When you go grocery-shopping, do you think about buying locally grown, in-season fruits and vegetables? Sure, that might be tough during our Canadian winters, but now that it’s spring, there’s lots of variety. Plus, locally grown produce is often fresher, cuts back on greenhouse gases and supports local farmers.
On Sunday afternoon, I stopped in at Rowe Farms — I’m pretty lucky to have one of the retail stores for this local, organic farm in my neighbourhood. The produce table was full of in-season vegetables:
That list is from Foodland Ontario’s website. It’s an excellent resource; not only does it have a monthly calendar of seasonal fruits and vegetables, but it also provides nutritional facts and lots of recipes.
If you live out west, go to ActNowBC for a list of seasonal foods; Quebeckers can go to Mangez Quebec; East-Coasters should check out Select Nova Scotia; or go to Pickyourown.org to find harvest calendars across Canada.
This year the buzz around Earth Day seems to be more than just a caffeine-induced vibration because Starbucks is giving away free coffee to travel mug users. Responsible living has become a way of life, covering all aspects of home, health, beauty and even fashion – not to mention transportation, politics….the list goes on. It’s not enough to recycle and compost. It matters where products are made and what materials are used for everything from mattresses to glassware. Solar power, low- or dual-flow toilets, even rammed earth construction are all being used all over the world to reduce household impact on the environment.
Green design has become a large focus for interior designers, decorators, product developers and retailers alike. From using recycled or sustainable products to maintaining an original structure or design element, everyone has an eye on how to be less wasteful and more responsible. Even furniture designers showcasing at the IMM, Milan’s furniture fair, are stepping up to the challenge of designing with alternative elements. Check out Fast Company’s distilled list of the best 3-Rs of the show.
Another source I love to check often is greenbydesign.com. This site has some of the coolest pieces and all have a responsible story. Branch Home also has a great selection of green decor items. For a more news-y approach to behind-the-scenes product development and branding information, the similarly-named site greenerdesign.com can give you the inside scoop on what companies are doing to layer green into their products and processes.
Our Health Editor is giving away tickets on her blog, Healthwise, to Toronto’s Green Living Show, on this Friday, April 24-Sunday, April 26. If you are looking for ways to green your life, or want to find new alternatives to products and services, this show is the place to find it.
In the August issue I’ll have a round-up of my favourite recycled decor items in Editor’s Picks. Green decor is no longer limited to the burlap-granola-beige of the past.
Even though I try to think of every day as Earth Day — one day a year isn’t enough! — today’s as good a day as any to think about our individual efforts towards taking care of the planet. After all, the planet’s health is our own health, right?
For guidance and tips for living a greener daily life, I love Treehugger.com’s How to Go Green guides. Here are a few highlights:
“Sure, you vacuum, dust, and wipe the counters on a daily or weekly basis, but spring is the perfect time to focus on the spaces you generally gloss over—by vacuuming out the refrigerator coils to make the appliance more efficient, deep-cleaning your carpet, and washing your drapes. For the carpet, mix borax and essential oil together, sprinkle over the rug, let it sit, and then vacuum; for curtains and drapes that are machine washable, use an eco-friendly detergent.” –How to Go Green: Spring Cleaning
“Don’t let all your hard work on the stationery bike go to waste; hook it up to a generator or battery and save it to power household appliances from iPods to televisions and laptops. These kits are simple to install and give you an extra motivational push to make sure you don’t skip your daily workout.” –How to Go Green: Workouts
“Sidestep the petrochemicals. Used to make emollients for face cream or found in the form of coal tar for scalp-treatment shampoos, petroleum byproducts can be contaminated by cancer-containing impurities. A nonrenewable and environmentally unfriendly resource, petroleum barely belong in your car, let alone on your skin. Identify it on labels as petrolatum, mineral oil, and paraffin.” –How to Go Green: Natural Skin Care
“Toilet paper is about the only “disposable” product allowed in your green bathroom, so when it comes time to clean up, avoid the temptation to reach for disposable products. That means paper towels and other disposable wipes should be replaced by reusable rags or microfiber towels for mirrors, sinks, and the like; when it comes time to scrub the toilet, don’t even think about those silly disposable one-and-done toilet brushes.” –How to Go Green: In the Bathroom
“Conventional detergents can contain ingredients that aren’t good for you, your clothes, or aquatic ecosystems where the dirty water we wash down the drain can end up. Phosphates in conventional laundry soaps can cause algal blooms that negatively effect ecosystems and marine life. To shop for more eco-friendly detergents, look for labels that indicate a product is readily biodegradable and phosphate-free, and made from plant- and vegetable-based ingredients (instead of petroleum-based).” –How to Go Green: Laundry
And for readers in the Toronto area: Planning to attend the Green Living Show? It’s this Friday to Sunday at the Direct Energy Centre. (I’ll be there!)
I have five pairs of tickets to give away! Email your favourite green tip, along with your full name, phone number and address, to: email@example.com. The first five readers will get two tickets to the show! Happy Earth Day!
A perfect end to the week: Look at these cheerful gift bows, from the design blog, Creature Comforts:
But here’s the best part: They’re made from plastic grocery bags. You know, the kind that take hundreds of years to biodegrade? This holiday season, when it comes to gift-wrapping, spare your wallet and the environment — and still have pretty-looking gifts to give friends and family. They’re so easy to make:
Find the full, step-by-step instructions here. Happy weekend!
Looking for something new to read? Take a look at this list of the essential books for the green eater, compiled by a Vancouver-based writer and Treehugger.com contributor Jeff Nield.
I’ve read three of nine — 100 Mile Diet, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food — and I would have been surprised if they hadn’t made the cut. (I also loved Michael Pollen’s Botany of Desire, about the complex relationship between plants and humans, told through the history of four plants: apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes.)
Are there any books you’d add? I haven’t read Margaret Webb’s Apples to Oysters: A Food Lover’s Tour of Canadian Farms yet, but it’s on my personal (backlogged) reading list.