All posts by Generation Green

About Generation Green

Generation Green is a green living retail store that offers Eco-Friendly alternatives to the products you use. Located at 433 Main Street in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. We are all about "Helping you live better...Naturally!"

Nourish Me Please!!!

Acorn Cafe has something new & exciting happening on Tuesday’s!

We started asking on our Instagram page what folks were wanting to see on the menu, and it was from that feedback that we did some tweaking to the menu!

First our cafe manager Lily set out to find a way to jam pack some nourishment in a lunch item & voila!… may we present you our  “Nourish Bowls”!!

These sustenance filled bowls will alternate weekly so be sure to try them all!  We’ve already started with the first two (pictured) and all I can say is wow!! So yummy, so loaded with goodness and food fuel to help you get the most of your day!

In additional to the “Nourish Bowls” on Tuesdays, we are also making pizza buns!  These are great for grab & go lunches, or an afternoon snack and can be eaten warm or cold.  We are making our pizza buns using the newly stocked vegan pizza dough from Diana Cline of Diana’s Cucina , a 5 time International Canadian Pizza Award Winner!  This Moosehead beer based dough is for sale and can be found in our freezer section.  Adding to the deliciousness is DeLuca’s pizza sauce and topping it off with Vegan Fromagerie’s mozzarella! yummmmm!

Wednesdays have also become our baking day, so expect some drool worth scents when you walk in the door as savory scones, muffins and coffee cakes (all vegan of course) are being taken out of the oven!

Be sure to check out our other daily features on our menu by clicking here and our full menu can be found here.

We’re here for you so keep those comments, suggestions and feedback coming!

Let’s Talk Brain Health – Part 2

We can’t talk about brain health without looking into our gut and recognizing the relation between the brain and everything gut related.  What happens in your gut/GI tract is essentially what happens in your brain. This has scientists calling the gut the 2nd brain! The gut and the brain are in a big time romance. They are entwined and can effect all of our bodily health, including brain function and how we feel everyday.

You’ve heard the term “having a gut feeling,” and well, it’s definitely something you can pay attention to.  Our brains have hundreds of millions of neurons connected to our nervous system which control our gastrointestinal system.

What’s even more amazing is that within the GI tract, it is estimated this is where 80-90% of the body’s serotonin is made (that happy hormone!) So the brain operates our bodily functions, but the gut can also send messages to the brain.

Not convinced?  Think about how certain foods affect how you feel, like chocolate. Chocolate releases endorphins in our gut and sends that “feeling good” message to our brain.  Of course this can work the opposite way too. High fat processed foods for instance, can make us feel tired and sluggish.  There is so much going on in brain-gut connection that I really encourage everybody to take note of how foods make them feel and maybe even keep a journal for reflection and assessment. This is obviously such a complex system, so if you are keen to research more, you might like this research manuscript I found that really delves into exactly how food controls the brain and cognitive health.  It’s a big read but very interesting!

So to aid our gut health, which would also aid brain health is to not only eat healthy “rainbow foods”  that I spoke of in the first part of this series, but also by adding fermented foods and kombucha into your diet. Both of which are perfect for assisting in balancing the gut flora. We have billions of bacteria living in our body, so we want to be sure that there is enough strong, good bacteria in there to keep viruses and fungi away. Which also helps to prevent disease. Adding 1 or 2 servings of kombucha or fermented foods daily can have a huge impact on your overall well-being, especially, of course on your brain health!

If you are interested in learning more about kombucha and even how to make your own, we have two upcoming workshops with Wolseley Kombucha. You can register here. Or you can always purchase a growler from us and fill it up at our Wolseley Kombucha tap, in-store!

 

 

Let’s Talk Brain Health – Part 1

Over the holidays and spending time with aging family members, I really became aware of how forgetful they were becoming, how they had trouble recollecting memories or were experiencing general confusion.  I started reading up on these issues and discovered that this is something we really need to be concerned about.

I first found this overwhelming statistic that stated if we live to the age of 85, half of us will more than likely develop Alzheimer’s.  According to the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba there are more than 22,500 Manitobans that have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. This number is growing at an alarming rate and by 2038 it is expected to reach over 40,700!

There are of course risk factors listed on their website and areas that we should look at changing in our lifestyle, but there is no known cure at this time.  Now this of course is alarming because we easily take our organs for granted and our brains have a 24/7 job like the rest of them!  Unlike the other organs that perhaps have a main job, our brains are responsible for multiple!! Our brain is responsible not just for our thoughts, but our breathing, our organ functions, our movements and is basically the power source of our whole body!

So if there is no cure and we need our brains to be fully functioning, I of course then looked further into preventative information.

One of the common threads I was seeing in my research all pointed towards our gut health.  Apparently, our gut is a major contributor to brain issues, cognitive decline and memory issues if we have insulin resistance (aka diabesity). Some researchers have now begun to call Alzheimer’s disease type 3 diabetes and say that our guts are actually our 2nd brain. So nutrition is the key if prevention is the focus!

The good news is that a brain diet basically consists of eating wholesome colourful foods, a rainbow of brain nourishment!  Plant pigments found in those colourful foods can feed our brains the vital nutrients they need.  Here are just some of those pigments and where you can find them.

lycopene foodsRED/PINK an antioxidant pigment that helps combat free radicals (those wayward, naturally occurring cells that cause big time stress on our bodies, which can lead to premature aging & disease) – look to tomatoes, pink grapefruit, papaya and watermelon! Lycopene’s antioxidant properties may help prevent seizures and memory loss experienced in age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.

chlorophyll foods – GREEN and probably the most well known as a vital source of energy but did you know they optimize our brain function?! Yup! They say chlorophyll is the blood of plants and is comparable to our own and when we introduce them into our bodies it’s like having an energy transfusion! All green veggies contain chlorophyll however some are definitely better than others such as spinach compared to broccoli which is actually considered more white.  You want a green that goes green throughout.   Look to those leafy greens as those are the best source but also kelp, algae, spirulina and don’t forget those green tops from beets & carrots!

beta carotene foods ORANGE and long known as being beneficial for vision and skin, but carotene foods have now been thought to reduce the risk of cognitive decline in men (according to a report released in the Nov. 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine). Researchers found that oxidative stress, which damages brain cells, is a major contributor to the aging of the brain and associated cognitive decline.  This beautiful vibrant pigment is also found in sweet potatoes, squash, cantaloupe, peppers & apricots to name a few.  For best absorption of this fat soluble vitamin, try adding oil or nuts.

anthocyanins (a type of flavonoid)  foods – BLUE/PURPLE & RED found in the skins of glorious blueberries, blackberries, grapes, strawberries, pomegranates, kidney beans & red onions just to name a few!! They are probably the most consumed as there is such a variety of foods that offer these. Some of the many anthocyanin benefits that research has uncovered include fighting heart disease, cancer, memory loss and neurological disorders.

Besides a rainbow diet to keep our brains healthy, there are a few other suggestions such as taking time to learn something new like playing an instrument, learning to play a new sport or finding a new hobby to learn.  Keep our brains ignited through learning but be sure to also disconnect from devices!  Turn off the TV, put away the iPhone and instead start connecting with others.  Play a game of cards with a friend, enjoy a coffee together with good o’l conversation or best of all connect with ourselves out in nature.  Fresh air, exercise, laughter and some colour are the perfect prescription I think for prevention of many health issues, but certainly for brain health.

Next Up – Brain Health: Continuing the conversation – ” All Things Bubbly”

 

 

 

Holiday Entertaining Specials!

It’s December!!!  (Cue bells ringing and Little Drummer Boy doing his thing!)

The most magical time of the year with fresh snowflakes, twinkling lights, wonderful scents and getting together with friends and family!

We’re here to help with your entertaining needs by offering up some must have, sure to please yummies!

First, stock up on Happy Dance Hummus! Freeze & thaw any (or all) of the 4 flavours, Creamy Dill, Chiptole Lime, Curry Masala & Garlic Jalapeno! Find these stocked in our freezer always!  While your at it, be sure to grab a bag or two of locally made LaCocina perfectly thin tortilla chips and pair them with Crampson Made Salsa!

From our decadent vegan baker Nosh On This,  we can pack you up a tray of assorted goodies that will have your guests feeling oh so special! Some of her holiday treats include; gingersnaps, fig & anise cookies, sugar cookie truffles and the must have New York slice aka Nanimo bars! (Please order ahead by sending us an email to acorncafewpg@generationgreenwpg.com).

Lastly, our incredible vegan cheese maker, Celine of Vegan Fromagerie has opened up the ordering this month for all the cheese selections and some really amazing holiday specials!

In addition to the December feature of Chevre Cheese (a cultured cashew cheese that is soft, tangy and salty), you can also pre-order Dill Havarti, Mozzarella, Pepperjack, Smoked Gouda, Cream Cheese (pair with John Russell Red Pepper Jelly)…are you picturing and salivating over that charcuterie board yet?!?! And of course, we can’t forget the Feta, Cheese Sauce & Sour Cream for those Amanda Lynn Perogies (vegan & gluten free) that you can also find in our freezer section.

BUT WAIT, there’s more!!! A Cranberry/Pistachio Chevre rolled log, AND an Antipasto Cheese Ball, AND a Glazed Seitan Ham!!! Yum! Yum! & More Yum!!!

All the cheese/ham must be preordered by 6pm each Friday for pick up on Monday’s.  Last day to order will be the exception with the order cutoff being Monday, December 18th with pick up on Sunday, December 24th by 3:30PM.  Easy, safe, online ordering now available, click here.

Time to send out the invites! Happy Holidays Everyone!

Nature’s Pharmacy – Microgreens

We often overlook nature’s pharmacy, where so many health answers and remedies are available. One little green sprout can help with so many different health condition!

Skeptical? Keep on reading!

There are so many different microgreens we could talk about, but the one that has me fascinated is broccoli microgreens.

Broccoli itself has always been a grocery must-have! It’s delicious, and also full of nutrients! Broccoli microgreens though, have these benefits, x 1000! (*An expression, not a fact*)

This is because of a specific food molecule called sulforaphane. It is commonly found in cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, or cabbage. But the highest amount of this miracle molecule can only be found in broccoli sprouts!

Every kind of these amazing microgreens are an abundant source of antioxidants and proteins. They can help protect against aging vision, fight against cancer, against diabetes, revitalize tissue, calm inflammation, activate digestive enzymes which detoxifies the body. They also assist in helping to create an alkaline environment in the body, which keeps disease from growing inside us.

They are easy to grow, but if that’s not your thing, we do offer pre-order & pick up of locally grown microgreens from 3 Guys Greens. The best part is you can order them all year long!  The sprouts come as a living tray that you simply snip to harvest 1-3 days after you receive them. Store them in a sealed container in your refrigerator.  They’ll last you about a week (because they’re so nummy and you’ll eat them all right up.) $13.50 per tray, and grown to order, so you pre-order about 2 weeks ahead of pick-up at Generation Green on Fridays.  There is no long term commitment – try them, love them, re-order as you like or sign up for a weekly tray.  You can order directly from 3 Guys Greens here.

Getting power nutrients like this into your diet is as simple as adding these tasty sprouts to anything like smoothies, salads, soups, sandwiches, stir fry, or simply (do like I do)  snip and eat for a snack! They really are that yummy!  We’ve added the microgreens from 3 Guys Green into our menu items at Acorn Cafe, like our vegan cream cheese bagels with cucumbers. And trust me when I say you’ll be left craving another!

Health is important and prevention is crucial!

Connecting to Mother Earth

I have always felt the most present when in nature. I have also found that being in nature is the easiest way to find inspiration, or answers, that I may have been searching for. Ever since my childhood days of laying in the grass – watching the clouds move and form into shapes, to attempts at gardening or walks on the beach, I’ve known it is something necessary in my life.

When I heard about “earthing,” it made some sense – as essentially it is connecting our bodies with the electrical energy of the earth. Like energizer batteries for our bodies, that can keep us going, keep our charge, and basically optimize our health by making us feel better. However, as with many “natural remedies” it is often met with skepticism. Many will agree there are electrons coming from the earth, but that they are do nothing special as far as helping us with our health.

Perhaps skepticism comes because products have been made that claim to create that earthing effect, such as earthing mats, bands, or sheets – and it is meant to discredit them.

Whether those products work or not, I’m not sure! But I wouldn’t dismiss the benefits that come from eliminating barriers between us and the earth and its energy.  It’s undeniable when you think about walking barefoot in the grass and how great it feels, not only on your feet, but also how it affects your mood!  There have been studies that show a benefit to walking barefoot everyday, in eliminating some stress, anxiety, and even physical pain. Why couldn’t that be from the earth’s energy?  We are, in fact, made up of energy and therefore benefit from sourcing any that we can, directly from the earth.

We always create barriers between ourselves and the earth with everyday things. Such as rubber soled shoes, or just being cooped up indoors.  How much barrier-free time do we really spend connecting to mother earth? Being considered the “indoor generation” is not surprising.  Between work, school, being connected to technology, and sleeping, how much time are we connecting to the earth?

Winter is especially difficult for those us that know the benefits of walking barefoot or digging in the dirt. So what can be done to connect?

Some of my searches gave me the suggestion that winter is a time for planning and contemplation. So things like meditation, and visualization, or connecting to other elements such as fire or water – via a fireplace, candle flame, or warm bath with epsom salts.  There was also a suggestion to indulge in organic root vegetables to connect to the ground!  I also think maybe connecting with other people, to exchange energy can be helpful.

If all else fails, take a trip, if you are able to, somewhere warm where you can kick off your shoes and allow mother earth to care for you the way she knows best.

 

Mental Sustainability

When it comes to sustainable living, the first thing that comes to mind is probably reusable straws and planting trees. Or something along those lines. Green living goes in an out of fashion, as the human mind goes back and forth between good and bad habits.

As the school year is starting, we are all readjusting to academic life. Maybe that means going to school, going back to work, sending our kids off to school, or even just the change of seasons. The summer is over, winter is coming (overused GoT reference intended ironically) and – let’s face it – we’re all going to be watching more Netflix than we should, drinking more coffee than water, and doing our best not to have a mental breakdown.

In all seriousness, the first few weeks of September are especially stressful. Tuition and textbooks drain our bank accounts, whether it’s our own cost or for our kids. We are torn between the start of school parties and trying to start off with good study habits. Sleeping or lecture? Netflix or readings? Packing healthy lunches and snacks, and taking care of ourselves after a long day at work.

With the pressure of doing well, having a social life, taking care of a child, sleeping enough, paying for books, tuition and coffee, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. In this transition period, it’s important to develop sustainable mental habits that will get you through the entire school year.

Personally, I’m a sucker for buying nice planners, and notebooks. I set my standards ridiculously high in September. I promise myself I’ll cancel my Netflix account, and keep every assignment marked diligently in my overpriced planner from Chapters. I’ll hand things in early, be on time, never skip a class because I want to sleep in…

Sounds like a load of BS right? There’s nothing wrong with having high standards, and setting goals for yourself, but the problem with what I just told you is that these habits are not sustainable. If I were to hold myself to that for an entire year, I’d go crazy.

The trick is to find a balance between what is realistic, and pushing yourself to do your best. It’s a fine line between going easy on yourself and slacking off, between challenging yourself, and overworking yourself to exhaustion.

So this September, try to find that balance. Find habits that are sustainable for you. It will look different for everyone.

Students, maybe the girl sitting next to you in your lecture has perfect handwriting and colour coded notes, but that doesn’t mean that you need five colours of highlighter to do well.

Parents, maybe there’s that crazy overachiever mom who manages to go to every PTA meeting, coach the volleyball team and bake cookies for the entire class, but that’s not who you have to be to be a good parent.

No one can sustain this level of functioning forever.

And honestly, who knows what goes on behind the scenes?

I’ve learned that it’s best not to compare myself to anyone else, and focus on what works for me. I remember hearing once that comparison is the thief of happiness, and in my experience, I really believe that it’s true.

Maybe you need to take more breaks in your studying to keep your focus. Maybe it’s okay to wake up feeling like crap and decide to take a little extra sleep. If you’re feeling stressed, recognized that you’re feeling stressed instead of burying yourself further in work, or procrastinating to the last-minute.

It’s easy to fall to one extreme or the other. There can be a lot of pressure from your peers to pull all nighters, whether it’s to study for an exam, or for a party. But finding a balance will help you more in the long term. That’s what sustainability is about.

It’s not easy; if it was, we would all be doing it. But if we were all doing it, we would be so much better off.

May September bring you strength, balance, and sustainable practices.

Series written by Chantal Delaquis

The Good Planet Project

There are a lot of good people in the world, although sometimes it may be hard to believe when we are bombarded with negativity, greed, and consumerism on all sides. I remember reading once that all that is necessary for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing.

Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to meet some of the people who are fighting the good fight. Dylan Leeder, the founder of the Good Planet Project and his travelling companion Brittney stopped in at Generation Green. It was one of many stops during their road trip across Canada.

When I first met them, they seemed like very humble and kind people. They had had trouble finding parking for their van, just like anyone else would in Downtown Winnipeg. When they arrived, we made sure to serve them some coffee from Acorn Cafe, and we just…talked.

In one short hour, I felt more inspired than I had all summer to make a change in my lifestyle, to travel, to be open minded…

And I want to share this feeling with you. This is the feeling that can spark a movement, make changes, empower people.

So let’s start at the beginning. What is the Good Planet project?

The first thing you’ll see on their website is that the Good Planet Project is a documentary exploration of the people, lifestyles, and efforts that are dedicated towards the repair and conservation of our planet. Dylan has been driving across Canada in a self-made van, decked out with solar panels, trying to find the ways in which people are facing environmental issues in their own cities. Through photography, Dylan is also showing people the natural beauty of our country and inspiring us to protect it in order to keep it that way.

They told us about their travels and their goals. When we asked how they had found us, a small business in the heart of Winnipeg, they told us that after a quick Instagram search of ‘sustainability Winnipeg,’ we were the first thing to pop up. Although I’m happy that my workplace is apparently the hub of sustainable and healthy living in Winnipeg according to Instagram, I couldn’t help but be disappointed that there weren’t more results.

As we were talking, the conversation steered toward the difficulties of trying to change a system while still being a part of it.

Allow me to this explain further.

Dylan has had his own struggles with this. For over eight years, he worked in the advertising industry. The work took its toll on him. He felt a lot of guilt about the work that he did, the unnecessary products he encouraged people to buy, and how much of those products have ended up in a landfill. He goes into more detail on his website, so be sure to check that out.

I think that a lot of us can relate to this feeling. So much of the work that we do to support ourselves and our families involves doing things that may go against our values. Maybe that means sitting at a desk all day when you really wish you could be working outside. Maybe it means working in building or planning, and knowing that you have to tear down nature to build up a house or business or road. Maybe you work with food and drink, and see how much of it goes to waste every single day.

Within capitalism, we find so many contradictions. Not to get too technical here, but the exploitation that comes with capitalism – the exploitation of the worker, the environment, the children, the poor – is not sustainable, and eventually it will fall apart. Our planet does not contain unlimited resources, and sooner  or later we are going to run out. It’s just a question of what we’re going to use up first.

But in order to do something about this, it’s pretty much impossible to both reject capitalism and fight it effectively. The most difficult issue to get around is money. It’s pretty much impossible to live in this society without money. You have to buy things to support yourself and when you do this, you are supporting the industry. Short of moving to the middle of nowhere and growing all your own food, providing all your own power and being completely self-sufficient, you can’t completely reject the unsustainable system we are all living in.

Take Dylan’s project for example. One of the things we discussed is the contradiction between driving across Canada to find ways to save the environment and live sustainably, while driving across Canada in a gas-guzzling van.

But what I learned from Dylan and Brittney is that you have to make the best of what you’re given. The optimism and inspiration that they have brought with them through this country have done a lot to counteract the emissions from their van. There is a lot to be said about just doing what you can. For example, they have outfitted their van with solar panels, as I mentioned, and they are very conscious of their potential impacts on the environment.

Being conscious, and wanting to do the best you can are integral to living sustainably, or in developing any skill. Once you are self-aware and have a desire to improve, it’s hard not to change.

I look forward to following the rest of Dylan and Brittney’ journey as they return home to Calgary and begin to debrief everything they have learned on their travels. Stay tuned to The Good Planet Project to learn more, and hopefully get inspired to be one of the good people!

Series written by Chantal Delaquis

 

No Dairy?! – Ethics

Veganism for health or for the environment is easy to get on board with. They are full of facts, statistics, and science. But ethics? That’s a trickier one. There isn’t a bunch of numbers and research I can throw at ya to convince you that consuming dairy isn’t ethical. The ethical motivation has got to come from your gut.

It’s nice for some to imagine that your milk comes from a cow who is free to roam, who loves her caretaker, and can’t wait to go in every morning to get pulled by the udders. The unfortunate truth is that basically none of the milk you can purchase at a store is harvested like this. And even if it was… why do we consume a cow’s milk, and not mi

For starters, when I was going vegan I was hit with this argument a lot: “but females cows constantly produce milk anyway, naturally.”

Stop that right there…. what?!

How does any mammal come about producing milk?

Through pregnancy. Cows are not some marvel of evolution that are exempt from this. So let’s be clear – cows only produce milk during and after pregnancy.

But what about the endless supply of milk in North America then?! The answer is as f’d up as you think it is. Cows are “forcibly impregnated” …every 9 months. Then specific measures are taken to stop the baby cow from drinking their mother’s milk (Which is “meant” for humans?)… *ahem* the veal industry.

Andy the cow was taken from his mother at birth. He would’ve be killed at 4 months old for veal if he wasn’t rescued by a sanctuary

All this, is aside from the fact that cows and all farm animals are kept in totally horrifying conditions. Lots of animal agricultural factories keep animals in a space not big enough for them to move. They are stuck like this their whole (very shortened) lives. Livestock cows are usually killed around 2-5 years old, because they’ve been worked so hard by the industry and their potential is worn out. Non-livestock cows on sanctuary grounds can live over 15 years old. I won’t go much further into this, and it’s pretty easy to google videos of inside factory farms, and see for yourself these horrifying practices. Or check out the movie “Earthlings” or “Dominion” if you wanna go really deep into it.

So even if you commit to exclusively getting your milk from a local, “happy”, “free-range” farm, these questionable practices still take place. Take the time to ask yourself if that’s something you are comfortable with contributing to (with your money.)

Dylan the cow, saved from the veal (dairy) industry, now over 15 years old. Living free at a sanctuary

Another small thought – have you ever thought about that fact that humans drink the breast milk of a cow, into their adulthood? Human breast milk is meant for a growing baby, and after the time of milk production in a person’s life, that baby is no longer in need of breast milk. Even if they were, why do humans consume the milk of a cow and not a pig, a giraffe, or a dog?

I feel like I could write about this topic endlessly. Cows are also totally sentient mammals. Have you seen those adorable videos of cows who live inside a house with their people? We know they’re adorable, and no one has a natural inclination to kill them. Cows feel, cry, and have a desire to live.

Everyone’s veganism journey and experience is different. Veganism is a wonderful lifestyle for a passionate environmentalist, or a major health enthusiast. But you could not give even give a crap about the environment or health, and still totally understand why this is a rad way to eat and live. Veganism at its core, I truly believe, is about ethics.

Article series written by Savannah

Sustainable Living

If you’ve been following along with this series, then you’ve read about the difference between compostable and biodegradable, and have learned to rethink the way we recycle. But what if we could reduce our waste altogether?

It’s all well and good to know how to dispose of our waste properly and divert it from landfills by recycling or composting. But a more long term solution would be to minimize our waste entirely. Reducing our waste is the most sustainable way to take care of our planet, as the abundance of waste, whether it is food waste, plastic, clothes, or just ‘stuff’ in general is really the problem.

To live sustainably, what needs to change is our lifestyle; the way we go through our day.

But that isn’t easy. In fact, it’s probably one of the most difficult things for people to do. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it! 

I recently interviewed an incredible woman, whom I will refer to as A. Patterson, who is dedicated to living as sustainably as she can. She educated me about Zero-Waste Living, and she gave me some information that I’m very excited to share with you.

I started with the basics and asked her what zero-waste living meant to her.

“To me, zero-waste living is about reducing as much waste from going to landfill as possible. A core belief of the lifestyle is that it’s a journey and not a destination.”

The less trash we send to landfills, the better. It’s not about being a perfectionist and having absolutely no waste, or getting overwhelmed by just how much waste we produce. It’s about transitioning to being more aware of what we’re throwing out, and finding solutions along the way.

We are all intelligent human beings who are capable of adapting to our changing environment. We live in a society that likes things to be done fast and efficiently (in terms of both time and money), with only the short-term gains in mind. We’ve become comfortable, and less accountable for our actions. It’s easy for us to fall into this mindset when our waste disappears after we throw it away. We can get caught in the trap of thinking that our actions have no consequences. In reality, a plastic bag we have used for maybe a few minutes to carry our groceries home has harmed or even killed a creature in the ocean, thousands of miles away.           

Patterson says that one of the biggest things she has learned in her transition to zero-waste is just “how many of the things we think just disappear when we throw them away actually make their way into our environment and oceans. As well that small actions can have huge consequences both positive and negative. A simple balloon, straw or plastic bag that is used for a matter of minutes can have consequences to wildlife on the other side of the world. As well that what we think is recycled in our local municipal system is actually fairly limited. It has definitely made me research more sustainable ways of dealing with items I no longer need.”  

I believe we’ve gotten to a point where we have a hard time distinguishing between what we want and what we need. We actually don’t need boxes of kleenex. It’s possible to clean your kitchen without using paper towels. You don’t need to buy a coffee in a disposable cup on your way to work. These are all things that we want to do; things that are easy and comfortable.

I’ll state it again because I think it’s such an important thing to remember: changing your habits to live sustainably is not easy. It’s not going to be easy. You’re going to want to buy that coffee and throw away the cup afterward without a second thought. You’re going to want to buy more things than you need. It might be a confusing transition.

I think that a lot of people expect green living to be easier than they thought, and give up when it gets challenging. I find myself falling into old habits more than I’d like – it happens to everyone. But once you build a new routine for yourself, it becomes as natural as breathing – and the air will be cleaner too.

To be conscious of it is the first step, and doing something about it is next.

I’ll end with some of Patterson’s tips and tricks to living more sustainably and producing less waste:

  • Carrying a reusable water bottle/coffee cup
  • Carrying a reusable shopping bag
  • Carrying a small kit of reusable cutlery, food storage and a cloth napkin 
  • Buying produce in cloth bags instead of plastic
  • Buying pantry items at a bulk food store or in recyclable/compostable packaging
  • Using your own containers when buying bulk
  • Buying personal care items (shampoo, soap, deodorant, etc) without packaging or in packaging that can be reused/recycled/composted or refilling them at Generation Green 😉
  • Donating unused items to places like Goodwill and ArtsJunction
  • Composting and recycling as much as possible!
  • Take special recycling items like old electronics to proper disposal locations;  BellMTS will take old phones for recycling and places like staples and hardware stores offer more types of recycling for thing like electronics, printer cartridges, batteries, light bulbs, etc.
  • Another big challenge is snacks and ordering in food (Skip the Dishes is always so tempting after a long day of work) and while it’s something I’m still working on my solution is to keep pantry staples for quick meals and easy snacks (bought with minimal packaging or at bulk stores) at home and with me to reduce the temptation. If I do order take-out I make sure to bring my own reusable containers
  • Some great resources are the “Journey to Zero-waste” Facebook groups. There’s a global one and ones broken down by region. Winnipeg has one too!

Stay tuned for articles about special recycling items, travelling sustainably and more!

Article written by Chantal Delaquis