Wednesday, April 29, 2009

World Hunger : Not just an international issue


In my efforts to contribute to the Unite for Hunger and Hope event, I did a bit of research on the topic to get numbers, facts and figures. I was hit by a great rush of sites and sources that sent my head spinning. Dying children in Africa, droughts that are making growing grains harder and harder, innumerable numbers of causes, organizations, campaigns…And of all the shocking information I found, these hit home :

According to Food Banks Canada, over 70,000 Canadians need food banks in Canada to eat every month. Out of those, 50.3% are families with children, because children under the age of 18 years old count for 37% of that number.

Food Banks Canada defines “working poor” as families where work does not pay enough to live and eat. 1.9 million families in Canada fit that definition. That number having increased from 6% in 1989 to 14,5% in 2008.

For all my readers that are not Canadian, keep in mind that the population of Canada is just a bit over 33,6 million.

I found the defintion of FOOD SECURITY on Meal Exchange :

“Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.”

The five components of food security are as follows :
  1. Availability: Sufficient food for all people at all times;
  2. Accessibility: Physical and economic access to food for all at all times;
  3. Adequacy: Access to food that is nutritious and safe, and produced in environmentally sustainable ways.
  4. Acceptability: Access to culturally acceptable food, which is produced and obtained in ways that do not compromise people's dignity, self-respect or human rights.
  5. Agency: The policies and processes that enable the achievement of food security.
Unfortunately, even in Canada, one of the richest countries in the world, food insecurity exists because of unequal distribution of food, waste, unsustainable food producing, trade restrictions and policies on exports and imports and poverty.

The causes of poverty in Canada, according to Food Banks Canada, are surprising and many :
  • Shortage of full-time jobs with stable, livable wages
  • Income security system that fails to protect those in need
  • Lack of affordable social housing
  • Lack of affordable and accessible child care
I know some of you may think that this doesn’t fit the bill. But I think there are a lot of poor and hungry people everywhere. As important as it is to think and give globally, local action is also important. So in an effort to help today, I will invite ALL OF YOU to not only get better acquainted with the reality of hunger worldwide, but to also find your closes food bank and donate a bag of groceries!


Thank you for reading.

What will you do to help fight hunger in your city/country?

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Purifying your home with plants - Volatile organic compounds and how plants can help!

So in an effort to help with making my home a better and safer place, I've decided to join 2 of my greatest passions (Horticulture and Green living) and write about plants and their ability to purify your living space.

According to studies conducted by NASA and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the early 70s and 80s, researchers found more than 300 VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that we breathe in everyday. The scary part is that these VOCs were found outdoors and indoors. Not only have these toxins been known to cause allergic reactions, but they can also be linked to illnesses such as cancer.

I had already started looking into in-home toxins and their sources when I wrote one of my first blogs about PVC shower curtains. But after attending an expo where someone was passing out flyers about the top purifying plants to have in your home (which I will get into later), I decided to do more research on how they do it and how to make them work for me. Here are a few things I found out.

Let’s start with sources of VOCs in your homes and how to already take a step towards lowering your exposure. According to the EPA, main sources for these compounds are everyday household products such as paints and solvents, wood preservatives, aerosols, cleansers and disinfectants, bug sprays and air fresheners, stored containers of fuels, automotive products in your garages, hobby supplies such as glues and dry-cleaned clothing to name a few. If you are like me, venturing to be green, you have long since given up toxic cleaning products under your sink and you choose to hand wash and air dry your finer garments. But all of us have painted walls, varnished furniture and some super glue somewhere in case of breaks. We can't exactly start ripping apart our home, so what can we do?

Plants are a great way to help balance everything out. Now all plants can contribute to cleaner air in a home by the simple photosynthetic act of absorbing CO2 and releasing oxygen. But certain plants are actually also particularly good at absorbing some of the most common VOCs like :

  • Formaldehyde - found mostly in plywood and press wood products, glues, paints, etc.
  • Benzene - found in solvents and paints.
  • Ammonia - found in many cleaning products.
  • Trichloroethylene - found in solvents.
  • Pentachlorophenol (PCPs) - found in wood preservatives and some disinfectants.
  • Carbon monoxide - naturally produced by the human body, but found in excess due to wood and gas burning stoves and fireplaces, car exhaust (when starting your car with the garage door closed), furnaces, water heaters, generators.

So what are these super plants? According to Gilles Pelletier, indoor horticulturist, (whom I’ve already quoted in my post on home made bug repellants) here are his top plants to have in your home :

  • Ficus – To help with neutralizing formaldehyde.
  • English Ivy – Very efficient at removing benzene from the air.
  • Palms – Many of the dwarf palms have the ability of removing both ammonia and formaldehyde from your in home air. Recommended for kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Ferns – Great for most VOCs.
  • Chrysanthemums - Are great for trapping trichloroethylene. A must for any freshly painted room.
  • Spider Plants – a great purifier for removing formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.
  • Philodendrons – Great for removing trichloroethylene and PCPs.
  • Pothos – The super plant! Can remove 90% of excess carbon monoxide in 24 hours.

Now keep in mind that having one or 2 plants for your home will not be enough. While doing research on this, I found multiple sources that recommend an average of 15 to 20 plants in order to have a clean and healthy home. If you are like me, that isn’t much… I have plants on almost every elevated surface of my home (so the cats won’t eat them!). But if this seems like a lot, than concentrate on a few good ones and take the habit of airing out your home. But on a side note : Studies have shown that people that have lots of house plants in their everyday environment are more relaxed and productive, so maybe having lots of plants would be a great way to improve not only your air quality, but your quality of life in general!

Hope this was informative and I look forward to reading your thoughts and comments.

What plants to you generally keep in your home?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Our garden –Year 2 : The first days of work…

I hope you all will humor me; this will be a life blogging moment instead of one of my usual tips and ideas ones.

The temperature in Quebec City jumped 18 degrees Celsius this week-end and we went from early spring to “feels like summer” weather! So my husband decided that this was it! We were starting the gardening season. Of course, we meant prep work (we will still be getting nights of frost until the end of May) but we worked hard, making our garden plots ready for planting.

On Saturday, we went to my parents for dinner and my dad and husband diligently worked on our new composter. We went all around the home improvement stores and all we could find, in our price range, were plastic compost bins. Now, with trying to create a greener life for ourselves, as much as I understand the durability of the plastic bin, we just could not get ourselves to buy one. So with the price of the pre-made wooden bins, we decided to use all recycled natural pin wood we had here from an old bonsai growing shelf we had built and voilà! It turned out wonderfully.

By the way… Making a compost bin is super easy! Just make sure that you always use untreated-unpainted-unvarnished wood! Any treatment on wood will contaminate the actual compost!

Now today was the really hard job! We only had a 10 X 12 ft. plot at our community garden last year and were able to square away a 10 X 24 extra one this year! But the people that had it before us did not tend to it very well last year so we knew we had a day ahead of us. But as you can see it all went wonderfully.

Our goal is to be at least 75% self sufficient for vegetables this summer. Here is a list of what we will be planting :

  • Tomatoes (7 different varieties)
  • Cucumbers (3 different varieties)
  • Onions
  • Shallots
  • Peas (3 different varieties)
  • Beans (3 different varieties)
  • Collard greens
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Zucchinis
  • Herbs
  • Asparagus (which we will not be able to eat until next year unfortunately)

For the rest of our veggie needs, the organic farmers market will open here in just 2 months and all will be well.

I hope all of you had a wonderful week-end!

What veggies, fruits and plants are you growing this year?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Getting rid of bugs in your house plants the natural way

So last week-end, we were at a plant expo and we met a really nice guy who is an interior horticulturist with a green side. His name is Gilles Pelletier and his business is “how to make the most of your urban space” when it comes to plants and urban gardens spaces.

One of his little impromptu information sessions was about natural home made solutions to take care or bugs, fungus and mildew in your house plants. Here are a few of the products and recipes that he suggested :

Garlic :
Insecticide - Takes care of mites and aphids.
Mix 1 tablespoon garlic juice and 1 teaspoon rubbing alcohol with 3 litres (12 cups) of water.
Spray immediately.

Baking soda :
Fungicide and bactericide : Takes care of anthracnose, oidium and mildew.
Mix 4 tablespoons of baking soda and 4 tablespoons of dishwashing soap in 4 litres (16 cups) of water.
Spray every 7 days for 3 weeks.

Potato starch :
Insecticide and fungicide : Takes care of mites, aphids, thrips, and white fly.
Mix 4 tablespoons of starch and 2 or 3 drops of dishwashing soap in 1 litre (4 cups) of water.
Spray. Rinse after a few days to remove the residue.

Mustard powder :
Insecticide : Takes care of mites, aphids and scales.
Mix 1 teaspoon mustard powder and a few drops of dishwashing soap with 1 litre (4 cups) of water.

Cinnamon :
Fungicide : Takes care of mildew and crown rot.
Mix 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder in 1 litre (4 cups) of water and let stand until the cinnamon looks like a softer pace at the bottom of the container.
Spray the leaves and water the soil.

Hope this was useful at helping with our little indoor visitors.

What do you use to help control insects indoors?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Since one of our Earth Day activities is to have a electronics-free day, I will sign off until thursday.

I wish all of you a wonderful day. I look forward to reading about all the ways you celebrated!

Lets really make EVERY DAY EARTH DAY! And lets start with tomorrow as our new beginning.


Your refrigerator : A few ways to make it more energy efficient

Good morning everyone! I was reading a little bit about home appliances and decided to share a few thoughts with you.

If you are like me, you want to be on top of your energy consumption and buy all Energy Star rated appliances, but it’s not always so easy. Everybody’s budget is different and even though we do eventually plan on changing all of them, we have been going at it one at a time. We started by the washer-dryer because to us, that was the first one to come in. With all the water wasted in conventional washing machine, which was a no brainer.

Thinking of which one to buy next is my inspiration for this blog.

Did you know…

That according to Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency, the average refrigerator sold in Canada used up 487 kWh?

Now here was the surprising part : Most models that are sold with the Energy Star label only cut the energy consumption by an average of 10%.

After reading this, I started thinking that although 10% less is 10% less, there had to be ways to make my existing fridge more efficient itself.

Here are a few tips I found in a book titled 365 gestes pour sauver la Terre (365 things you can do to save the Earth) by Philippe Bourseiller that will help me, and hopefully you, cut down on energy use :

  • Don’t position your fridge near a heat source like a the stove or a radiator.
  • Do not position your fridge in the light of a south facing window.
  • Don’t put in the fridge foods that are still hot. Let them cool down to room temperature before placing them in the fridge.
  • Do not overheat your kitchen. Keep the ambient temperature a few degrees lower than the rest of the house. Cooking and baking will easily make up the difference anyway.

I hope these little hints will help in making your kitchen a bit more energy friendly!

What steps do you take to make your appliances work better and more efficiently?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Our garden –Year 2 : Eggshells, the wonder trash

A little snippet for all of you this morning in my garden series.

Last year in our garden was a year of learning. It was the first year that we had a plot at the local community garden and unfortunately, it did not yield much. I would like to blame the horrible weather we had that year (we got almost 493 millimeters – over 19 inches – of rain last summer) but I know that a lot of it was our lack of experience and knowledge.

But like all good students of a new art form, we observed a lot of the more experience gardeners around us and one thing we quickly noted was all of them walking around, early in the season, with buckets full of crushed eggshells that they would sprinkle around all their plants.

Turns out, like bone meal, egg shells are a great calcium source for your soil. Calcium deficiency is one of the most common problems in gardens. What it does is to make the roots weak and then, you end up with a root system that is unable to sustain a healthy plant. According to Calcium Deficiency in Organic Vegetable Gardens - Natural Garden Solutions for Your Green Lifestyle, a wonderful article by Deborah Aldridge :

Calcium deficiency symptoms in organic vegetable garden plants is very noticeable, but may be misdiagnosed, as some symptoms, such as browning of young leaf margins and leaf curling, can also be associated with other deficiencies and diseases. However, if these early symptoms are not treated, it can lead to the death of the terminal bud and root tips.

A very common and easily recognizable symptom of calcium deficiency is blossom end rot, which usually shows itself on peppers and tomatoes. Blossom end rot begins with a decayed brown spot on the blossom end of the fruit. Sometimes, not all the fruit is affected. Feeding with a fertilizer too high in nitrogen can also cause blossom end rot.

You are probably thinking they are already pretty amazing little scraps. But that is not all!

Fun fact : Did you know that if you sprinkle broken eggshells around your more delicate plants, they will keep away slugs and snails?

So as you are making your Sunday eggs this morning, think of rinsing the shells and setting them to dry. You will reduce waste and grow happier, healthier vegetables this summer.

What natural, organic ways have you found to keep your garden and flower beds happy and healthy?


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Make your ink cartridge last : Use ECOFONT

So, a blog I really like called The Buzz recently put together a list of ways to reduce your office carbon footprint and one of them was simply too fun I had to share :

The ecofont was developed by a creative communication agency named SPRANQ (based in the Netherlands) that wanted to find a way to use less ink on a daily basis. In this case, 20% less!

The font is based on the Sans Serif Verdana font, widely used in a business context (I know Verdana is the default font at our office), and is better used at sizes 9 or 10. Up close, you may say it's not very nice looking, but used at its intended size, it's very readable and easy on the eyes.

The font is a free download and can be installed on Windows Vista, Windows XP, Mac OS X and Linux platforms. So take 2 minutes and make ecofont your default font at home and work. Save some money on ink and offset carbon for a greener world.

What environmental measures do you or your place of work take to reduce your carbon footprint?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Avalon Organics Peppermint Deodorant - Product Review

So I decided to share another little product review with all of you before heading out to work.

One of the hardest things I've had to face since striving to go green has been deodorants. When I read about the aluminum and petroleum derivatives in antiperspirants could be linked to breast cancer (although sources seem to argue both sides), I decided why take chances.

But switching and finding the right natural deodorant has been proving harder than I could have imagined and since it can get very costly to try and try and try again, I decided to share with you thoughts on the ones I will try and maybe save you some money in the process.

My first attempt was with Avalon Organics Peppermint Deodorant.

At first, I thought it was great! The smell is wonderful and it gave me a cool sensation when I applied it. I thought it was a bit runny and it takes a little while longer to dry, but that was to be expected without all the chemicals in there. I tried it around the house that first week-end and reapplied only once midday and was satisfied enough to wear it out the following Monday at work.

Well, what I quickly found out was that “home-testing” and “real-world testing” are 2 very different things. I unfortunately found myself having to reapply 2-3 times and on that one faithful day I was in a long meeting when the time to reapply came… well… I don’t have to tell you about the embarrassing details.

Now there is a small chance that it was the fragrance that did not suit me. Maybe if I would try one of their other fragrances (they also have lemon, rosemary, wild yam and lavender), but for me, it is not worth the money.

Now I am still using it : AT HOME ON THE WEEK-ENDS! But I would not recommend it for everyday use.

Now please keep in mind that this is not a negative review on ALL Avalon Organics products.

What brands of deodorants have you tried?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

EARTH DAY - April 22, 2009

So 7 days and it will be Earth Day.

Now I know what you all are thinking : "Everyday should be Earth Day!" and I truly do agree. But to make it more official and to make an extra effort, my husband and I sat down tonight and decided on actions we would take as a couple to make the day's impact more. I thought I would share them with you.

  • Now although my husband and I already are a one car household (my husband taking the car because of his crazy / pre-bus schedule) and I carpool to work everyday, we have decided that April 22nd would be a good day to cut-the-car-taking all together! My husband has decided to make Earth Day his first "Ride-my-bike-into-work" day and I have decided to walk. Now I admire my husband because for him it is a 40 kilometers (24 miles) round trip when it is only a few miles back and from work for me, but I think it will be a nice gesture and help us get back into our summer swing where we walk and bike everyday.
  • We have also decided that it will be an electronics-free day : That is right! No computers, tvs, radios at all. We have decided to truly embrace the simple quiet of our home and take the time to catch up on the things that we never find time to do. My husband has been teaching me to play chess and with an evening's practice, I just MAY finally beat him! *Now keep in mind that we will still be using computers at work, we can't exactly go into work and say NO! But I figure for all the electronics that will not be working at the house for 24 hours, we will still make an impact!*
  • We have also decided all foods eaten that day will be organic and uncooked. Raw simple foods are good for the body, mind and soul. Plus, not running ovens, microwaves, grills, etc., will lower your carbon footprint.

If I could make a suggestion : For all of you that are not vegetarians, try going without meat for Earth Day! Did you know that, according to Défi Climat 2009, eliminating 4 meals containing meats a week will reduce your carbon footprint by over 400 kg (almost 900 lbs) of CO2 a year! For a family of 4, that is almost 2 US tons a year!!!

I hope you are all going to take the time and think of things you can do to help with lowering your own carbon footprint for the day and that you will join us in trying to make a difference!

Although everyday should be Earth Day, April 22, 2009 is a great place to start!

Happy greening...

What actions will you take on Earth Day?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Bionature Fruit & Vegetable Cleaner : Product Review

To follow up on my organic produce post from this past week-end, I wanted to offer a suggestion to cut down on the amount of impurities and chemicals that might come with your favorite fruits and veggies.

Bionature Ecological Fruit & Vegetable Cleaner is a wonderful product that removes dirt, waxes and chemicals from the surface of your produce. Even when you buy organic, there is still a great deal of manipulation that goes into the selling of the items themselves. A good fruit and veggie wash can remove a great deal of residue and give you healthier foods to eat.

Bionature Ecological Fruit & Vegetable Cleaner is :

  • Certified non-toxic
  • Biodegradable
  • Non-carcinogenic
  • Phosphate and NTA Free
  • Dye and formaldehyde free
  • Made from all plant based ingredients
  • Not tested on animals

It works wonderfully and rinses clean in just a few seconds. We’ve had our bottle for a while now and have barely started seeing it go down. One spray per fruit or veggie is all you need and it doesn’t alter the taste in any way. And at 7$ a 1 litre bottle (32 oz), it is a steal.

Now keep in mind : Produce grown with pesticides will not be pesticide free by using this wash. But you can at least eliminate a lot of the harmful residues that stay on the surface of your fruits and vegetables.

If you are elsewhere than Canada and don’t have access to Bionature as a company, go to your local natural food store and ask them about similar washes. You will be happy you did.

What steps do you take to make your everyday purchases healthier and safer?

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Vitamin Wheel : A fun interactive to way to learn how to eat better

I was browsing the web and found this as a little tool to share. I thought it was interesting. Hope all of you will take the time to check it out.

Here is to eating better and staying healthy and green!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Produce and pesticides : What to buy organic if you can't buy it all

As I’ve mentioned before when I started this blog, I know how hard it is to try and make all the changes needed for a greener lifestyle. Sometimes it can be very overwhelming and trying to do it all at once can just be frustrating. Not to mention that suddenly buying everything organic can mean a major adjustment to the grocery shopping budget and going at it gradually can help you slowly incorporate smarter, healthier choices, without breaking the bank.

But where to start?

I’ve decided to start with produce. I did a little research and came upon quite a few varying resources for produce and their high or low pesticide ratings. So I considered the sources themselves and decided to compare them and it seems like many sites seem to agree with the EWG's (Environmental Working Group) Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides – Dirty dozen and Clean 15.

According to the guide, here are 12 fruits and vegetables that you should buy organic :

  1. Peach
  2. Apple
  3. Bell pepper
  4. Celery
  5. Nectarine
  6. Strawberries
  7. Cherries
  8. Kale
  9. Lettuce
  10. Grapes (Imported)
  11. Carrot
  12. Pear
And here are 15 fruits and vegetable that are lowest in pesticides :

  1. Onion
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Sweet peas
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Papaya
  12. Watermelon
  13. Broccoli
  14. Tomato
  15. Sweet potato
For a full listing of all tested produce, click here!

Now, I list these with some reserves. I have found some contradictory information on other sites. The same main culprits are often there, but they sometimes have different rankings. I guess the first steps for all is to really start reading labels and packaging. Study what is available to you, look for healthy alternatives.

In the best of worlds, we would buy everything from organic sources, but if you can’t, try and concentrate on the ones that are most damaging and go from there.

Shop smart and be healthy.

Which produce do you already buy organic?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Our garden - Year 2 : Attracting beneficial insects to help with pest control

Well, after all the rain we’ve gotten in the last few weeks, the snow here has been melting at a ridiculous rate. With the sun finally out today, I decided to take a nice walk to venture into our community garden and see how much snow was still there and if some of our early bulbs had started to show their little green heads.

As I was walking, I was thinking of flowers, fruits and veggies I would soon plant and it reminded me of a wonderful conference my husband and I attended last week-end on “How to attract beneficial insects into your gardens”. Now, the conference was in French and the book that the facts are taken from is titled Attirer la faune au jardin : insectes bénéfiques, papillons, grenouilles et oiseaux dans votre cour (Attract fauna in the garden : beneficial insects, butterflies, frogs and birds in your yard) by Albert Mondor and Daniel Gingras, but I decided to translate and share with you a few of the facts we picked up.


At the very root of the matter, all bugs, in the bug kingdom, are beneficial. Every insect is food for another living thing; every one plays its part. In the human world, it is another story all together but...

Did you know that…
Only 0.05% of insects on the planet are non-beneficial/harmful to humans?

We are talking insects that carry diseases like West Nile and malaria carried by mosquitoes, lime disease by ticks, lice, etc. But those are a miniscule fraction of insects on earth and the rest of them can be quite effective with ecological population control, at helping with invading plant life and they actively participate in the decomposition and recycling of organic matter into yummy composted soil.

Beneficial insects we commonly come across are the following :

Spiders :
40 – 70 % of insects caught in spider webs are non-beneficial (mosquitoes being one of them).

Ladybugs :
Both adults and their larvae are powerful pest controlling agents. 60% of their combined diets consist of aphids. Adult ladybugs can eat up to 1000 aphids a day.

Green lacewings :
One of the most beneficial, although hard to attract, insects. Their larvae will eat everything from aphids to scales, including spider mite eggs, thrips and white flies. They are hard to attract because they are very delicate and fall victim to predators like birds, but you can build bug shelters with openings only big enough for them and hang them in your garden. I found a fun little how-to sheet on a UK gardening site that you can check out.

Ants :
I know *shivers*, but they are wonderful for plants. They are true protectors because a small colony can eat thousands upon thousands of insect eggs a day and they will never ever touch the plants. Plus, like earth worms, they aerate the soil very well.

So how do you attract all these wonderful little helpers?

  • Have a good variety of different plants to offer something to everyone.
  • Have different sized plants to attract all kinds of little helpers.
  • Flower and plant families that are very popular to use are Umbelliferae (including angelica, anise, celery, dill, cumin, carrots, etc.), Labiatae (including aromatic herbs like basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, thyme and lavender, etc.) and Asteraceae (or Compositae) which is the daisy and sunflower family.

I hope this was a useful article for all of you.

A new way to look at insects may give you a whole new freedom in your garden this year! Hopefully you’ll take a few steps towards attracting the good kind and in the process, reduce (or *fingers crossed*) eliminate the need for insecticides!

What steps will you take this summer to make your gardens and flower beds a green place?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Oven Baked Tradition : Holistic food for your pets - Product review

My friends know (and my readers will soon find out), I love my pets! Nothing is too good for them, so when I found out that the food I was giving them and that the vet was telling me to buy was more than likely making them ill, I started thinking differently about how I feed them.

There are more and more holistic foods for pets now and I decided that if I was gonna go green and natural, then my cats would too. After a lot of searching, I found a food that is worth talking about :

Oven Baked Tradition is a Saint-Hyacinthe, Québec based company that have included the ancient principal of holistic well-being to their dog and cat food formulas. Their approach includes disease prevention and general health through fresh meats and fish, whole grains, fruits and vegetable that have essential vitamins and minerals and naturally occurring probiotic fibers.

My cats, identical twins down to their skin problems and sensitive stomachs, struggled all their lives while I transitioned from food to food, trying to find one that would fit just right. I later found out that all the “specialty foods” that the vets were making me buy were filled with ingredients that were known allergens and that work against our pets digestive systems.

Oven Baked Tradition is :

  • FREE OF WHEAT AND CORN GLUTEN No risk of contamination (melamine).
  • WHEAT FREE Less risks for allergies or intolerances.
  • CORN FREE Less risks for allergies or intolerances.
  • SOY FREE Less risks for allergies or intolerances.
  • BEEF FREE Your dog is not exposed to ESB (mad cow disease).
  • FREE OF PRESERVATIVES No BHA/BHT. No ethoxyquin (EQ or ℮). A lot of cats have severe reactions to these chemicals.
And at less than 20$ for a 6 lbs (2.72 kg) bag, they cost less than the vet stuff! My cats are happier, their coats are nice and soft, they haven’t had any stomach incidents since we have switched and they are licking their bowl clean!

In my book, this is a wonderful product!

Hope this was helpful!

What steps do all of you take to give your pets a greener life?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Recycling plastics: How to read and understand recycling symbols

So, I’m pretty sure most of you already recycle plastic on a daily basis. If you don’t, here are a few facts on plastic waste in the United States that I got off a blog I found called Say No to Plastic:

  • A plastic milk jug takes 1 million years to decompose.
  • A plastic cup can take 50 - 80 years to decompose.
  • Americans use 2.5 million plastic bottles every HOUR.
  • Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as 1 million sea creatures every year.
  • Today, Americans generate 10.5 million tons of plastic waste a year but recycle only 1 or 2% of it.
  • An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash, much of it plastic, is dumped in the world’s oceans every year.
  • The worldwide fishing industry dumps an estimated 150,000 tons of plastic into the ocean each year, including packaging, plastic nets, lines, and buoys.
  • Each of us creates 1,500 lbs of trash every year that has to be disposed of much of it could be recycled.
  • Every year we make enough plastic film to shrink-wrap the state of Texas.

In Canada alone, according to the Waste Reduction Week website, we as a population take home over 55 million plastic shopping bags every WEEK.

Recycling is available almost everywhere now. But all plastics are different and not always as readily recyclable in certain areas. We’ve all noticed the little triangle with a number in the middle and letters underneath. But many of us think “recycling symbol means recycling bin”… It is not always so.

Here is a breakdown of recycling symbols to help you buy products sold in containers that you will be able to recycle and that won’t be harmful to your health:

• 1 : polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE)
• 2 : high density polyethylene (HDPE)
• 3 : polyvinyl chloride (V or PVC)
• 4 : low density polyethylene (LDPE)
• 5 : polypropylene (PP)
• 6 : polystyrene (PS)
• 7 : other (various polycarbonate)

Now, the safest plastics, and the ones you’ll eventually want to reuse, are labeled 2(HDPE), 4(LDPE) and 5(PP). Extensive research has shown no leaching of chemicals. This is why most containers (condiments, squeezable bottles, etc.) are made from them. Keep in mind that number 5 plastics, although not so harmful once produced, they are very harmful during productions and are not always readily recyclable.

Now, 1(PETE) is one of the most widely used and recyclable plastic (water bottles and soft drink bottles are made of it) and are safe for users, they are not designed to be reused. After a certain time, the chemicals in the plastic will start breaking down and that’s when they start becoming harmful. They are also known for harboring bacterial growth, so if you must buy water bottles, do not reuse them over and over again. Just throw them in the bin.

Now the ones you REALLY don’t want are 3(PVC), 6(PS) and 7(OTHER). These are the ones that have very dangerous toxins and are very rarely accepted in recycling programs. If you guys have read my shower curtain post I don’t need to tell you how bad these are for you.

So next time you are at the grocery store and you are buying your plastic packaged goods, flip the jars and bottles over. You will help the environment by choosing plastics that are easily recyclable and will in the process take batter care of your health.

Hope this was interesting for you guys: Be safe and green!