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Sustainable wellbeing and green living

Let's find ways to Flourish!

Preserving the Harvest

As much as many of us hate to admit it, here in the northern hemisphere summertime is coming to an end. In a matter of weeks, the weather will start to cool down, students will be going back to school, and fall will be upon us.

Although it can be sad to see summer go, there is plenty to be excited about as we transition into a new season! For those of us who have been cultivating our gardens, purchasing produce from farmer’s markets, or have family and friends with impressive vegetable and fruit yields from their gardens, the harvest is always something to look forward to.

There’s nothing like enjoying fresh and delicious produce that has been grown locally. Bonus points if you grew it yourself – it’s always a good feeling when your hard work in the garden pays off. 

You might be wondering “what’s so good about local produce?” Well, locally grown produce is good for the planet, the local economy, and your taste buds. If you’re...

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Bartering for the environment

When we think of bartering, it is easy to think of it as an ancient practice replaced by modern currencies. Mesopotamian tribes are thought to have started the first bartering systems in around 6000 BCE to trade food, weapons, and spices. In ancient Rome, services were bartered for salt. Bartering is thousands of years old and precedes the use of money; however, it is still relevant and used today with many online sites available for anyone who has something to trade. But where does bartering fit in a modern society? And what makes it beneficial?

What is bartering?

Bartering is a direct exchange of goods and services, without a money intermediary. It is a great way to participate in a sustainable and circular economy, and encourages the use of second-hand clothing, jewelry, and other items by creating a trading community, as opposed to being centred around a currency. Although it often does, bartering doesn’t have to involve goods. Services such as trade work, cooking and...

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Eat out without the guilt

Food is a vitally important part of every day of our lives, and every meal is an opportunity to choose sustainability. Whether it be buying Fairtrade products, reducing food waste, supporting local producers, or reducing meat consumption, we do our best to eat sustainably.  When we decide to eat out, we want to know if the restaurants we support are doing the same. Enter Green Restaurant Certifications.

These certifications assess factors such as water efficiency, sustainable food, energy, and waste reduction to determine whether or not the establishment meets the requirements to be certified green. Green Restaurant Certifications are a great way to help identify restaurants in the community that are striving to promote sustainability so that we can support their efforts while enjoying a delicious meal. In North America, the Green Restaurant Association and LEAF Certification assess restaurants to determine their level of sustainability and then publish these results on their...

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The push for greener grocery stores

Pursuing a green lifestyle isn’t always easy – it’s true that eco-friendly goods and services aren’t always available, accessible or affordable, never mind convenient. As much as we may try to minimize our impact on the planet, sometimes the systems in place make that difficult.

While we are seeing many businesses going green and making commitments to reduce their environmental impact, there are still some businesses (especially essential services) that seem to be stuck in their environmentally harmful ways.

Take grocery stores, for example. Grocery stores are vital components of the built environment that make neighbourhoods and communities liveable. While it is possible to purchase some of your food from alternative sources such as farmer’s markets, community gardens, community supported agriculture, and your own backyard, chances are that you’ll still need to visit the grocery store every now and again.

So, given the fact that shopping at...

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Is night solar the next form of green energy?

Image sourced from: The Guardian

Solar power is a type of renewable energy that has the ability to help us reduce our carbon emissions and mitigate climate change, as it is a viable alternative to electricity generated from fossil fuels. You are probably quite familiar with solar power since it is one of the most common forms of alternative electricity generation and has many different applications!

For example, solar power has proven to be a life-changing addition to remote communities where electricity is not widely available or affordable.

Solar power’s many other uses range from the creation of backpacks with built in solar lights to green building technologies such as solar panels and solar walls.

How solar energy becomes electricity

Solar energy can be harnessed and converted into useable energy (such as electricity) through the use of photovoltaic panels, more commonly referred to as solar panels. When a solar panel is placed outside in a sunny location, incoming...

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Little Free Libraries Build Community

Are you looking to pick up a couple new books this summer? Before you head to the bookstore and buy something new, keep an eye out for Little Free Libraries in your neighbourhood! Little Free Libraries are collections of books which are housed in public bookcases. You may find these bookcases in public spaces such as parks or outside commercial buildings, or even in your neighbours’ yards.

There’s a chance you may have come across these unique structures in the past. Perhaps you have been unsure about how they work or if the contents of the bookcase are actually free to take. After all, if you are not too familiar with the concept it can feel quite strange to grab a book without signing it out or paying. Rest assured, these public bookcases are filled with books that are completely free to take – no strings attached!

While some public bookcases may be unmarked and unaffiliated with any organization, bookcases which are branded as Little Free Libraries are...

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Generate electricity one step at a time with Piezoelectricity

As the world’s demand for energy continues to increase, we know how important it is to develop and utilize alternative and sustainable methods of energy production. You may already be quite familiar with green energy sources or alternative energies such as hydroelectric power, wind power, biomass energy, or solar power, but did you know that there are many more opportunities for electricity generation?

In fact, something as simple as walking can generate electricity! According to the first law of thermodynamics, the Law of Conservation of Energy, energy can be neither created or destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another. Therefore, the mechanical energy that is produced with each of our footsteps can actually be harvested and converted to electricity! Pretty incredible right?

How is this possible?

The energy produced by our footsteps can be converted to electricity through the piezoelectric effect. The piezoelectric effect is the...

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Soil to Silk with Madhulika Choudhary

I had the pleasure of chatting with Madhulika Choudhary who has become a slow silk producer in rural India after inheriting a plot of land from her father. She had fond memories of spending time in the village where her family is from, with its local pond full of fish and children playing.

But when she returned 20 years later, the pond was no longer thriving. Western agricultural practices had taken over, including the pressure to use chemical pesticides and fertilizers. These new advances left the producer with high input costs as they produce non-traditional crops, but it also meant the loss of fish and wildlife as chemicals ran off into the nearby waterway.

 

 

The mulberry crop to be fed to the worms is organically grown, Madhulika Choudhary.

Madhulika had plenty of experience working in underserved communities and knew a little about the textile industry, so she took the opportunity to bring a traditional practice of Sericulture, or silk farming to her family's...

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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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