Latest Posts

This week in the news Jan 14 – 21, 2019

Weekly Summary: 2018 recap, call out to go vegan, agricultural recycling program gets first go ahead in AB, companies join to tackle plastic issues

The Guardian “Founders of plastic waste alliance ‘investing billions in new plants” – companies are coming together and investing some serious cash (1 billion) to try to solve the HUGE waste issues our world is currently facing, but will it be enough.

CBC “The top 10 science and environment stories of 2018” – the doomsday clock moves closer, a new ancient city was discovered, China closes their door to paper and plastic international recycling and a new planet was discovered.

The Guardian “Could flexitarianism save the planet?” – meat intake needs to reduce by 90% to save the planet, are you in?

Morinville News “Provincial recycling pilot project tackles agricultural waste” – a government report found 50 per cent of agricultural producers were burning their agricultural plastics on the farm and many others were sending plastics to a landfill. Alberta Agriculture and Forestry is funding a three-year pilot program that will recycle agricultural plastics.

The Apothecary in Inglewood

Author: Renee Little
Location: 921 9th Ave SE Calgary, AB

The Apothecary in Inglewood is unassuming from the outside and is an entire eco-life changer once you step inside! This gem of a store in Inglewood sells a zero waste philosophy and has the products and knowledgeable staff to help you create a sustainable eco-friendly life here in Calgary.

When you step inside the store you can see how much care and attention is taken in product selection to provide the customer with the best zero waste and sustainable products on the market. The Apothecary carries the full line of All Things Jill products which includes Peas in a Pod (mom and baby), Zen Yoga, TREK (outdoor products), a bath and body line (bath foam and lotion), Jack (shave and beard products), Chic Puppy, and un-packaged bar soaps and bath bombs.

Probably the best part about the store (in my opinion) is the refillery. A refillery is really just as the term suggests – a place to refill previously utilized or new containers from bulk inventory. The Apothecary carries a large selection of household and body care products that are available to refill many sizes and types of containers. As the consumer you simply bring in a container and choose a product to purchase. The staff weigh the products & charge by weight/volume.

Bulk laundry soap, dish soap & so much more

Step by step directions for using the refillery

Step 1: Bring a container that is clean, can be sealed, doesn’t leak and is not made of a substance that will break down or react with the products being added. Good containers to consider include glass jars, plastic containers and depending on the product, even plastic bags may do the trick. If you do not have a container one can be purchased in store.

Step 2: Talk to the staff about what is available and how to create the product you desire. The staff have a ton of knowledge and you can create an amazing product that is just right for you!

The types of products you can request in their refillery include: herbs, salts (i.e. to make bath salts), carrier oils, essential oils, hair care, body care, deodorant, toothpaste, natural cleaners, laundry products and dry ingredients such as clays.

Step 3: The staff will then fill your container. One thing to note is if the store is busy the staff may need more a little time to prepare your products. Therefore you may have to leave the order with the staff for the a bit of time (likely only 30-60 minutes).

Step 4: Take home your products with a HUGE smile on your face and enjoy. Don’t forget to save your containers for your next refill!

Food grade bulk herbs


If you are looking for containers to utilize, The Apothecary has containers to purchase new and also gently used. If you have extra containers collected from past purchases you can bring them in to the store to give them a second use by another patron.

Exciting zero waste products at “The Apothecary”

1. Soap Nuts are a berry shell that naturally contains a cleaning agent that works like detergent. The natural cleaning agent found in these berries is called saponin. Saponin works as a surfactant, breaking the surface tension of the water to penetrate the fibers of your clothing, lifting stains from the fabric, and leaving dirt suspended in the water that is rinsed away. Tip: You need to wash in warm/hot water in order to activate the suds. To reduce hot water needed for washing try adding soap nuts to 2 cups of boiling water first and then adding them to the load of laundry.

2. Stasher silicone food bags are food grade silicone bags. Sandwich bags can be very convenient especially when backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, and cycling when backpack space and weight is of concern. The company reports that the bags can be cooked, microwaved, baked, boiled, and frozen. They are top rack dishwasher safe and have an airtight seal to keep foods and odors locked up. You can read more about these handy products on the Stasher website.

3. Elate clean cosmetics are delivered in minimal packaging, include reusable compact containers and are vegan, cruelty free, made in Canada and they use sustainable packaging. The compact powders come in seed paper which means you can plant it directly in your garden to grow new plants. Their ingredients are about 90% organic because their value is to choose fair trade and support the workers who create their products over organic if they are unable to have both. Learn more about Elate here.

4. A huge variety of reusable bags which can be used for produce, lunch bags, bread bags, grocery shopping, adding soap nuts to put into the washing machine, soap bag for bar soaps in the shower and bulk bags for purchasing bulk food items. I purchased the same brand of produce bags they stock in store over 10 years ago and they are holding up very well! They have been through the wash multiple times and are still in great shape. If you are looking for a reusable bag you will highly likely find what you are looking for here.

5. The Apothecary and All Things Jill make products right on site! After being invited to the back of the store to check out their natural products “laboratory” it made me really excited to take one of their classes (see below) to learn how to make my own beauty products. The back of the store is quite magical, it is filled with many raw materials that staff use to create delightful products that are sold right in store.

6. You will find an entire section of dog pampering products that you can use to wash your dogs coat, care for their paws and help to freshen up the scent of their coat as well as your indoor carpet with the Chic Puppy line by All Things Jill.

7. Reusable straws galore! If you cannot find the right color, style or type of straw here you probably will not find it any where in the city. Reusable straws are really making a difference. Read this article posted by the NRDC to learn more about the reasons why.

8. There is row upon row of essential oils! If you have a specific essential oil in mind or are looking for essential oils in roller application packaging they have a lot from which to choose. One tip is that you can reuse the essential oil bottles. Clean the bottles out with rubbing alcohol and bring them back to the store for a refill.

First Tuesday of the month is 10% off refills (except essential oils)


Combine the search for something new to do in Calgary with a desire to take a class to improve your zero waste living skill set. They offers 6 classes that you can enjoy by yourself, with friends or even for a romantic date night. The Apothecary will accommodate group bookings which could be fun for a fun girls night out or family bonding time. The classes listed include: First Steps Aromatherapy, Aromatherapy level 1, Body care, Gone to the Dogs: Canine Aromatherapy, Holiday Gift Making and Facial Care. Sign up is available on their website.

Location & Online Orders

You can find The Apothecary in Inglewood at
921 9th Ave SE Calgary, AB

Visit the website for online orders

Behind the scenes

I was invited to the back of the store & this Anise soap was just setting in the final stages of creation by one of the talented staff members. I couldn’t help but share this gorgeous creation!

Note: this is NOT a sponsored post

Eco Friendly Furniture in Calgary and Online

What is eco friendly furniture? In terms of furniture manufacturing being kind to the environment can take place many different ways.

Things to consider:

  1. Length and mode of transportation of goods – how far do the manufactured goods and raw materials need to travel and what type of transportation is used.
  2. Type of materials used in production – does the company source fair trade, organic, low VOC or sustainable materials?
  3. Energy consumption/ offsets – does the company reduce or offset it’s carbon footprint?
  4. Collaboration/ donation to eco driven research and development – does the company invest in environmental forward research or new developments?
  5. Waste disposal / recycling practices – how does the company handle waste material, do they have successful recycling programs.
  6. For the consumer – are you willing to put the time in to look for furniture that can be reused? Can you look at consignment shops for your next used furniture treasure?

Canadian Made Companies – reducing transportation

  • EQ3 manufactured in Winnepeg, MB, store in Calgary
  • Stylus manufactured in Burnaby BC, available at Brako furniture Calgary 5711 Blackfoot Trail SE . Furniture manufacturing of sofas and dining chairs. Frames are made from wood sourced through suppliers who are certified for environmentally sound practices. Recycling programs are in place for paper, cardboard, plastic and foam waste. Natural light skylights reduce our energy needs for lighting. Selective packaging allows us to save packaging materials. Foam supply is from a zero waste supply chain. Scraps are recycled into carpet underlay, foam is Chlorofluorocarbon free.
  • Springwall Sleep Products Inc. – is headquartered just outside of Moncton, New Brunswick, and is extremely proud of being a unique family owned business. Springwall is the only 100% Canadian owned and operated National mattress manufacturer in existence today.  Today his vision of providing a quality product to consumers is being led by his sons, Boyd and Greg Kay. There are three manufacturing facilities in Canada (Moncton, Mississauga and Calgary).

Envio friendly Materials

  • Goldgrass Home – natural and organic mattresses, no synthetic ingredients or additives so there is no off-gassing process. Locally owned and operated, founded in 2007 by Riva and Andrew Mackie. Their mission has been to find the world’s finest natural and artisanal home furnishings and decor, and make them available to uncompromisingly stylish Calgarians who understand the true importance of the sleep experience.
  • Stylus – see above

Energy Consumption/ Recycling Efforts

  • Crate and Barrel – West Coast operations is operating at a LEED certified space in California. They have also achieved LEED certification at their store at the Streets at Southpoint in Durham, North Carolina—one of the first retail stores in the United States to receive this designation. Almost all Crate and Barrel stores have now converted to low energy lighting systems, reducing energy consumption by 30 to 40 percent. Stores built after 2010 use 20-watt lighting, and those built after 2014 use 14-watt lighting, supplemented by skylights in stockrooms. At warehouse locations, they are in the process of converting 1,000-watt lighting fixtures to more energy-efficient 400-watt fixtures. And warehouses now have sensor aisle lights that illuminate only when in use. They have istalled HVAC Energy Management systems in many store locations which reduce energy consumption by 10 percent. Recycling program at stores, warehouses and corporate offices (recycle corrugated cardboard and plastic).

“Request recyclable material from your shippers. Reject bubble wrapping, Styrofoam, and plastic bags, and propose alternatives such as paper or cloth.” 
― Bea Johnson

Consignment Furniture Calgary

  • Calgary Furniture Exchange – Two floors of used couches, chairs, end tables, lamps and more in a range of styles, the walls also features colourful artwork. You can also get some new furniture here, as Calgary Furniture Exchange carries new pieces. To consign your own furniture, send or bring in a photo of the pieces to be considered for pre-approval. Stop by to see it all in person or check out the latest additions in the store’s online catalogue. 6745 Fairmount Dr. S.E., 403-251-4493
  • The Consignment Gallery selection of used furniture that includes couches, sculptures, lamps, desks and art. The store also has an online gallery if you want to see what it currently has in stock without leaving home. 533 58 Ave. S.E., 403-253-7880

Online Retailers 

Instead of turning to the big companies who do not have any environmentally conscious practices, consider your next online purchase to be a company that has built their business on the values of sustainable living.

ABC Carpet and home – Sourcing goods that are created with sustainability and fair labor standards in mind. Offers a wide variety of modern and elegant pieces that are responsibly sourced from across Europe and Asia, as well as women’s fair-trade cooperatives in India.

Bambeco Home – committed to the highest respect for the planet and its people, Bambeco strives to inspire sustainable living through their three core values: forest preservation and restoration, clean water and water conservation, and fair wages and a safe workplace. They’ve saved over 300 million gallons of water, planted over 20,000 trees, and kept over 236 metric tons of carbon out of the atmosphere through their commitment to carbon-free shipping.

West Elm – focused on modern design, affordability and community with recently launched fair-trade and eco-friendly collections. By designing over 90% of products in-house, the design team has steadily increased their selection of organic, handcrafted, sustainable sourced and Fair Trade Certified™ products. 

Visseo – by using natural and recycled materials and manufacturing their products in the United States, they strive to continually reduce their carbon footprint while maintaining exceptional quality. Viesso values their commitment to a healthier home by ensuring none of their products contain fire retardant or harsh chemicals and use only organically grown materials. 

Create a home of vintage and new eco-friendly pieces to enjoy with friends and family

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?


1. 2.

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 ~


4. 5.

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.


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.


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.


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.


  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!