If you know me, it’s no secret that I love outdoor adventuring/exploring. Any spare time I have is spent hiking, paddling, or even just sitting outside amongst the trees, basking in the glory that is Mother Nature. Being connected to nature is such an important part of being a sustainability advocate – if you don’t love the Earth, how are you supposed to be motivated to protect it?
There are a ton of ways to be more eco-friendly while hiking and camping in the wilderness, but I wanted to focus on where it all begins: the bag you pack for your adventures! Here are my sustainable essentials for a low impact trip to the trails:
Kula Cloth: If you haven’t heard of a pee cloth, you have the check it out! No more carrying toilet paper on your hikes and packing it out. This bad boy is reusable/easy to wash and you air dry it on your pack with no smell at all!
Reusable Food Bags/Beeswax Wraps: These are a staple/given for leaving the house on any occasion! I bring them hiking or paddling with snacks inside to keep them fresh and to avoid plastic waste.
Lip Balm: You always need a good lip balm on a day in the outdoors! This one is my go to, made by a local Toronto brand that I love.
Bug Hoodie: Bug spray is great, but if you want them to be super effective they usually have to have DEET, which is of course not great for the environment. I am no saint – I have a huge vendetta against deer flies – so I still use bug spray fairly often, but the bug hoodie is a great alternative or addition to keep the bugs away, plus it’s reusable and doesn’t cause any environmental damage.
Garbage Bag: I always like to bring a bag from home (either a plastic one that I couldn’t avoid, or something compostable) to pick up trash on the trail. I forget this a lot, so I’m trying to keep one inside my bag at all times just in case!
Reef Safe Sunscreen: Of course it’s very important to keep your skin safe, but it’s also important to keep the environment safe. I know there are several plastic free brands out there to try, but for now I’m using up my bottle of Coola.
Happy bag packing! Let me know your adventure pack essentials in the comments or on Instagram @sustainablesydb.
Mother’s Day is just around the corner (May 9th in case you need the reminder) and I think all of our Mothers/Moms/Mums/Guardians/Mother Figures deserve some appreciation, especially during a long pandemic stretch like this. I live in Ontario, Canada and we’ve been in lockdown since essentially November, so I haven’t been able to see my Mom as much as I’d like and I’m sure that’s true for a lot of people. Just because we can’t see each other in person doesn’t mean our Mom’s don’t deserve a little something special for all that they do. Here are a few simple items or DIYs to help make their day a little more special.
If your Mom is a little crafty (or aspires to be), why not give her the gift of a little project that turns into beautiful art! This embroidery kit for beginners is so lovely, I honestly would buy this for myself or any of my friends, so its a super versatile gift.
Gretchen Rubin is one of my favourite self-help authors – she is just so positive and writes in such an inviting way. When I saw this one-sentence daily journal for mother’s I thought it was a perfect way to encourage self care.
Jiggy Puzzles are a brand I’ve mentioned on the blog before, but they are just too stunning not to add to this list. All puzzle art is created by emerging female artists and shipping is carbon neutral. Yes and yes!
What says a cozy night in more than a clay mask? This green tea mask from Three Ships is sure to make it into your Mom’s weekly routine, plus it’s free of harmful ingredients and feels super fresh. The price point doesn’t hurt either!
If you’re looking for something a little more simplistic, with little to no cost, and with the connectivity of a homemade gift – this is it! One of my go-to low waste bloggers is Simply Living Well. She approaches things in a wonderfully natural way and it doesn’t make you feel like a low waste lifestyle is unattainable. This herbal simple syrup recipe is a wonderful addition to your Mom’s cocktail bar. They can be mixed into a number of drinks and they are so easy to make. Bonus: they look gorgeous.
Fair trade, sustainable, vegan, woman owned – this comfy waffle robe checks all the boxes! Your Mom will love you for this thoughtful gift that is also mindful of Mother Earth.
When Birch Babe gifted me some products a few months back (thank you Birch Babe!!), this whipped body butter was by far the item I was most excited about. I am more than happy to report that it is a dream product that I will buy again and again (although it lasts a while so I’m not even halfway through the jar). It truly feels like your body is a vanilla smoothie, that’s the best way I can describe it. Mom will love it, 100%.
Another brand that I continuously post about (because it truly is unparalleled) is Leahlani. This Hawaiian skincare brand is the most unique sustainable brand I’ve ever come across and every single product I’ve tried is next level. It’s a bit of a budget buster but it is beyond worth it and the products last quite a while. Grab Mom one of these best-selling cleansing oils to add to her daily routine.
Beach season is just around the corner (well, in Ontario – it might already be beach season where you are!), does your Mom know where her beach bag is? Even if she does, could it possibly be as cute as this organic cotton one from Anchal Project?
This is accidentally the second grapefruit scented item on the list, but what can I say I love a fresh citrus scent, it’s so uplifting! Also, you cannot go wrong with candles, you just cannot. I love Toronto based brand Lohn, and their new spring line is looking too cute!
As mentioned before, I love Simply Living Well and I finally received her best selling book this past week, I cannot wait to try everything in this book and I’m sure your Mom would too, especially if she wants to reduce her impact on the environment! Side note: I have linked it through Amazon, but I encourage you to support your local bookstores however you can!
Last but not least, you really can’t miss with flowers. Nearly everyone loves them and Mom’s universally appreciate this gift, I know I would! If you are going to get cut flowers, I highly recommend spending that extra little bit to go through a sustainable, local florist rather than stopping by the grocery store. One of my local favourite’s is Sweet Pea’s who offer a very transparent look into how they source their flowers and what makes them eco/socially responsible.
Did this list give you some inspiration to give a sustainable, local, ethical Mother’s Day gift this year? I hope it did! Head to my Instagram or leave me a note in the comments on this post. I appreciate anyone who has taken the time to visit my blog and interact with me on any platform! Love you all, Syd.
After working in marketing for over a decade and witnessing the many evolutions within the digital industry I wanted to see whether it was possible to create a truly sustainable business using design and tech for good. I firmly believe that all industries have a responsibility to be greener as the environmental issues that currently dominate the planet can only be changed with an innovative, human-led approach. The internet is just as polluting as the entire airline industry put together so it’s vital we start to prioritize greener websites and become more mindful of how we use technology as its resource heavy and time is running out. We all deserve to live in an environment that enables us to thrive. I wanted Growfish to be a space of authenticity and transparency and it is those values we bring to everything we do.
Growfish.co is a digital marketing agency on a mission to help purpose-driven brands grow. We believe in future proofing your business and supporting an economy that nourishes and sustains the planet we live in. Our sustainable strategies have been honed over years of work to generate consistent results, with a fresh and integrated approach. We offer content marketing, ad management, green web design and branding, sustainability reporting, as well as social media management, email marketing and SEO. All our services can help a small ecommerce store grow or a larger business focus their marketing efforts. We help provide clarity and cohesion by guiding and directing brands with focused communications and eco tech initiatives.
We work with brands who have a genuine interest in making a positive and lasting impact. We help empower businesses to craft an authentic narrative by following best sustainable practices that will help them talk directly to the conscious consumer base. We aim to share our passion, creativity and digital marketing knowledge while promoting greener consumer habits, tools and services that create a positive change for both people and the planet.
There are some really great brands out there spearheading this new movement of slow, conscious consumerism. Every Saturday we feature a small sustainable business making a difference, follow us on IG and check them out!
Food foraging is something I feel very interested in, but truthfully I didn’t know much about it until recently. I’ve always been super freaked out about picking something and poisoning myself (hello ending of “Into the Wild”) or it tasting just plain bad. Since the pandemic began, I think a lot of people have been leaning towards growing or foraging some of their own food for convenience and as a way to keep the boredom at bay. I love the idea for those reasons and the amazing connection to nature it brings. After doing some digging (hah garden jokes), I’ve found it’s a lot easier to forage food than I thought! Plus, the risk of poisoning yourself is truly quite low, as long as you follow a few simple do’s and don’ts.
acknowledge the First Nations history of living off the land
reconnect with nature while you forage
harvest between 5-10% of the patch
keep upstream of agricultural/industrial areas and away from unclean water
spread seeds after you pick
leave behind some plants for animals to eat
start with easy plants like fiddleheads or berries
bring the right tools: trowel, reusable bags or containers, field guide, gloves
wash all foraged food
wash, cook or dehydrate the food
look out for these beginner species to try: ox-eye daisy, dandelion, berries, asparagus, cattails, fiddleheads, mushrooms
pick on private property after asking or on crown land
pick too much of a species essential to the ecosystem
over forage (especially wild leek and ginseng in Ontario)
pick endangered or vulnerable species
forage on private property without permission
eat if you aren’t 100% sure if the item is edible (look out for look alike mushrooms and water hemlock that look like carrots)
remove the entire plant (usually)
eat any unfamiliar or new foraged foods if you are nursing or pregnant
pick wilted or browning plants
Most importantly, we want to have fun and enjoy connecting with the land and our food, so why not give it a try! I am so excited forage this spring/summer 🙂
Here are a few essential guides to foraging (these are Ontario/Quebec, Canada based since that is where I live but they apply to many areas):
Woo Spring is upon us! It has me thinking about all the cute, sustainable dresses that I want in my closet, BUT I know better than to just replace a bunch of stuff every season for no reason. First, I need to make sure all of my items fit and I feel good wearing them. If I don’t, is there a way I can maybe style or accessorize them differently before opting to give them away? If I can’t make some items work, I usually donate or see if my friends want some new goodies for their closet (which often works!). This season I’ve already bought a few items second hand to fill some gaps in my closet, continuing with my goal of only buying things if I REALLY need them and only buying thrifted if I do. That being said, it’s always fun to make a little Wishlist of items that you could end up purchasing or that you love to just dream about! Here are ten of my “most wanted” dresses for Spring from beautiful, sustainable brands:
As we approach the anniversary of “two weeks of working from home” that turned into a whole year, it has me reflecting on HOW people are working from home!
Whether you have a 9-5, you’re a student, you’re a blogger, or you’re just looking for work, you inevitably spend a lot of time at some sort of “work from home” setup these days. However you spend your hours in front of the computer, I’m sure you’d love to be doing it a little bit more sustainably. If not, well, this post isn’t for you!
I live in a one bedroom apartment with my partner, and while we are blessed with a decent 860sqft. (pretty good for Toronto!), we don’t have enough room for two desks. Since I am doing less traditional work that doesn’t require dual screens, I don’t mind working from the kitchen table or the couch or wherever my charging cord reaches. That being said, I still want to have some items that I can feel GOOD about using while I bop around from place to place. Here are a few ideas for a sustainable workspace:
Eco-Friendly Office Chairs. I’m sure many of you thought “oh whatever, I’ll only be sitting in this chair for a few weeks, I don’t need lumbar support! What am I seventy?!”. Well, spoiler alert: you might be sitting in that chair for a lot longer, so why not sit in something comfortable and good for the planet. These are two of my faves:
Recycled Notebooks. Guys, have you heard about stone paper? It’s crazy. When I first used it I was amazed at how soft and luxurious it felt. It’s amazing to write on too! Also – if you love to write your notes on your phone or computer, this is obviously a very sustainable option, I just prefer to write some things on paper still.
Air Purifiers. This can mean anything from house plants to filtered plug-in style purifiers! Obviously, the most natural option is to fill your home with plants, but this isn’t available to everyone. Maybe your place doesn’t get much light or maybe you kill every plant you’ve ever bought! I love my plants, but I am super guilty of killing at least a few of them. Overall, either option is great for keeping that at-home air nice and clean while you work all day!
Refillable Pens. I assume most people are doing the majority of their work on their computer, but we all need to write things down occasionally! I’m definitely a list writer and so is my partner, so we use our fair share of pens. Here are some great alternatives to the traditional plastic options:
Compostable Phone Case. Technically, this item goes everywhere with you, but you use it while you work more than you care to admit! This is a simple, low cost switch, so the next time you upgrade your phone think about one of these options:
Welcome to lockdown 2.0: on your left you’ll find your couch and on your right you’ll find all of your past travel memories that you took for granted. But wait, could there be a light at the end of this Covid tunnel? I think we’ve all spent (nearly) the past year wondering when this will all end and how our lives are going to return to “normal”. Honestly, life may never return to the normal it once was, but that doesn’t mean we can’t look forward to things. I compiled a little list of local (under 3 hour drive from Toronto), eco-friendly day trips to do once our stay at home order has passed and it’s safe to do so.
Disclaimer: I know driving from place to place isn’t exactly the most environmentally friendly thing you can do, but these are little day trips that I think are worth it for everyone’s mental health and happiness :).
Southbrook Organic Vineyards, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. An organic and biodynamic winery that carries some of my favourite wines in Ontario and they are Gold level LEED certified. So great! Plus, they don’t skimp on the wine tasting portions (I’m talking big glasses people).
University of Guelph Arboretum, Guelph, Ontario. I might be a bit biased, having gone to university there, but the walking trails and gardens are really a sight to see in the Spring/Summer. There is a large focus on conservation and the grounds are used as a “living laboratory” for the students.
Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary, Rosseau, Ontario. This place is amazing. I went on a tour there a few summer’s ago and it was informative and heart warming all at once. I am a HUGE softie when it comes to animals, so visiting a sanctuary is really something I love doing. They accept donations in cash and in supplies, so feel free to donate even if you can’t visit!
Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve, Gravenhurst, Ontario. Ever feel like you can only see like 10 stars in the city of Toronto? Well, it’s because of all that light pollution. If you love astronomy or just want to see a beautifully lit up starry sky, this is the place to go. Environmental bonus: having all of your lights off to see the stars helps reduce light pollution. Torrance Barrens is also a conservation reserve, so you can spend the afternoon hiking the area before lying down to enjoy the night sky. OH and the northern lights have even been seen here! Crazy!
The Bruce Trail, Niagara to Tobermory, Ontario. Although some of these sections are a bit far for a day trip, there’s quite a few that are great for just a few hours hike during any season of the year. I can’t recommend the Speyside section enough (my partner and I volunteer as Trail Captain’s so I may just see you there!) since there’s rarely any foot traffic. Also, you can’t forget about all of their conservation work and nature reserves. The Bruce Trail is the BEST.
The Pigs of Pearly Acre, Douro, Ontario. I think I may have saved one of the best for last; I am DYING to go here when it opens in the Spring. My dream is to own my own hobby farm/animal rescue and pigs are a big part of that dream. They have 9 adopted and rescued pot bellies that I’ve been falling in love with via Instagram over the past year. You get to learn about the pigs and how to care for them, as well as share your veggies with them! Hopefully this inspires a few vegetarian converts or at least a meatless Monday in your household. Cute and sustainable, yes please :).
I hope these all gave you a little something to look forward to! Or at the very least, allowed you to look at this cute piglet picture. Happy dreaming you guys, keep your heads up! Love you all.
2020 was a shit show and honestly, this year isn’t magically renewed with the sprinkle of some fairy dust. HOWEVER, I am feeling optimistic about the things I can control in my own life. Namely, the goals I have for myself (and my partner) to live more sustainably and low waste. I’ve never pretended to be an expert on this subject and I am learning every single day about how to be a bit better. When it comes to our environmental footprint and how our choices affect the planet, I think we can all do a little bit each day to help. Sidebar: nobody expects perfection!
Here are some of my intentions for the year, I hope you join in my journey and follow along as well.
*SEE END OF POST FOR THE ECO CHALLENGE SHEET TO TRACK YOUR SUSTAINABLE ACHIEVEMENTS THIS YEAR* (two save-able/printable versions depending on what you like)
🙂 🙂 🙂
Read Books/Watch Movies/Listen to Podcasts to inform myself more and more about sustainability practices! Here are a few on my list:
–Books (you can find most of these on Amazon or at your local bookstore): ECOrenaissance (just started in an eco book club launched by my insta pal @sweet.sustainability and this is the first book), F**k Plastic, Simply Living Well: A Guide to Creating a Natural Low Waste Home, The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide, The Curated Closet, Turning the Tide on Plastic, This is a Good Guide
–Movies: A Life on Our Planet (Netflix), The Biggest Little Farm (Amazon Prime), RiverBlue (rent through Vimeo), The Minimalists: Less is Now (Netflix), Chasing Coral (Netflix), Kiss the Ground (Netflix), Artifishal: The Fight to Save the Wild Salmon (Patagonia Youtube Channel), Life Off Grid (Amazon Prime), The True Cost (Youtube)
–Podcasts: Eco Chic, A Sustainable Mind, Conscious Chatter, Green Dreamer, The Minimalists
2. Buy Less Single Use Plastic! A toughie but a goodie – this is super important when it comes to reducing your household waste. I still have a ton of single use plastic in my cupboards and I don’t think that will ever completely go away, but any chance I get to purchase an alternative or refill an old jar I will!
3. Only Buy Thrifted/Used Clothing for a Year! I was thinking that this one would be super easy since we’re still in a pandemic and I’ve been heavily frequenting the sweatpants drawer lately, BUT I’ve already found a moment or two where I had to stop myself from purchasing. This should be interesting! I would invite everyone to join me on this one.
4. Change Out Old (ready to be thrown away) Items for Sustainable Swaps. This will include things like plastic razors in the bathroom (swap for a safety razor) and dishwashing sponges (swap for a reusable brush), etc etc. I only want to do this once the non-reusable items have been fully used, since it’s always better to use what you have before replacing it with a sustainable swap.
5. Meal Plan on Sundays. Right now I don’t have a traditional work week, but my partner does work a 9-5 (from home during covid), so I stick in that schedule with him as much as I can. Meal planning makes a HUGE difference when it comes to food waste since you are only buying what you need for the meals that week. I am also mostly plant based with my eating, with the occasional egg or piece of fish, which I would recommend trying at least a few days a week to reduce your impact on the planet.
There are my set intentions for the year, which I think are pretty attainable! I’ve made a cute little Eco Challenge Sheet below if you want to follow along the journey! Put it up on your fridge and every time you complete one of these goals you can give yourself a little reward (for me it’ll probably be food related heehee).
I don’t know about you all, but I find gift wrapping to be such a cathartic, heart-warming part of the holiday season. I always pop on a holiday movie (maybe Home Alone or The Santa Clause tonight) and just enjoy the slow process of parceling up little treasures for my family and friends.
In the past, I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about the affects of single-use wrapping. There would always be a tinge of guilt when I saw three or four heaping garbage bags at the door on Christmas Day, but I never thought much of it as a kid. Even as an adult, most of us didn’t start thinking about the mass negative affects of holiday waste until the past few years. Did you know that in Canada we create 545,000 tonnes of waste each year just from gift wrapping alone? YIKES! We can’t undo our glittery, plastic coated wrapping of the past, BUT we can start to make some small changes that will have a positive effect long-term. Whether it’s influencing a friend to use an alternative gift wrap, or just using up what you already have at home and starting fresh, everything makes a difference.
Please remember this is a JUDGEMENT FREE ZONE! I have so many old plastic gift bags still waiting to be used and there’s nothing wrong with that! This is a sustainability journey, it’s about being aware of the changes that need to be made and working to do a little bit every day to keep our planet healthy.
Here are a few ideas (I’m sure you’ve seen many on Instagram already hah!) for sustainable gift wrapping:
Kraft Paper. This is what I’m using this year! I have a huge roll left that needs using up, plus its 100% recyclable. You can add some lovely outdoor greenery and twine to spruce it up a bit.
Furoshiki. A beautiful Japanese-style cloth wrapping that is taking the internet by storm this year! Not only does it make your gifts look stunning, it can be reused for years to come. 100% biodegradable as well!
Newspaper. Maybe once frowned upon as the lazy man’s wrapping, now it’s cool and a great way to put it to another use.
Last Year’s Single-Use Paper/Gift Bags. Like I said, this is a journey! It’s better to give those plastic bags and wrapping a second (or third or fourth or fifth) life than to throw them away.
Reusable Bags. Maybe not the grocery store ones (not so cute or festive), but there are so many awesome totes out there, especially from local shops.
T-shirt. Are you giving that special someone a cool tee? Well great, you can wrap the rest of their gift in it! Done.
Boxes. This one is kind of obvious, any old cardboard box will do.
Glass Jars. This works great for jewellery or any smaller items, plus now the gift recipient has a lovely jar for low waste storage!
These are just a few ideas, but really you can get creative and use literally anything around the house! Have fun with it and don’t feel bad about using less sustainable materials, it’s about doing your best!
Oops! It’s been a minute since I posted, but after the Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide, I needed a bit of a breather to create some more seasonal content! I love love LOVE this time of year (have I said that before?). Not sure if it’s the magic of the season, the holiday music and movies, or the fact that there are so many wonderful things this month (my birthday happens to fall near Xmas as well hehe), but all of it just gives me so much joy. Another big factor is how much I enjoy a giant mug of tea, a book, and a cozy sweater to bundle up in. Why do I love a sweater? I think you know the answer to that – it’s a comfy, holiday cookie hiding genius piece of clothing!
Here are my top Canadian sweaters of the season (for men, women and kiddos!):
Pumpkin latte’s may be phasing out of season, but this sweater certainly isn’t. Made of Hemp, Organic Cotton, and Bamboo, this sweater is made in Montreal but has a Parisian elegance about it that’s perfect for a holiday dinner.
Organic Cotton, Recycled Polyester, TENCEL. Made ethically in China.
Tentree is one of the most impressive sustainable Canadian brands out there right now, so if you don’t know about their tree planting projects (over 50 million trees planted!) and other initiatives, I would suggest checking them out! They just came out with a Lorax themed line as well – so cute.
Kotn is a “basics” lovers dream (aka me)! They always create fun cuts but still keep the fabrics and colours simple so you can work them into any wardrobe seamlessly. 100% BCI Cotton, ethically made in Portugal, gets softer and softer with every wash!
Talk about an everyday staple! Love the added texture to this classic fit. This sweater will take you through many seasons to come! Alpaca, Merino Wool, Polyamide. Based out of Vancouver, BC. (They are sold out on their site, so I linked Charlie & Lee – a great, Vancouver-based selling platform for North American, ethically made products).
Do I really have two sweaters on this list with “latte” in the title? Yes. I told you I was a sucker for a cozy drink! This is may be closer to a longsleeve tee, but I’m going to include this here because I love this company and it’s sweater-esque. Encircled is a local brand that has all your basics covered, literally. Organic Cotton, Made in Toronto, ON.