Proud of my bathroom

19 10 2014

Okay, correction: proud of my *clean* bathroom. Sounds stupid, I’m sure, but I take pride in seeing a sparkling bathroom that I cleaned with non-toxic, biodegradable cleaners. Who knew baking soda could be so useful (and cheap!) in cleaning a shower?

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pee everywhere and make my bathroom filthy because I’m a man.


30 05 2014

Sorted through three big bags worth of styrofoam that my family and I (mostly me) have been saving for a long time today. I know it’s an accumulation of many months, maybe about one or two years’ worth of styrofoam, but it really did make me think about the amount of waste we produce that ultimately ends up in the landfill — waste that can be diverted or replaced for more sustainable options. I mean, how many take-out containers are styrofoam? Is that really necessary? There are biodegradable containers available, and yet many restaurants still use hard-to-recycle styrofoam instead (it’s probably less expensive, right?). The other thing I noticed is that a lot of styrofoam we have surprisingly comes from other kinds of product packaging — fruits, noodles, meats. I remember watching a news report about a grocery store in Vancouver that tries to eliminate waste in their packaging, plastic and styrofoam, mostly, and I thought it was a great idea. I wish we had more places like that around.

In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to settle for hoarding my stupid styrofoam until the next trip to the Burnaby Waste Depot.



Reuse: Splash Toy Shop

2 06 2013

Finding a place to donate used toys when it’s not Christmas is harder than you think.

After a whole bunch of searching online, I came across two places that accepted toys. The first was BC Children’s Hospital, which had a long list of toys they accept, none of which I actually had, except for many, many decks of playing cards. The other one was a little toy shop on Dunbar called Splash Toy Shop. The only info I found was on a forum somewhere a random Vancouverite suggested donating old toys to the store. What was especially appealing about donating to Splash was that apparently, an organization called the Sisters of Charity took the donated the toys and then handed them out to families in the downtown Eastside.  However, the toy store’s website itself didn’t have any info. I sent the store an email about donations, and they replied with the following:

Thanks for your interest in donating toys!  We collect donations at our Dunbar St location and they are now distributed directly to the Ray Cam Community Center and they distribute them to the community. The Sisters of Charity also worked directly with the community, but they have since closed their Vancouver chapter.

We accept gently used toys and clothing.

Awesome, right?

In my donation bag, I put a couple Kinder surprise toys, a pair of kid’s binoculars, a small puzzle for kids (that a friend gave me for a birthday present when I was in high school…?), a whole bunch of decks of cards (some of which were unopened), and my coveted fan/card educational book thing about 50 or so breeds of dogs. I got that from an aunt when I was young and loved dogs and I loved reading it. I wasn’t sure if that counted as a toy or not, but I figured that some kid out there would really appreciate it all the same.

There’s a big donation bin outside of the store where people can drop off their items. The only thing is that it’s an open wooden box, and my bag was small reusable bag that I couldn’t really close, so I ended up putting the two other bags on top of mine so people wouldn’t be tempted to take my wonderful toys.

Anyway, I hope some kid(s) in Vancouver are now enjoying all the toys I donated. They better!

Splash Toy Shop
Address: 4243 Dunbar Street
– Store hours: Mon – Sat: 9:30am-6:00pm, Sun: 10:00am-6:00pm
– Phone: 604-228-869


Reuse: Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre

29 05 2013

Reduce, reuse, recycle. A great motto to live by.

Recycling is fairly easy and straightforward, especially when there are lots of places around Vancouver to do so, but about reusing? Where do you go with items that can reused and not resold, like the Salvation Army or Value Village? Where can you donate your items for a good cause?

For the past few days, I’ve been going around and donating some stuff I no longer need to various organizations and charities around Vancouver. I should have been making a list of resources of my progress– but it’s never too late!

Last week, I went through my bathroom and found some toiletries– travel-sized toothpaste, some opened lotions/moisturizers, and a bottle of unopened hair gel– that I wouldn’t be using. I scoured the Internet to find a place that might accept toiletries, and many people suggested women’s shelters (in general, not specific to Vancouver). That’s how I found the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre, located at 302 Columbia Street (by Cordova, downtown Vancouver).

They have a wishlist of donations they are always accepting. Here is their list, taken from their website (

  • arts and craft supplies
  • used DVDs
  • used women’s clothing
  • linens and towels
  • socks and underwear (new or gently used)
  • footwear
  • coats and rain-gear
  • toiletries (travel-sized shampoo and conditioner, new soap, toothpaste and brushes, hand cream and makeup)
  • picture frames
  • chalk
  • gardening supplies
  • mason jars
  • button maker
  • alcohol wipes
  • hand sanitizer pump dispensers
  • craft supplies: beading supplies, knitting needles and yarn, plain vests for sewing regalia
  • usb/flashdrive’s
  • reading glasses
  • menstrual pads

It doesn’t say explicitly, but it’s implied that the shelter doesn’t take opened cosmetics/lotions, and when I contacted them if they might accept the unopened hair gel, they didn’t respond (I ended up putting it in the bag anyway, since I don’t see why they wouldn’t accept it). I did find a whole bunch of photo frames in my garage that were hardly used (and two small ones that had never been used), which I gladly put in my donation bag. As well, I went through my DVD collection, and picked a whole bunch of films that I would probably no longer watch. Sure, I could have posted an ad on craigslist to sell them, but everyone’s selling DVDs nowadays that I likely wouldn’t have been able to get rid of them. And anyway, the money is not what’s important in this case.

IMPORTANT! (if you are a man): A young lady who was also going in held the door for me. When I was inside, a woman who worked there asked me if she could help me, and I replied that I had some items I wanted to donate. She informed me that since I was a man, I was supposed to ring the bell and wait for someone to come and talk to me, not walk right in. Immediately, I apologized, as I could see why this might be a necessary precaution. There was nothing on the DEWC’s website that mentioned anything about that, so I had no idea.

So if you happen to be a man and are looking to go down to the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre to donate some items — ring the bell!

In summary, here are the deets:

Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre
Address: 302 Columbia Street (by Cordova); ring the bell if you are a man.
– Donations are accepted between 9am – 5pm. Avoid dropping off items between 12:30pm -1:45pm as staff are on their lunch breaks.
– Have an item but not sure if it’s appropriate to be donated? Give them a call! 604-681-8480, extension 226, or email them at


Life without Plastic

11 05 2013

For my last post for my Earth Day week, I had a bit of a hard time finding something I hadn’t already posted before. I thought I had written about Life without Plastic, but it turns out I haven’t, which is odd because LwP is amazing.

Even before I finished Slow Death by Rubber Duck and read about all the dangers of chemicals in our everyday products such as plastic, I was already very wary of using plastic products. I convinced my mom to throw out our plastic containers and got a new set of glass ones. I saved glass spaghetti sauce jars and re-used them for bulk food. But there are other items, I hadn’t even considered.

Life without Plastic is exactly what it is: a shop as well as a blog that provides information and products made without plastic. If Slow Death was the diagnosis, Life without Plastic is the prescription. There’s a ton of stuff on this wonderful site that I want to buy, like cellulose tape, many things which are exactly the kind of everyday things that we use. Sure, the price may be a bit more expensive (as expected), but I don’t think it’s too unreasonable. I also like that LwP is small, a Canadian company, when there are so many American and foreign companies out there that I’m not sure I can trust or not. Every now and then, they get new products, which make me quite excited (even if I don’t need them, like a new water bottle). I’m just excited at the possibilities and coolness of these new technologies.

Hope my Earth Week resources are some help to those looking for alternatives. And of course, if I find any other awesome things, I’ll be sure to share them here. In the meantime, have fun saving the earth!

David Suzuki’s Queen of Green

10 05 2013

I’ve been trying to do make my own products instead of buying ones in the store filled with chemicals and things I can’t even pronounce. Making your own stuff, like soap, for instance, is cheap, easy, and really fun. On David Suzuki’s website, there’s a blog called Queen of Green, which has short news articles, tips, information, and recipes to make your own… whatever, really. From soap to deodorant to toothpaste, the Queen of Green is a reliable place to start looking for stuff you might want to create at home.

I’m itching to make more of my own soap sometime, but I’d also like to try my hand at dish soap and toothpaste as well. What are you all interested in making?

Homesteader’s Emporium

9 05 2013

The Soap Dispensary provides refills on just about any liquid soap (among many, many other fabulous things). I like to think of Homesteader’s Emporium as a sister store to Soap Dispensary. There, you can find tons of urban gardening, DIY food preparation and preservation tools (like sausage making, cheese making, canning), and even bee-keeping and chicken-keeping tools. Like the Soap Dispensary, Homesteader’s also offers different workshops and classes, many of which seem really interesting.

I dropped by Homesteader’s in December when I was looking to buy bokashi mix. I met with owner Rick Havlak, who was very friendly and knowledgeable about it (also, he’s a pretty handsome fellow, so that’s another reason to visit). Although the store was empty, it has more to do with the location than the fantastic products Homesteader’s offers. Situated just outside of Chinatown/the Downtown Eastside, it’s not a very popular location for the average person, which is a shame. Still, the shop itself is very welcoming, and it’s worth it to visit because it’ll definitely give you ideas about what you may want to do and how to live a greener life.


8 05 2013

This is one of the most useful little things I’ve used — and it’s based in BC (nothing is ever based in BC).

If you’re looking where you can recycle anything from plastics (#1-7), to paint, to furniture, to clothing (new or used), you gotta use the Recyclepedia. Use the scroll down menus to find what you’re looking to recycle and where you live, and recyclepedia will offer a list of places around the area where the item can be recycled. Super awesome and easy!

What’s more, you can download the app to your phone and throw stuff out on the go! (in case, you know, you have a random sofa you no longer use and carry around all the time)

Regional Recycling

7 05 2013

Got crap? You know you do. With the new garbage collection rules implementing in Vancouver, you may find yourself with nowhere to put broken, discarded, or simply, stuff you don’t want anymore-things somewhere.

Got stuff that’s past its prime? Have you reduced, reused, and are now looking to recycle? Not to worry! Regional Recycling has one of the most impressive (ie. long) lists of acceptable items they properly dispose of. There are also no fees to pay for recycling items (at least to my knowledge), which is awesome. While you’re there, you can even return your bottles for refund.

I haven’t been here yet, but I have a few items that I plan on handing over to them that are out of commission that I don’t want to throw away.

Oh, and best of all, there’s a children’s play area at the Vancouver location. In the unlikely event your your family outing somehow becomes boring while recycling.

SPEC (Society Promoting Environmental Conservation)

6 05 2013

The Society Promoting Environmental Conservation (SPEC) is a Vancouver-based organization most famous for introducing recycling to the city years ago. A non-profit organization, SPEC aims to educate and help citizens around Metro Vancouver about environmental issues. I interviewed Marnie Newell, who works as their Outreach and Project Facilitator, back in December about living Zero Waste, as I had met her at a Zero Waste workshop and found her to be extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and engaging. I’d even go as far as to say that she was one of the reasons I became interested in Zero Waste in the first place!

Nowadays, SPEC does workshops and classes, some free, some requiring a small fee — but all are really interesting. Check out their workshops page on their website to find a whole bunch of different things going on in the city. What I like best about SPEC is that they’re not a gigantic organization, but they feel very grass-roots, very connected to the city.

Their website is full of understandable, relevant info about how you can live a greener life. Have a look!