Tag Archives: environment

Conscious Consumerism: Environmental Effects Of Milk(s)

Have you ever considered the resources that it takes to get the type of milk you drink into the carton?

Even if you’ve made the switch from dairy to an alternative, do you know the costs of consuming it? Dairy milk is #1 on the most wanted list for contributing extremely damaging effects to the environment when it comes to milk options.

Dairy milk is skyscrapers above oat, rice, almond or soy milk in emissions, land use and water use. Dairy milk is so damaging because it takes a lot of water, food, land and other resources to keep dairy cows fed and healthy in order to produce the immense amount of milk we consume in North America. So the first thing you can do to become a more conscious consumers is cut out dairy! Even if you need to start off slowly, removing it from your diet one day a week, then two days, then three; however long it takes, in doing this one thing you will be making a difference.

The next step is choosing a milk replacement that will best suit your needs and the environment that we so deeply depend upon. Nowadays, there are dairy alternatives for pretty much everything you can think of.  Acorn Cafe’s own: Vegan Fromagerie’s cheeses will blow your mind and I bet you won’t even miss the dairy cheese! Silk Almond for coffee (coffee creamers) are to die for and you can get them at most supermarkets. Earth’s Own So Fresh oat milk is perfect for lattes and smoothies and they also come in single serve cartons that are perfect for lunches. Not to mention they also have a chocolate variety which is equally delicious.

http://strategyonline.ca/2019/04/03/earths-own-calls-for-plant-based-revolution/

Now with that in mind, we must always consider the effects on our environment if you desire to be a more conscious consumer. Despite being exponentially lower than dairy milk, some of these alternatives can be very damaging as well. Oat milk has by far the lowest resource use out of all of the options I have listed. Despite what we may think not all milk alternatives are a better alternative; it takes upwards of 80 litres of water to produce just a single glass of almond milk! Although almond milk uses less water and land and produces less emissions than dairy, it is not the most environmentally friendly in comparison to soy or oat. This is why Acorn Cafe is switching all of our smoothie recipes to oat instead of almond milk to reduce our own footprint!

Let’s keep the conversation ball rolling! Comment below if you have any tips or tricks on how to be a more conscious consumer. Or better yet, start a conversation on our Instagram or Facebook page… we’d love to hear from you!

  • Article written by Holly Simpson

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

 

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

 

 

Compostable vs. Biodegradable

My last article touched on recycling and how our focus needs to be on reducing & reusing and now will dig a little into composting and biodegradable products.

It seems like common sense that something biodegradable must be good for the environment. Break down the word and you have bio and degradable; will degrade naturally. But like most modern “Green” marketing schemes, the details and science behind the products are easily overlooked.

What most people don’t realize is that Biodegradable plastic will NOT decompose in a landfill. Anything biodegradable requires oxygen to break down in order to decompose properly. Companies also do not specify a time requirement for how long it takes the biodegradable plastic to decompose other than ‘a reasonable amount’, which translates to: less than 1000 years.

photo credit: https://www.winnipegfreepress.com

Say you bought a Blue Majik smoothie at Acorn cafe. You walk the streets getting stares because of the bright blue drink in your cup, but it’s so delicious, you don’t care. When you’re done, you throw it in the trash with confidence because you know that it is biodegradable plastic.

Now, imagine a landfill.

Mountains and mountains of plastic garbage bags full of discarded, lost or unwanted possessions, all wasting away. That ugly mess will be there for thousands and thousands of years.

Needless to say, a biodegradable cup squished between heavy plastic garbage bags will have little to no oxygen. In the end, it’s basically as bad as throwing regular plastic into the trash. (So if you’re not already composting, please feel free to bring it back to our location & toss in our compost collector).

Biodegradable material will degrade when composted properly in the bins we provide at the cafe, but when thrown in a landfill, there is hardly any benefit to using them at all.

Compost is a little bit different. Compostable products will break down into carbon dioxide, water and other small pieces within about 90 days. It is a completely organic process, and will not leave behind a toxic residue.

But throwing a compostable cup into the trash is not any better than a biodegradable one. Suffocated by tons and tons of plastic, compostable foods like banana peels or compostable cups, will not decompose into the rich, fertilizing soil that is the result of professional or backyard composting.

Bottom line, anything thrown into the trash – anything – is polluting the environment.

photo credit: http://greenactioncentre.ca/reduce-your-waste/introducing-compost-winnipeg/

This is why composting is so important. We create organic waste that can be transformed into nourishing, completely non-toxic soil that can be used to grow even more organic products! Composting cuts down on the greenhouse gases that are emitted constantly by landfills, allow the volume of waste to be reduced by a HUGE amount.

Even if you don’t have a compost at home, pay attention to what you’re throwing out.

You may be astonished at how much of it could actually just be composted instead!

Our friends over at Compost Winnipeg have a list of items that can/cannot be composted that you can check out here: https://www.compostwinnipeg.ca/faqs

If you’re interested in learning more about composting in your own home or perhaps signing up on the neighbourhood compost pick up, click here: https://www.compostwinnipeg.ca/sign-up

Series written by Chantal Delaquis

The Dark Side of Spring – and How You Can Help

It is really easy to talk to people about the weather. When it comes to climate, we are all living under the same sky, and our feet walk the same earth. By ‘we’, I’m referring, of course, to the human race, but I’m also referring to you and your neighbours, coworkers, friends and family. Right now, our city is going through a collective sigh of relief as the winter cold melts away and leaves behind the fresh air of spring. There’s something about blue sky and sunshine that draws people out from their makeshift caves and into the community. We can finally walk around the neighbourhood, eat lunch on the patio, ride our bikes to work and tan in our backyards. We can forget the skin-stinging cold and knee-high snow of Winnipeg winter, and appreciate our months of sunshine.

As nice as it sounds, spring isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. There is a part of it that we don’t talk about. Maybe we’re ashamed of it. Maybe we have been desensitized and simply don’t care. Maybe we don’t even notice it anymore. It’s easy to forget about it in the winter because it is so well hidden. Out of sight and out of mind. But the snow evaporates into the warm spring air, and reveals an ugly truth about human nature.

Soggy drink cups and cigarette butts replace the crisp pile of snowflakes. Plastic bags roam the streets, and empty beer bottles slump against buildings. The beauty of spring is at war with our forgotten past, carelessly tossed from car windows or mindlessly dropped on the grass.

How many of us have walked outside and kicked a stray cup out of our way, or skillfully avoided spots of gum on the sidewalk? The stink of cigarettes and fumes of daily traffic hover over the city, entering our lungs without us even noticing.

Litter isn’t just litter. It’s a mentality. It seems to be socially acceptable to litter. Or maybe it’s just a bad habit. Maybe it’s disrespect for the environment, or just a thoughtless, harmless action: “The planet will be fine if I throw my cigarette butt out my car window. That’s nothing. Who cares? I wish these crazy environmentalists would relax.”

I’m sure that most people reading this know someone who thinks this way. The increasing number of climate change deniers is terrifying. We can no longer deny what is right in front of our eyes.

I don’t want to be that person, and if you’ve read this far, then I’m hoping you don’t either. If you love the freshness of spring and want to continue to experience it for the rest of your life, then something has to change. It has to. In a couple decades, our seasons could be unrecognizable. Our Winterpeg winters may pale in comparison to the climate change that is to come. We all live under the same sky and walk the same earth, and we must all deal with the consequences of actions on the environment.

One small thing you can do to help is join us on May 30, 2018  at Generation Green, at 100-433 Main Street, for a community clean up. Anyone who is passionate about the planet is welcome to meet us at the store at 6:30pm, armed with compostable garbage bags and gloves (please bring reusable gloves if you have your own – we will provide garbage bags). We will march through the Exchange, cleaning up everything in our path. If you can’t make it, don’t worry. There’s plenty of litter to go around. Start your own community clean up, and tag us on instagram or Facebook! Let’s make our city beautiful again.

Written by Chantal Delaquis