Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Why antibacterial products are bad for you and the environment

Does your toothpaste pass the “GreenScreen Assessment”?
If you use Colgate Total the answer is no. Total brand toothpaste contains the antibacterial triclosan, a chemical currently under review in the U.S. because it is suspected of contributing to all sorts of health and environmental problems.

The GreenScreenAssessment is a tool recently used by the Canadian Environmental Law Association to assess the impact of antibacterial products on human health and the environment. Based on the resulting report the Association called on the Canadian government to ban antibacterials (triclosan and triclocarban). The report says that the risks posed by these chemicals to human health and the environment far outweigh the benefits.

Six things to do this fall to make your home healthier

September is the only time of the year that I feel inspired to get organized. Something about that back-to-school vibe gets me motivated to put my house in order and slip some new habits into our household routine.

If September is a time of new routines for you too here’s a checklist of six suggestions to help you get off to a healthy start.  

Here's your fall checklist for a healthier home:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tips to reduce your cell phone radiation exposure

At the end of the summer we will cross the bridge into a new parenting world -- after a painfully long wait (in his opinion) my son will get his very first cellular device. 
While it’s easy to get consumed by data caps and text message packages, I have been in search of the most kid-friendly cell phone. And by kid-friendly I mean I’m looking for the model with the lowest possible radiation score.

All cell phones emit radiation

Cordless phones do as well, but cell phones have become more of an issue because they’re practically an appendage in today’s society. The World Health Organization considers the radiation emitted by cell phones to be a possible carcinogen and there are ongoing studies to figure out the potential health issues associated with ongoing exposure to cell phone radiation.

How you can help save the bees

Where are all the bees?

Declining bee populations have been making headlines for many years and all sorts of theories about what’s causing colony collapse disorder have been put forth.
Late last month a four-year global study into declining bee populations was released and it points to pesticide use as the main culprit. And not just any pesticides. The study concluded that a specific family of insecticides called neonicotinoid pesticides, or neonics for short, cause neurological damage to bees, causing bees to lose their way, fewer queens to be born and weakening bees’ ability to fight off disease.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Chefs for Oceans want to teach us a thing or two about sustainable seafood. Here's why we should listen

Ned Bell of Chefs for Oceans thinks sustainable seafood is worth the efforts, and you should too.
Ned Bell is peddling sustainable seafood, literally. A sustainable seafood activist and founder of Chefs for Oceans, Chef Bell is biking across Canada to get Canadians more interested and engaged in sustainable seafood.  

Chosen as one of Canadian Living’s Top 10 Canadian Chefs You Need to Know About, Chef Bell is the executive chef at the Four Seasons Vancouver, the first upscale restaurant in Canada to go 100% sustainable for its seafood, meaning that the fish served at the restaurant is caught or farmed in a way that ensures the long-term health and stability of the fish stocks and the greater marine ecosystem. 

Nine Tips for Healthy Green Grilling

nine tips for healthy green grilling
Learning how to grill safely (and I’m not talking salmonella) will keep you healthier in the long term.
Do you ever have things that you’d like to be good at but can’t be bothered to try?

That’s my relationship with the barbecue. I would like to be good at grilling because I love the taste and the very idea of food cooked outside over a flame. Even better, a propane barbecue is more eco-friendly than the oven and there’s a lot to be said for getting out of the kitchen on a hot summer day.

Friday, June 13, 2014

10 ways to Conserve water at home

After our freezing winter it was a relief to see that we’re expecting a good warm summer. In fact Environment Canada is forecasting above normal temperatures in much of southern New Brunswick. But it seems that our precipitation will be a bit below normal, or “near normal” as Environment Canada puts it.

The forecast got me thinking about water conservation and what a warm sunny summer might mean to our water supply.
Whether you’re on municipal water or on a well, water conservation through the summer should be top of mind for everyone, especially since we all use more water during the summer months. And on average we use a lot of water.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Five tips for choosing safe sunscreen

five tips for choosing safe sunscreen
EWG offers tips for choosing safe sunscreen and a database that rates the safety and effectiveness of sunscreen products on the market.
We deserve some hot sunny days. After a long winter and damp, cool spring a little bit of sun and warmth is just what the doctor ordered, but as much as we enjoy the sun we still need to protect ourselves from its warming rays. 

Since sunscreen is the most common form of sun protection it’s important to understand that sometimes we need to protect ourselves from sunscreen as well. 

For years now the experts in how to choose sunscreen that’s safe and effective is Environmental Working Group (EWG), a science-based research organization in the United States. EWG analyzes sunscreen ingredients and scientific data associated with skin cancers in the U.S. and each year develops a list of tips for choosing the best sunscreen. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The environmental impact of single serve coffee

the environmental impact of single serve coffee pods and k-cups
Single-serve coffee (pods & k-cups) has a hefty environmental impact.
K-cups, -- the ultimate in convenience. A single serving of tea or coffee in under a minute with no waiting for the kettle to boil or the coffee to drip through -- how perfect is that? When I was first introduced to this single-serving coffee system I was totally seduced by the variety and convenience but I could never brew my k-cup of English Breakfast Tea without thinking about the waste.

The environmental impact of the pods stares you in the face each time you toss a spent k-cup in the garbage. Even before I dug up the data on this coffee craze I knew the picture wouldn’t be pretty.

How to eat well and reduce your exposure to pesticides

Environmental Working Group clean fifteen
Environmental Working Group dirty dozen
An apple a day…just might increase your pesticide exposure, according to this year’s Dirty Dozen/Clean Fifteen analysis by the U.S.-based environmental research group, Environmental Working Group (EWG).
The organization does an annual analysis of pesticide residue on produce based on data gathered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration. EWG uses this data to compile of list of the 12 fruits and vegetable which carry the highest pesticide load when they reach your plate.
It’s not all doom and gloom - EWG also publishes a list of the 15 fruits and vegetables that contain the least amount of pesticide residue.

Friday, April 18, 2014

How to give your diet an eco makeover this Earth Day

Six ways to give your diet an eco makeover this Earth Day

The new “eating well”; being deliberate about what food you buy, where your buy it, and then ensuring that you eat it all.

I consider Earth Day a celebration, a launch party for a new way of doing things. The annual event challenges Canadians to make changes to our day-to-day lives in ways that benefit the planet and if we want to take up that challenge, April 22 is the kickoff day.  

One of this year’s challenges is to give our kitchen tables an eco-makeover by making more sustainable food choices and wasting less. It’s a very green thing to do since where we buy our food, what we buy and what we do with our leftovers has such a big impact on the environment. Regional food security comes into play as well since we’re so dependent on food from faraway places.

So where to begin? Earth Day Canada presents six suggestions for what we can all start doing today to make a meaningful impact through our daily meals.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Why teaching kids to cook is so important

Over the March Break my husband and I met a woman who told us that when her kids were growing up each was responsible for preparing one evening meal a week for the whole family. They learned to cook by cooking and were completely capable in the kitchen even at the age of 12. She said it taught them an important kind of independence and a sense of responsibility.
As someone who happens to believe that cooking wholesome food from scratch is one of the most important things that you can do for your family, it’s probably no surprise that I’m particular about what I feed my kids. But it occurred to me that I’m putting a lot of effort into teaching my kids about good food, but I’m not teaching them how to prepare it.
Learning to cook is a life skill, and as parents our job is to teach kids to become independent. You can’t very well go out into the world if you don’t know how to feed yourself. Teaching our kids how to feed themselves well should be our goal. We want our kids to succeed in life, why should we lower our standards when it comes to food?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

How to choose eco-friendly flooring

How to choose eco-friendly flooring options
Eco-friendly flooring options abound, for basements, kitchens and the rest of your home. Here are some great options.

Renovations are not my favourite thing to do. I love the idea of renovating but it’s all the decisions, the final decisions, that I find difficult.

Take our current project: We’re in the process of finishing a room in our basement. It’s almost complete but we’re stuck on the flooring and have been for nearly a year.

We want something that is durable, suitable for a basement and eco-friendly.

Finding options that are both durable and suitable for a basement are easy enough, but figuring out what options are the most ecofriendly are more of a challenge.

How to avoid toxic flame retardants

How to avoid toxic flame retardants
Eight easy tips for avoiding or reducing toxic flame retardants in your home.

I have never been one for dusting. Just ask my mom. I was the child with the room full of knick knacks, an aversion to cleaning and great tolerance for dust and clutter. I’m the person most likely to write in the dust on the mirror: “A clean house is the sign of a wasted life.”

But I’m starting to change my tune.

Dust isn’t just dust. It contains tiny particles of stuff that includes a lot of undesirable chemicals. In particular flame retardants that are still in use today and others that have been banned from newly-manufactured items but are still everywhere in our homes.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Green living lessons from the 2013 Christmas ice storm

How to use less water and electricity for a more eco-friendly home
The ice storm taught us that we can get by with less water and less electricity.
Challenging times have a way of teaching us life lessons. Although I wouldn’t wish another outage on anyone I’m happy to admit that I learned a lot during our two (half) days in the dark.

For most it was an exhausting reminder of our dependence on power, it exposed how self-sufficient we are (or aren’t) and proved how we can call get by with less.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

How to avoid toxic food colouring

Avoid toxic food colouring buy using natural, plant basedl food colouring
Food colouring is toxic. Instead, choose natural, plant-based food colouring.

Christmas is the season of candy and colour. Brightly tinted cookies and colourful holiday candies seem to suit the season. They’re fun and festive. But if you do a little research on food colouring you start to wonder about how healthy it really is to be eating foods that are so unnaturally vibrant.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Wrap rage - how to reduce packaging for a more eco-friendly home

How to reduce packaging for a more eco-friendly home
Choosing products with less packaging is a way to support companies that are more eco-minded.

Have you ever experienced “wrap rage”, that feeling of extreme frustration when trying to open a new purchase that is secured in the Fort Knox of packaging? It isn’t limited to those of us challenged to open the packages on children’s toys, all manner of products, edible and otherwise are heavily packaged – over packaged some might say – and it takes a good pair of kitchen scissors and a dose of patience to open them.