Our Choice: Al Gore

In the pile of delicious books I received for review from Rodale Publishing, the second one on the review list was the new book from Al Gore called Our Choice. The former US Vice President and high-profile environmental activist has followed up his tremendously successful and enlightening first book, An Inconvenient Truth, with a work that tells us what we can do to change the truths and realities exposed in that book: a new book called Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis.

In Our Choice, Gore tells us the realities of how we’re living on this planet right now: what are the sources of the energy we use? And knowing our appetite for energy, how can we change those sources and move to something more sustainable? What are the challenges of moving to those technologies – and what are the challenges of *not* moving?

In this exhaustively researched yet compellingly written book, you’ll see beautiful images of the world we live in and how it’s changing due to the impacts of human energy consumption (including fossil fuels, food, and much more). You’ll learn about the realities of solar, wind, geothermal, nuclear and biofuels, including the way they work as well as the challenges involved in using them (eg. the requirement for a new power grid to distribute the power in a smarter way).

In the end, Gore poses us a choice. It is still possible to fix the damage we’ve done and to halt the progression of the problems we’ve created. And in 20, 40, 100 years, how will we explain what we’ve done? How will we say to our children, this is how we fixed it – or this is why we didn’t? Ultimately, Our Choice is a testimony to the reality of the climate crisis – that it is not insurmountable, that it is fixable, and that is within our power to do so.

You can pick up Our Choice at Chapters/Indigo and other retailers.

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

The phenomenon of celebrities becoming activists is becoming increasingly more common. Bono campaigns for Africa and runs Edun. Sean Penn has made himself a thorn in the side of many. And now, Alicia Silverstone of Clueless fame has recently jumped into the fray as a spokesmodel for PETA, and recently releasing her cookbook The Kind Diet. I was recently offered a copy of several books from publisher Rodale Books to review, including this one. Always one to try out a new book (much to my husband’s chagrin), I eagerly said “yes please!” and have spent the last couple of weeks flipping through the pages of some great texts.

The Kind Diet is a combination of vegan treatise, instruction, and cookbook. The book covers a lot of ground including why a carnivorous/non-vegan diet is not “kind”, and a vegan diet is. On one hand, Silverstone doesn’t seem to have strayed far from her Clueless background, with phrases like “soooooooo good!” and “organic apples are so cute!” peppering the book. There’s an air of, “save the animals because they’re just so sweet!” in the book, and while someone less cynical or more enthusiastic than myself may find it energizing, I found the tone slightly grating.

On the other hand, if you can get past the ditziness, the book has an excellent amount of informative content. If you’re a carnivore who’s interested in changing your diet, either whole or in part, the book gives you good information on how to make that change as well as what to expect as you’re making the transition. And the best part: Lots of delicious looking recipes and mythbusters about food that will make switching to a more Kind Diet something to look forward to. She’s documented lots of interesting foods including legumes, grains and meat substitutes for you to easily incorporate into your new menu and created meal plans so that the new vegan has some help navigating their meals. Personally, while I’m not planning on going vegan, I do want to cut down on our meat intake and this book is going to be exceptionally valuable to this household in doing that – I’m heading to the grocery store today to pick up the fixins for a Sweet Potato-Lentil Stew, Pumpkin Bread and Black Soybean and Kabocha Squash stew (if I can find a Kabocha squash – like I said, this book is introducing me to lots of interesting new foods!)

The Kind Diet
would make an excellent gift to someone who’s looking to make a diet and holistic lifestyle change, especially for someone who’s got the same kind of energy and perkiness as Silverstone herself. You can pick up a copy at Chapters and other retailers.

Front Door Organics – local urban produce, to your door!

You want to eat well. You want to ensure you’re consuming organically grown produce, from local sources. But you’re also busy. Really busy. And you don’t have a whole lot of time to grocery shop, let alone seek out local, organic produce.

Well, you’re in luck, because Front Door Organics will bring it to you. All you do is simply sign up as a new customer and then you can decide which of their offerings you’d like delivered to your door every week. The delivery always consists of 10-15 delicious, local organic items, configured how you choose – a basic fresh box, or a custom fresh box that will allow you to pick and choose what comes in your delivery – including letting you specify what to *never* send you (turnips begone!)

Delivery is available on various days to various regions in the GTA – check here to see if you’re in range. Enjoy!

Fashion High’s Green Christmas Market – November 28

Found this gem in my inbox – so great to see more and more of these eco-friendly markets popping up everywhere, making green gift giving easy!

When the season of consumerism comes around it’s easy to get ‘wrapped’ up in all of the shiny holiday festivities and forget about the commitment you have made to the environment. But don’t wallow in holiday shopper’s remorse; balance the scales by picking up some unique and sustainable gifts from the Green Christmas Market!

The fourth annual Green Christmas Market is back with fervor and now organized by local fashion organization Fashion High. Hosted at the Cambrian Hall, Green Christmas boasts a collection of local artists, designers and even chefs who all work within an eco-friendly discipline. Pick up some nibblies by Say See Bon Patisserie, find wearable art at Kulus Designs, and even some for your walls with the Petri Dish, plus many many more!

Make label reading one less thing you have to do this year, all of Green Christmas’ vendors are 100% local and eco-friendly! “Each vendor had to fall under at least one of two categories- Recycled: using pre-existing materials to create something new. Or Sustainable: using a material that is considered natural and low-impact like organic fibres,” explains Kristi Carignan, Board Member of Fashion High and Lead Organizer of Green Christmas.

Fashion High’s Green Christmas Market- a one day celebration of uniquely sustainable gifts: Saturday November 28th at the Cambrian Hall (215 East 17th Ave-just off Main Street) from 11am-5pm. Admission $2 (children 12 and under free)

For full vendor listing please visit The Green Christmas Market Blog.

Home Depot Holiday Light Exchange, November 7-8!

Do you still have some old incandescent light strings hanging around? Want to get some snazzy new energy efficient LED lights? Then grab your old lights this weekend and head to your local Home Depot for The Eco Options Holiday Light Exchange, Saturday November 7th and Sunday November 8th from 10am to 5pm (Hours may vary by store).

Last year, they collected over 163,000 incandescent strings, equating to a reduction of 2,380,156 kWh (enough electricity to power 213 homes for one year!) and 718 tonnes of greenhouse gases.

For each old incandescent holiday light string you bring to any Home Depot on November 7th and 8th between 10AM – 5PM (where open), you will receive an instant rebate coupon for 50% off of up to 5 new strings of energy efficient Seasonal L.E.D. lights.

You’ll save energy and money this holiday season and you can rest assured that your old holiday lights will be responsibly recycled. Home Depot’s recyclers are able to recycle up to 80% of each holiday light string brought in. From their website: The old holiday light strings will be put through a wire chopping system and through air, gravity and sensory sorting all components will be separated. All copper and copper alloys will be sent for re-melt to copper and brass mills and all plastic, glass and any other waste will be sent for reprocessing resulting in new insulators for electrical wiring, plastic injection molding and in some cases, road fill and base. Did you know that seasonal L.E.D. lights:

  • Are 95% more energy efficient than incandescent holiday lights
  • Will save you money!
  • Last seven times longer (about twenty years)
  • Do not heat up and are extremely durable making them a safer option for holiday lights

Let us help you make your holiday season this year a green one.

Head to your local Home Depot this weekend and take advantage of this great deal!

Two Monkeys Coffee and Tea House: Coffee with Monkeys!

Not that long ago, I said that there is an underserved market out there. That market is the parent market. The people who have young children but still want to get out and be in a place that has things adults like (ethical products, good food, comfy chairs) as well as being kid friendly (toys, place is pretty indestructible, nobody notices/minds if your kid makes noise). Rob Kay and Jill Sheppard obviously thought the same thing (great minds) and have seized on that market opportunity and opened up Two Monkeys Coffee and Tea House in Barrhaven, just outside Ottawa.

What’s in it for grownups? Organic coffee and tea, fresh soups, Cinnamon Pecan sticky buns, homemade food by Grandma, squashy chairs, and other grownups.

What’s in it for kids? A cleverly divided big play area with toys, bright colours, and other kids.

The best of both worlds, finally.

Located on Strandherd drive, Two Monkeys is just minutes from downtown Ottawa and virtually anywhere in the west end. See you there soon!

The Stop Community Food Centre: Growing Together

Once upon a time, The Stop opened in Toronto as one of Canada’s first food banks, providing food to those who couldn’t otherwise get it. Over the years, The Stop has expanded both its real estate and its mandate, because they believe that simply providing handouts doesn’t solve the underlying problems causing people to go hungry. To that end, they have created an entire list of services, all with the aim of allowing the community to work together to provide the necessities of life – including food – for all. The Stop now provides community services including a drop-in, food bank, perinatal program, civic engagement, bake ovens & markets, community cooking, community advocacy, sustainable food systems education and urban agriculture.

The latest addition to The Stop’s formidable army of services includes their absolutely wonderful Green Barn – a sustainable food production and education centre housing a greenhouse, food systems education programs, a sheltered garden, community bake oven, compost demonstration centre and market. This amazing initiative has become a community focal point to allow people to develop relationships as well as healthy food attitudes and eating habits, and is worthy of heaps of praise – in fact, I would be surprised if this initiative doesn’t get copied in cities from coast to coast. If you’re interested in touring the Green Barn at The Stop, they have public drop-in hours on Fridays and Saturdays.

And, if you’re looking for something to do tonight (November 4th) – The Stop’s Annual Fundraiser, What’s On The Table, is taking place at the Green Barn itself. Enjoy the works of loads of fantastic local chefs and bid on wonderful auction items, all to raise money for The Stop. Get more information or buy tickets here.

Kaia Bamboo facial cleansing cloths: Ecofriendly travel cleaning

In a neverending quest to eco-friendlify the daily routines, I’ve made lots of small changes. Instead of using cotton balls to remove eye makeup, for example, I’ll just put some eye makeup remover on a facecloth. Easy peasy. But what happens in a hotel or on the road, when you don’t want to leave black eye makeup stains on someone else’s facecloths?

These bamboo facial cleansing cloths from kaia solve that problem elegantly. These neat little gems are made with 100% bamboo and come in a packet of 30 unbleached, pre-moistened cloths, soaked with goodness like 8 pure citrus essential oils, Canadian organic honey, sunflower seed oil and oat amino acids. And they work like a charm, whisking away the toughest eye makeup and leaving your skin feeling soft and smooth afterwards. If you check out their website, you can learn more about Kaia’s philosophy and ingredients too… nice to read an ingredient list that explains exactly what’s in a product and why, for a change.

Check these links to find where to buy online or in store.