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Sustainable wellbeing and green living

Let's find ways to Flourish!

How the Breath Helps the Mind

Research shows that there are tangible health benefits of hitting pause on our routines and taking a few deep breaths. Our heart rate drops, blood pressure lowers almost immediately, the brain is flooded with oxygen, and our creativity increases while anxiety drops. If we do this deep breathing in nature the benefits are multiplied. We see positive effects on our immune systems and learning.
 
Studies on the health benefits of deep breathing in the forest have been explored for decades already. And you probably have already noticed this yourself, the age-old saying, “take a breath” when confronting a challenge really does help most situations.
 
 
It is what I did instinctively on September 3rd, 2013 at the age of 42 as I sat in my doctor’s office and she walked in briskly to give me the results, “it’s positive”…wait, that’s good, right? Wrong. “It is cancer”. 
 
So, I ask a few more meaningless...
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Greta and the Paradigm Shift

By European Parliament - This file has been extracted from another file: Greta Thunberg urges MEPs to show climate leadership (49618310531).jpg, CC BY 2.0
 
I believe we are in a time of a paradigm shift, and it essential that we do shift our old ways, perspectives, and thought patterns to new ones. We need to move away from old thoughts like we need to choose between jobs and the environment - guess what, there are ways to build an economy on green jobs!
 
We need to get rid of outdated belief systems that said that we can put off acknowledging Indigenous rights, to leave that for another time, another administration, or to when it is more convenient.
 
 
We need to shed the belief that youth just don't care or have real contributions to creating solutions  - for their future, for our future. And similarly, we need to get rid of the paradigm that says, "what I do isn’t part of...
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The bliss of biophilia - indoors!

Why is it that plants, windows with views of greenspace, nature-depicting art pieces, and other natural elements brighten up our indoor environments? Given the choice, most people prefer to spend time in a room that contains these elements instead of a room that is closed off to the outside world. In fact, access to daylight and the outdoors is even a requirement of humane-treatment in some situations like incarceration.

We know that spending time outside is good for our psychological and physiological health. As seen with activities such as gardening, forest bathing, and simply spending time outdoors, nature has restorative properties that we can all benefit from!

So, is it possible that we can access these benefits from indoor environments as well? The answer is yes! Biophilic design is a design strategy that incorporates natural elements into the built environment in order to increase human wellbeing. 

Biophilic design is based on the concept of “biophilia” which...

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Learning about nature - in nature!

Education is one of the most important tools when it comes to protecting the environment and ensuring the health of our planet for future generations. After all, how can we care for the environment if we don’t understand how various environmental components work together to create a well-functioning ecosystem?

As David Attenborough said, “No one will protect what they don’t care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced.”

Luckily, we have environmental education centres to help facilitate environmental learning for children and adults alike.

Nature education centres bring people together to share memorable experiences and build sustainable relationships with nature as well as each other. These centres provide the public with nature-based programming, outdoor recreation activities, facilities for environmental education, and ample opportunities to engage with the environment and learn something new!

Now, what kinds of nature education...

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An ancient building technique is gaining new fans: Rammed Earth Construction

Image Sourced From: Green Building Advisor

How familiar are you with construction methods and materials? The vast majority of buildings, both residential and commercial, are built around a frame made of dimensional lumber (standard 2x4 pieces of wood) or light-gauge steel. Other construction methods, such as bricks and reinforced or unreinforced concrete, are often used in conjunction with a frame.

However, these aren’t the only methods of construction available, nor are they the most environmentally friendly methods! For example, concrete has a significant environmental impact, as the cement industry is one of the main producers of the world’s CO2 emissions.

So, what other kinds of construction methods and materials are out there? Rammed earth is an ancient building technique that is just as applicable today as it was thousands of years ago. Not only is it applicable, but it also is sustainable and quite aesthetically pleasing. It is just one of many green building...

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Coffee chat and repair? The rise of Repair Caf├ęs

Image Sourced from: Repair Café

When it comes to dealing with broken appliances, furniture, technology, clothing, bicycles, and more, it can be expensive to get these items repaired professionally. Sometimes you might feel that you should simply dispose of your broken item and buy a new one. However, this endless cycle of buying and replacing doesn’t benefit the environment. It also can end up costing you more in the long run.

You might have also noticed that repair shops seem to be disappearing. For example, it’s not that common to come across shoe repair shops anymore despite the fact that we obviously all still wear shoes! This means that it is much more common to throw out a pair of shoes once you’ve worn out the soles instead of simply getting the soles replaced. With the combination of decreased repair shops and an increase in consumer culture, this leaves people with few opportunities to repair and reuse their items.

Enter a new wave of resources to...

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So, you want to build a deck or fence...

 
 So, your deck is rotting or you need a new fence to keep the dogs in the yard. And, because you care about making good choices for the environment, not to mention your own health, it can be tricky to decide what materials to use.
 
Yes, we have all been there with these real-world dilemmas of what to do given your circumstances and budget, not sure what is the most sustainable option. Well, let's break it down. The main options for decks and fences are
  • pressure-treated wood,
  • naturally weather-resistant wood,
  • composite
  • PVC (plastic)
 
I'll start with the pressure-treated wood option as it is among the most common, and comes with some important considerations for health and the environment. You may have heard about the concerns with pressure-treated wood, that is because until 2003-2006 the green pressure-treated wood on the market was treated using a compound called chromated copper arsenate (CCA), which contains arsenic, a carcinogen, that was found...
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Pre and Post Natal Sustainable Wellbeing

It is easy for new parents to feel a little overwhelmed and even scared at times when you consider all of the changes happening. Then to add on the concerns over environmental sustainability, and avoiding harmful toxins, what you should or shouldn't buy can be quite the maze!

I chatted with Kimberly McFerron, Pre and Post Natal Exercise and Education Specialist and she talked about her own experiences with navigating sustainability issues in pregnancy and with a newborn and comes up with plenty of great advice, everything from diaper pails to baby food. And all with the perspective that you don't need to do it all at once.

 

 

Focus on Essentials

Kimberly suggests that all you really need to do is focus on the fundaments of ensuring that women feel safe and supported during pregnancy and focus on the essentials of what a new baby needs, which is really their food, sleep and clean diapers.

So how does she accomplish this with an eye to living lighter on the earth? For...

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Breaking the Fast Fashion Habit

"I have nothing to wear!" How often have we exclaimed this even though we have a closet stuffed full of clothes? Yet, it happens - so we might head out and purchase something new at a cheap price point, and there it is - the fast fashion habit! The problem is, it is causing huge harm to the environment, and perpetuates poor labour practices. But, not to worry, we have AK Bryan here to help us to break the fast fashion habit, with practical tips and great ideas!

 

 

As you are aware, the fashion industry has been ramping up the production of inexpensive and cheaply made fashion and it comes at a high cost - to the environment and to the poorly paid workers in the industry. The problem with excess production of cheaply made garments is that it is placing an enormous toll on the environment. Everything from the source textiles whether it is cotton or synthetics, and all the way along the production process there are resources used and carbon emitted, and waste generated.

And...

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Why does gardening make us happy?

Have you noticed that spending time in nature is a great way to enhance your physical and mental wellbeing? Well, you are not alone! There is a reason that gardening and walking outdoors and spending time in nature is such a lasting activity that people keep coming back to - and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are you growing a garden, perhaps for the first time? It turns out there are benefits to us beyond the joy of watching plants grow and reaping the harvest of our efforts. For starters gardening gives us enjoyable light physical activity and, the psychological benefits of gardening include reduced stress, increased happiness, and overall mood enhancement. To learn more about the benefits of gardening, click here!

Similarly, forest bathing - spending time immersing yourself in nature and connecting to the natural world, provides individuals with significant psychological and physiological improvements such as reduced anxiety, stress relief, decreased blood pressure and...

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