Sunday, November 29, 2009

5 Tips for Sustainable Living (That Real People Can Do!)

So often I come across blogs offering tips for living a more sustainable lifestyle, but the tips that they offer are not necessarily realistic for busy moms and dads.

It would be great if we could all ride our bicycles everywhere we go, but that's just not realistic for everyone. Electric cars? Another great idea, but not (yet) realistic for people who have to travel long distances.

I think we would all choose live in a way that is better for the planet provided it's realistic and convenient.  In light of that, I've put together five tips for sustainable living that are practical and realistic even if you have a crazy busy lifestyle.  It doesn't take a significant amount of effort to make a difference for the planet.

Here are my tips (in no particular order):

1. Buy a programmable thermostat. Did you know that this is one of the easiest things you can do to help fight global warming? They are relatively inexpensive (ranging from $30 to $300) and you can easily recoup the cost in the first year of using it. Create a program to lower the temperature of the house while you are at work and then have it start to warm up the house before you come home. Do the opposite in the summer.  Most will also let you create a different program for weekdays and weekends.  Once programmed, it takes no further effort. You'll not only save energy, but you'll save money too.

2. Buy Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFL).  They are a bit more expensive that normal lightbulbs but this is offset by the fact that they last longer and more than pay for themselves in energy savings. If every North American home replaced only one incandescent bulb with a CFL bulb, it would reduce greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars in one year.

3. Use food grade stainless steel or reusable plastic water bottles that are tested and don't leach BPA.  I started using stainless steel bottles this year and my kids have been using BPA free plastic instead of disposable water bottles from the grocery store for a few years now.  I've found them far more convenient than expected. Not only are they BPA free but they can help reduce landfill.  You may be surprised to learn that North Americans sent upwards of 38 million plastic water bottles into landfill sites in 2006 alone.

4. Buy products that you know are better for the planet.  Fair Trade coffee now can be found in major Retailers at an equivalent cost to other good coffees.  Look for clothing, bedding, decor and other products from Retailers that screen their vendors for earth friendly practices.  You'll find a variety of eco-friendly, organic, fair trade items at EcoStylish Living. Shop smart. Spend your money with Retailers that sell products that are better for our planet.

5. Save money. Save trees. Go paperless.  Do your banking and credit cards online. Have them email your monthly statements to you instead of mailing them.  You could also move your magazine and newspaper subscriptions online.  Most major publications have this option available. The advantage is that you'll actually get your news faster than you did with a traditional newspaper.

I'd love to hear your ideas and tips.  Please leave a comment or chat with me on Twitter.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

EcoStylish Now Carries Text Message Baby Organic Onesies!

We are excited to announce that we now carry hip organic onesies by Text Message Baby.

These trendy and hilarious onesies are a perfect gift for that little one in your life.  These silky soft 100% SKAL certified organic onesies are made with low impact dyes and are printed with natural inks (in chocolate or cream) derived from soy beans and orange oils, which are 100% biodegradable and non-toxic.

This humorous baby line was designed with two groups in mind; ultra hip little ones and their intellectual, yet fashionable parents. This collection combines earth-friendly materials and sweatshop-free factories with bold, bright organic colours and hip yet simple designs.  We think these baby inspired text messages represent eco-friendly style with an edge! Stop by EcoStylish and check them out!

As always, we appreciate your feedback.  Please let us know what you think by posting a comment or by talking to us on Twitter. We look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Are Bamboo Products Environmentally Friendly?

Bamboo has attracted some controversy in the past year about whether bamboo products, and in particular bamboo fabrics, are truly environmentally friendly.

There is no question that Bamboo is one of the most interesting and sustainable resources we have available to us. It is the fastest growing plant on earth reaching 50 feet tall within 5 years versus a hardwood tree that can take 30 years to achieve the same height. It produces more biomass and 30% more oxygen than a hardwood forest of a comparable size. As a result, it very effectively sequesters carbon (up to 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide per hectare) which helps reduce global warming. It can be selectively harvested so that it renews without replanting.  You may be surprised to learn that it is actually a grass, not a tree.

The truly fascinating thing about Bamboo is how versatile the plant and fibre can be for manufacturing.  You can find bamboo used for decor (furniture, baskets, dishes, decorations, etc) and clothing, but you can also find it used for flooring and other building materials.  I have bamboo flooring in my office and I love it.  It's truly beautiful.

The controversey does not centre around the use of the wood, but rather in the use of the fibre for clothing and bedding.  Bamboo fabric is luxuriously soft and far less expensive than silk and cashmere.  That, combined with it's "eco-friendly" reputation, has led it to become very popular in the fashion industry.  The issue with bamboo clothing is that the manufacturing cycle to process the fibre requires the use of heavy chemicals, some of which are toxic. Very, very little of today's bamboo fabrics could qualify as organic. I still believe the future is bright for this product.  New technologies are being developed that will eventually remove the harsh chemicals from the manufacturing process. At the moment, they are very expensive and it will take time to get to an affordable solution.  In the meantime, the source of the fibre continues to be a very sustainable source.  We truly struggled with whether we should carry bamboo fabrics at  EcoStylish.  After doing research on the vendors available we found one that we can believe in and who meets our strict criteria. We love that we can validate that they use sustainable practices. They travel to China twice a year to inspect the factory and talk with employees to ensure their code of conduct with regards to fair treatment and environmental policies are being followed.  The factory operates with a 97% closed loop cycle (which is fantastic for this industry) to recover the chemicals and reuse them.  The fibre leaves the process with no chemical residue and all clothing and bedding from this manufacturer are Oeko-Tex certified which is an industry standard that screens to ensure there are no harmful chemicals or residues in the fabric.
They also use AZO free dyes and microorganisms are used in the water to help purify it after the dying process.  The water emerges ph balanced, pure, clean and ready to be reused.  This manufacturer also gives back through charity, recycles, uses electric trucks, and purchases carbon offsets.  We are confident that they are a socially responsible company and we feel very good that they've gone above and beyond to ensure that their clothing and bedding have the smallest possible impact on our planet.  

Please let us know what you think by leaving a post or by talking to us on twitter.

Photo (c)Tomo.Yun (

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Top 3 Eco Tips For The Holidays

With the holidays quickly approaching, I thought I would share a few quick ideas to help 'green' your holidays.

When you filter through all the information, there are some really interesting ideas available on the web that you can take advantage when planning your holiday season:

1. Holiday Greeting Cards: The most environmentally friendly option is, of course, to send your family and friends an e-card.  This saves the eco-cost of manufacturing and transporting an actual greeting card.  If you look online, you'll even find that most of your favorite charitable organizations (e.g. World Wildlife Fund) have a selection of e-cards that you can send that reflect your personal beliefs. I use e-cards for family and friends that live far away. I, personally, still like to give people a hand written card face to face.  My favorite find for Christmas Cards this year are seed paper cards that bloom when you plant them.  If you google, you can find many companies that make them.  I just love the idea that the card I give out can be planted and will grow wild flowers. I also have to admit that the 100% recycled paper and the soy & water based inks help to sell me on the cards from  If you research, you'll find a variety of companies that sell seed cards with designs that are truly adorable.

2. Decorating:  If you celebrate Christmas, you may expect me to tell you that an artificial tree is the most envirnomentally friendly solution because it's reusable year after year. Would you be surprised to find out that it's not?  Artificial trees require a significant amount of energy and petroleum products in the manufacturing cycle--not to mention that most are made overseas and shipped to North America.  A real tree is actually an eco-friendly choice provided you take care with how it is handled after the holidays.  One of our favorite family traditions is to take our children to a local tree farm to pick out and cut down our own tree.  We can feel good about it because it is a farmed tree, so we are not impacting the viability of local forests, and we are only transporting it a relatively short distance to our home.   Our local municipality has a recycling program for Christmas trees, but they can also be put through a chipper and makes good mulch. Another alternative, if you don't mind a small tree, is to buy a potted tree that can planted outside when the weather warms up. That's the best recycling program of all! Another way to 'green' your decorations is to move away from traditional string lights and choose energy efficient  light strings instead.  Some LED light strings are as much as 90% more energy efficient than traditional and look just as good. Further, they have almost double the life of traditional light strings which means less frustration. When decorating your tree, you can choose ornaments that are handmade from natural materials.  Often they come with less packaging which reduces waste.  Search the internet and you'll find sources for Fair Trade ornaments which are a wonderful solution and are both unique and beautiful. My last inexpensive but lovely decorating tip comes from my Grandmother. She used to cut fresh pine boughs to decorate the house.  It's a tradition we still enjoy...the smell is wonderful.

3. Gifts: If you are looking for sustainable and eco-friendly gift ideas, there are plenty available if you know where to look. One of the most popular questions is about how to manage gift giving. In recent years it's become much easier to find great designs in 100% recycled wrapping paper. You can also choose the option of cloth gift bags. My personal favorite this year for gift giving will be seed paper gift bags...I just love these products. With regards to the gifts themselves, ideally you simply want to make the more sustainable and eco-friendly choice when shopping for gifts in order to 'green' your holiday.  Organic cotton sheets are a lovely alternative to the ordinary.  Bamboo is one of our most interesting sustainable resources and they make wonderfully soft environmentally friendly bedding as well. Organic and sustainable toys can be a great solution for those special children in your life. For the techie in your family who loves their gadgets, there are some great gift ideas that are good for the environment and fun to use.  One of the green gadgets on my list this year is the Novothink Solar Charger for iPod and iPhone. I sure hope that the big guy in the red suit leaves one under the tree for me this year!

I'd love to hear how you "green" the holidays.  Please feel free to leave a comment or chat with me on Twitter.

*Photo by D Sharon Pruitt.