great day – Earth Day 2017 !

thegreenrock-ers Amanda Russell and Perla Hernandez thegreenrock.ca's booth on Earth Day

thegreenrock-ers Amanda Russell and Perla Hernandez at the Earth Day Fair

Saturday afternoon rain didn’t stop crowds of boisterous families from making it to the Earth Day Fair at the Suncor Fluvarium on April 22!  Over 250 people attended the event! Just about all of them stopped at thegreenrock.ca’s booth to learn about ways to take action, take care of the planet, and how to live sustainably.

Each year, 1 billion people in more than 195 countries celebrate  Earth Day worldwide. The key purpose is to get people together, to celebrate mother nature, and think about ways in which they can take action.

In line with this message, thegreenrock.ca was very pleased and excited to share our signature projects for this year:

  • #playoutdoors ~ Less screen time and more time outdoors! In collaboration with the Junior Forest Wardens-NL, #playoutdoors raises awareness about nature deficit disorder and challenges families to get outdoors, make new friends and learn new skills.
  • ReGeneration: The Plastic Bag Project (coming up!) ~ An intergenerational awareness and action program that brings seniors and students together to share strengths, and transfer skills toward a common purpose of recycling single-use plastic bags through crafting durable tote bags. This project is supported by The Co-operators IMPACT! Fund 2017.
  • Guide to the Good ~ A social enterprise that makes it easier for people to choose local for their purchasing and lifestyle choices. Local businesses bring economic, ethical and social benefits to our lives and our communities. Guide to the Good is currently being piloted in the Northeast Avalon, but the goal is for there to be a guide to the good in communities everywhere!

Visitors were asked to participate in the “how do you fit in?” campaign and to think about ways in which they can help protect the environment through their daily actions.

At the end of the day we had some local giveaways from businesses featured on the Guide to the Good. The draw was live-streamed via Facebook

Facebook Live of the guide to the good draw

  • Prize #1 Local Basket!
    Jumping Bean‘s low CO2 emission roasting coffee; hypoallergenic, artisan soaps and body products made locally from St. John’s Soap Works; and local hand-knitted hat by Casey’s Crafts.
  • Prize #2 Firewood and Coffee! 
    Bundles of local sustainable and licensed firewood from Firewood Factory; 2 gift-cards from  Jumping Bean .

Two winners were randomly selected out of 104 individual tickets. Congrats Olivia and Joan!

 

 

cropped-thegreenrock-1.pngthegreenrock.ca is a not-for–profit company that informs and inspires people in Newfoundland and Labrador on ways to address the challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like us and share!

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Tree Tapping at Pippy Park – April 6

 

maple trees are behind it all in St. John's

maple trees are behind it all in St. John’s

Here is home to maple trees.  Many maple trees.  So many maple trees that some people, sometimes, call them weeds.  They create canopies over gardens, in parks, and  between sidewalks and roads.  They are plentiful.

In a kind of parallel format, here is home to breakfasts, brunches, and sometimes even suppers where maple syrup pours over pancakes, waffles, toutons, french toast and other delights.   Most times, almost ALL the time, there is no direct relationship between the maple tree in the garden and the maple syrup on the table.

Can these worlds collide?   Yes!

Lisa and Steve McBride – the couple who walk the goats in coats – tap.  Root Cellars Rock shared their experience a few years back.  And now, thanks to the Friends of Pippy Park,  the rest of us can learn to tap too!

Friends of Pippy Park are running a free family workshop this Sunday April 6th 2014 from 1 to 3.  Meet at Pippy Park Headquarters, Mount Scio Road.

This is the skivvy on what you will learn:
• To identify tap-able trees in Pippy Park;
• When a tree is ready to tap;
• What materials you will need;
• How to tap a tree sustainably. (If you tap please cap!); and
• How to turn sap to syrup.

Bring your own mug for hot chocolate.   No charge for the workshop, but an annual family membership of $20 to Friends of Pippy Park will support initiatives like this!

the bARTer of exchange

Have a Preserve Party!

Have a Preserve Party!

There is a freedom in realizing how remarkably easy it can be to facilitate learning and sharing. The barter economy has largely become a thing of the past, yet, there are community-building ways to bring it back!  Barter is a big one for sustainability.

This past fall a thegreenrocker organized a ‘free school.’ Basically what it sounds like, a free school is an opportunity to learn something without paying any money.  Subjects are whatever is of interest:  home brew, preserves, the perfect espresso, or even book-making (like the little books they sell at Fixed).  Somebody with a skill may be more than willing to share it, and in turn learn something new from somebody else.  The free school can be as few as two.

Another couple of greenrockers had a cooking day one Sunday afternoon.  They chose good, freezaable recipes and found a Sobeys location that offered the use of their space and equipment.  The main ingredients were bought in the store.  Groceries went up the elevator, meals came down.  The were labelled, frozen, and enjoyed over the next few months.

You can also try a Soup Swap.  If five friends each make a big pot of a different soup and everyone brings take-home containers, well you get five different kinds of soup to enjoy throughout the week, or even freeze for later!   You can write down the recipe for everybody as well, so your friends can try making the soup again. You could swap any kind of food: dips, sauces, jams, cookies, casseroles etc.!

Swaps and exchanges are big boosts to cupboards, closets and friends.  Way to sustain!

clean. not toxic.

 

lemons - good for more than lemonade

lemons – good for more than lemonade

What’s in your cleaning cupboard?  If products you use carry a warning label it’s for a good reason:  it’s harmful.   

It really is scary how we accept using harmful chemicals on every surface and for every purpose.   True story:  I refused to let my kids help with the cleaning because I didn’t want them near the cleaners.

That got me thinking, and I found lots of information about cleaning products, health, and the planet at Women’s Voices for the Earth and The David Suzuki Foundation.   

Also found lots of recipes, and learned that with a few ingredients, a Jones Soda bottle and a (well-rinsed) sprayer, the kids can clean all they like.  

Many cleaning staples are available at supermarkets.  Other basics, and eco-friendly product lines like Nellie’s All Natural, are available on the ground in St. John’s at The Natural Health Shop on Stavanger Drive.   

Cleaning Basics – 

Baking soda: Just plain sodium bicarbonate, it works wonders for scrubbing and deodorizing!

Vinegar: Plain white vinegar. A natural disinfectant. It’s cheap and you can buy it in large quantities.

Washing soda: Sodium carbonate, a.k.a baking soda’s cousin. Often used as a water softener for laundering or a stain remover.

Borax: Sodium borate. Good for laundering and cleaning.

Castile soap: Soap made from olive oil and sodium hydroxide.

Lemon peel:  Juice the lemon for wicked lemonade.

All Purpose Cleaner:  Lemon peels + vinegar + time.   Cover lemon peels with vinegar and let stay for at least two weeks.  Stir every now and then.  The longer you leave it the stronger the formula will be. Once ready, strain and decant. A few drops of essential oils cut the vinegar scent (e.g. peppermint oil, lemongrass oil). Typical sprayers fit on Jones Soda bottles.

Eartheasy.com carries a very comprehensive list recipes for just about every cleaning situation – and a list of ‘over the counter’ products.

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if you like this, please like and share – it’s encouraging!

thegreenrock.ca ~ think planet.  live local.  is a registered non-profit that provides information and inspiration to answer challenges facing our planet, our communities, and our lives.  like thegreenrock.ca on facebook!

needs must ~ notes of hope from #NLDark

‘Needs must’ is an old phrase is not heard so often any more, but it fits perfectly with the #NLDark situation, and sustainability.

Puzzle completed by the glow of the snow

Puzzle completed by the glow of the snow

On those days early in 2014 there was not enough electricity being generated in Newfoundland to meet the demand.  Everyone was affected.  The house was heated by the fireplace and my family was entertained by a Yellow Submarine puzzle, completed by snowglow.

The environmentalists, the green people, the Al Gores and David Suzukis and so many more have been talking about conservation for decades.  #NLDark proved that we can conserve when ‘needs must’.  

Our power grid is a closed system.   The planet is a closed system.  We can change what we’re doing so that it – the power and the planet – keeps going along.  We saw that in action through #NLDark.  Yes yes yes there were challenges, but this is not about that.  This is about the hope that came out of it.  Co-operation, support, and conservation.  (There was also a very hearty showing of innovation and consideration, but that can be a different post.)

I  know where I was when the rotating power outages started – heading up Torbay Road to pick up a pizza for a Christmas holidays sleepover party.  No power on one side of Torbay Road, full blast on the other.  Eerie.   I didn’t know what was going on. 

Then Good Thing #1:  People co-operated.  At the Torbay Road Newfoundland Drive intersection (six lanes heading toward Torbay), the collective ‘we’ figured out the 24-lane-stop-intersection fast, and got it going with grace.  If someone went astray (not waiting for their right turn), the collective we picked it up and resumed the accepted pattern.  Nice eye contacts between drivers in parallel lanes.  Ten points for us!

Then Good Thing #2:  People supported.  Just a little further up the road Peter’s Pizza pick-up was like a kitchen party.  The guy behind the counter seemed new, but was very friendly and upfront:  there is a backlog.  When he came out with a pizza he’d kind of announce it.  One man was reading out the twitter feed to the rest.  Another came in to pick-up a pizza ordered pre-outage.  We welcomed him.  He went to pay and was walking away from the counter when the Peter’s Pizza guy called him back and asked quietly (but we could all hear)…. “Did you mean to leave a $20 tip?”.  “Yes.” said the late-comer.  We all looked up!  “It’s going to be awhile.”  said Peter’s Pizza guy.  “Maybe I’ll get mine first,”  said the new-comer.  All laughed (and he did not get his pizza first.).  Gold stars!

Then Good Thing #3:  People conserved.   Arrived home to a powered-house, but little was on in the way of electricity.  Our kids – the same kids who are unable to turn off a screen or a light – were on it.  Turn off the Christmas Lights, don’t run the dishwasher, conserve conserve conserve was all over facebook.  And it went on from there.  People conserved.  Hallelujah!

What we waste is the difference between what we need and what we use.  #NLDark showed that we have what it takes to do better when needs must.   And that can be cozy.

the cat wasn't worried

the cat wasn’t worried

Green Resolutions

It’s the new year, a time to contemplate life and make some resolutions for the months ahead. This year, why not make a change that will have a positive effect on the environment as well? There are many many possibilities for green resolutions, big and small, any new sustainable habit is a step on a path towards leading a more sustainable lifestyle. Even if you’re already doing lots, there’s likely still room for another green resolution.

Here are some ideas:

Keep grocery bags in the car, pocket or purse

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Turn off electronics – and give yourself time to switch off too.

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Eat more local/wild meats/sustainable seafood

Start sprouting

Buy local when you can!

Use a big mason jar, or a reusable water bottle

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Use your own re-usable coffee mug

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Put on a sweater (turn the heat down a degree or two)

Buy recycled toilet paper

Grow veggies/herbs 

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Avoid pesticide use in garden/lawnAvoid HHW use/properly dispose of HHW
Drive less, walk/bike more

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Buy more organic

Use eco-cleaning products

Start/join a bulk buying club

Be mindful of packaging when making purchases

Start recycling/recycle more

Conserve water

Turn off the lights when you leave a room

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Unplug appliances

Donate items to charity (divert from the landfill)

Buy used clothing

Plant a tree

There are so many options for a green resolution this New Year. You can choose one, or many, something big or small. Taking it one step at a time can help to build towards a goal of a more sustainable lifestyle.

Deck the Halls…

Keeping it Green This Holiday is a series of posts about minimizing your environmental footprint in a season that can easily be excessive.   A beautiful holiday can be had by making things from scratch, spending time at home and outdoors, and less time worrying about to-do lists and ‘getting it done’.   Check out the rest of the series on thegreenrock.ca, and have a happy and green holiday!

When it grows colder outside, we retreat indoors with mugs of hot tea and quilted blankets. Holiday decorations are a way to bring warmth, colour and a festive feeling into your home. Candles, oranges, holly, ribbons, wreaths, and boughs bring a sense of coziness and joy. Decorating your home for the holidays doesn’t have to be a mad buying rush. Instead, using what you already have stored in Christmas boxes or gathering bits and pieces from nature can set the perfect note.

Here are a few tips on how to decorate your home, and be green for Christmas.

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LIGHTS

LED (Light Emitting Diode) holiday lights, are a much more efficient, long-lasting, and thus, eco-friendly choice than incandescent lights. New lights in stores are often LED, but check the label to be sure. Your friends or neighbours might have a surplus of strings of lights, or used lights can be found on freecycle.org or kijiji.ca.

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CHRISTMAS TREE

Real or artificial? The old Christmas tree debate… but apparently there is a verdict! Generally, real trees win, because artificial trees are typically thrown away after a few seasons of use. With a real tree, you can recycle it into organic waste, and if you buy a tree that is grown on a Christmas tree farm, you’re not depleting trees from the forest. Read more on the David Suzuki web site.

Traditional Tree

Traditional decorations can give your tree a beautiful, natural appearance and are a way to avoid buying more baubles. Stringing popcorn and cranberries is a fun way to spend time with the kids, all you need is a needle and thread, popcorn and cranberries. Dried orange slices make fantastic ornaments, are easy to make, and they resemble little stained glass windows.

Christmas Tree Disposal

Here is the information on where and when to drop off your Christmas tree in St. John’s once the season is over, so that it can be turned to mulch for the city’s gardening projects.

DECORATIONS

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Deck the halls with boughs of holly! If you go for a walk in the woods, it’s likely you’ll find a wealth of natural materials to use for holiday decorations. Keep an eye out for fallen items– pine cones, dog berries, leaves…Then at home, the trimmings from your Christmas tree, oranges. Poke some cloves into an orange, and you have a pretty and wonderful smelling pomander. Natural items are great for wreaths, centerpieces, window decorations and ornaments and using them helps to avoid over-consumption of holiday trinkets.

There are lots of ways to get creative and reduce your environmental footprint this holiday season, from gifts, to trees, to decorations.

Have a happy and eco-friendly holiday!