Why "Paper" Coffee Cups Aren't as Innocent as They Seem 0
"It's just a paper cup- it's no big deal!" is a phrase everyone has once said or at least thought at some point in their lives. We like to think of paper as a friend, eco-friendly and easily recyclable.
However, what most of us don't realize right away is that disposable paper cups traditionally used to "coffee to-go" are not just made of paper. To keep the cups from leaking and falling apart as they transport your hot beverages, they are coated on the inside with either a waxy or plastic substance, which makes recycling these cups very difficult.
Well how big of a problem is this?
With brands like Tim Hortons, Starbucks, and MacDonalds making coffee to-go an easy convenience, walking into work or school with a cup of hot joe (or tea) in your hand has become part of the identity of Canadians. It has been estimated that Canadians put between 1.6 and 2 BILLION coffee cups in landfills every year.
As mentioned, due to the addition of the waterproofing layer, the breakdown period of the cup (not to even start on the polystyrene lid) is more than just a few months. Now think of how many cups like that you see everyday.
The positive note is that bringing along your own mug or tumbler has never been easier. There are really high quality products that do a better job keeping your hot beverages warm and tasting great, and coffee vendors have started adapting as well. Some cafes (even Starbucks) will give you a discount on your purchase if you provide your own cup or mug!
Though we like to think that business is on our side in this eco-war, we can't expect them to change if we don't show them that it's important to us. Here are some ways that you can minimize your use of disposable cups and encourage the industry to shift their values.
Bring Your Own Cup
This is the basics. By bringing your own cup, you're not just refusing to use a disposable one, and therefore minimizing waste. You are also signaling your values to the employees at the coffee shop, who sometimes are surprised, and other times actually excited to see someone caring this much. During the summer, when your order includes an ice coffee,, bringing your own tumbler and straw is key as well, just remember to tell them when you're ordering that you have your own cup (especially important when going through the Drive-Through).
Make Your Own Coffee
Support fair-trade coffee companies and save some money by brewing your own coffee at home or work. No paper cups, and the quality of your coffee will be likely higher than what you would get at many of the chain coffee joints anyway!
Lead by example and educate others as they ask. When doing a coffee run, ask people if they have cups that they want you to use, and insist on them using yours if others are offering to pick some up for you. Start a campaign at work, gift them to family and friends, or join a challenge like our #reusabletastesbetter week. When you share about it with others on social media and when interacting with them, it creates awareness and might spark something in someone you know.
So next time you are tempted to try your chances with Roll up the Rim, remember that the planet loses every time you play. A true win is stepping up to the counter with your Corkcicle tumbler or KeepCup and asking that your double double be poured in it.
Eco-Lover's Take on Greeting Cards 1
While you might feel like you can get away with just posting a cute family photo on Facebook rather than send a card to all your family and friends for Christmas, Valentine's Day still requires at least a few little notes, especially if you still have school aged children.
However, if you are striving towards the zero waste lifestyle, is buying a greeting card against your eco-morals?
Everyone has their own view on this topic, ranging from a strict ban and transition to digital e-cards, while others are willing to bend the rules to make a meaningful and timeless gesture.
I mean, all in all, it's just paper and totally recyclable, right?
Yes and no.
Many greeting card/envelope combos come wrapped in a plastic sleeve that is to protect them from getting dirty or separated. While practical, it's not a recyclable type of plastic, and it's better to stay away from this kind of card wrapping. Some companies offer a compostable sleeve, so look for that or nothing at all.
BLINGWhile some cards might capture your attention with cute addition of glitter, confetti, foil, or metallic writing, do your best to resist. These additions render your card non-recyclable and it will inevitably end up in the landfill.
All papers are not created equal. Look for stamps certifying that your card is made from sustainably farmed and harvested wood. This can put your mind at ease that you are not directly contributing to deforestation and biodiversity loss.
POST-CONSUMER RECYCLED PAPER
One step up is paper that is at least in part made of recycled paper. This uses fewer new resources and creates a market for recycled goods, giving them more value.
Some companies even go the extra mile and encourage people to compost the paper in their own gardens by using "seed paper", that you can bury and get plants out of. Or give something other than paper like with Gift-A-Green where you gift a package of microgreen seeds that can be directly sown in the pouch and then eaten!
Research your greeting card companies. Some of them have a pledge to plant a tree for every x number of cards they sell or do something else to offset the effect of their business on the environment. For example, Wilder, which we carry in stores, makes their cards using 100% renewable energy in addition to putting strict restraints on themselves in terms of sustainable paper, ink, and packaging.
Over the years you have surely collected enough cards and craft supplies that you can give a new life to items in your home and transform them into unique signature cards. This way, you avoid the plastic sleeves, you can control the "recyclability" of your creation, and you're already extending the time something stays out of the landfill.
So what are you doing this Valentine's Day and the sweet words you want to share with your love? Will you pen them down in a greeting card?
Happy Valentine's Day to all!
Traveling Zero Waste No Matter the Destination 0
The travel bug hits a lot of Canadians in the winter. After months of short days and cool temperatures, we feel the need to fly the coop and relieve some of the cabin fever (or frostbite) we have been experiencing at home. And while travel is a wonderful way to relax and gather inspiration, it's also poses it's own challenges when trying to maintain a #zerowaste lifestyle.
The real key to living zerowaste is 1) being aware and 2) being prepared. If you are reading this post, you have at least brushed on number 1, but remember that the place you are traveling tomight be lacking. And it's much easier to be prepared when you are living at home and have an orientation of your day to day. When you have limited baggage and living adventurously, it's not as easy.
So here are some of our tips for keeping #zerowaste in your travels!
Find "bar" alternatives for your toiletries.
Traveling with liquids like soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, etc., is not only precarious, but all come in containers (most of them plastic). Avoid issues at airport security and wet luggage by replacing what you can with bars and powders. There are now shampoo and conditioner bars, soap bars, toothpaste powder, and even solid colognes and lotions.
BYOC for Food & Drink
"Bring Your Own Containers" for food and drink for your travels. Some basics include a straw, cutlery, a drinking vessel, and some sort of container that could hold leftovers or street food to avoid using disposable plates and containers. Even if you are going to an all-inclusive resort, many of them offer plastic cups at certain bars, and a reusable cup would be a much more "earth-friendly" alternative, especially as you look out into the ocean. Maybe someone else will be inspired?!
Bring Your Own Bag
You might want to do some shopping while you're out exploring. And that's when a string bag, or a tote that folds small, really shines. You can fit a lot inside, it's light, and when you aren't using it, it doesn't take up much room or weight in your suitcase. It can also double up as a beach bag or even something for gathering sea shells during the low tide.
Look Up Sorting Policies Before You Go
Before you leave for your destination, research the policies about garbage disposal. Take pictures of the different signs and explanations so that you will know how to sort garbage at your destination. If you are visiting a place that doesn't seem to have developed policies, make a point of suggesting it at your hotel or place of lodging. You never know, maybe your concern will spark an internal program.
When choosing souvenirs to bring back home, continue to look through the zerowaste lens. Is it repurposed? Second-hand? Is it something that supports the zerowaste life? How is it packaged? What is it made of?
If you challenge yourself this way, you're more likely to end up with something that you will actually like and use, not something that will eventually end up at a dump?
When traveling, there's a good chance that you'll be offered some "offenders", be that on the trip or at your destination. From airplane food wrapped in plastic through little shampoo bottles at your hotel, remember that you have the right to refuse these. This of course is easier to do when you come with your own zero waste alternatives, like snacks packed in stainless steel containers or your own reusable cutlery.
In addition to these tips, there are others that are location-specific, and depend on the method of transportation. Remember that waste is in part the legacy that you leave, so think again before traveling the world and leaving a negative impact on the places you visit.
How are you planning to travel this year? How are you going to keep it zerowaste?
Image via: The Rogue Ginger
Checking All the Christmas List Boxes with Sustainable Gifts 0
It's that time of the year again, but this time you want to do it differently. Instead of giving gifts that may or may not be useful or valuable to the recipient, let's be more intentional with our holiday gifting generosity.
And while we think about the person receiving the gift, also consider those who make the gift, sell it, and of course, the earth which gave us the natural resources and to which it will return.
This all sounds very serious, but holiday gift giving in a sustainable manner is actually a very fun and fulfilling process. Here are a few gifts that we especially like for our loved ones which also happen to check all the "green boxes".
ZUM Christmas Collection Spa Bag
ZUM's Christmas collection seems to have a cult following, as many wait impatiently for its release. This year we're making an easy-to-gift spa bag with a selection of goat milk soaps, a room spray, and lip balm, all packaged in an organic cotton reusable spa bag from ECOBAG. Perfect for teacher's gifts or a lovely "thank you" to a deserving host.
A candle is a wonderful hostess gift to give, but also one to keep for evenings when you're entertaining. This Christmas we recommend our fundraising candle called "Hope" which was made in memory of Stan Miszuk, who passed away this year from cancer. All funds collected will be going to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, while the owner of the candle benefits from the uplifting scent of this all-natural candle.
All-Natural Spa Gift Box
Bring the spa to your loved ones with a spa box that will transform more than one evening into pure bliss. BONUS: This year we have cut out the plastic cellophane and replaced it with reusable tulle to repurpose in your holiday decor. It includes lotion, oil, mist, two bath bombs, ZUM rub, lip balm, and a bar of soap. There's a choice of three scents: Frankincense & Myrrh, Sea Salt, or Lavender.
Our selection of wooden toys has grown tremendously over the last year as we stock brands like Hape, Grimm's, Grappat, Goose Grease, PLAN toys, TEGU and more! Wood is a renewable resource and is compostable, unlike plastic which is not biodegradable and can only be recycled a finite number of times. There are toys to choose from for every stage of childhood, from small toys for infants and creative sets for school-aged children.
For the Man in Your Life
For men, we have learned that consumables do best. They're useful, and they don't stick around forever! Our Everyman's Jack Gift Basket comes in two amazing scents, Sandalwood, or Cedar Wood, and includes deodorant, shampoo, body wash, and an unscented shave cream.
LEKKO Life Goods Bento Bag
This locally made linen bento is the perfect zero-waste wrapping! Just tie it close, add some foraged greenery, and you have a beautiful gift to put under the tree. Later, it can be reused as a bread bag or simply for any role in which a bag is needed. No more heaping recycling bins on Boxing Day, and we have also added value to the wrapping, no longer seeing it as disposable, but instead, as reusable.
Avocado Sock + Vejibags
For the foodies in your life, grab some zero waste options to help them indulge in their passion (and taste buds!) The Avocado sock perfectly ripens your avocado for optimum deliciousness, and the vejibag keeps vegetables and greens fresh for longer than in plastic. They will be so grateful for you catering to their interests.
These are all just some of the many options that we carry online and instore. We encourage you all to shop small and local when possible this Christmas season. It makes all the difference to businesses like ours and others that we are proud to work with and next to on a day to day basis.
We hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season, and wishing you all a very happy new year.
How Imaginative and Symbolic Play Affects Child Development 0
We all want beautiful childhoods for our little ones, full of fun-filled moments and skill-building experiences that will help them thrive. There's so much pressure to create an environment that is safe, secure, and in which they are comfortable to be themselves. And while we continue to change for the duration of our lives, most psychologists will agree that childhood and our upbringing has an enormous impact on the shape of our adult selves.
In a society when it seems like there is an app or toy for everything, we lose the opportunity to expose our children to imaginative and symbolic play. One where they are the "masters" of the situation, and they can assign roles to different objects, creating a story behind it.
So What Exactly is Imaginative Play?
Well for the most part, it's a lot of pretending! Pretending that a box is a train wagon, or that a block is a phone. It's assigning meaning to something so that they can play out a behavior or action that they have witnessed in the past.
Why is Symbolic or Imaginative Play Important to Child Development?
While exposing your child to others can obviously stimulate social and emotional skills, imaginative play allows for kids to put themselves in roles that they don't necessarily perform on an everyday basis. An example is nurturing a toy dolly and pretending that he or she is a parent, or playing out scenarios with multiple toys where there might be a conflict of interests. Symbolic play introduces children to empathy, the ability to "be in someone else's shoes" for a bit rather than see the world through an ego-centric perspective.
Even as adults, we function in a world where objects or symbols symbolize greater ideas or things. Examples are money, flags, even the colours on traffic lights. Understanding that there can be items that represent abstract concepts is something that will be useful for their entire lives and they will just build on. Imaginative play also gives children the chance to play through certain scenarios or problems in a safe place to make those real life connections.
Acting out "pretend" play takes a lot of movement- whether that's with the entire body in imitating a flying superhero, or minute focused movements to move small objects into the right position. It's a great juxtaposition of motor and cognitive skills, keeping kids moving and thinking rather than being couch potatoes.
What Can We Do to Induce Imaginative Play
Really, kids are naturally curious and open to symbolic play, it's part of their nature. Our role is to keep it from being suppressed by alternative activities that don't provide the same level of social, cognitive, and motor stimulation. There are many toys out there, like the Rainbow from Grimm's Toys, or the "peg people" from Goose Grease and Grapat Toys. The latter that are customizable to any role the child gives them. They can draw on different outfits, accessories, making them the perfect addition to a minimalist child's toy box. The rainbow is also versatile, as it can be stacked as a rainbow or become a cradle for dolls, a fence for animals, a tunnel or bridge for vehicles, or a house for dwarfs.
Just a few small pieces can become a plethora of different environments and characters. As they are wooden and non-toxic, they are toys that everyone can feel good about giving and getting.
images: (1) Grapat Toys (2) Goose Grease Toys
Using Vinegar to Clean Your Home 0
While the chemical industry has been spending millions of dollars on research & development and advertising a year, people have been rediscovering the power of their kitchen pantry when cleaning. People have stopped resorting to sprays and scrubs full of harmful chemicals, which have negative effects on people using them, the individuals exposed to them, and the environment. Instead, many are resorting to simple concoctions made from a few, well-known ingredients to get the job done.
And when it comes to cleaning naturally, there's no greater hero than white vinegar. Its acidic nature helps in breaking down greasiness, cutting through grime, and killing a lot of germs. Used with other powerful ingredients, it can create amazing natural cleaning products that you can make yourself, keeping your home more natural and keeping your waste levels down.
Here are some easy DIY recipes for household cleaners that use Vinegar:
All Purpose Cleaner:This is a great recipe for those who aren't a fan of the "pickling smell" that comes with use of vinegar in household cleaning.
- 1-2 cups of white vinegar
- The peel of two lemons (a great way to use leftovers)
- 1 tsp Castile Soap (like Dr. Bronners or the Green Beaver)
- 20 drops of Lemon or an alternative essential oil
Put your lemon peels in a glass jar and cover them with the vinegar. Screw the top on, give it a shake, and leave the jar in a sunny place to infuse for at least 2 weeks. After this time, strain the vinegar to remove all the lemon pieces and pour into a spray bottle. Add the remaining ingredients and you're ready to go! Just give your solution a swirl before using and you have a fresh smelling, natural, and effective all purpose cleaner.
Glass Cleaner:No more streaky mirrors and windows! Just 3 ingredients and you have your own DIY version!
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup rubbing alcohol
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and get cleaning! Use with a soft cloth that won't leave lint on your surfaces. Store away from heat as the alcohol is flammable.
Combine equal amounts of vinegar and lemon juice in cup or bowl and then transfer into a spray bottle (or not!). With a small, clean cloth, softly rub the solution into your furniture to polish. Wipe away any remaining moisture with another dry cloth. This solution doesn't store well, so you'll want to prepare a small amount each time you intend to do some polishing.
Toilet Bowl Cleaner:
Pour a cupful of vinegar in your toilet bowl, let it sit for a few minutes, and scrub with a toilet brush. The vinegar will lift any stains that remain and neutralize the smell. If you have some stubborn discolouration or stains that don't react to just vinegar, throw some baking soda in there first, and then add more vinegar. It will cause a fizzy reaction and the by-product is an acid which is effective in fighting grime.
Add a cup of white vinegar to your load of laundry for some extra softness. It also helps with restoring your whites to their former glory without threatening your colours. Don't worry about the vinegar smell- it will be masked by the laundry soap or add some essential oils to your wool dryer balls to impart a different scent.
White Vinegar vs. Household Vinegar
One thing to be careful with is what kind of vinegar you are using in your cleaning products. While you are welcome to use the white vinegar that you find at the grocery store, many DIY'ers like to use household vinegar, a more potent option with less water in it. In stores we offer refills on the Unscented Company Household Vinegar which is 12% acetic acid instead of the regular 5% that you would get in the grocery store. This means that you can cut down on at least half of the vinegar amounts listed in the above recipes if you are using household vinegar. This high acidity vinegar can be great for spot treatment, tough stains, and cutting through thick grime, giving you more options than regular vinegar.
As you see, there's no need to stock up on new cleaning products this month- just refill the containers with ingredients you can easily find around your home!
(Image credit: Quentin Bacon)