Author: Shanna Marie

5 Plastic Free Personal Care Swaps

This post is part of an on-going series about going plastic free one area of your life at a time. See the other posts here and sign-up for Nikkey’s newsletter to recieve new plastic free challenges as they come out. This challenge is inspired by her work with eXXpedition on a microplastic research voyage through the Pacific Ocean.  As Nikkey sails the Pacific Ocean I want us to talk about consumer guilt. Everyone has had it at one point. Maybe from the clothes we buy, plastic packaging we see or for the purpose of today’s topic…. Plastic in personal health care products. This was an area I’ve wanted to make changes in for some time. I tried desperately to use cloth diapers for our son. Turns out he has the most sensitive unicorn skin known to man. No washing/cream/liner combo was going to prevent terrible diaper rash. I had to give up. But waste not, want not – all the cloth diapers have been regifted as swimsuits to replace disposable swim diapers. Pads Seeing how we …

Bear Aware Safety Measures and Tips

How to be Bear Aware in Urban Areas

Bear sightings in the Pacific North West are on the rise. Recently, BC Conservation Officers announced they’ve had to destroy a record number of habituated bears. The main contributing factor to this is we have built our homes where they roam, feed, and slumber. Anyone who knows me (or has seen our son’s nursery) knows I have a love of all things bear. Logan’s room is filled with bears, I have a tattoo of a Panda, and I often dream about them. Is that weird? A typical black bear will have a home range of roughly 100km. The neighbourhood my family and I live in is 30 years old. Our local black bears are habituated to people. This means they have learned how to grab a quick snack from unsecured compost and garbage bins or raid our gardens and bird feeders. Later this summer we will be moving to a newly developed area that boarders a research forest and provincial park. These local bears will not be as acclimated to the presence of humans…yet. It …

Green Cloth Diapers

Raising an Eco-Conscious Baby

On Christmas Day my husband and I welcomed our son Logan into the world. While we were overjoyed (and a little surprised as he was 10 weeks early) to be parents, I couldn’t shake the thoughts of how wasteful the baby industry is. The diapers, endless amounts of plastic items, clothes that fit for five minutes and all the gear you’re made to think you need but don’t. It’s easy to get caught up in the madness without recognizing the impact on our wallets or landfills. I’ll share a few things we did to minimize our footprint. Diapers We use cloth diapers instead of disposable. In my close group of friends there will be six babies born within the next year. Recently I took the time to do the math on how many disposable diapers that would be in just my small circle of friends. A newborn goes through 8-12 diapers a day, older babies 7-9, in our group that is 336-504 diapers per week and approximately 17,742 diapers a year! That was a staggering amount. …

Pumpkins

Our Favourite Pumpkin Crafts

Whether you bought your pumpkins at a grocery store, garden centre, or stomped through the mud at a local pumpkin patch we’ve got loads of fun ideas for what to do with your lovely orange squash. Pumpkins are the quintessential fall and Hallowe’en decoration. Some of my best childhood memories are of my sister and I on the hunt for the perfect pumpkin then making a huge mess in the kitchen while we carved our faces and Mom baked the seeds. Food Pumpkins are firstly a food source loaded with all kinds of goodies such as fibre, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, all while being low in calories. Canned pumpkin is a great option for convenience, but of course fresh and organic is best. The seeds can be scooped out and roasted with an endless combination of spices. My favourite is chilli lime. The flesh can be roasted until soft then used for pies, muffins, cookies AND can be dehydrated into all kinds of pumpkin spice fruit roll up deliciousness. Another unsuspected use of pumpkin is …

Mark Angelo from RiverBlue

RiverBlue – A Documentary Review

RiverBlue made its much anticipated debut this fall at the Vancouver International Film Festival. The film chronicles the high environmental cost of fast fashion and how the industry has destroyed some of the world’s greatest rivers. I came to know about this film through my education at BCIT. Mark Angelo, one of the producers and onscreen face of the film, has ties to the program I attended. Mark is a river activist, paddler, conservationist, and teacher but more importantly the Founder and Chair of BC Rivers Day and World Rivers Day. To say he has a passion for the conservation of global rivers is a huge understatement. RiverBlue focuses on larger rivers that border many towns and cities in the fashion industry such as: Ganges River India, Citarum River Indonesia, Buriganga River Bangladesh, Yellow River China and many more. Throughout the film environmental professionals and activist are interviewed regarding the low environmental standards in these countries where labour and materials are cheaper than if produced domesticly. There are no regulations regarding toxic runoff from denim and tannery …

Luke Wallace

Environmentalist of the Month: Luke Wallace

It’s the fall return of our blog! First up, we’re introducing you to environmentalist Luke Wallace. I met this inspiring folk singer at the premiere of his first documentary, One Big Coast and was instantly a fan. His voice has the power to draw the whole room in and lift the spirits of every environment-loving listener. One Big Coast was shown at British Columbia Institute of Technology during a sustainability event my classmates and I hosted. An added bonus to the film was a concert at the end. We were blown away by how someone so young, 22 at the time, could have such a strong and powerful voice and how effectively it came across through art. Luke Wallace is a recent graduate of University of British Columbia with a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Geography, a musician and a conservation activist. During his mid-teens he began to sing in choirs. Over time he picked up the guitar and starting writing, singing and performing folk music. He credits his love of music for getting him through …

Farm Field

7 Ways the British Live More Sustainable Lives

I’ve been fortunate enough to have traveled to the UK twice in the last three years, most recently this summer for my beautiful sister in laws wedding in Kelso, Scotland. During our trips we have spent time all over Scotland, England, Portugal, and Ireland. There are a few things I noticed on our first trip in 2012 relating to the environment that I never gave much thought to. They seemed like old fashion practices, not using dryers for example. Now that I have much more respect and awareness for sustainable living, I have to give British people a big thumbs-up and here’s why: 1. Laundry Like I mentioned- there are very few dryers in the UK, in my experience. It is common practice to hang clothes on a line in the yard or on pulley systems hidden in the high ceilings. I even stumbled across a apartment complex in Edinburgh that had a clothes drying courtyard with communal clothes lines. Living spaces are smaller than in North America so drying clothes outdoors is a huge space saver. Now you might …

5 Tips for Sustainable Entertaining

It is officially BBQ season here on the West Coast! Time for friends, family, food, drinks, and relaxation.  This is one of my favourite times of the year. If you think outside the box and use some of these handy tips there’s no reason why your next gathering can’t be an earth friendly one too. 1. Say NO to Single Use Plastic – Even Red Solo Cups I’ll admit it that plastic cutlery and plates make cleanup a breeze. In another life I used these items too when we had a larger group of people over. That is until I became aware of how horrible they are for the environment and thought about how much money was wasted yearly on an item you use once, then toss. Seemed pretty silly once I gave it some thought. Using your own dishes does require more clean up, but it is way way better in the long run if your goal is to be more sustainable. Another option is to have people bring their own dishes and tupperwear for leftovers.  My …

Bird Watching in the PNW

Spring Bird Watching in the PNW

I’ll be the first to admit I am a bird watching nerd. I have numerous bird identifications books, apps, various camera lenses and binoculars. This hobby started while taking an Introduction to Ecology class in my first year of school and carried over into my second year research project. Now I can’t get enough of it. Just yesterday I was walking along a trail at work doing some light pruning when I heard an unfamiliar woodpecker sound…. I looked up and low and behold there was a Lewis’s Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis) trying to get some snacks out of a Cottonwood tree. These guys are rare in our neck of the woods and are a blue-listed species1 so it was a real treat. Books and Apps to Get Started First things first, get yourself a bird identification book. I highly recommend The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America by David Allen Sibley. It is super easy to use with a quick identification guide, pictures are true to life, and notes on how to …

Minnekhada Park

Best Ways to Explore Your Local Parks

No matter where you live, you’re likely within a short drive to a Municipal, Regional, Provincial, or National (if you’re really lucky) park. With warmer weather and longer days ahead there is no reason not to get out and enjoy what these parks have to offer. Municipal and Regional parks are a great place to spend the day picnicking and recreating. Bring food, re-useable non-single use plastic supplies for a BBQ, and your appetite. Most parks have fire pits for cooking or allow propane based camp stoves (briquette fires not allowed). Bring a football, soccer ball, baseball and mitt, or volleyball net, and some friends for a friendly game. Even a tube of bubbles or water guns can provide endless hours of outdoor fun for the wee kids. No supplies or on a budget? Games like freeze tag, capture the flag, hide-and-seek, kick-the-can are all free ways for kids and even adults to get outdoors and play. I recently played freeze tag on a school field trip and it was so much fun to run around and …