appealing for most households. A Philips13W CFL – 60W Incandescent Equivalent – says it has a 10,000 hour lifespan, or approximately 9 years (based on 3 hours per day of usage). They have an incredible lifespan compared to incandescent bulbs and at 75% more effiecient, they are a definite improvement. Nevertheless LED bulbs are much more energy efficient and long lasting. In addition, CFL’s need to be handled and disposed of a little more carefully than traditional incandescents and LED’s since they contain mercury. Additionally they produce a limited amount of UV raditation at distance of 11 inches or closer according to a 2009 Canadian Government study. This makes CLF’s not ideal for desk lamps or for areas in which they could be tampered with by children.

So, where can we begin to utilize LED’s in place of CFL’s?

In our home we began with areas which are difficult to access but are used very frequently such as hallways and staircases. In our condo we have a high traffic hallway/foyer/laundry room which means the light is on a large part of the day. If this light burns out, I am hooped without the Mr. since I am too short to reach them even on a chair. So why not use an LED there and never have that problem again?

As well, we had an original track-light fixture in our old condo kitchen which used halogen bulbs. Not only was the piece dated, it was inefficient and HOT! It felt like a food warmer in a fast food restaurant haha. So on our bi-yearly visit to Costco we impulse bought a modern chrome multi-lamp LED fixture. We LOVE it! It casts a bright warm white light and floods the space perfectly. Check it out! Stylish and Efficient! The downside, like with many products, this was likely imported from overseas. This means it’s Ecological Footprint is likely quite large due to transportation costs and manufacturing costs.

Now that we have moved to out townhouse, we are beginning all over again with switching our fixtures! We are replacing the bulbs in our “boob lights” with LED’s (they were all incandescent) and have replaced the hot halogen bulbs from the spotlights in the living room. In our bedroom we replaced the entire fixture with a awesome drum shade and put in LED 40W bulbs.

Another spot where I want to make the change is on my desk and a spotlight over my fireplace. They both have halogen bulbs which produce excess heat. And remember, excess heat is a sure sign of energy inefficiency, so if it’s hot, lets not. I want swap out my student-inspired halogen desk lamp with a chic chrome lamp and sub-in an LED bulb instead of the stock incandescent they come with typically. Additionally I would hesitate to install a CFL bulb in a desk lamp due to its proximity to my face since we don’t need any additional aging agents right? Right.

I would love to hear back from you guys about the changes you are making or ideas you would like me to look into, so don’t be shy and leave me a message in the comment section!

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