Waste Free Parties

I recently celebrated my daughter’s first birthday; a big event in any parent’s life. Like most things, I tried to give the party a green focus. I knew I wanted to achieve a green status, but I wasn’t totally sure how I could get there. I was aiming for the title of Waste Free, but I’d had little exposure to the idea in the party environment . I decided I would tackle some of the major offenders and soon become excited at how it was going to turn out. However, it was more difficult than I thought! Here is my attempt:

Paper Invitations: I went the Facebook route to invite people. But I was stumped with some friends that aren’t online or that I had just made through the mom world and hadn’t linked up on FB yet. I managed to get away with just four paper invites. In the future I might try the evite method as well so I can send emails to those that I’m not ‘friends’ with.

Paper Plates: I knew I didn’t want a garbage bag full of plastic cups, cutlery, and paper plates. My idea was to ask everyone to bring their own plate and cutlery. No one replied that they thought it would be a problem so I thought my goal would be achieved. So I was a bit defeated (and laughing inside) when many of my guests showed up with their own paper plates or plastic cutlery (my bad for not specifying). Next year I’ll provide all of the plates I think.

Non-packaged foods: ambitiously I planned to cook or prepare all the food. I was going to make natural juice with fruit and water and have pitchers of juice and water. I was going to buy all my veggies at the farmers market, cut it up, and have my own veggie trays. We also planned on doing burritos where all the stuffings were handmade and non-packaged.
Mental note for next year, this takes A LOT of pre-planning and work. We ended up with store bought juice and water (I cried inside when I saw all the plastic). A friend volunteered to bring the veggie tray and, knowing how little time I had, I accepted gratefully but had to bite my tongue and not request that it came plastic free. Thankfully she knows me well and it did! Our burritos were the only item that came close to my vision (minus the store bought salsa). And those only happened due to my mom cutting veggies, cooking beans, and grating cheese for two days straight.

Cake: I proudly stated that my daughter’s first cake would be homemade, suager-free, all natural, and without dyes. The night before at 9pm I still hadn’t started baking. We ordered cupcakes. I had to play blind to all the dye, sugar, and wrappers that came off the cupcakes. Although they looked beautiful and my daught loved them.

Presents: I protested the need for presents. A had so much stuff already. Instead, I suggested a loonie for her piggy bank. I thought we would avoid both excessive packaged toys, wrapping paper, and plastic toys. Everyone came with gifts. But almost all were in gift bags and presents were amazing. We were so overwhelmed with people’s generosity.

Goody Bags: I knew I wanted to avoid plastic bags and toys that would just be thrown out. I wanted to give something people could use and that would promote green living. I decided to make reusable snack bags for everyone. (PS – start making those more than 2 days in advance) I was making my last one as my dad was loading the car with all our stuff. But everyone loved them! I filled them with kid snacks and accompanied them with a book.

Essentially, I didn’t completely meet my waste-free goal. But I learned a lot of lessons, most importantly that parties (green or otherwise) take planning and preparation. Thank goodness for grandparents!



Change takes effort but feels good

It’s no secret that I want to change my lifestyle to be more green (among other things). I am excited at the prospect of being more green and making environmentally conscious choices. With that statement, you’d thing that making the switch would be effortless. It’s not.

I went grocery shopping tonight armed with my reusable bag, mesh produce bags, and bulk sacs. It started out well; I was aiming to reduce the amount of waste I was going to purchase. I found milk in a glass container and was pumped. But I was also craving something quick and easy for dinner. I stared at the perogies and frowned at their plastic wrapping. I looked at some of the different meats and felt turned off by its container. I finally settled on frozen organic vegetarian pizza. I know the cardboard is coated in a bit of plastic and I would have to recycle the cardboard, but it felt like the best choice. Then I wanted a treat – I wanted something (somewhat) healthy and low on packaging, now that is hard to find. I also needed cheese – which comes wrapped in plastic (I know others get cheese from places where they can put it in your reusable container, but that seems to come with a large price that I can’t really afford these days). The trip started making me feeling somewhat defeated.

I went up to the till with my items and looked at what some of the others had. There was only one other person in line with a reusable shopping bag but I was the only one with any bulk or produce bags. I felt proud of my small changes. I imagine some of the people I look up to didn’t make all their changes in one day. I feel good about everything I’ve done so far and can’t wait to incorporate more into my lifestyle.

Great Green Day

Feeling exceptionally green after a super day on Saturday.

I visited the Winter Farmer’s Market for my first time and fell in love with the vibe and energy. The sun was out and shining, which can make you feel fabulous on even the worst of days. The market was packed with people toting reusable grocery and veggie bags. The bike parking lot was busy; sadly living an hour away, I had to drive to the market. The market was also packed with food trucks and their amazing smells due to Food Truck Fest.

Seeing all the fresh and local food made me want to go on a buying frenzy! Not wanting to contribute to food waste, I held myself back. Next visit I’m going with recipes in mind so I know exactly what to buy. I was excited to take home some spinach from Rosedale, organic ground turkey from Yarrow, and some new reusable produce sacs to use when shopping in the future!

While shopping I got to visit and catch up with some great friends who inspire me tremendously to be more green and socially conscious. (check out my friend Andrew’s website) Linnet shared some recent tips with me and Andrew conveyed to me that my thyme plant is most likely not coming back from the dead. They also introduced me to what appears to be the holy land for green friendly people, the Soap Dispensary. I needed some essential oil to add to my green laundry soap that  I found, while cleaning my clothes, was leaving it with a funny smell. A few drops of the lemon oil is amazing. I also had to hold myself back at this store. I am excited to get to the end of a few of my current non-green soap/cleaning products so I can start making my own with the help of this store!

The day finished sharing stories over tea and warming up from the chilly wind. I went home feeling energized and freshly inspired. My sweet pumpkin A slept the entire farmer’s market, and sadly I didn’t take any photos. But you can just imagine how huge my smile was all day!

So Sad

Super disappointed to learn the grocery store, Price-Smart, wouldn’t take my reusable bags for bulk. Their systems can’t calculate the different tare. So if I did decide to use the bags, it would cost me extra.
I will try my next closest store, but this one was across the street and I would hate for the need to drive to a different store to negate some of the carbon foot print that I was saving.
Time to write a letter….

How to go Zero Waste Shopping

More and more I’m trying to reduce the amount of waste I produce. I try to recycle everything I can, but I know that recycling is only the second best option. The best option would be to find products and processes that produce zero waste (recycling creates energy waste as well as the waste produced when creating the product).

I am slowly trying to find new ways to alter my daily lifestyle to match my values. But its not easy. For one you get called a hippy and laughed at by your friends and family, and two making the switch feels unnatural at first and takes work. But I’ve made a few switches already and I haven’t found it hard to build them into my routine at all. My favourite recent switch has been making my own bread! I love the taste even more than store bought and I save on the travel to get there and buy it, the plastic it comes wrapped in, and the energy produced from the manufacturers to make it.

I’ve felt stumped to move into the next level towards zero waste. The common excuses come up ‘I don’t have enough time’, ‘I don’t know how’, ‘it will cost too much to convert’. But a friend just passed on this blog called Zero Waste Home and the author has a great detailed list of how to shop for all the elements of your life with zero waste in mind. The tips seem so easy and I’m keen to get started on them.

I especially love her idea to make your own bags for the bulk section out of old sheets! I’ve been making my own snack bags to eliminate ziplock bags, so I’m hoping I should be able to master these too!

I love it when something motivates me to change!


The Great Outdoors

I forced myself to get outside today and I’m so glad I did. It was the ultimate sunny day. Clear skies, sun, and warmth.

I had plans with my brother to explore the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. He cancelled on me. Normally I would have used the excuse to sit on my couch and spend the day watching TV. Whether it was the sun, my energy, or that I want to ensure I do things with my daughter, I went to the park on my own.

I loved every minute of it. I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time. The views were amazing and it felt so good to be in nature.

Early months of Annika’s life were spent breastfeeding on the couch watching hours of TV (the Olympics were on so I feel like that was a small excuse). I would try to get outside once a day for a small walk, but I didn’t get to take full advantage of the glories of summer.

The suspension bridge is hidden in a rainforest where you can walk across the canyon, climb in the trees, and scale the cliff. All while learning environmental facts or details of how the park was created for the public. I read each of the educational signs aloud to Annika, feeling prouder with each one of the experience I was providing for her even if she did sleep through the whole thing.

My father was someone who has always been quick to get up each day and ask what we were doing. He wanted us to go for a hike or a walk or bike ride. Most of the time I’d complain, drag my feet, or refuse to go. I envy my father of his drive and hope to instill it in my daughter (even if it means forcing myself to do it in the process).

The fresh air filled me with a sense of peace. I am so glad I got out and experienced the outdoors today. I find it crazy how we have to encourage people to get outdoors now. Most of our time is spent in front of some form of a screen. According to a recent survey, 70% of Canadian youth get an hour or less outside a day! The David Suzuki Foundation had a challenge to get 5000 families outside last fall. Their website shows that they were only able to get 2500 to commit. http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/connecting-youth-with-nature/ Experiencing nature has become an item on our to do lists. I hope to keep finding ways to push myself outside and experience nature, rather than simply run to my car oblivious to the beauty around me.