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Sustainable wellbeing and green living

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What Nature Does for our Bodies and Minds

We seek out nature for many reasons – for recreation, quiet and solitude, exercise, nature views, and plenty more. But did you know that nature has measurable positive effects on our physiological and psychological wellbeing?

You may have noticed that spending time in the outdoors leaves you feeling refreshed with an improved mood. You might even find yourself seeking out nature during times when you are stressed, upset, or feeling under the weather.

The biophilia hypothesis is the idea that humans have an innate tendency to seek connections and associate with nature. The term biophilia literally translates to “love of life.” American biologist Edward O. Wilson proposed in his work Biophilia (1984) that the tendency for humans seek out life and lifelike processes is biologically ingrained.

Throughout the course of our evolution, the natural environment has been conducive to our survival and enhanced our physical, emotional, and intellectual fitness. We depended...

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How yoga helps you relate to the natural world

"Yoga makes you harmonious with nature and teaches you to be joyfully curious about your inner world." - Debasish Mridha

Yoga is a mind-body practice that has been around for thousands of years and continues to be a popular method of exercise and wellness today.

And good news, it is not just for the fit and flexible. There is a yoga practice for every body type and ability.

Some physical benefits of practicing yoga include increased flexibility, increased muscle tone and strength, lowered blood pressure, better posture, and improved balance.

These physical benefits are accompanied by many mental benefits as well. Yoga practices often incorporate meditation and breathing exercises in order to reduce stress, increase awareness of your body and movements, aid in sleep, and increase mental clarity.

But even beyond the physical and mental benefits, when we connect deeply with our bodies, we begin to find a new relationship to ourselves and the natural world. Our bodies are made of the...

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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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Can road design reduce carbon emissions?

Reducing the prevalence of cars in cities is an important part of creating more sustainable cities. We know that automobiles emit harmful pollutants such as carbon dioxide and reduce walkability, so we need to ask ourselves, “what can we do to minimize their usage?”

While there are many methods of reducing automobile usage, such as the promotion of active transportation through the creation of urban walking trails, bike lanes, and the utilization of Transit Oriented Design, the reality is that vehicles will continue to be used for quite some time.

For one, they are practical when travelling long distances and can accommodate large groups of people (ie. busses). In addition, electric vehicles are gaining popularity which means that the overall environmental impact of automobiles will be reduced!

Prioritizing road safety

Photo sourced from: Streets for the People

This is why it is necessary to make our roadways as safe as possible. As long as vehicles are around, they...

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What is TOD and why do we love it?

When it comes to incorporating sustainability into the built environment, it is important to acknowledge one key fact: we are living in a highly interconnected and globalized world. This is reflected in the way our cities are designed, as well as the movement of people within and between cities around the world.

This widespread travel within and between cities is able to occur due to the advent of modern transportation methods such as trains, busses, subways, automobiles, and planes. Unfortunately, one particular method of transportation has significantly influenced the design of our cities…and not in a good way!

Yep, you guessed it: the automobile. Automobiles are notorious for their contribution to urban sprawl, the uncontrolled expansion of urban areas.

Thanks to urban sprawl, it has become so much harder to get places on foot or take public transportation as your main method of getting around. For example, many North American cities have been designed specifically for...

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Reduce your eco-anxiety with this technique

Mindfulness is a term that you are likely to hear and read about quite often. It has become a bit of a buzzword, but despite its recent popularity, mindfulness isn’t a new fad. It's actually a basic human ability that anyone can tap into. Essentially, mindfulness is the ability to centre oneself in the present moment and become aware of our actions without becoming overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Even though you may understand the basic premise of mindfulness, it can still be difficult to achieve, and actually feel the positive impacts in your daily life, especially during stressful times (like a pandemic) or when we have other life challenges. But, this is when we actually need it most.

One of the ways mindfulness can help improve your life is through its ability to reduce stress. Mindfulness is being recommended for people going through a variety of especially stressful situations such as serious illness and can be used to also help us at least in part,...

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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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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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Passive Housing for Low Carbon Living

Buildings are an important piece of the sustainability puzzle, as residential and commercial buildings have significant environmental impact. For example, the United Nations Environment Program states that commercial and residential buildings are responsible for 36% of global energy use and 39% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions annually. This means that we need to change not only the way we are currently living, but the structures in which we are living, working, and visiting as well.

While there are ways to make previously built buildings more sustainable through retrofits and energy efficient upgrades, it is also important to consider alternative ways of building in the first place, as new design techniques set precedents for a more sustainable future.

Passive House (also called Passivhaus in German) is a high-performance building standard that puts an emphasis on energy performance. Passive Houses consume up to 90% less heating and cooling energy than conventional...

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