My bathroom shelf: Toothpaste, coconut oil, shea butter, oregano oil, floss and deodorant
Let’s face it: women use more products than men, and we have a recurring, generally very wasteful (but otherwise healthy) function that they don’t have. But this doesn’t mean we need to create more garbage than these low-maintenance dudes. If you live in Metro Vancouver, you’ve seen the ads, you’ve seen the news. We create a lot of garbage, and we can’t throw it on Cache Creek forever. Our rubbish has to go somewhere, so it’s time to try harder to avoid creating it in the first place. (It’s reduce, reuse, recycle, remember.) But you’re a girl, and you have needs. Now what?
1. Get an “eco positive period“ with the Diva Cup and a combination of smart panties and reusable cloth liners and pads. The fabrics are organic cotton and the Diva Cup merely collects your flow, so you can avoid nasty things like toxic shock syndrome and yeast infections. Other benefits? No smelly waste, no crinkly noises from plastic pads, no discomfort, and no worries about running out. Yes, it can be discreet, super fun, and still feel sexy. It will simply make your life easier, save you money and time in the long run, and reduce your footprint on the planet big time. If you’re still not convinced, read their testimonials and their tips. Lunapads is based in Vancouver. Hint: sign up for their newsletter and grab the Green Zebra coupon book to save some dough.
2. Happy soap! If you’re not into making your own, skip the shrinkwrap, the toxins and the plastic pumps with Rocky Mountain Soap Company‘s earth-friendly bar soap, wrapped in just a strip of paper. (Mountain Sky is another option.) They also sell a shaving* soap bar. I know you think you need foam to shave, but I dare you to try this stuff for a month and see the difference. I used to use bar soap that wasn’t even meant for shaving, then tried a foam cream in an aerosol can (what was I thinking?!). Rocky Mountain wins hands down. Their Vancouver store is on Granville & 15th, and they sell unscented soap too.
If you’re reading this you might be as last-minute with your holiday shopping as I tend to be. Admittedly my post itself is last-minute. I’ve done half my shopping and, this year, with each item I’ve put more thought than ever into what effect each will have on this finite planet. If you’re the kind of giver that prefers to give an item rather than an experience, make it meaningful not just as a useful object but as one with the smallest environmental impact possible.
Before I tell you how easy it is to be eco-conscious at Christmas, you might want to know why you should:
* according to Statistics Canada, 900,000 tonnes of garbage is produced between Thanksgiving and Christmas each year
* transportion of gifts that are produced a great distance away, whether it’s Califonia or China, emits greenhouse gases that pollute our air and contribute to climate change
* logging of old-growth forests to produce “virgin” paper products releases CO2 into the atmosphere and threatens animal habitat (think of the caribou and the owls!)
* conventional plastic is a petroleum-based product, which carries a triple-threat carbon footprint
* it takes resources and produces waste to make something new and to recycle or dispose of it at the end of its life cycle (which, these days, is often pretty short!)
* that regiftable stuff is better off loved by someone else than being a guilt trip in your closet for you or your kids!
* buying local supports the local economy and friends of your friends
* and more environmental, ethical and health-related reasons…
h3. Ok, I get it. I’ll be good this year. How easy is it?
Got a bookstore nearby? A Choices/Capers/Whole Foods? MEC? Independent coffee shop? Granville Island? Main St or Commercial Drive? You can make smart choices anywhere — that includes IKEA. I did not have to go out of my way to get smart gifts for my family. A bit of thoughtfulness and planning is all it takes. And do I ever feel good about it!
Feeling inspired, I’d like to start a meme on what actions you’re taking, or planning to take (a pledge!) to help the environment. This is a broad-reaching scope, and encompasses anything and everything: choosing organic food, taking transit, composting, donating to an environmental organization, recycling unwanted goods, installing solar panels, or even just educating yourself on issues and solutions. Is there a particular action that tops your list? Or one you’ve been eager to try?
For brevity’s sake we’ll keep the list to 10 items. You can divide it up between “doing” and “intend to do” in whatever ratio you like.
On Saturday, I went to the EPIC expo at Canada Place. The main attraction for me was a talk by Adria Vasil, author of a best-selling book I adore called Ecoholic. In her inspiring presentation, she gave us a history behind the book’s development and noted how the green movement was virtually non-existent when she started her column in 2004. Organizers of EPIC apparently wanted to put on this event back then but there was deemed to be a lack of interest in green issues.
Adria offered some great advice and encouragement for greening one’s lifestyle: choose three things every month and do them. No matter how good you are already, you can do even better. My three things? I decided to no longer buy greenhouse-grown produce, I switched to compostable plastic bags for my garbage and replaced some of my soap with a locally-made, more natural product (and it smells divine, too!) Adria emphasized the importance of individual actions and how even little things add up. Case in point: the government’s new green product claims regulation is consumer complaint-driven, meaning it’s up to us to call in and report on products that (we think) are making false claims. So things are looking up, anyway. Adria is very lovely and was happy to sign my Ecojot notebook (I had not brought my copy of Ecoholic).
Thanks to Darren Barefoot for the photo and for telling me about the following tip.
The Clean Air Foundation‘s Mow Down Pollution program is once again taking a good jab at ol’ Mr. Smoggy, the Lawn Mower Hog himself, by educating the public about the significant amount of greenhouse gases and air pollution we can prevent by retiring the ol’ stinker and replacing it with a more earth-friendly alternative. Ever since I saw one of those push mowers, I had been suggesting my dad look into it, to replace the gas one. Some credit can be given for its long lifespan, but it’s noisy, it stinks and heck, it’s so hard to push that he got stuck with the job every time. Besides, the push mower is good for the grass! We’re eco-friendly folk, so knowing just how much a gas-powered lawn mower actually emits over time is pretty enlightening. And a $100 instant rebate? Talk about motivation! Here are the deets: