Archive for the ‘Recycling’ Category


Last year, we began to try to buy toilet paper and paper towels that were made only from recycled paper. (I know, I know, we shouldn’t use paper towels. I’m working on it!!)

According to Greenpeace Canada, if each household in Canada replaced 1 roll of virgin toilet paper with just one roll of recycled toilet paper, it would save 47,962 trees.

It isn’t always easy, with the limited amount of information that companies put on their packaging, to figure out which brand of paper products is greener.  Some were obvious — like the individually-wrapped plastic-covered mega-rolls we used to buy at Costco. We stopped buying those, opting for the ones that said they were made from recycled paper. But it wasn’t clear which was the greenest. Some said they were made with recycled paper, others said post-consumer fibres, some had packages made of recycled material, others said they were biodegradable. Some just had green colours on their packages.

Thanks to Greenpeace Canada, now I know which ones to put in my shopping cart. Their campaign to preserve Canada’s boreal forest includes a guide to greener toilet paper products sold in Canada, and which ones to avoid. You can see it here.

And the last time we were at Costco, we found the Cascades brand recycled-paper toilet paper, so that’s what we’re stocking up on now. Here’s a story from the Globe and Mail about how Cascades is tooting its green horn after years of hiding the fact that it used recycled paper in its products.

These rolls of paper are all green

Normally quiet Cascades Inc. wants to shout out to its customers that its recycled paper products are truly good for the environment

When an Ottawa consulting firm conducted a study of the environmental claims of 1,018 consumer products sold in North American big-box stores, there was just one item that presented truly accurate information: a package of paper towels from Quebec paper company Cascades Inc.
  Those paper towels really are made from 100-per-cent recycled material, TerraChoice Environmental Marketing Inc. found, and they are biodegradable and compostable.
Every other product surveyed – all 1,017 of them – made one or more unsupportable marketing claims.
  Cascades, a quiet player in Canada’s huge paper industry, is about to boost its profile to try to take advantage of its long-time, and pristine, environmental record.
  For years, most of Cascades’ consumer products – paper towels, toilet paper, and napkins – hid behind private-label brands. But with a new environmental sensibility pervasive in the marketplace, the company wants to flaunt its green credentials by expanding sales of products sold under its own name. 
You can read the rest here.

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Ever since our family did a one-week garbage-free experiment last summer, I’ve been trying to keep our kids’ packed lunches and snacks as litterless as possible. The average Canadian kid’s lunch (like the one pictured above) is estimated to create about 30 kg of waste each year. I’d been at the kids’ schools at lunch and snack time and had been surprised by the amount of garbage being produced.

We have piles of reusable plastic containers, water bottles, real cutlery and cloth napkins that the kids are very good about returning in their lunch boxes each day. We also have a plastic bento-box style lunch kit that is great for lunches. We got ours as gifts from Laptop Lunches and they are sturdy, clean easily and can carry a lot of food for a hungry kid.

We also try not to pack individually-wrapped foods such as granola bars or cheese sticks. The kids take juice boxes from time to time, but usually have water or juice in a reusable bottle. They bring home any small plastic sandwich bags or snack-size bags to be recycled. It would be nice if our older child’s elementary school could provide recycling facilities in the lunchroom, but that’s something I hope to raise with the school shortly.

Here’s a picture of one of our kids’ lunches that I made last week:


Yes, it’s true, she has a paper napkin but that’s because all the cloth napkins were in the laundry that day!! Besides, she brought it home and it went straight into the compost.

I also picked up stainless-steel water bottles for the kids to use after reading several reports raising concerns about dangerous chemicals leaching from plastic water bottles into water. They love them, but they were a bit pricey so every time they leave the house they get a “Don’t lose your water bottle!!” reminder. So far, so good….

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A few years ago when we lived in a lovely upper duplex with beautiful mouldings, hardwood floors and a delicious claw-foot bathtub but no back yard, we had a worm composting box in our kitchen. All winter long we fed those red wigglers our coffee grounds, shredded newspaper and kitchen scraps. And they ate like pigs, turning our green waste into dark black compost.

Now we have a yard with a composting bin in the back and a lot of creepy crawlies doing our work for us. But my friend Emeline, over at cochonetrouge, has been using a worm composter for the first time this winter and kindly answered my questions about her family’s experience.

Why did you start composting with worms?
I was too lazy to go outside!  All jokes aside, our outdoor composter was filled to capacity and we wanted a winter alternative. So we researched a bit and got our worms and starter bin through the R4 program at Concordia University.

How does it work?
We have a bin under the kitchen table that has the worms. I feed them about once a week, and line the top with some newspaper to make sure the environment doesn’t get too damp.  I was told not to go in there very often, but I can’t resist. I love seeing them. We have little baby worms and big mama worms… it’s really fun to watch.

What do you feed them?
All my vegetable/fruit kitchen scraps. Except for citrus and onion. Worms no likey citrus and onions. No meat, no dairy, no grains, no fats.

Does it smell?

Do the worms escape?
We’ve had maybe 3 or 4 escapees. They’re serving life without parole.

What are you going to do with the compost?
Not sure yet, maybe use it for some seedlings if we can get a little greenhouse project up and running. If not, we’ll use it in the flower and veggie beds this summer.

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Bac de recyclage design - Le contenant vert classique a fait son temps à Montréal

The city of Montreal has chosen a new recycling tool to help people who live in apartment buildings recycle better. The new reusable bins have handles, close at the top and are apparently easier to carry up and down stairs than the current green bins.

 You can read a story about the new bins here .

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