Have you ever seen a green product you’ve wanted to try but didn’t like the idea of spending money on it because you didn’t know if you’d like it? This has happened to me several times, and I find it even harder to spend on natural/ organic, etc products when trying them for the first time since they can cost quite a bit more, only to have them not live up to my expectations.
I recently came across an interesting way to sample green products for free- think organic deodorants, vegan mascara, healthy snacks and eco-friendly cleaners- before taking the plunge and buying them (and spending $$$): SocialNature. All that is requested in return is that you share your opinion with the SocialNature community. If you loved the product, you’re also able to invite friends and family to try them for themselves. This is perfect if you know someone who’s on the hunt for a new healthy snack idea, green cleaning products, and so on. There’s no pressure to buy or to share, but the hope is that you’ll help spread the word so that more people try green products.
Making greener, more natural choices with the products we buy can have more impact than we think, especially when we share about what’s worked for us. I recently enjoyed some Tega Tea, which is a brand based right here in Vancouver, specializing in certified fair trade organic tea. I love coffee and tea (confession: I can’t live without a little caffeine boost!) but I’m starting to pay closer attention to where it’s from, if it’s fair trade, organic, etc. A nice cup of herbal/ caffeine- free tea at night is one of my favourite ways to wind down after a busy day, and I like knowing that it’s not only quality, but that it supports fair trade.
SocialNature is encouraging everyone to #trynatural and help bring green into the mainstream. If you would like to check out SocialNature for yourself, enjoy priority to try any of their products as a TPB reader by following this link.
To learn more about SocialNature, visit their website & find them on social media:
Before I wind down posting for the holidays I wanted to share some photos of our house in all it’s Christmas glory! We only get to enjoy the tree, lights, stockings, and decorations for such a short time so I wanted to make sure I take it all in before it all comes back down again in January. I tend to stock up on decor on boxing day and pick items that go with an existing theme or catch my eye (penguins have a special meaning in our house and come out year after year, no matter what). So a penguin or two tend to get added each year for the next.
I stock up on basics at favourite stores like Homesense, Superstore, etc and will buy more delicate and fancy items after the holidays from stores such as Restoration Hardware and Hudson’s Bay. I also am lucky to have access to a floral wholesaler for fresh flowers, greens, and budget- friendly vases and filler.
This year I went with a traditional red & green colour scheme and chose specific elements to carry throughout the house: tartan accents, fresh Christmas greens, & clear glass vases with white ‘snowy’ filler. See the end of this post for Where to Buy.
The ‘fancy tree’ (aka Mom’s tree): We’ve only put a few presents out to see how Ari would resist them. So far so good!
Quick & simple decor idea:
Glass vases with filler of your choice & a branch of Christmas greens
In addition to the ‘fancy tree’, we also do a family tree that’s decorated with all of our sentimental ornaments- no theme here but love & memories!
Since we’re coming up to Spring cleaning, I thought I’d organize a post about how to try chemical free options. We all love spring cleaning deep down (some more than others), as it gives us a chance to give our home a good ol’ shake up. Time to get out the steam cleaners, or pay a visit to a site like https://www.bissell.com/steam-and-hard-floor-cleaners/steam-cleaners if you are in need of a new one, and get cleaning. Chemical-free cleaning is obviously so much easier if you are cleaning your house by yourself. However, I understand how hard some cleaning activities can be such as window cleaning. So if you would prefer getting someone else to help you such as NICK’S Window Cleaning company then I completely understand. It doesn’t even need to just be your windows though, if you’re the type of person who just needs some extra help then there are loads of companies that can help you out. For example, you could check out a website like https://www.handy.com to give you a better idea of what you could get.
I’m sure you’ve figured out that going green and chemical free are important to
me. I understand that not everyone has the same opinions or goals as me; or
maybe you just think it will be more expensive and/ or be harder work for
you. I can honestly say that I have found going chemical free to be easier and
less expensive than I originally perceived. To help me with this post I
recently spoke with Garcie Wong who’s been chemical free for almost 6 years
about why and how she does it.
seeing people she knew die from cancer that were far too young, Garcie made the
decision to remove as many chemicals from her home as possible and to pay more
attention to the products she chose to use- to be a “choosy
consumer”. Together we have organized this post about how you can try going chemical free.
3 Reasons to try going chemical free
Have you ever noticed any of the following symptoms when you’re cleaning: sneezing, coughing, headache? That’s not just from a dislike of chores, that’s the effects of the cleaners you’re using. Some of the products I used to use were so bad I had to open a window because the smell hurt my nose and throat. Yikes.
to the Consumer Federation of America, 150 chemicals found in homes are
associated with health concerns such as allergies, birth defects, and
psychological disorders. Another concern: in the past 20 years, asthma rates
Because they spend the most time indoors and have weaker immune systems, infants and toddlers are some of the most affected by the chemicals used in the home. Just think mama, if you spend
quite a lot of time inside caring for your kiddies, you and your kids are being exposed to a
variety of chemicals over a long period of time.
One way to get rid of those chemical particles floating in your house is to use an air purifier. Air purifiers clean the air by filtering out harmful toxins and replace it with fresh air for you to breathe. Homairguides.com has a lot of free information on this topic as well as tips on how you can improve the quality of air inside your home. The site also has a list of the top air purifiers for every purpose so you can find the one that’s right for you inside your home.
average household spends $600- $800 a year on chemical cleaning products. When
you find and/ or make your own alternatives you eliminate a lot of the cost
associated with keeping a home clean (check out my cost break down for my home
made laundry detergent here). If you think it’s expensive to try the natural route, consider how much a box of baking soda and bottle of vinegar cost; as two of the main ingredients for many home made cleaners, these two items are frugal friendly (see below for some great home made cleaners- most contain these 2 inexpensive ingredients).
lot of products claim to be eco- friendly and green, you have to read the label
carefully. Ingredients such as formaldehyde can be hidden under a variety of
names to trick you into thinking you’re using a chemical free product (see below for a list of common baddies).
Consider where the water and waste goes after you’ve cleaned. Many chemicals leach into and pollute soil and water and some don’t break down, entering the food chain. How healthy is a fresh- caught fish if it feeds and lives in polluted waters?
Also think about the containers your products come in: Are they re- usable? Recyclable? In aerosol cans? If you want to try buying natural cleaning options, the container can be a clue to how eco- friendly the product is; an aerosol can- even if labeled ‘green’- likely doesn’t contain an eco- friendly option. If you decide to try making your own, you can re- use bottles and containers, just simply rinse and re- fill.
What to avoid in cleaning products
Here’s a few chemicals to look out for in common cleaning products*:
– chlorinated phenols- found in toilet bowl cleaners
– diethylene glycol- found in window cleaners
– phenols- found in disinfectants
– nonylphenol ethoxylate- found in laundry detergents & all- purpose cleaners
– formaldehyde- found in deodorizers
– petroleum solvents- found in floor cleaners
– perchloroethylene- found in spot rmovers
– butyl cellosolve- found in all- purpose, window, & other cleaners
See what I mean about the baking soda and vinegar? And you probably have all of the ingredients already; if not, what you have to buy will go a long way. I hope you give some or all of these a try- I made up my own all purpose cleaner and love it!
As an added bonus, for anyone who’s been thinking about trying chemical- free cleaning, Garcie has offered up a Basic Package from Norwex- a value of $38 for TPB readers! This includes an Enviro Cleaning Cloth and a Window Cleaning Cloth- just add water! To enter, go to our Contests page!
About today’s content contributor
Garcie Wong is married to her supportive husband who cheers her on, with two teenaged
children. She has worked as an operating room nurse and has been a lawyer for 23 years and
is currently an Executive Sales Leader with Norwex. With the company for almost 6 years, Garcie loves
the flexibility being self- employed allows, while making a difference in
A big thanks to Garcie for her contribution to this post. You can learn more about her and Norwex on her website and Facebook page.
This past Sunday I attended the Modern Family Expo, an event focused on promoting healthy and eco- friendly options for families. The organizers did a great job coordinating a variety of vendors offering natural and health- conscious products and services; the businesses ranged from local, small scale operations to national and international companies. In order to give the amazing businesses and individuals I met the attention they deserve, I have broken up my coverage of the event into two posts. You can view my first post highlighting the event sponsors here.
The entry to the vendor and speaker areas & the $10,000 worth of swag up for gabs.
I did my best to meet as many of the vendors as possible. Those I spoke to I have organized below, so you can come back and go through them as you have time. These amazing businesses- many of them founded and based right here in Metro Vancouver- are worth supporting, and I hope you will check them out. For the complete list of vendors from the Modern Family Expo, click here.
As a Certified Birth Doula and Placenta Encapsulation Specialist, Kate Minder helps families transition into life with a newborn. If you’re unsure about the idea of placenta encapsulation, the health benefits may change your mind. Kate is a lovely lady who I’m proud to have featured (click here to view). If you’re considering your options for a natural birth experience, From Tummy to Mummy can help you achieve your goal.
Leap!’s goal is to give children the confidence and skills they need to be successful and offers comprehensive therapy services for kids from infancy through the teen years. Programs include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech language therapy, and dietician services. Individual and group programs available.
With the help of Dietician Kristen Yarker, parents can teach their children to try new foods without hassle and turn picky eaters into “food confident kids”. If you’re trying to get your child(ren) to be better eaters, Kristen can help; 5% of each in- home session is donated to Breakfast for Learning, a non- profit organization that helps make healthy options available to kids in school food programs.
Free from preservatives, added sugar, and artificial flavours, Vega One supplements are available in shake powder and bar form. A source of a variety of nutrients including protein, probiotics, omega-3s, and antioxidants, this is a great option for those seeking allergy- friendly health options. Gluten free, dairy free, and soy free.
A local franchise offering pre and postnatal fitness for ladies with kids. All franchisees/ instructors are Certified Fitness Instructors and/ or Personal Trainers with additional certification in pre and postnatal fitness instruction.
Specializing in paediatric occupational therapy, Sleep Dreams addresses concerns such as sleep, feeding, and cognitive/ motor development. Operated by a team of Registered Occupational Therapists, the company evaluates sleep concerns and the effect on behaviour to help families achieve a better night’s sleep. Because staff are registered occupational therapists many extended health care plans cover the cost of consultation.
Based in France, Boiron offers homeopathic alternatives to traditional medicine. With products for the whole family including cold/ cough/ flu medicine for infants, children, and adults, Boiron products are great if you’re looking for a natural choice. (I have used their teething drops and mentioned them in my post about teething here).
In support of mothers providing the nutritional benefits of breast milk to their babies, Medela makes products such as breast pumps and bottles for nursing women. In addition, the company offers support and information to help make breast feeding and breast milk feeding as simple as possible.
Founded by local moms when one of their daughters was diagnosed with celiac disease and had to wear gloves to participate in crafts, Giggles Fun Dough is an allergy friendly play dough. Free from a variety of allergens including gluten and soy (to view the whole list, click here) and containing no artificial dyes or perfumes, this is a natural alternative to the mass- produced variety. Added bonus: you’re supporting local mompreneurs when you buy it!
Another great local business with an inspiring story. When Joey Simon delivered her baby boy at 26 weeks, she and her husband were warned he may suffer from developmental issues due to his premature birth. In an effort to help her son, Joey and her husband, both artists, encouraged their son to develop a love for art. When other parents started asking Joey if she would offer classes, 4 Cats was born! With locations throughout Canada, the US, Australia, and Mexico, 4 Cats offers classes and camps to help children learn about all aspects of art.
A co- op of several local small businesses and artisans, In Good Company is essentially several stores within a store. Co- op members share the cost of operation and staffing responsibilities allowing them valuable retail space and work- life balance hard to find with traditional jobs. Products include local, handmade items, clothing, and choices for kids and babies. Check out two of the current co-op members,YaYa Baby and Boske Kids. I love this concept and hope to see more operations like this in the future.
Locally owned and operated, Crocodile Baby strives to “be the local store for everybody”. The company offers quality products with a focus on natural and sustainable options and seeks to differentiate itself through excellent customer service and attention to detail. Crocodile Baby offers free furniture delivery for large items such as cribs, and has $5 flat rate shipping for residents in the Lower Mainland.
Free from chemicals such as parabens and phalates, Pure Anada offers natural makeup artist quality cosmetic and skincare products. With everything from mascara and mineral makeup to vegan makeup brushes, Pure Anada has everything to stock your makeup bag with natural beauty.
With products such as organic cotton bedding, Pottery Barn Kids is recognizing the shift in demand for products made from sustainable and natural sources. While it isn’t a small- scale local operation, a large company such as Pottery Barn has the ability to have a big impact through it’s buying power. When consumers purchase products such as the organic cotton baby bedding, they send a strong message to the company and their suppliers that these options are becoming more in- demand. Having trouble perfecting your nursery vision? Pottery Barn Kids offers complimentary design services to help you make your baby’s room eco- friendly and beautiful.
With 10 lbs of nutrient- rich ingredients such as protein, fruits, and vegetables in every 1 lb muffin, U- Be- Livin- Smart proves that natural and healthy can be delicious. Allergy- friendly, the muffins contain no flour, oil, or added sugar and are free from additives and preservatives. Available at large chain stores such as Save On Foods, Pricesmart, Urbanfare, and Whole Foods.
A monthly tea membership, Tea Sparrow deals directly with tea sommeliers, blenders, and farmers to bring quality unique teas to their members. Each month members receive a tea box containing 4 teas (with enough tea to make approx. 35 cups) with information and instructions for the specific varieties. If a member likes one enough, Tea Sparrow will put them directly in touch with the blender to purchase more. Another great local gem I am happy to have discovered!
A brand spanking new business started by a local lady, Diya’s Delights makes natural and delicious fruit and nut snacks. Another great option for those with allergies and sensitivities, Diya’s products are gluten free, contain no added sugar or preservatives, and are vegan friendly. Coming soon to a store near you.
Using organic and fair trade ingredients, The Cocoa Nuts provide gourmet hand- crafted chocolates for special events. A Vancouver- based company, these ladies create decadent goodies while ensuring their ingredients are ethically sourced. Another local business I am proud to have featured (click here).
If you’re looking for something a little different, how about freeze- dried fruit as a snack? Each bag contains 2 servings of fruit from non GMO sources. Another option for vegans, this snack is also OU Kosher certified an is free from peanuts/ tree nuts, gluten, soy, and dairy. Available at a variety of retailers.
Another healthy, natural, and allergy- friendly snack option, Hidden Garden cookies are vegetables in disguise. If you’re not a fan of vegetables, these cookies will help you meet your daily recommended amount with half a serving of vegetables in each cookie. Free from gluten, nuts, preservatives, and containing no artificial colours and flavours.
Started by a group of local moms, Baby Go Round collects used items for babies and children between the ages of 0- 4 years and distributes them to families in need. I am proud to have featured Baby Go Round (you can view the post here) and think this organization is an example of what makes Vancouver amazing: the people who live here. For a list of items Baby Go Round collects click here.
I really enjoyed meeting these vendors and love how many amazing local businesses we have here in Metro Vancouver, large and small. I hope you will check some or all of them out and remember that supporting local makes for a happy and healthy local economy. <3
This past Sunday I attended the Modern Family Expo and all I have to say is WOW! I had a great time meeting the organizers, sponsors, and vendors and was really impressed with the variety of businesses, with so many of them based right here in Metro Vancouver. Do I need to remind you again how big I am on supporting local???
The event was held at the Pinnacle Hotel on the Pier in North Vancouver. A beautiful venue overlooking the water. The only complaint I observed about the venue was that the elevators presented a bit of a bottle neck for strollers, as the event was held on the second floor. And really, if the only complaint is that the turnout challenged the elevator capacity, I think you’ve got a pretty successful event on your hands!
The Sponsor Area
Speaking with the sponsors and vendors, I was told how impressed they were with the organization, layout, and flow of the set- up. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, and based on the attendance I witnessed, were not deterred by the snowy weather outside (for those outside Vancouver, you need to know this is a pretty rare occurrence for us!). To help the amazing individuals and businesses I met get the attention they deserve, I’m going to break the event coverage up over two posts; one focusing on the sponsors and one focused on the vendors I spoke with. If you’re looking for an event that supports local, eco- friendly businesses, the Modern Family Expo is definitely worth checking out. If you missed this one, I hope you get a chance to go next time!
The entry to the main event including vendors, workshops, and feature speakers
Bullfrog Power powered the Expo with clean, pollution free electricity. Using wind and low- impact hydro power sources from Canadian renewable energy facilities- of which at least 50% is from local sources- Bullfrog Power’s generators matched the power used by the Expo by putting 100% green electricity on the grid. This renewable energy provider offers power for home and business across Canada (you can see which businesses are Bullfrog powered here). If you are looking for alternatives to traditional energy sources, make sure you check out this amazing company.
With four locations in BC, Whole Foods is gaining ground in the local market. Offering natural and organic foods with a commitment to sustainable agriculture and maintaining strict industry quality standards, this California- based company is shifting the products consumers have available to them. In addition to offering quality, natural products, the company gives back to the countries where their products hail from. The Whole Planet Foundation is a private, nonprofit that microfinances institutions to support the self- employed workers in Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Middle East. Through loan programs, training, and providing financial support, the Whole Foods Foundation seeks to give back to those who live in the countries where their products are sourced; 100% of proceeds donated go to the Foundation’s efforts, with Whole Foods paying all administrative costs out of it’s own pocket. A company with a conscience? That’s the kind of business I’m happy to support.
A great resource for families living in Vancouver, GTA, and Calgary, yoyomama offers information on eco- friendly activities including events, travel, local services, and at- home ideas. Through it’s website, email newsletter, social media and mobile app (OnTheGoKids) yoyomama helps busy families conveniently find great events and services in their area. As an award- winning company, they are careful to only promote those events, services, and ideas that have been a hit with their own families. As an added bonus, the company offers exclusive promotions and discounts from it’s advertising partners to it’s email subscribers (a great way to have fun and save!). A fantastic local resource founded by a Mom- what more could you ask for?
Founded by husband and wife team Laurie & Todd, YogaPod has been in business on the North Shore for 13 years. Through deepening yoga practices, the couple seek to help their visitors experience life more fully. Whether helping heal ailments or simply helping visitors experience a more fulfilled life, Yogapod offers a variety of options. They also offer Om Mama prenatal yoga suitable for all levels of experience and progression of pregnancy. You can check out YogaPod’s Schedule & Rates and book online. Another great local business I’m so happy to have connected with!
Located in West Vancouver, Mulgrave School seeks to inspire excellence in education and life in it’s students through it’s Four Strands approach. Through a balanced focus on academics, arts, athletics, and citizenship, the vision of Mulgrave School is to encourage it’s students to be “lifelong learners” who always strive to do their best and to make a difference by serving the communities they live in. The school provides it’s students with the education and skills to confidently thrive in our “culturally diverse and interdependent world”; by teaching the upcoming generations to be valuable contributors as citizens of the world. The school’s mantra really impressed me; I hope I can share these values with my own family.
Did you know it costs an approx. $10,452 annually to use and maintain an average family car? As a government operated organization through Translink, TravelSmart has the goal to encourage commuters and families to drive less. Whether through the use of public transit or alternative travel options such as cycling, ride matches and ride shares, carpools, and trip planning, the organization is challenging individuals to take one less car trip per week. TravelSmart has information and tools tailored for life & home, business, and schools. There’s also a great Transit App available for smart phones to help you plan your daily commute (don’t have a smartphone? just dial 33333 + the bus stop # to get current info on your bus route). Even if using public transit isn’t an efficient option in the area you live, TravelSmart has a variety of options to help encourage you to drive less. A great way to save some money and lessen our carbon footprint. It would have been useful to have a little information on which cars make good family cars too, but I have heard that Hyundai are a pretty good bet when it comes to this and you can visit the Hyundai of Anderson website to learn more.
Using quality materials that are recycled and recyclable, sustainably produced, and local (whenever possible), Greener Print Solutions has a goal of being Vancouver’s one- stop shop for green printing solutions. As a triple bottom line company, everything they offer is eco- friendly and produced using efficient technologies creating minimal waste (learn more by clicking here). In addition to their quality standards and eco- friendly initiatives, the company is able to offer their products at competitive prices. Offering items from business cards to trade show promotional materials and everything in between, Greener Print Solutions seems to have an answer for everything. If you’re looking for an eco- friendly way to supply your business or special event, I hope you’ll check this local company out.
A much used an appreciated part of the event was the Used Vancouver lounge (I used it twice!). Equipped with a change table and seating area for nursing mothers, the lounge provided an area for visitors to attend to their little ones without having to leave the event. A free local classified service, Used Vancouver offers listings for children’s and household items, job listings, community notices, and services, among others. If you’ve been looking for an alternative to Craigslist, check out this great site.
Modern Mama is all about “getting moms out of the house”, regardless of the age of your kid(s) and is focused on helping women find some valuable ‘me’ time. With locations throughout BC, Alberta, and Ontario, the organization hosts events tailored to moms who need to get out of the house, but may have a kid (or a few) in tow. For only $35 for your first year ($25per year for subsequent years), you can become a member and have access to a variety of events and partner discounts. Click here for membership information. With plans to open several new locations in 2014, Modern Mama has opportunities for new Community Directors; an opportunity to work from home and connect with other ladies/ moms in your area. A great organization with a great purpose- I hope you check them out!
Vancouver based Par- T- Perfect has been in business for over 20 years and has over 75,000 birthdays and 10,000 corporate events under their belt. The company offers franchise opportunities with locations throughout Canada and the US. Whether you’re planning a fundraiser, festival, birthday or holiday party, or corporate event, the company has something to make it a memorable experience. With packages that include inflatables (ie bouncy castles!), face painting, crafts, and balloon twisting, Par- T- Perfect has options to fit a variety of budgets. If you’re looking for something to make your next occasion unique, check out this great local business!
Part 2 of the event coverage with vendor information will be up later this week. Make sure you come back to see some of the amazing businesses that were at the Expo. I’ve organized them with links below if you’d like to get a jump start.
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