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Sustainable wellbeing and green living

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How to enjoy seasonal whole foods with Getty Stewart

Eating whole foods - those that have not been processed or packaged, and that often are also local to us is the cornerstone of every healthy eating plan, and the bonus is that it is also really great for the planet. Eating whole foods and eating in season dramatically reduces the carbon emissions, waste and plastic associated with our foods.
 
Ok, we are sold, yes, it is the right thing to do for our bodies and for the planet. But, how exactly can I do this with my real-life constraints of time and money and other demands? That's where Getty Stewart comes in. She is a professional Home Economist and loves to help you eat these whole foods, and find ways to prepare them that are simple, flavourful and good for your body!
 
 

Follow the Calendar
 
We begin by talking about taking this easy approach to navigate food by simply following the calendar. By looking at what is in season locally first, we can plan meals that contain those ingredients when they are at...
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How to become a master composter

Composting is one of the most effective ways to keep household waste out of the landfill and create nutritious soil for your garden. Whether it be food scraps such as peels and stems or yard waste like grass clippings and fallen leaves, almost all organic material waste from your home can end up in your compost.

When organic material decomposes in landfills, methane gas is released due to lack of oxygen present during decomposition.  Methane is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, so limiting the amount released is important. In a compost pile or a vermicompost bin, plenty of oxygen is introduced and materials can break down without the production of methane. If none of this is news to you, or if you are excited to learn more, becoming a Master Composter might be for you!

What is a Master Composter program?

Master Composter programs are programs that are set up to help you have all the tools that you need to be extremely successful in your composting projects...

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Turning waste into resources with community composting

You may be familiar with backyard composting, but what about options for institutions, schools, businesses and people who would like another alternative to backyard and vermicomposting? Community composting can be a great solution to these dilemmas and a way to extend the lifespan of your local landfill and reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the same time.

But first, let’s talk about why composting is a perennial favourite for taking personal action against climate change!

Why does everyone talk about the need to compost?

When food is thrown out in the garbage, and sent to the landfill, that organic waste is compacted in a sanitary landfill. This is done to save space in the landfill and to prevent animals from scavenging food there. However, this means that the food will break down without much oxygen - in other words, it will be anaerobically broken down.

When this happens, the decomposition of the food does not take the usual route of turning into carbon dioxide and other...

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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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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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Eating for the planet

I love food and eating. Food fuels our bodies and is how the earth directly supports our existence, and yet we have corrupted this relationship in so many ways, harming the planet, animals and even our health in the process. In this episode, I get into the issues with our food and find the 4 big ways that we can eat better for the planet - and for our bodies.
 

Meals are how we fuel our bodies, but they are also important as time to gather as a family, to celebrate together. Meals signal feelings of home, family, identity, and culture. They are tied to place, the region, our history, and the generations of cooks and bakers who have come before us.
 
Eating locally means that you are sampling what grows in the area, as well as the cultural traditions, stories, legends, and meaning behind the food. Just think of paska bread, or the polish white borscht, or hummus, and so on. They all hold meaning.
 
We use food to mark holidays, celebrate together weddings and...
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The no yard needed composting solution: Vermicomposting

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of composting?

Do you picture a spacious backyard with an outdoor composting bin situated far from the house? If so, I’m here to let you know that the “traditional” method of backyard composting isn’t the only way to compost!

What if someone else – or more precisely something else- could do most of the composting work for you?

Vermicomposting is a method of composting that involves worms! We know that earthworms are important components of soil health, so why not bring them indoors to work some of their magic on your food scraps? Soon enough, you’ll be left with an amazing fertilizer that can be used in your garden or on your houseplants.

Why composting matters

Before we get into the specifics on vermicomposting, here is a quick review of the benefits of composting.

Your food scraps are organic material that should readily decompose in the landfill, right? Wrong! In order for...

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Backyard Composting

Composting is a method of waste diversion. As with anything related to sustainability, our main goal should be to decrease the amount of waste we produce. Therefore, composting should be the last step when dealing with waste management.

Composting is a way to safely dispose of food scraps and waste. Food scraps are the inedible portions of food such as peels, rinds, and husks. These are not to be confused with food waste, which are edible portions of food that are thrown away or allowed to go bad. For more information on food waste, check out this article on Decreasing Food Waste.

Why does composting matter?

Although one may assume that food scraps can readily decompose in the landfill due to the fact that they are organic material, this is unfortunately not the case. Organic material needs oxygen in order to properly decompose. When food scraps are sent to the landfill, they are anaerobically digested, resulting in the production of methane.

In relation to carbon dioxide, a...

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Tree Valuation

In many locations, trees seem to be a standard part of our physical environment. Whether you are walking down the street in your neighbourhood, visiting downtown, or out in your yard, there is a good chance you will be surrounded by trees. Despite how common trees are, many people are unaware of their many benefits. While it is widely known that trees have the ability to remove carbon dioxide from the air and produce oxygen, other environmental benefits include their ability to reduce airborne particulates and smog, produce a cooling effect through evaporation, filter rainwater, and provide habitats for animals. Important social benefits of trees include the provision of shade, the reduction of stress and blood pressure, and their ability to inspire more outdoor physical activity.

How much is your tree worth?

Believe it or not, the trees in your yard have economic value! Along with all the environmental and social benefits, having trees on your property can significantly increase...

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Houseplants

Is there a way to add calm and happiness to our homes while improving our indoor air quality - you bet! Just add a few houseplants and you are on your way. Not only is keeping houseplants a great stress reliever, but seeing greenery in our environment has proven benefits to our mood and helps us remain calm and focused. And who couldn’t use a little of that!

Houseplants can be any plant that is adapted for growing indoors, but tropical plants that are native to warmer climates are the most common. Warm, stable, indoor environments prove to be the ideal environment for tropical plants to flourish. It can be almost guaranteed that while scrolling through Facebook or Instagram you will come across an image of someone’s beautiful and healthy-looking houseplants. Whether this is a garden centre advertising their products or a friend showing off their green thumb, there is no denying the popularity of these plants.

While houseplants seem to be the latest trend, the practice of...

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