Guide to a Green Halloween

October 28, 2008

Halloween is a good time for kids and adults alike to have fun and let loose. This holiday by nature has nothing green about it, but we’re here to tell you how to make this Halloween a little greener. Think of the hazards that accompany this particular day. Kids are consuming an unorthodox amount of candy, which is not only bad for their health but bad for the environment. Think of all the litter that can come from just one child’s trick-or-treating bag—now multiply that by the millions of kids who trick or treat every year, and that amount is staggering. If you’re like most people, you’re on a budget, and will no-doubt hunt for the most affordable Halloween treats out there–fair trade and environmentally-friendly choices probably don’t even register on the radar. Not to mention all the waste that comes from Halloween costumes we buy for the kids, which they will probably have grown too much to wear for next year, and this one day generates a mini environmental crisis. What can we do to lessen the impact on the earth and those who inhabit it?

For one, there is the wonderful option of donating to Unicef. Be sure to have spare pennies, nickels and even a more significant personal donation ready for those kids who come partolling with their UNICEF boxes. The money from these donations goes towards the funding of human rights initiatives worldwide, including helping children affected by AIDS, providing free education for children, and environmental initiatives to help children gain access to resources necessary for survival. Kick off the holiday season by giving generously to this organization.

In terms of the health impact posed to children by consuming pounds of processed candy, there are healthier options out there, such as Endangered Species Chocolates, which do not contain “processed sugars, hydrogenated fats, and other chemicals like pesticides and growth hormones.” ( The Milk Chocolate Halloween Treats pack comes with 24, individually wrapped chocolates for under $7. While this may be marginally more expensive than what you would usually spend, you’ll sleep easy Halloween night by knowing that the kids you handed out candy to will be consuming a less harmful treats this year. As a bonus, ten percent of all profits go towards supporting endangered species. Who says trick or treating can’t be altruistic? VeganEssentials offers Organic Chocolate Mint Candies by College Farm Organics. Along with being a healthier option, the packaging of the individually-wrapped goodies is biodegradable.

Now to address the pesky issue of Halloween costumes. You may want to keep them to remember all the Halloween’s gone by, but they will likely just take up space in your home until you throw them out. Keep them for younger siblings if it applies, but if not you may want to consider costume donation. has a costume exchange program, which may be just the place for your child’s used costume. If cash is tight, you can also get a free costume for family members of any age from this innovative organization. also has an option to donate your old costumes so someone else can get just as much use out of them as you have.

There’s also the old-fasioned option of making the costumes yourselves, from household items–do this, and you will be reducing, reusing and recycling all in one go!

 Finally, teach your kids to clean up after themselves by hosting a neighbourhood post-Halloween litter pick up. You’ll build community, while keeping the places where your children play neat and tidy.

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The Plastic Bag Debacle

October 22, 2008

A lot of governments have been talking about banning the use of plastic bags for groceries/shopping. San Francisco was the first in 2007, and the cities of Winnipeg and Vancouver are moving towards an outright ban as well. In January of this year, China took a radical step and banned the bags altogether for the entire country.

The question is, what will people use to dispose of their garbage in their homes once plastic bags are banned? Paper garbage bags are also a plausible solution, since they are biodegradable, but what about the use of trees for this alternative? If paper bags are introduced for the disposing of garbage, the government will have to think about legislation mandating that paper garbage bags be made of recyclable materials.

Practically speaking, though, even paper garbage bags may not be the answer. It is difficult to imagine throwing out kitchen waste, which can be often grimy and damp (Think: greasy residue or rotting leftovers) into a paper bag, which would most-likely end up leaving a mess in the garbage bin under the sink.

It seems that biodegradable bags may have to be the answer, and will raise the cost of garbage bags for consumers who rely on free grocery bags for disposal purposes. Biodegradable bags are avaibale at EcoSafe, which is avaiable to both US and Canadian consumers. They charge $3.99 Canadian for 30 medium sized biodegradable bags.

As of now, with plastic bags still in circulation, enviro-conscious shoppers can purchase reusable bags for their groceries and other shopping needs. Just a few retailers who offer this relatively inexpensive option at the check-outs are Bluenotes, Safeway, Co-op, Zellers, and Wal-Mart. These reusable bags are also available for purchase online, and come in stylish options for those who do not just want an inexpensive, green alternative but also want to make a statement. http://Bringyourownbag.caoffers satchels with slogans such as “Live Like You Give a Damn”, and David Brower’s quote “There is no business to be done on a dead planet.” These sassy totes start at $15.00 and will spread the word that plastic is not okay.

To bridge the gap between the new, plastic-free world we strive for, and today, we have come up with a list of ways to re-use plastic bags you may have lying around the house–your own personal recycling program:

Ten Ways to Reuse Plastic Bags

1) Use plastic bags to clean up after your pet. You know what we mean. No one wants to step in your dog’s poop, and it’s better than having the bags clogging up space underneath your sink.

2) Use them to line waste-paper bins in your home. If they’re just for paper and other non-messy items, you can reuse them again and again.

3) Do your community a favour: gather together a group of neighbours, take your plastics, and go on litter patrol. Your kids will thank you for it.

4) Need to pad a parcel with Christmas just around the corner? Use the bags to stop the kids from telling what you got them by shaking their gifts. Not only does it lead to waste reduction, but it sends the message that others should be thinking of ways to reuse and recyling too.

5) This year, instead of sending your kids out with plastic pumpkins or vinyl trick-or-treating bags, have them use plastic grocery bags instead, for a green Halloween.

6) This one is rather obvious. Bring your plastic bags back to the grocery store and use them to shop again. Alternately, some stores now have plastic bag recycling programs. Ask around at your supermarket. If they don’t have one, petition to start one.

7) Instead of buying brown paper bags for your lunch, take it in a plastic grocery bag and save some trees as well as some money.

8 ) Use them to wrap shampoos and lotions in your suitcase when you’re travelling. You’ll avoid the messy explosion.

9) Take them to the gym and stash your wet bathing suit and loofah in them after your swim in the pool.

10) Avoid making a mess on your floor. Lay down the bags when painting your nails,  helping the kids with an art project or anything else that might leave a stain.

Let’s all work together for a cleaner, greener world!

 Today is blog action day, and this year’s topic is Poverty. We are invited to interpret this subject in any way we see fit, and has decided to separate our entry into 3 sections. Here goes:

How-to Reduce the Sting of Poverty for Others:

5) Finance a micro-loan for entreprenuers in third world nations. This will make an enormous difference in communities overseas, and loans can for as little as $25. Links to micro-loan organizations:, and

 4) Volunteer your time at a soup kitchen, food or clothing drive.

3) Sponsor a child. This could provide food, clothing, educational costs and medication for children in other countries who need it. Links to organizations that take care of the needs of children in developing nations include:,, and .

2) Sign a petition to increase low-income housing in your community, hot lunch programs in public schools, and increased funding for Not-for-profits that help get the homeless off the streets.

1) Carry granola bars, food gift certificates, hats, gloves, scarves and/or juice boxes and distribute those instead when asked for change on the streets.

How-to Keep More Cash in Your Pockets in Light of Harsh Economic Times:

5) Consult a financial planner

4) Shop around. Never take the first quote for what you want–there is almost always a better deal out there. Research prices online to save gas, then make your purchase while you are already out doing other errands to cut back on green house emissions and gas money.

3) Eat at home instead of getting fast-food. It’s healthier and you will save money. Strapped for time? Prepare meals ahead of time, freeze them, and then heat them up when its time to chow down. Bring bag lunches to work instead of paying for food at the cafeteria or nearby restaurants, and store in a reusable lunch bag in order to reduce waste and save dough.

2) Buying a home? Get a fixed rate mortgage. In times of economic uncertainty, it is best to be able to budget for what you will need rather than take a gamble.

1) Use your credit card only when absolutely necessary–ie, when ordering online or in an emergency. As a general rule, if you don’t have the money in the bank, then you can’t afford what you’re buying.

Increase Your Awareness: Media that Deals with Poverty

5) Book: Our Day to End Poverty: 24 Ways You Can Make a Difference, by Shannon Daley-Harris and Karen Speerstra. Self-explanitory. To order, click here.

4) Movie: Waging a Living (2005). Directed by: Edward Rosenstein and Roger Weisberg. Covers the plight of America’s working poor and the struggles they face. To order, click here.

3) Book: The No-Nonsense Guide to World Poverty, by Jeremy Seabrook. (2007). Challenges thinking on poverty, and the idea that the solution to poverty is wealth, rather than sufficiency and security.

2) Music: The Care for Haiti Music Project. This collaboration brings together artists from around the globe performing world music. The project’s founder is Wyclef Jean, and all sale proceeds go towards the eradication of AIDS, poverty and Illiteracy in the Haitian community. Participating artists include, but are not limited to: Akon, Mary J. Blige, Bono, Natasha Beddingfield, Willy Nelson, Sinead O’Connor, The Black-Eyed Peas and Santana. To pre-order your copy, click here.

1) Sign up for a newsletter keeping you informed of local poverty issues in your area. Click below:

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Happy Thanksgiving, Canada!

October 12, 2008

We wanted to kick off this year’s holiday season by saying Happy Thanksgiving Canada! The holidays, especially, are a time to give back. Here are a few tips to do some green this season:
10) Utilize public transportation. Traffic is always horrible on these special days, and you don’t want to be driving anyway. Why not hop on the Go-train or Greyhound this weekend? You’ll save on gas money and on ozone depletion. Or;
9) Carpool to family get-togethers. Increase that holiday feeling and earn your spot in the carpool lane.
8 ) Cook with organic ingredients. Support the anti-pesticide market and keep your family healthy. If you’ve never had free-range turkey, now’s the time to try it.
7) Purchase your pumpkin pie at a local fruit stand or farmers market to stimulate your local economy.
6) Wash your Thanksgiving China with enviro-friendly dish soap available at
5)Compost your leftover brussel sprouts and give your garden some extra nutrients before winter.
4)Locate a soup kitchen where you can volunteer or drop off your leftovers, or;
3)Make leftover turkey sandwhiches, take your family downtown and hand them out to those who need them.
2)Build community and offer to rake a neighbour’s lawn–or do so in secret to build good karma.
1)If you’ve been drinking, make sure you are definitely in condition to drive home at the end of the night–if not, repeat steps 1 or 2 and carpool or take public transportation.

Any ideas of how to have a greener holiday season? Leave a comment! Add something to the world–do some green!

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Canada Federal Election

October 7, 2008

Sometimes wading through the political jargon of different parties and trying to sew together a coherent picture of what a future would look like with each one can make even the most conscientious of us want to hide under the covers and skip election day altogether. Voting is a valued right and privilege, but aside from that, it’s also a responsibility. It is so vital that those of us who live in this country make the effort to elect leaders who will shape this country into something we can be proud of, and take care of the issues that matter most. We’re attempting to take some of the guesswork out of it for you, so that when election day rolls around you’re armed with the knowledge you need to change your country. VOTE on October 14! Add something to the world. . . provides this information in a strictly educational capacity. The views of these parties aren’t necessarily our own. We aim to provide information on Canada’s political parties so that voters can make an informed decision. In the name of objectivity, all information on this page is quoted directly from the web-sites of the parties—some have been adapted for length. Any additional information can be found at the web-sites provided. We attempted to give equal coverage to all parties, but some had more information than others, which is why our coverage may seem uneven. Please email us your questions or comments about the parties/issues below, or leave a comment on our blog.

Party Information

Canada Federal Election

October 2, 2008

Canada is having a Federal Election this month and wants to know what you think.  Have your voice be heard.

Hello world, indeed! We are in the process of starting up a web-based not-for-profit, at! Our web-site is still under construction, with plans to launch Earth Day 2010! We have tons of ideas for how ordinary people can make an extraordinary impact and ‘add something to the world’.

We will have much, much more to say in the days, weeks and months ahead! Stay tuned. Until then, a we leave you with a favourite video that captures exactly why we do what we do, courtesy of YouTube and the Discovery Channel. We love the world!