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Coffee Cups, Sleeves & Lids – Recyclable or Garbage?

As of 2016 the City of Calgary changed the recycling options expanded recycling to coffee sleeves and cups.

Coffee Lids

Yes it’s true, you must put coffee cup lids in the garbage. Even if they have a recycling symbol on it. The issue is that the lids are too small and light to be sorted properly at the Calgary recycling facility. The lids just blow around and actually cause issues within the recycled goods processing plant.

Paper cups & sleeves

You can recycle the cups and sleeves in your blue cart or community recycling depot. Some coffee shops in Calgary (e.g. Purple Perk) are now using the Earth Cup or the Planet + cup which is 100% biodegradable. The lining of these cups is made from plant based materials vs. a wax coating.

The cup is paper, why can’t it be composted?

Paper cups have a plastic lining to prevent the container from becoming soggy. The City of Calgary requests to ensure we are creating the highest quality compost possible to not add this item to the green cart.

The Earth and Planet + cups are biodegradable BUT they still need to be recycled in the blue bins and NOT in the compost green bin. The composting process in Calgary cannot accommodate the biodegradable packaging from restaurants like take out containers and cups. The biodegradable packaging takes too long to compost compared to food waste and disrupts the composting process.

Reusable cups are a much better approach

The best option is still to avoid needing a cup altogether by bringing a reusable cup (plastic or ceramic) or dining in and drinking your coffee out of a ceramic cup in house. A great option for a reusable cup is the cups by Ecoffee, KeepCup, which are made from Bamboo and other sustainable materials such as glass and cork.

Tip: Did you know you will save $0.10-0.20 off your coffee in most coffee shops by bringing your own reusable cup?

References:

1.http://www.calgary.ca/UEP/WRS/Pages/What-goes-where/Paper-Cups.aspx 2. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/paper-cups-recycle-blue-bin-calgary-1.3790711

Phillip Adam – Body Wash

Product Description:

  • SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate ) and paraben free, biodegradable formula
  • Unscented, orange vanilla, verbena sage and lavender scent options
  • Cruelty free (no animal testing or animal products used)
  • Bottle made with recycled plastic
  • Made with plant-based ingredients
  • Today, Phillip Adam Inc. is still a family-run company. It’s based in Vancouver and run by Phillip with the help of his wife Judy and daughter Nicola. 

Pros: Unscented and scented options, only a small amount is needed, 100% biodegradable which makes it a great option if you are camping/traveling and need to shower outdoors, made in Canada, 1L options available

Cons:  medium cost for size of bottle compared to similar products, only available in bulk size via website (I have not found a local Calgary vendor who sells the larger 1L options)

Where to buy in Calgary: Co-Op, Suntera, Community Foods, Planet Organic

Where to buy online: Phillip Adam website, Amazon (affiliate link)

Overall rating: 4.5/5

From grapes to wine – how to make an indulgence more eco sustainable

I love wine! Don’t you? It’s a delightful addition to many meals and social occasions, a medium to great conversation and flavor enhancement. Being eco-conscious, I wondered what is the carbon footprint of wine? Through the years I’ve done quite a lot of research and as a result I have changed my choices around my wine selections.

The wine footprint story:

  • grapes don’t require the copious amounts of fertilizers to grow that other crops such as corn do
  • organic wines are grown without fertilizer or use of pesticides
  • wine grown using biodynamic certified practices use organic practices and emphasizes biodiversity and ecosystem preservation
  • the carbon dioxide released from the fermentation of wine grapes makes up an insignificant percentage of the total emissions associated with wine production
  • the biggest source of greenhouse gases from wine is in transporting wine to the consumer
  • transporting heavy glass bottles uses much more fuel, and therefore has a bigger impact, than lighter glass or other alternative packaging (box, tetrapack, plastic)
  • transporting bulk wine (in kegs) has a smaller carbon footprint
  • transporting wine via land or ship vs. air is a lot more carbon efficient, wine clubs that ship 2-6 bottles of wine by air have a significant impact on the environment
  • Wines sold by the glass account for up to 80% of wine sold in restaurants, which equates to approximately 600 million bottles per year. Replacing just a fraction of that with kegs or other bulk packaging would save millions of bottles from the landfill
  • if vineyards and wineries use solar panels for power production they can reduce their electricity demand significantly

How can you reduce your carbon footprint with your wine choices?

  • Buy wines from the closest location possible (i.e wines made in B.C., California, Washington, Oregon) instead of from all across the world (i.e. Australia, Italy, Argentina)
  • Opt out of the wine club if the product is being air transported
  • Consider buying wine in alternative packaging from time to time – boxed wine can be great for camping or large social gatherings IF you can get past the teasing, your family and friends will definitely tease you (I know this from experience). In B.C. you can purchase some great boxed wine options, the selections are quite limited in A.B. There are also more wine can options on the market now and cans are a much more eco-friendly option than bottles. An article written in The Sacromento Bee described that more cans will likely be coming up on the market because the demand is increasing.
  • Try a few organic wine options and see if you enjoy them – I’ve tried a few and have found a couple that I enjoy. This will be dependent on which type of wine you enjoy as most organic options I have tried have been quite mellow in taste.
  • Restaurants in Calgary are using larger wine kegs for their house wine to reduce the number of glass bottles and to reduce waste from providing wine by the glass vs. bottle (i.e. Ten Foot Henry, Craft Market, Wurst, Charcut, Original Joes, Milestones, Cactus club).
  • California vineyards and wineries are leading the way in solar panel use and California accounts for 90% of the wine production in the United States. You can choose wines from the vineyards and wineries in California using solar panels which are listed on these two websites: Chester Energy and Wine Country Getaways. 
~ Cheers ~

References:

1. https://www.livescience.com/3041-carbon-footprint-wine.html
2. https://www.biodynamics.com/biodynamic-principles-and-practices
3. https://www.sonomacounty.com/articles/biodynamic-and-organic-wineries-sonoma-county
4. https://www.sestrasystems.com/carbon-footprint-of-a-bottle-of-wine/ 5.https://chesterenergyandpolicy.com/2017/11/06/solar-power-and-wineries-a-match-made-in-heaven-and-california/
6. http://winewitandwisdomswe.com/2016/01/06/politics-grapes-and-wines-carbon-footprint/

Pine needles could be turned into paint and food sweeteners

How many Christmas trees do you think are used in the world at Christmas? According to the National Christmas Tree Association, there are close to 350 million Christmas trees currently growing on Christmas tree farms in the United States alone and about 25 to 30 million real Christmas trees sold every year. There are about 8 million sold in the UK each year. That is a lot of trees just in these 2 countries.

There are no statistics available for the number of trees purchased Canada but there are statistics for how many trees Canada exports each year. In 2013 this number is over 1.5 million.

So what if these trees after the festive holidays are over could be used to make something useful for us?

As reported on Science Daily: “Cynthia Kartey, a PhD student from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, has found that useful products can be made from the chemicals extracted from pine needles when processed.

The major component (up to 85 per cent) of pine needles is a complex polymer known as lignocellulose. The complexity of this polymer makes using pine needles as a product for biomass energy unattractive and useless to most industrial processes.”

Cynthia’s research found a way around this issue. She figured out how to turn the complex structure into simple, high-valued industrial chemical feedstocks such as sugars and phenolics, which are used in products like household cleaners and mouthwash.

“Biorefineries would be able to use a relatively simple but unexplored process to break down the pine needles.”Cynthia Kartey

Maybe there is some hope to recover from our mass consumption over the holidays! Read more on the Science Daily website.

PrAna – clothing & accessories

PrAna makes clothing & other product that are fair trade certified, sustainable and environmentally conscious. They have organic cotton, responsible down and recycled wool. These are clothes you can really feel good buying! You may notice PrAna clothing are a bit more expensive than the comparable regular cotton (non-organic and non-fair trade) however this really is a reflection of the company paying for fair wages and using zero waste and environmentally sustainable production processes.

Clothing

PrAna makes clothing with the environment and clothing manufactures in mind. They create clothing for hiking, climbing, yoga, swimming/ beach wear and casual street wear. and Here are the top 4 reasons how their clothes are stand out in the fashion industry:

Organic cotton: What makes organic materials, like cotton, so much better than the conventional ones? Organic cotton is grown in a way that uses methods and materials that lessen the impact on our environment. A big effort in the organic movement is to use growing systems that replenish and maintain soil fertility and build biologically diverse agriculture. Organic cotton uses far less water too.

Fair Trade Certified

The main benefit of organic materials, however, is that the crops aren’t treated with pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and Genetically Modified Organisms. These toxins are harmful for farmers and workers, us as consumers, and entire wildlife eco-systems.

Responsible down: there is an international responsible down standard that PrAna follows to ensure that no animal cruelty occurs during the creation of the down clothing, There is audits, accountability and tracking of the animals used to ensure proper treatment.

Recycled wool: PrAna gives new life to old products by reusing materials so new animals do not have to be involved in generating clothing. This process diverts waste from the landfill and reduces overall energy consumption.

Fair Trade Certified: This certification means that you directly support farmers and factory workers and are giving them extra funds to help the company bridge the gap between living wage and minimum wage. Something of note is that in 2017, prAna’s Fair Trade Certified™ program gave back $150,000+ to 14,000+ workers around the world.

Yoga

Prana also makes yoga mats, blocks, straps, towels and mat holders.

Their yoga mats are textured so you don’t slip, made from non-Amazon harvested tree rubber that provides excellent grip in any pose, have firm cushioning for stability and are non-toxic. The yoga straps are fair trade certified (TM) and made from organic cotton.

Climbing

PrAna has a large selection of clothing that can be worn for hiking, climbing, casual clothes and yoga. They also make chalk bags! Their chalk bags types and styles vary in color, fabric and size. Most include a belt, brush holder and adjustable drawcord. The type of material does vary but most are made with 100% recycled polyester and nylon.

Totes

  1. The Cinch tote is a large bag that can be used for yoga and accessories, camping, grocery shopping or as a weekend/overnight bag. The dimensions are 39cm x 52cm and there is an interior removable bag that you can remove to clean anytime it’s needed. The material is made from 45% organic cotton (exterior) and 49% recycled hemp/ 23% organic cotton (interior) and the remaining material is hemp. The hemp and cotton blend make it lightweight and anti-ordor.
  2. The Slouch tote a medium sized bag and it is made with 100% organic cotton and vegetable tanned leather handle and buckles. It is a perfect size to replace a purse for all your travel and daytime accessory needs.

My favorite items

Where to buy

Where to buy in Calgary: Mountain Equipment Co-Op, Atmosphere, Calgary Climbing Centers, Nordstrom Chinook

Where to buy online: PrAna website or Amazon.

Note: most links are affiliate amazon links

Mrs Meyers Lavender Laundry Soap

Product description:

  • Concentrated detergent formula
  • Contains plant-derived cleaning ingredients with dirt and stain-fighting enzymes
  • 64 loads of laundry per bottle
  • Biodegradable, HE laundry detergent for use in high efficiency and conventional washing machines
  • Garden-fresh lavender scented laundry soap with an original and clean floral fragrance

Pros: Concentrated so only a small amount is needed per load of laundry (~1/4 cup), scent is very pleasant (if you enjoy scents in your laundry process), 100% biodegradable, inexpensive for amount of laundry loads per bottle.

Cons: The lid/top is different than most laundry soaps and this new design is easy to spill if you’re not mindful when pouring.

Where to buy in Calgary: Sobeys, Canadian Tire, London Drugs, City Market Sage Hill
Buy online on Amazon (affiliate link)

Overall rating: 4.5/5

How to Recycle Biodegradable Take Out Containers

Although the take out containers are marked “biodegradable” there’s more to the story about how they should to be recycled. The City of Calgary reports the biodegradable containers do not biodegrade fast enough for their composting process.

Where should you dispose of the containers?

  • Your blue recycle bin
  • Any city recycle bin areas (in the cardboard bin)
  • Your own compost bin

These containers are amazing and so much better than Styrofoam. Help city workers out by putting them in the right place so the composting project goes a lot smoother!

LEAF Certified Restaurants #YYC

There is a process restaurants can go through that is called “LEAF certification. LEAF certified restaurants have declared they are committed to the environment and providing a sustainable dining experience.

Each restaurant must undergo an on-site review by a LEAF Accredited Consultant and meet minimum requirements in ten key areas of sustainability including:

1. Energy use
2. Food purchasing and menu items
3. Supplies
4. Building and location
5. Furnishing and decorative items
6. Chemicals
7. Waste and recycling
8. Employees
9. Policy and innovation
10. Water use

In Calgary the current LEAF certified restaurants include:

  • Cafe Beano
  • Calgary Zoo
  • Community Natural Foods
  • Craft Beer Market
  • Fiasco
  • Taiko Taco
  • Mountain Mercato
  • Odyssey Coffehouse
  • River Cafe
  • Sait School of Hospitality and Tourism
  • Coup + Meet
  • Una Pizza and Wine
  • Heane House
  • J.Webb Wine Merchant

You can read more about the LEAF certification process on the LEAF website.

The Plastic Disaster

We know plastic is a huge issue in our world, it’s piling up so fast that there is not one country who really knows what the HECK to do with it. Well there might just be a solution, well not really. Read more in the Guardian this week read “The answer to plastic pollution…”

Here is an direct quote from the article to get your excitement to read more started:

“As holiday shopping ramps up, so do the dizzying varieties of plastic packaging tossed in recycling bins. And while we wish a Christmas miracle would transform this old garbage into something new, the reality is the waste left over from the holiday shopping frenzy is more likely than ever to end up in a landfill or incinerator.

Until January of this year, the United States and other Western countries were foisting their low-value plastic waste on to China, with little concern for the environmental degradation this caused. To protect its citizens from the burden of foreign pollution, in the beginning of this year, China refused to be the world’s dumping ground and effectively closed its doors to plastic waste imports.”

Not to ruin the surprise BUT the answer to the plastic pollution….is to CONSUME less There is no magic solution to this global plastic storm we have on our hands. China finally said “take care of your own waste” to the rest of the world and now we are scrambling to figure out how to do just that.

Carbon Food Print

BBC News just released a stellar article. You can calculate your carbon foot print from food and be either happily surprised or dismally disappointed!

This is a quote directly from the article to get you excited to read more:

“Cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by two-thirds, according to the Oxford study, published in the journal Science.

“What we eat is one of the most powerful drivers behind most of the world’s major environmental issues, whether it’s climate change or biodiversity loss,” study researcher Joseph Poore told BBC News.

“Changing your diet can make a big difference to your personal environmental footprint, from saving water to reducing pollution and the loss of forests, he said.

It reduces the amount of land required to produce your food by about 75% – that’s a huge reduction, particularly if you scale that up globally,” Poore explained.”

This chart is posted in the article:

Will this change your eating habits?

References:

  1. BBC Climate change food calculator: What’s your diet’s carbon footprint?