5 tips to host a green cocktail party

Elements for a green cocktail party

This past weekend, I celebrated another birthday and in preparing for a cocktail party, I wanted it to be as green as possible, and by green, I mean produce as little waste as possible.

Planning is key – the longer you plan, the more time you have to find recipes for appetizers, buy food & alcohol and make ice.

Here is what you can do within 48 hrs to put on a successful yet eco-friendly cocktail party. Continue reading

5 tips for hosting a great clothing exchange party

Clothing exchange party

5 tips for hosting a clothing exchange party

Would you secretly like to raid your friends’ closets?  Well now you can, (sort of), thanks to clothing exchange parties.

Two years ago, I attended my first ever clothing exchange party, a concept I had never heard of at the time. It’s where everyone brings a bag of their unwanted clothes and exchanges them for each others’ clothing. In wanting to continue the trend of this eco type party, I hosted my first ever clothing exchange party and I have to say, it was quite a hit. Continue reading

Changing the world one bum at a time for a Guinness World Record

The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2011 - Bummis boutique in Montreal

How many bums can one person see in a space of 5 minutes? Well if you were at The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2011 in Montreal, it was 47. In blogging about great Earth Day events to plan like Picnic for the Planet, I was asked by Baby Auric and Bummis to be an official witness for the Guinness World Record of the most cloth diapers changed in 5 minutes.

Over 400 locations worldwide registered for The Great Cloth Diaper Change 2011.  Here at the Bummis boutique in Montreal, we had Continue reading

Celebrate Earth Day 2011 by hosting “Picnic for the Planet” in your city

The Nature Conservancy

Celebrate Earth Day 2011 by hosting a public picnic in your city

Earth hour, Earth day, Earth week if you’re confused on what they are and what you’re supposed to do, don’t worry, you’re not alone.

This Friday, April 22nd (aka Good Friday), is Earth Day which according to wikipedia, was started by Gaylord Nelson, a US senator  in 1970 to inspire awareness and appreciation for the earth’s natural environment. It is now celebrated throughout the world thanks to Earth Day Network and many worldwide organizations like The Nature Conservancy who organize annual events.

This year, The Nature Conservancy has organized Picnic for the Planet 2011 as a way for people to celebrate the planet by hosting a public picnic in their city. Over 445 picnics have been registered so far worldwide thanks to the meetup site. You too can join one of the already registered picnics or create your own for April 22nd by signing up on on Picnic for the Planet – Meetup.

The Nature Conservancy would like to remind you that there are 5 easy things you can do to help the planet: Continue reading

How I naturally lost 5 lbs and kept it off

Green tea, fruit and smaller meal sizes helped me lose 5lbs

It’s always those last 5lbs that are the hardest to lose, isn’t it? Muffin tops and spare tires seem to be an issue for a lot of people, that’s why I was so happy when I not only lost 5lbs, but kept it off. I didn’t go on a weight loss crusade per se, but rather implemented a few key changes into my lifestyle that lead to a great result.

Here is how I lost 5lbs:

  1. Drink green tea: I drank Electric Lemon green tea twice a day. I would drink it at 9am when I got to work, then re-infuse the tea leaves after lunch and drink it again. It would help curb cravings before lunch and around 4pm. I told David’s Tea, the shop where I bought my tea, about my weight loss and they said it was probably due to the ginger in it, although there doesn’t seem to be any scientific evidence proving this. There is evidence, however, that green tea speeds up your metabolism and helps you burn calories quicker. If you want to try, I suggest buying loose leaf green tea and infusing it in a tea strainer. Avoid teabags as they are lower in quality, don’t contain the best parts of the tea leaf and create waste.  Another benefit of drinking green tea is that I was able to give up coffee. Yes, there’s enough caffeine in it to help non-morning people like me.
  2. Eat fruit. This will probably come as a shock to you, at least it does to the people around me, but I don’t like to eat fruit. I started, moreover as an effort to not let the fruit I received in my organic baskets go to waste, by eating 2 fruits a day. I would eat an apple at lunch and a second fruit around 3pm or 4pm when I would start to get hunger cravings. I must admit though, it helped me fill up and ultimately, lead to my weight loss.
  3. Eat smaller food portions. I think it’s fair to say that restaurants and cafés give you double the servings we actually need. If I ate out at lunch, I would only eat half the sandwich (wrap or panini) and half the salad that would come with it. If, after eating I was still hungry, I would allow myself to finish the sandwich but generally I was fine. After one week, my appetite decreased and I was able to save the other half  for lunch the next day. If I brought food to work, I would eat a small meal with fruit for dessert and I was usually fine. If I wasn’t, I would eat a handful of nuts that I kept in my drawer.  About 20 minutes after I would finish eating, I would then brew my second cup of green tea. In general, it’s a good idea to wait until you’ve finished digesting before drinking so you don’t dilute your digestive acids or enzymes.

Public transport = additional weight loss:

Going to the gym can be hard to integrate into your lifestyle, but what about taking public transport? Although you might not realise it, you could actually add up to an hour’s worth of exercise each day just by walking to and from work with public transport. And since you actually have to “go to work” unlike the gym, you can naturally integrate this kind of exercise into your daily routine while walking to the bus stop/subway/metro station and back.

Personally, I get a good 40 minutes of walking in everyday going to and from the metro station to get to work. Not only does it help me wake me up or relax, it also helps me maintain my weight. And if you tend to be late in the morning like me, you’ll end up speed walking which will help you lose a few extra pounds since you’re heart rate up will increase. So you see, being green can also help you lose weight. 🙂

Lunchtime yoga:

I’ll admit it, I hate gyms and I’m not much of a sporty girl. In all fairness, it’s not so much the actual exercise that’s an issue, but rather the lack of motivation to get myself to the gym. So when my company offered lunchtime yoga courses, I had no excuse but to sign-up. Why not, I’m already there and it’s a lot easier than trying to find the motivation at 5pm when I’m tired, hungry and just want to go home. If your company doesn’t offer them, see if there are some studios around your place of work where they are offered. If not, you can always try to grab a few colleagues and do it on your own. It’s a quick and easy way to get some exercise in without a lot of hassle.

15 things people often forget to recycle

Common bathroom and bedroom items often thrown out instead of recycled

Sometimes, we think recycling is reserved for items in our kitchen but that’s simply not true. There are many things we dispose of daily throughout the house that could easily be recycled.

  1. Toilet paper rolls
  2. Paper towel rolls
  3. Kleenex boxes – Remove the plastic lining, open the flaps on the side then flatten
  4. Shampoo & conditioner bottles
  5. Skin care bottles -Face cleanser, eye make-up remover, toner bottles & face cream containers
  6. Cooking oil bottles – I go through a bottle of olive oil a month but I always recycle them. Place the bottle on its side over the sink, then remove the plastic spout by placing a knife into the groove between the bottle and the spout, it will pop out. Clean by shaking with water and dish-washing soap first, then recycle.
  7. How to recycle olive oil bottles

    Remove the plastic spout with a knife

  8. Beauty product containers – Shower gel & scrub containers
  9. Disposable hygienic products boxes -Q-tips, bandaid, pantyliner & feminine products boxes
  10. Hand & body lotion bottles – You might have to remove the pump, but you can easily recycle the bottle. Rinse first please.
  11. Toothbrush & some make-up packaging – Just because it has a small amount of paper packaging doesn’t mean it’s too small for the recycling bin. Recycle the back portion of the toothbrush package or why not your lipstick and mascara boxes?
  12. Vitamin & cough syrup bottles – Make sure to rinse the cough syrup bottles first so they’re clean and not sticky
  13. Deodorant packaging – This might surprise you but check the back. If you see the recycling symbol (two arrows) you’re good to go. Just make sure there is no deodorant left in it. Some deodorant spray cans can even be recycled too.
  14. Shaving cream bottles or cans – Same thing as deodorant. If you see the recycling symbol, you can, but do favour non-aerosol versions and ideally plastic bottles in the future which are more easily recyclable . You can also get shaving cream bar soaps which require no recycling at all as there is no packaging waste to begin with. Olive oil bar soap is also a great alternative for shaving.
  15. Various recycling symbols on beauty products

    If you see these recycling symbols on beauty products, you can recycle them

  16. Old bills, receipts & gum packaging – These papers can stack up quickly. Once you don’t need them anymore shred them (I take mine to work – shhh) then recycle them. As for gum, choose the non-blister packs as they are plastic-less and if you do get a blister pack, at least recycle the outside cardboard packaging.
  17. Pets – Yes, random, but pets also get disposed of when they are no longer wanted. Some are killed humanely, others are not. Where I live in Montreal, many are still killed in in gas chambers. If you’re looking for a friendly companion, please choose adoption and check out petfinder.com where you can choose a pet based on breed, sex or size,  based on available pets in your  area.

Clutch, once a stray dog, found his forever home thanks to MuttScouts

Why I chose to be vegetarian – An intimate look at my life

Lisa_pondering_vegetarianism

After a 52 comment debate on Facebook, I decided it was time to write about my favourite topic; vegetarianism.

Twelve years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting someone during a break in Spanish class that would come to have the most influence on my life ever, yet he will never know it. I wish I could remember more of what happened or who he was.

He mentioned he was vegetarian and me not understanding why anyone would be that, I asked why. He told me about A Diet for a New America and how this book changed his life. Curious, I asked my parents to get me it for Christmas.  My dad having owned several health food stores in Vancouver and knowing about it, concurred that it was indeed a must-read.

It was written by John Robbins, the son of one of the part-owners of the Baskin Robbins ice cream chain. It was the first book in the ’80’s I believe to expose factory farming to the public and the demise of the family farm.

Diet For A New America

Diet For A New America

I read it in between calls while working in a call centre and during nights after school. I wasn’t even half way through before I quit eating meat. I literally quit cold turkey; pun intended!

The book opened my eyes incredibly. I couldn’t believe the things they did to animals which were considered standard practice, like castrating piglets with scissors and docking their tails without any anesthesia. We wouldn’t dare do such things to dogs, so why is it ok for pigs? In the new age of farming, or rather factory farming, animals are nothing more than dollars signs, and treated like discarded broccoli.

It was the perfect book to read while going through business school. It taught me about how businesses try to keep sensitive information (like this) behind closed doors so the public never questions it.

When I started being a vegetarian, it was for animal rights reasons. I didn’t know there were health or environmental benefits at the time.

As a kid, I had always been curious about where our meat came from. My mom always reassured me that food animals were humanely killed and never suffered.  I never really bought that that though.  I mean, we are talking about killing here, how could that happen so peacefully in a dirty slaughterhouse? It’s not like the pigs and cows are jumping for joy on their way to be stabbed at the slaughterhouse.

I grew up with pets. They know damn well when something frightening is coming, like pulling the vacuum out of the closet or taking them to the vet. They react, whether by putting their tails between their legs or running away and hiding. Chickens, pigs and cows are no different. They are living beings after all.

Piglet tail docking without pain killers

Piglet tail docking without pain killers

About a year or two later, I had the pleasure of meeting Ingrid Newkirk, the founder of PETA who spoke at Concordia University in Montreal.

I remember walking into the theatre, passing some tables with vegan literature on them and saying to myself, “Pfff I’ll never become a vegan“. On my way out, I remember saying “F* now I have to be a vegan”.

Mother cow seperated from calf

I had never realized the link between milk and veal. Of course, it all makes sense now. The only reason cows produce milk is because they’re impregnated. How do you keep a cow lactating? Well, she has to give birth of course, and thus, the veal industry was created.

I’m proud to say I’ve never eaten veal in my life. My mom forbid it in our house saying that is where she drew the line at animal cruelty. Baby calves stolen away from their moms minutes after birth, chained to live in darkness and fed a diet to purposely make them anemic so their flesh would be tender. Ugh, the thought just disgusts me. Maybe it’s because I’m female and one day, I’ll have children, but I can’t imagine the pain and suffering the female cow goes through, losing her baby after she gives birth. So technically, if I continued to drink milk, I was being a hypocrite as that is what keeps the veal industry in business.

Welcome organic soy, rice and almond milk. And in case you thought dairy was necessary for calcium intake, dairy actually has little to no benefit preventing osteoporosis yet comes with a wealth of potential health concerns.

Several years later, I learned about the health and environmental benefits of a vegetarian diet. I also noticed the sharp increase in my immune system and the decrease in the number of colds I got.  To be honest, even if vegetarianism was harmful for the environment, I’d still do it for the animal factor, but the fact that it’s not only better for my health but also for the environment, just reinforces that I’m making the right decision.

Keleigh and I reunited in Phoenix both as vegetarians

Keleigh and I reunited in Phoenix both as vegetarians 10 years later

What’s funny is that most of my closest friends in life, when I met them 10 years later at my high school reunion in Vancouver or my college reunion in Phoenix, had also turned vegetarian, not to mention my sisters’ friends and my mom’s best friend. It seems so common to be vegetarian these days. I know so many and they’re normal people who wear make-up, party and work hard. The days of  vegetarianism being for the unshaven hippies are long gone.

Have I gone through awkward social moments? Absolutely! I’ve spent a lot of time in France and at fancy business dinners where you get the proverbial eyes being rolled at you or the ignorant questions like “But how do you get your protein” or what I like to call the caveman debate to which I like to reply, “Ever heard of evolution?“.

But these days, no matter what circle I’m in, I’m rarely the only vegetarian and most people are fairly educated on the topic, quick to ask questions like “Are you lacto-ovo?“, or  “Can you eat eggs?“. Now I get comments like “Ok, cool, have you tried “X” vegetarian restaurant” or “We love seitan” or “We really don’t eat that much meat!

Vegetarian food; just feels so right, so good for you, pure happiness

Vegetarian food; just feels so right, so good for you, pure happiness

To me it’s simple, if you don’t need meat to survive, can spare animal suffering and leave less of an ecological footprint on the planet, then why the hell wouldn’t you be vegetarian? Not to mention, you are so much healthier, sparing yourself from heart disease, high-cholesterol, certain cancers, (most notably colon and breast), high-blood pressure, kidney problems, antibiotics from dairy (makes you antibiotic resistant), growth hormones from meat (loads of side effects here like children going into puberty at 5), and pesticide residues (which lodge in your fat cells).

Then there are what I like to call the sexy side-effects. Since you no longer have meat rotting in you, you smell better and well, taste better!

For more info on vegetarianism, including recipes, visit goveg.org, watch The New York Times best-selling author Kelly Freston discuss vegan health benefits on Oprah or for a fun read by two ex-models, read The New York Times Best-seller Skinny Bitch.

Five easy ways to be greener in 2011

Reflecting on being greener

Preserve our beautiful planet by adopting a green lifestyle

Here we are one month into 2011; have you kept your New Year’s resolutions?

Here’s an easy way to keep a resolution to yourself and to the planet with my
five (5) easy ways to be greener and I’m not talking about giving up your car. They’re what I consider the basics for green living and you’ll even save money.

  1. Reduce your waste – I’m not talking about recycling, I’m talking about reducing the need for a product to be disposed of in the first place, i.e. not consumed. For example, choose bar soap, over liquid soap (eliminate the plastic bottle), choose filtered water from home (transported in stainless steel containers) instead of bottled water or choose unpackaged fruits and veggies at the grocery store. Simple gestures like these add up and equal a lot less waste in our landfills.
  2. Upgrade to environmentally-friendly cleaning products – Finish up the current ones you have but replace them one-by-one with green cleaning products. These days, there are tons of brands available that are high-performing, grease-cutting, non-toxic and biodegradable so there’s no excuse not to use them. If you wouldn’t pour your conventional cleaning soaps into a lake when camping, why is it ok in the city? It ends up in our lakes and oceans anyways and slowly degrades aquatic life. Upgrade your dishwashing liquid, dishwasher soap, laundry detergent, all purpose spray (citrasolv is great) and use vinegar for windows and hardwood floors.
  3. Start composting – Composting is the best thing I have done in a long time. I have reduced my waste by 70%. Lots of alternatives exist from buying a composter for the backyard to municipal pick-ups. Call your city to see what your options are.
  4. Bring your lunch to work – So much of the daily waste we throw away is directly related to our food. Instead of throwing out plastic or Styrofoam containers from your lunch, plan your weekly meals out Sunday night and bring the leftovers to work in “glass” Tupperware. Important to use glass as it doesn’t leach pthalates (hormones disruptor’s found in plastics). And for those days when you didn’t prepare anything the night before, keep a Tupperware container in your drawer at work to take to your nearest café/restaurant so at least there’s no waste. No joke, I actually do this!
  5. Participate in Meatless Mondays – Reducing your meat consumption 1 day a week is a great  way to lower your eco-footprint. Consider this, you will save more water by not eating a pound of beef, than by not showering for 6 months! Regular meat eaters who cut out meat one day a week reduce their carbon footprint by 28.5% and according to Nancy Callan, a board member of Earthsave, “More greenhouse gasses can be prevented by going meatless one day a week than by eating locally seven days a week.” Pledge to reduce your meat consumption by participating in Meatless Monday USA or Meatless Monday Canada and see how good (and less bloated) you will feel!

How to reduce your eco-footprint, air pollution and waste by composting

Urban Green Girl with her compost bin

Me with my compost bin after the first week of composting

Happiness has arrived, I can finally compost at home. Since I started blogging back in 2008, I have wanted to start composting but since I didn’t have access to a garden, my options were limited.

I later discovered the Nature Mill indoor composter which composts the material automatically without having to stir it. But, I was still left not knowing what to do with it once it turned into actual compost, ready for the outdoors.

A few areas in my neighbourhood were able to participate in a test project, run in partnership with the city, but I lived two streets out of the test area.

Well, to my surprise, I found out that there is actually a local, private company called Compost Montreal (the first of it’s kind in North America) that actually picks up compost from residences and businesses in Montreal for $5 a week (cost for residences). Continue reading

How to stop receiving junk mail!

Fed up of junk mail? I am! Here's how you can reduce it!

When the bulk of your mail is junk, it makes you question how many trees were cut down just to be thrown out.  And to make matters worse, my mail box is not only filled with my junk mail, but that for the previous two tenants despite efforts to “return to sender”.

In order to help you go green and stop the insanity that is junk mail, here are some quick and easy steps you can take.

First things first, we need to make a distinction about the 2 types of junk mail; addressed and unaddressed.  Addressed mail (admail as referred to by direct marketers) is addressed to you with your name and address. This is because you appear on a mailing list somewhere.  Unaddressed mail, is pure junk, usually in the form of grocery store flyers, flyers from realtors and anything else that is unsolicited.

Continue reading