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Sustainable wellbeing and green living

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What you need to know about consumer goods

We all have a vague understanding that consumer culture is linked to environmental degradation and climate change, but how do we get around this, especially when we live in the real world, with birthdays, and Christmas, social pressures to shop and often a lack of easy to access eco-friendly alternatives. 

I like to do a little time traveling before purchasing anything. 

Well, there are a few basics to consider, I like to do a little time traveling before purchasing anything. Instead of just thinking about price and value, think about where that good came from AND where it will end up when you are finished with it. That can put the "sale" item into a much more realistic light of its true cost.

But, what exactly are the issues associated with consumer goods?

Over-Consumption of Material Goods and Throw-Away Culture

Consumer goods are products that are found on store shelves and bought for consumption by the average consumer. Consumer goods can be anything from food,...

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A Fashion Dilemma

You might find yourself looking in your closet and pondering the fact that you have nothing to wear. No matter the occasion, a shopping spree might sound like a fun day. While buying new clothes may be fun, that fun comes with a price.
 
Fast fashion is an emerging concept that is exactly what it sounds like: it is an industry that replicates catwalk trends and high-end fashion designs and mass produces at a low cost. Fashion and celebrity culture have been reinforced through social media and the demand for trendier clothes has skyrocketed.
 
The perks of online shopping and retail stores all around the world have made us look like runway models. The competitive fashion industry infused with globalization has brought us cheaper clothes sometimes cheaper than a fancy latté.
 
 
According to Greenpeace, the sales of clothing have almost doubled in the last decade, but the average lifespan of clothing has reduced dramatically. The rise in clothing and...
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Rethinking E-waste

Sure, we want to do what is right when it comes to recycling and disposal of our electronics, but for many people, electronics recycling can be a bit of a grey area. It’s hard to know exactly what to do with your e-waste or outdated electronics. That's why so many people find they have a drawer or box full of old electronics that they haven't quite figured out what to do with.

So, here is my quick guide to help you find the best way to manage your e-waste responsibly.

E-waste 101

First, let's just cover off what we mean when we are talking about e-waste. E-waste, or Electronic waste, is electronic equipment that is no longer wanted or no longer works. When electronic devices have reached the end of their useful life, for us, they become electronic waste. But, that doesn't mean they are no longer useful!

Keep these devices out of the landfill!

Sending your electronic waste to the landfill can cause serious environmental harm. Most electronic devices contain toxic heavy...

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Beyond less bad using Cradle to Cradle

So many of the so-called sustainable living ideas and suggestions really only scratch the surface. They are superficial ideas that only slightly stall the inevitable linear model of resource extraction - material goods - waste. Even the feel-good efforts of making fleece jackets out of recycled pop bottles only slightly delays that plastic's inevitable fate of becoming waste and ending up in the landfill.

That's where solutions that create systems-level change come in as important real fixes for the systems that aren't working. Cradle to Cradle is one of these concepts that bring our human-made systems into alignment with natural systems by mimicking the natural world.

The origins of Cradle to Cradle

The ‘Cradle to Cradle’ concept was coined by Michael Braungart and William McDonough and is discussed in detail in their book ‘Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things’ published in 2002.

In short, the Cradle to Cradle concept is a reinvigorated way of...

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The Natural Step for strategic sustainability

"If we think systematically, we will stop asking, How much is nature worth? We will know that we are a piece of nature ourselves." - Karl-Henrik Robèrt, The Natural Step Founder

Want strategic sustainability in your organization? Use The Natural Step method.

The Natural Step is a global network of non-profit organizations with a collective vision of a sustainable society and a mission to facilitate this transition.

With partners in 54 countries, The Natural Step International is striving to transition towards a fully sustainable global society by taking actions to support ecological, social, and economic sustainability. It is a science-based holistic approach that encourages work across disciplines to plan effectively.

The Natural Step was founded in Sweden in 1989 by scientist Karl-Henrik Robert. Robert outlined 4 system conditions for the sustainability of human activities on earth.

These 4 conditions are the basis for the Natural Step mission, which also consists of a...

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What does a sustainable economy look like?

Sustainability is often defined as the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability to meet the needs of future generations. Typically, sustainability is made up of three pillars: social, environmental, and economic. In other words, sustainability takes into account people, the planet, and profit.

The environmental pillar tends to get a lot of attention when it comes to discussions surrounding sustainability. While this topic is undoubtedly important, it is useful to look at the economic side of things as well! Let’s take a closer look at the economic pillar of sustainability.

Issues with the current linear economy

We are currently operating in a linear economy. That means that consumption follows a linear process referred to as the ‘take-make-waste’ approach.

Take – When there is a high demand for consumer products, supplies such as non-renewable and natural resources get depleted at an alarming rate in order to keep up with...

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10 Last minute Eco-friendly Gifts

We have all been there. Christmas can be a busy time of year and I am always happy to have some last-minute gifts that I can give without having to go out to a store! So, here are some of my go-to last-minute gift ideas that are also great for the planet.

No need to get yourself overly stressed trying to find gifts and then feeling bad that you are doing something that goes against your values when you just get something for the sake of having a gift. Here are some easy solutions that have so many benefits. They are great for the planet because they are low-impact, they support small businesses, and they show others that we can do gifts sustainably.

1. Give an Eco-friendly Hobby

 

Ok, I have to admit, I once had visions of selling my hand-crafted delights, everything from paper mache bowls to baked goods. So many people find delight in being creative. Making everyday items like a crochet dishcloth or a hand-knit scarf can be incredibly rewarding as well as eco-friendly.

When...

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The Ups and Downs of the Sharing Economy

It’s funny, yes, we want to be independent as teens and young adults. That is what we strive for, and that is what older adults want to retain, right? And there certainly is value in independence, but are we forgetting that there is value in doing things together? We have evolved to form social groups for a reason...because collaboration and connection make our lives better and easier!

When we consider the aspects of independence that relate to owning things - like our space, but more importantly stuff, there are aspects of this trend that are deeply unsustainable. As we are collectively seeking to lower our footprint on the earth by living lighter, sharing material goods can be a great part of the solution!

Just think about all the unused power tools that sit in our garages and all the books we’ve purchased but probably aren’t going to read again. When you think about it, it really doesn’t make sense for every individual household within a community to own...

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Toy Libraries are a Step Towards Sustainable Parenting

People are starting to realize that sharing might be the best solution to society’s overconsumption habit. That’s why we are seeing things like tool lending libraries, car sharing companies, clothing swaps, and carpool apps gaining popularity. You might actually be surprised at all the different items people are sharing nowadays.

For example, did you know that toy libraries are a thing? Just like a regular library with books, toy libraries allow you to check out and borrow toys to bring home. The toys in a toy library are carefully selected, ensuring that there are plenty to choose from for all ages and abilities! Whether you are looking for play mats for a baby or Lego blocks for an older child, toy libraries are likely to have it all.

 And of course, the toys are cleaned and kept in good condition so that they offer each new child a fun and safe play experience.

How toy libraries work

Many toy libraries will charge a small annual or monthly fee that allows you to...

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Recipe for a Litterless Lunch

Every meal is an opportunity to live sustainably. This is a topic we’ve explored before – the food we eat has a significant impact on the environment. Some negative consequences of our food choices include excess carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, synthetic chemical use, animal welfare problems, unfair labour, wasteful packaging, and environmental pollution.

On the other hand, making positive food choices like eating local, choosing organic, and growing your own produce help mitigate these issues and bring you one step closer to sustainable wellbeing.

In short - food is one of our most direct connections to the natural world, and we can really make a difference to our wellbeing and that of the planet with our food choices.

However, being environmentally conscious when it comes to our food choices isn’t just about the food itself, but also about the way we package our meals when we’re on the go.

We can elevate our food choices by looking at the big...

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