Category Archives: Blog

Have A Fair Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is getting close and that means lots of chocolate. The annual world consumption of cocoa beans averages around 600,000 tons per year. But do you know how your chocolate was made? 70% of the world’s chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast where most of the chocolate is farmed using child labor.

Don’t worry though, you can give up child labor without giving up chocolate. By buying fair trade certified chocolate you can be sure that your chocolate is child labor free and those who made it were paid fair wages. Fair trade chocolate is becoming much more common as people are learning how most chocolate is made and are demanding a change, keep pushing and someday all can be fair trade!

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A Greener Olympics?

I live in suburban Vancouver, BC. This week the 2010 Winter Olympic Games will open in my region, and people are excited. The Torch is making its way through local communities, people are wearing their Team Canada gear, and dozens of cultural events are kicking off. The city is ready to celebrate and capitalize on the international attention that we are receiving. As someone who has lived in this region my whole life I am proud of the show we are about to put on.

At the same time, we cannot forget that a major event such as the Olympics comes at a cost.

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Why My Kids Ride the Bus


Because I make them.

It’s as simple as that. Just like I make them turn off lights when the leave a room and make them turn off the tap water while brushing their teeth and make them place empty cereal boxes in the recycling bin.

They don’t like it much. They say the bus smells (it does!) and sometimes, kids are rowdy. Often, they tell me, the bus driver is grouchy. If I drove them to school, they argue, they could sleep in a bit later (not that they would!) and would get home a bit earlier in the afternoons.

It’s true.

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To Eat or Exfoliate?

Luffa (Loofah) Gourd

I’m a food writer and a gardener. I never thought I’d say that — even to myself, let alone out loud — and yet, here I am. Late January is blowing in with wind and ice and seed catalogs galore are gracing my mailbox — and I am itching to dig in the dirt.

I want nothing more than to get outside, feel a warm breeze on my skin and to sink my hands into the dark, heavily composted soil that will (hopefully) nourish a large part of our sustenance in the coming year. Unfortunately, I was born, raised and continue to live in The North; a frustratingly cold place where such wonderful endeavors cannot be undertaken without engaging in epic futility until well into April or May.

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The Dinner Co-Op: an Easy Way to be Green?

A number of years ago, an acquaintance of mine belonged to a dinner co-op. The concept was simple: four friends (living on the same block) shared the burden of the evening meal. Each friend was assigned one day of the week (Monday through Friday) and on her assigned day, cooked dinner for all four families. The other three days, she sat back and waited for her family’s meal to be delivered.

At the time, I thought it sounded like a convenient idea–even an ingenious idea–but I didn’t consider it to be necessarily a ‘green’ idea. I realize now I was wrong: dinner co-ops are a great way to be environmentally responsible while enjoying the awesome benefit of cooking only once or twice a week.

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My own time… a “time in”

leaves 001

The air is crisp, and there are (almost) daily visits of “Jack” frost. The trees are just about completely barren and in town there’s the buzz of holiday excitement. This past weekend we had our first local indoor Winter Farmer’s Market. All the signs indicate the holidays are around the corner!

The end of this week marks the beginning of the Christmas “consumer” season, the holiday parties, cookie baking, travel, decorating…. and the to-do list gets longer and longer. So, here I am to offer a gentle reminder on the importance of simplicity… even in December!

I recently started re-reading Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv and am deeply moved by the words of a fifth grader interview for the book.

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Make Christmas Meaningful

Just walk in to any big box store and you will see what Christmas has become. It’s all about shopping and rushing around. People are stressed and end up in debt. Christmas used to be about family and memories and now it’s just about stuff.

Why not work to change that with your family this year? Instead of so much stuff do fun activities together. Even better give back to those in need. Bake cookies for your neighbors, volunteer at a soup kitchen, sponsor a family for Christmas, there are endless ideas.

For the gifts you give why not give the gift of your time?

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Great “Green” Toys

Last week, I shared some of my ideas for what makes a good kid toy. This week, I would like to share with you some sources and suggestions for toys that are durable, fun, useful and green!

Next week is Thanksgiving and as we know the day after T-day the Christmas spending season begins. However, some folks (like me) observe a special day of consciously not consuming (known as Buy Nothing Day). I really like this website that has great ideas to make the day after Thanksgiving Make Something Day.

And if you just don’t have the time, skill, materials….

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Greening Up Isn’t Just for You

This time of year, the urge to splurge on family is everywhere. While the sentiment is nice that we “greenies” are reminded of certain candles to avoid, of how to reuse packaging, and how to keep our holidays green in general, one thing seems to be forgotten: nature itself.

While many of us enjoy using all natural products, we forget that nature is still out there and still needs protecting. As a biologist, one of the things that always strikes me as odd is how one can very quickly spend the dollars for a label that says all natural without any care as to where the ingredients came from.

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Greener Cleaning

It was just five months ago when my husband and I moved our family into an 1852 single-family farm home. There was so much we loved about our new home: the increase in living space, the playroom, two large bathrooms, the character that comes with an old home. We saw past the much-needed improvements, looking forward to painting rooms and re-decorating together.

What we did not expect were the struggles we would have with the hard water. For weeks I would pull out freshly-washed clothing from the washer, only to find them looking increasingly dingy. The worst, though, was our cloth diapers.

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