Food Labelling

28 Aug

Happy Wednesday folks – hope you’ve all enjoyed your August!  As our month themed around food is nearly over we wanted to point you to our past food-related posts on topics like: when to buy organic, front yard gardening, keeping produce fresh, food bank diets, and more!  Check back to 2010, 2011 and 2012 for lots of information…

This month we thought we’d share this handy collection of decoded eco-food labels from the Mother Nature Network as trends seem to be saying that more and more people are purchasing food produtcts with environmental responsibility in mind but with the lists of labelling on food these days, even the most up to date ecoholic can still get a little lost. …

What it means: The Non-GMO Project’s seal verifies that products have been “produced according to rigorous best practices for GMO avoidance,” including testing of all GMO risk ingredients. The Project’s current action threshold for testing is 0.9%, which is on par with the European Union standards. While final products don’t have to be tested and the label doesn’t guarantee a product is 100 percent GMO-free, you can be sure that products bearing the seal have met the highest standards possible for non-GMO, including testing, traceability, and segregation.
See it on: Dairy products, produce, coffee, tea, chocolate, meat, poultry, eggs and processed products.
What it means: Certified by the National Organic Program to be at least 95 percent organic meaning no pesticides, fertilizers, hormones, antibiotics, radiation or genetic engineering was used.
See it on: Produce, coffee, tea, chocolate, meat, poultry, eggs and processed products
What it means: Products are certified by the UK Soil Association to exceed the legal European definition of organic — strict standards are followed to avoid pesticides, additives, GMOs, harmful chemical processes and inhumane treatment of animals. 
See it on: Coffee, tea, produce, poultry, eggs, meat and wine
What it means: Farmers enjoy safe working conditions, living wages, fair prices for crops and they invest in business and community building projects. Plus, pesticides and GMOs are strictly prohibited.
See it on: Coffee, tea, chocolate, fruit, wine, sugar, rice and vanilla
Free Range
What it means: If you see this term on eggs or beef, it has little meaning. The USDA only defines the claim in relation to chicken, and even then, outdoor access can be limited to just five minutes a day.
See it on: Poultry, meat, eggs
 No Antibiotics Added
What it means: A USDA regulated term that can be used if documentation can prove animals were raised without antibiotics.
See it on: Meat, poultry
See all 17 labels decoded here.

The CO2ube – filter for your tailpipe

24 Jul

As July’s theme is transportation at No Waste Wednesdays we wanted to share with you a neat idea we heard about recently from Ecoviate – The CO2ube…

“CO2ube filters out carbon dioxide from your tailpipe” by

Carbon dioxide emissions have been linked to all sorts of environmental ills. Improvements in car design are helping the issue, but the CO2ube Kickstarter project wants to take carbon dioxide filtration to any car on the road.co2ube_610x458
The CO2ube attaches onto the end of your tailpipe using hose clamps. A combination of algae and sodium hydroxide filters out the carbon dioxide as it exits from car.
A single CO2ube is going for a pledge price of $45. The company behind the product, Ecoviate, has created working prototypes and is looking to produce the device in quantity. 
Read more here


Check them out on Kickstarter if you’d like to contribute to their cause or track more news about Ecoviate on their blog.  
Leave us a comment!  Any thoughts on the CO2ube?  Do you believe more resources should go towards technologies like the CO2ube to decrease GHG emissions or towards programming/efforts to decrease dependence on technologies that emit GHGs?

WED 2013

5 Jun

Today mark’s our 3rd year anniversary of the No Waste Wednesdays Blog!  Happy 3rd birthday to us…   Fittingly it is also World Environment Day 2013 and we are excited to share the hype around this year’s theme –  Think Eat Save.


World Environment Day is an annual event that is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. World Environment Day activities take place all year round and climax on 5 June every year, involving everyone from everywhere.

Days like WED fit in well with No Waste Wednesdays because they are about coming together to participate – if we start small and start together we can get somewhere.

 “Although individual decisions may seem small in the face of global threats and trends, when billions of people join forces in common purpose, we can make a tremendous difference.”- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

So if you have an event planned be sure to register your activity with WED and use #WED2013 to track them.  If you don’t, check out the activities in your area to attend.  For some inspiration today we wanted to share a few items from a post by Food Tank – 21 inspiring initiatives to reduce food waste around the world…

WED burgerThe U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimates that 1.3 billion tonnes of food are wasted annually. Some countries are, unfortunately, greater culprits than others; according to the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition (BCFN), the total amount of food wasted in the U.S. exceeds that of the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, France, and Germany combined. In addition, the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) estimates that global food production accounts for 70 percent of fresh water use and 80 percent of deforestation. Food production is also the largest single driver of biodiversity loss and creates at least 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

5. Dickinson College Campus Farm (Pennsylvania, United States) – This student-run farm composts daily deliveries of salad bar scraps from the cafeteria. In 2005, Dickinson expanded the compost program into a campus-wide initiative with student farm workers, partnering with facilities management to ensure that campus food waste is composted.

12. Love Food, Hate Waste (United Kingdom) – This program teaches consumers about food waste and provides them with helpful portioning and planning tips, as well as an array of recipes to make sure food doesn’t go to waste.

WED chicken

13. The Postharvest Education Foundation (Oregon, United States) – This organization offers training materials, e-learning programs, and mentoring opportunities that help farmers around the world prevent food loss. Their postharvest management guide is available in 10 languages, featuring topics such as how to choose the best time for harvest and the advantages of different transportation methods.

16. Society of Saint Andrew (United States) – This national network connects volunteers with farms to glean produce that has been left unpicked after a harvest. The Society distributes the gleaned produce to food banks and other organizations serving marginalized communities. In 2012, the Society gleaned 10.4 million kilograms (23.7 million pounds) of produce across the United States.

These initiatives cover a wide range of sectors – private businesses, universities,and  nonprofit organizations – and illustrate the extent to which collaboration is the key to change.

WED apple

To read the full list see here..
Do you know of other initiatives to reduce food waste in your area?  Tell us about it – leave a comment.

“…it’s just so last century”

29 May

For the last Wednesday in May we were inspired to share about a grocery store in London, UK that offers only reusable packaging!  It’s called Unpackaged and began as a London market stall in 2006.

unpackaged veggiesUnpackaged is a unique and brilliant concept that is so simple it hurts, especially considering the sheer amount of packaging waste that is ridiculously filling our planet’s landfill sites. Within the beautifully designed shop, organic whole foods, dried fruit, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, even refillable oils, vinegars and wines are all available to place straight into your own containers, that you will have brought along with you … if you haven’t then reusable bags are available.” (

Unpackaged’s philosophy is really quite inspiring.  We’ve found many locally owned grocery stores are almost packaging-free but still use bulk bin plastic bags, disposable containers, single-use wrapping, etc.  Unpackaged has banned all packaging whatsoever!  In their own words..

The Problem with Packaging

Whilst some packaging is necessary in our modern industrialised food chain, unnecessary packaging is a waste:

Cost: It increases the price of the goods you buy. You are charged twice – first when you buy overpackaged products and then through council tax for disposing of your rubbish.

Waste: It wastes resources at every level: production, storage, transport and disposal.

Pollution: Landfill and incineration are the two main ways of dealing with un-recyclable packaging waste. These are major pollutants for people and the environment as they release greenhouse gases.

What about recycling? While some packaging is recycled, most ends up in landfill sites and some packaging is difficult and impossible to recycle. Recycling is certainly part of the solution, but it will only work if we use less packaging and adopt more ‘reusable’ ways of doing things – Unpackaged is based on this ethos.


Reduce by only buying what you need
Reuse by bringing your containers for a refill
Recycle what you can’t reuse

And… if you can’t reuse or recycle it then don’t buy it!

unpackaged bulk bins

“It’s hard to visit a landfill site without being struck by the craziness of taking very valuable minerals and resources out of the ground, using a lot of energy, turning them into short life products and then just dumping them back into the ground. It’s an absolutely monumental waste of energy and resources. As someone from the fashion industry might say, its just so last century.” (Michael Pawlyn, The Guardian, November 21 2005)

The Tiffin Project

15 May

Happy Wednesday!  We came across an idea based out of Vancouver this week called the Tiffin Project and thought it deserved some attention.  What makes this project so noteworthy is its emphasis on reducing food packaging waste paired with its push to get locally owned restaurants to buy local food!

The project is gaining momentum and has had interest  outside of Vancouver from cities like Saskatoon, Calgary, Montreal and Bristol!  Read more about this project here.  If you like this idea be sure to mention it to your favourite locally owned restaurants and follow Hunter Moyes @TiffinProject on twitter.  OR perhaps this type of idea deserves a Carrot Mob campaign…

May 30 x 30 Challenge – Spend 30 minutes outdoors for 30 days.

1 May

May 1st – it’s always nice when we get a month with 5 Wednesdays in it!  Our theme in May is on packaging – Check back to our posts in 2012 for info on food packaging, tea drinking habits, & plastic wrap alternatives AND 2011 for info on plastic consumption & creative ideas to waste less.


Today we wanted to point you towards a fantastic campaign from the David Suzuki Foundation called the 30 x 30 Challenge.  The David Suzuki Foundation is challenging Canadians to commit to spending 30 minutes in nature each day for 30 days, starting on May 1, 2013.

Ready to take the challenge?

Start by joining the challenge here. Then get out into nature for at least 30 minutes for 30 days in May. This year, you can sign up as an individual or challenge your entire workplace to join!.
There are lots of ways to green your daily routine. Along the way, we’ll be sending you fun daily challenges, tips and inspiration to help you out.
To add to the fun, you can submit photos from your time in nature for a chance to win weekly prizes.

One of the best ways to inspire yourself to build a more environmentally responsible lifestyle is to spend time in spaces that would be degraded if they were filled with trash.  Walk in parks, ride your bikes, garden in your yard and think about how important it is that these green spaces stay clean and protected!  Plus, as the 30 x 30 challenge is saying – you’ll feel better if you spend time outdoors!

Check out David Suzuki’s video message here.

Toy exchange

24 Apr

Anyone partake in an Earth Day activity?  Please leave us a comment – we’d love to hear about it!

Today we thought we’d re-share a helpful blog about hosting an exchange party for kids toys.  Many parents nowadays are trying to avoid plastics, and keep their children’s toy collections to a minimum but the pile inevitably grows.  We’ve blogged before about clothing exchanges so why not host a toy/book/child exchange – just kidding, don’t trade your children!

We came across this post from Dawn Friedman (shareable: Life & Art) here a few excerpts:

On the spur of the moment, I sent out an email inviting friends to a used toy exchange. I know my friends and I know that the siren song of de-cluttering and getting a deal was likely to lure most of them in.The basic details were this:

  • Bring your gently used toys, clothes and books to share out at my house the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
  • Expect to rummage through everyone else’s stuff, too.
  • Anything left behind would be donated to Goodwill.

As people began to leave (most of them loaded down with toys for their family and for friends who couldn’t make the exchange), they made me promise to have the exchange against next year. I promised to make it an annual tradition. Everyone agreed that a give away is about ten times more fun when you get to do it in person.

Once everyone was gone, I surveyed the room—we only had a single large box of toys to take to Goodwill. And me? I not only had cleaner closets and a stronger sense of holiday spirit, I also scored a fabulous bag of finger puppets to add to our collection.

Some tips to pull off a toy exchange:

  • Invite a variety of ages. People with babies won’t have much to give and people with older kids might have more trouble finding stuff to get, but having a wide age range promises that most people will be able to find something.
  • Have bags and boxes available so that people can pack up easily.
  • It’s easier to exchange without kids, but it’s likely some children will be there, so have something for them to do elsewhere so their parents can “shop” more easily.
  • Don’t worry about one-to-one trades. The goal isn’t to barter so much as it is to get the goods out of your house and to the people who want them.
  • Be prepared to take care of the leftovers. One of the pluses for my guests was my promise that they wouldn’t have to take any of their old toys back home with them.
  • Don’t forget the tiniest toys, which seem to multiply at the bottom of toy boxes and underfoot. They make great stocking stuffers for someone else.
  • Baggies are useful for keeping toys with lots of parts together. Building toys like Legos or K’Nex especially are more appealing when packaged up, ready for the new owners to wrap.

You can read her full post here.

Not only does this provide helpful de-cluttering and re-distributing but also: puts less pressure on toy manufactures to make new toys, it minimizes the packaging, encourages the investment in high quality products that can be passed on instead of single use disposable toys, and hopefully it starts a trend of collaboration!  So get your exchange on this spring and host a gathering in your community.


put a face on it

17 Apr

Hey folks – our apologies for the lull in blogging this season.  It seems winter really has taken its toll and has even kept us from posting…  For real though, we hope all you No-Waste-Wednesdays regulars have been staying inspired to reduce your waste in many other ways!

This month we’d like to bring up a few topics under the theme of family care.  Check back in 2011 & 2012 for posts on cloth diapers, the one-can-a-month challenge, insect repellents, the plastic toy debate, earth day, and inspiring kids to nurture a relationship with nature.

Earth Day 2013

Earth Day 2013

This year Earth Day 2013 is coming up on Monday April 22nd!  One of the most important aspects to environmental education is to have positive role models who show care and concern for issues of injustice and environmental degradation.  So if you work with kids, youth, students or have young people in your life – use this year’s Earth Day theme as way to engage them.

Earth Day 2013’s campaign is to show the many faces of climate change – check out their video below, use #faceofclimate in your social media and visit their website to upload a photo yourself.   Put a face on climate change!

“water is more precious than gold”

6 Mar

water day logo2013bigIn honor of World Water Day on March 22nd – this month’s theme is on WATER!

And since resource/mineral extraction companies have been in the media lately, we thought we’d explore issues around water use and mining.  A lot of water is used in the extractive process itself and the surrounding aquifers and streams can have their water quality compromised by run off.

  • A typical open pit gold mine uses up to 900,000 liters of water a day.
  • Acid mine drainage (AMD) occurs when large quantities of rock containing sulphide minerals are excavated. The exposed sulphides react with water and oxygen to create sulphuric acid. This acid can leach into nearby streams, rivers, lakes and groundwater. AMD can severely degrade water quality, making it unusable.

The Council of Canadians just announced a “Water is more Precious than Gold” speaking tour to challenge Canada’s mining practices.  Check out their website for more info or to attend an event near you!


27 Feb

To close off the month of February and our theme of disposables, we wanted to leave you with a reflection on habits.  Many of us have great intentions of living with less waste however when we are confronted with a challenge it is difficult to live out our ideals.  In those moments we are more likely to make decisions based on our defaults, our habits – what we’ve always done or what seems most convenient.

One aspect to developing a life with less waste is to make a habit of reducing the number of disposable products we depend on.  Cultivating environmentally sustainable habits promotes new skills, resiliency, and reduces waste.

Susan Pokorny of pure home and body offers this reflection,

Ok, before I even begin this article, I’d like to set the record straight. I do not claim to be the Queen of Green. I’ve used plenty of disposable products: paper plates, baby wipes, utensils, and more. I even have a box of plastic straws in my cupboard… Just like you, I’m navigating through this process and trying to consume and throw out less. I’ve had seasons in my life where I’ve relied on disposables more than others, now much less than I used to.

Our culture is a disposable one, it’s convenient, and we are busy. The other weekend I saw The Lorax with one of my kids. It was colorful and lively and I was inspired. One thing that struck me was the “plastic world”. There was no grass, the trees were plastic and had to be blown up, not unlike those holiday yard displays. As I watched, I thought that we are not far from that.

What is our world made of?  Our society in general relies on a lot of man-made, synthetic, disposable, one-time use things: diapers, plates, wrapping paper, snack and food storage bags, water bottles, coffee machine singles, you name it, it’s probably been made into a single-use-plastic-synthetic-version.

We have too many choices   When something breaks, we change our minds, or we just tire of it, it can be easy to find a replacement. I’m going to sound old by saying this, but things just aren’t made the way they used to be. I could spend hours telling you about plastic toys for the kids that didn’t even hold up for an hour after they’ve begun to play with them. Yet, I still have some silk scarves all the kids have played with for 15 years.  They’ve been fashioned into skirts, ropes, gift wrappings, and most recently superhero capes. My point in all this is in our disposable world we do have many long lasting alternatives. Sometimes it just takes a little longer to find, but it’s worth the effort.
Read the full post here.

Check back to our posts in 2011 & 2012 for lots of ideas on how to reduce the number of disposable products you depend on.
Any new eco-habits you’re developing?  Leave us a comment and tell us about them!