• DIY,  Food

    Week 24: Backyard Chickens

    My partner and I bought a house in 2013 and just happened to inherit some backyard chickens. It was such a wonderful experience. I had been wanting to get chickens for a year or two but didn’t quite know where to being. Being thrust into chicken ownership was honestly the easiest way to get started. The real truth? Chickens are easy pets. They are pretty self sufficient, require little attention, and give you fresh eggs every week. Once you get into the daily routine of feeding them and opening and closing the coop, the benefits definitely outweigh the chores. There are a lot of great reasons to keep chickens. The…

  • DIY,  Food

    Week 23: Grow Your Own Food

    Gardening! How I love you! I’ve had a long love for gardening but am still learning so much every year. Starting a backyard or balcony garden is easier than you’d think and the rewards are well worth the small effort! Reward #1: Let’s start with the obvious – you’ll have your own produce come harvest. Not only that, but I think you’ll find that the taste of your produce will surpass even market food. Don’t ask me why – homegrown food always tastes better. Reward #2: No GMOs, no pesticides, no big corporations. Just clean, honest, good food that came straight from the dirt. Reward #3: Connect with your land. You’ll learn about your…

  • Education

    Week 22: Connect the Dots

    So we’ve talked about food; we’ve talked about consumerism; we’ve talked about environmental impact and carbon footprint; we’ve talked about supporting local economies by buying locally. It’s time to connect these issues and understand how they are all a part of the bigger issue. Author Anup Shah pulls a lengthy quote from Richard Robbins in the article The Effects of Consumerism on the Global Issues. It’s a bit heavy but I think it does a great job of summarizing how these issues we’ve talked about are all connected. Stick with it and we’ll talk about some of the solutions afterwards: “William Rees, an urban planner at the University of British Columbia,…

  • DIY

    Week 21: DIY Hobbies

    We all look for different ways to unwind. Hobbies are a healthy way to relieve stress and relax with some self care. One of the changes that really inspired me to become more environmentally friendly was when I started picking up hobbies that taught me how to make things on my own. I found that there was a mental switch when I started to learn how to produce rather than consume. There is a rewarding feeling when you look at an object that you made yourself rather than one purchased at a store: a feeling of accomplishment that beats out “shopping therapy” any day. Here are some examples: knitting, baking,…

  • DIY

    Week 20: Learn to Fix Things

    One way to keep stuff out of the landfill, save money, and learn new skills all at the same time is to learn how to fix items that fall into disrepair. Household items like appliances, clothing, toys, and tools can often be mended to “like new” status with a little time and energy. Today’s economy requires consumers to continually buy new things. It seems that the shelf life of everything from washing machines to shoes is made to fall apart faster and faster each year. Designed or planned obsolescence is actually a thingwhich makes me so sad. This is when product designers purposely design a product with a limited lifespan so…

  • Economy

    Week 19: Hang Your Laundry

    Like many of the approaches to being more environmentally friendly, this week’s topic is easy to do, will save you money, and just requires a bit of planning. Hanging your laundry to dry is an easy way to reduce your electricity bill and takes almost no effort. Another added bonus: it’s easier on your clothes and will help them last longer! Here’s a great article the breaks down the benefits and cost savings.  The biggest challenge in making this lifestyle change is that you need to leave the appropriate amount of time to let your clothes dry. This amount of time will change pretty drastically depending on where you live and what your…

  • Food,  Zero Waste

    Week 18: Compost!

    Oh composting… how I wish I was better at this! I’m still learning this week’s topic, but practice makes perfect so I’ll give you some information on the research that I’ve done and some more information on what I have yet to try. As an aspiring gardener, I know how important soil nutrition is which is why I started my composting journey a few years ago. I purchased one of the fancy rotating compost bins but I was worried that I wouldn’t get the right ratio of greens, browns, and food scraps. I did a lot of research online but got overwhelmed with the scientific process behind composting. This was one of the…

  • DIY,  Reduce Plastic,  Zero Waste

    Week 17: DIY Laundry Detergent

    So, this week I’m going to share a personal practice that has saved my household hundreds of dollars over the last few years – making your own laundry detergent. It takes about 2 minutes a month and is so super easy. Ready? Mix equal parts soap flakes, borax, and washing soda. And that’s it. If you’re feeling fancy you can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil but we rarely do. Add about a tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half to a full load.  I’ve used this on everything from mechanic uniforms to baby diapers and it’s cleaned everything beautifully. I store the detergent in a pint sized mason jar and…

  • Economy,  Shopping

    Week 16: Regift

    This week’s topic is a quick and easy way to pass along unwanted stuff from your family to someone else who is more likely to enjoy it. Regifting is easy: when it comes time to find a present or gift for someone, consider giving them a gently used item from your own home that your family has finished with. In my house, regifting started because my oldest son hates colouring. When he was really young he got tons of colouring books, crayons, and markers from family and friends. It all sat collecting dust on a shelf for years. An avid colouring fan myself, I couldn’t bring myself to just throw it away.…

  • Economy,  Shopping

    Week 15: Stop Buying “Stuff”

    We live in a culture of stuff. Our economic model requires us to continue consuming stuff at a frightening pace. Many people define themselves by the stuff that they own and most people believe that acquiring stuff will make them happy. It’s so engraved into our culture that it’s actually hard to stop buying stuff. And by stuff I mean the objects that we bring into our lives that we don’t necessarily require but that we believe will make our lives better. Anything from kitchen gadgets to fancy shoes to toys and games. When I think of “stuff”, I often associate it with the extra junk I used to come home with when I…