10 Cozy Canadian Sweaters for Snuggle Season

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.

Such a sweet tree design, for a more subtle pattern lover such as myself. 100% Organic Cotton, made ethically in China.

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.

This brand is such a fun discovery! Made in Canada, 100% Cotton, provides a warning to those around you that you’ll probably trip and break their favourite wine glass before the night is through.

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).

This is really an all season sweater – great for layering in the Winter and wearing tucked into your high-waisted denim in the Spring or Fall. Lyocell, Organic Cotton, Spandex, Made in Vancouver, BC.

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.

I couldn’t resist putting a cute little baby sweater on this list – I mean hello it’s woods themed for crying out loud. Organic Cotton, Lyocell, Spandex, based in Kingston, Ontario.

Happy snuggling this season! Follow me @sustainablesydb on Instagram.


Sustainable Holiday Gift Guide

Hooray, the holiday season is upon us! I know it seems early (especially given the the strangely warm weather we’ve been having), but it really is a good time to start thinking about some special gifts for those special people in your life. This year the postal services are going to be even more overwhelmed with Covid 19, so I would recommend shopping early and of course, sustainably! Here is a mini guide to a sustainable holiday from my warm and fuzzy, Christmas obsessed heart to yours.

First and foremost I want to acknowledge some AMAZING and frankly, way more comprehensive and beautiful holiday guides. I can only strive to get on their level someday!

  1. Forage + Sustain
  2. The Good Trade
  3. Able (live fashionable)
  4. Net Zero Company
  5. Goop

If you’re looking for some basic gift bundles/sets, look no further than these! They are already done for you and take the stress out of finding the perfect gift:

Let’s break it down. Not every gift recipient is the same, of course! Here are a few categories that your friends and family may fall into this holiday season:

The Homebody/Self Care Lover

  • Safety Razor – this is an incredible alternative to plastic razors and it lasts for life!
  • Lounge Sets – love them, need them, have to have them. Here are some of my faves: Encircled, Kotn, Alternative Apparel, We Are Pact.
  • Tea – if you know me, you know I love tea and this is my drink of choice morning, day and night. This set was just included on Oprah’s favourite things list. A Canadian, Black owned brand that will knock your fuzzy socks off!
  • Weighted Blanket – I don’t have one but I want to know this level of coziness someday.
  • Candles – ask any gal you know, this is never ever a bad gift. There’s been some debate lately over how healthy candles are to have in your home versus essential oils, but here are some brands doing it RIGHT: Mala (they have one that smells like fruit loops – mind blown), Woodlot, Kilig.
  • Puzzles – this carbon neutral puzzle brand is just too cool.

The Outdoor Enthusiast

  • Weekend Getaway – I might be biased (I would consider myself to fall under the outdoorsy category), but these are my favourite types of gifts. I love an “experience gift” and this farm is on my bucket list big time – it has horseback riding and a unique stay!
  • Discovery Pass – this grants you admission to all of Canada’s National Parks, Historic Sites, and Marine Conservation Areas for 12 months. Since things are still looking a little grim for international travel, this is a great way to see our home country (if you are Canadian that is – there is an equivalent pass for American National Parks as well).
  • Outdoor Gear – anything from clothing to water bottles is always on any outdoor adventurer’s list. Here are some tried and true brands I love: We Are Finnley, United by Blue, Ten Tree, Klean Kanteen, Patagonia. These are all well known brands but there’s a reason for that – they do it right!
  • Beside Magazine Subscription – love this Montreal-based mag and all it stands for.
  • The Anywhere Shower Outdoor Wipes and Kula Cloth. One for your body and one for peeing on the go – revolutionary for female hikers with tiny bladders (me)!

The Kitchen Guru

  • Plant Based Cookbooks – I think everyone is trying to lessen their meat intake (except for Ron Swanson) these days. Here’s a great, delicious place for the cook in your life to start: Oh She Glows, The Forest Feast.
  • The Always Pan from Our Place. This pan is chestNUTS (roasting on an open fire) – I’m not kidding guys, it does everything and this might have to go on my “treat yourself” wish list.
  • Compost Bin – the one’s we get in Ontario look pretty drab, so if you have a funky kitchen guy or gal to buy for, this is a step up from the boring old green bin (bonus: cute turtle!)
  • Linen Bread Bags – cute way to keep your bread fresh!
  • Dishwashing Block – this is an awesome alternative to classic liquid dishwashing soap, plus it lasts a lot longer than you’d think!
  • Reusable Sponge Cloths – I know this sounds like a boring gift, but the environmentally conscious cook in your life will LOVE these. Also, some of them are holiday themed? Yes please.

The Beauty Queen/King

  • Reusable Makeup Remover Pads – my partner put these in my stocking a few years ago and I’ve never looked back. Soft, washable, wonderful.
  • Sunscreen – this isn’t just for the summer folks! The skincare enthusiast on your list will love that you’ve provided them the gift of supple/protected skin all year round
  • Facial Cleanser Bar – need I say more? We all love to have a beautiful, gentle cleanser waiting for us on the shelf at the end of the day, so will the pal you give this to. Also important: you are supporting a local, mother/daughter owned business (Bon Echo, Ontario)!
  • Perfume – buying this clean fragrance for someone just makes you a “cool human” as their website says.
  • Body Scrub – why not something that can make their body feel great too (there’s a lot of face products on this list – whoops!).

The Fashion Lover

  • Linen Pants – if you are new to an eco lifestyle, linen pants seem to be some sort of right of passage into this world. Is it because the material is super sustainable and amazing and fantastic? Probably. All jokes aside, this is a brand owned/designed by a pal of mine from the sustainable fashion program I took a few years back. She was a star then and she’s even more awesome now!
  • Sleep Set (email or DM to order)– this is a similar item to the lounge sets I talked about in the homebody section, but lets face it, once the pandemic is over we will only have casual clothing left to show for it. Definitely buy this for the fashion gal who loves to be stylish while just chilling/sleeping.
  • Comfy Sweater – a classic holiday gift, but this time with an ethical twist!
  • Sunglasses – style and sustainability? That’s a gift we can all get behind. Waiting for my current glasses to break so I can snag a pair of these.
  • Cool Denim – this can be a notoriously hard gift to nail, but if you’re going for it, this is the site to choose.
  • Personalized Necklace – another classic and great to give to your partner as something special this holiday season

Stocking Stuffers

  • Bamboo Toothbrush – clean teeth, clean earth = win, win
  • Natural Toothpaste – I promise that’s the end of the teeth theme
  • Eco Strip Laundry Detergent – an alternative to traditional laundry detergent that I have yet to try (but I want to). Shout out to my partner’s Mom for this idea!
  • Funky, Eco-friendly Socks – some may say socks are overplayed for Christmas, but I beg to differ!
  • Local Syrup and Honey – I have loved this guy’s honey and syrup for a few years now! He came into a shop I used to work at and let us sample all the product – I was in heaven!
  • Lip Balm – this smells good enough to eat (but don’t)!
  • Bath Salts – if your pal is lucky enough to have a bathtub to relax in, they will need these to get through the winter!
  • Ethical Chocolate – YUM, that’s all.

I hope this guide gave you some solid ideas for the upcoming season! Keep your friends and family close, give them hugs and squeezes if you can, and cherish all the love in your life :).


Friday Faves!

Happy Friday! Sometimes my faves might be sustainability/outdoors related, sometimes not – hey some weeks I just enjoyed a multitude of random stuff! Here are some things I’ve been loving this week:

On Wednesday, I joined an amazingly informative webinar on Indigenous Cultural Sensitivity. If you’re Canadian (or even if not), check this out!

I’ve been playing the Sims 4 again in my free time. At first I was feeling guilty, then I read this article, hooray, I’m not a weirdo!

The Great British Baking Show Season 10. Paul Hollywood pierces you with his blue eyes and cake week gives you life! CBC Gem is quite the gem for offering this for free on their website.

One of my favourite vegan bloggers came out with her 3rd cookbook recently and it’s a winner!

Although I’m not HUGE into Halloween (more of a Christmas gal – okay a crazy Christmas gal), I do love a few things about it, one of which is this record which I will be bopping to on Halloween day.

A Beautiful Mess is one of my favourite blogs (I’ve been following for almost 10 years) and this year they came out with their first podcast! They did a Halloween special (two parter) with some sweet and spooky stories this week. You can tune in anywhere you listen to your podcasts!

This is a fan fave indulgent autumn meal (it’s a mouthful to say and to eat) in my house and my partner rushed home for it this week, so it must be a good one!

We’re all trying to keep as active as possible for our physical and mental health during these isolating times. I’ve been attempting the 100 Sweaty Sweats challenge, although admittedly I’m pretty behind! They also created a great initiative this year where you donate to your favourite charity.

Take the Bruce Trail Pledge guys! Support our local Ontario trails and you get a cute little “I took the pledge” button in the mail and it’s free of course!

I love Dolly Parton. The End. She is doing Dollyisms 101 on her Instagram this month and not surprisingly they are GOLD.

That’s all for this week folks! Enjoy your day, follow me on Instagram @sustainablesydb – thank ya!

10 Clean Beauty Products (I’m Loving Right Now)

Clean/Eco-Friendly beauty products are becoming increasingly more accessible to everyone, which is such an amazing thing! The best way to figure out if a company is following ethical and sustainable practices is to seek out the “About” page on their website and see what measures they are taking to ensure people, the planet, and animals are all being treated well.

Watch out for “greenwashing”! Brands are acutely aware that people love an “eco” product, so make sure you do your research before buying into the hype. Here are some of my favourite beauty products right now, created with sustainability and toxic-free ingredients in mind:

  1. Phillip Adam Shampoo + Conditioner – Apple Cider Vinegar. Maybe this scent sounds a little odd but my hair has never smelled better and it keeps my hair tame and free from frizzy-ness. This Vancouver based brand is family owned and focuses on natural ingredients. Biodegradable, Paraben Free, Vegan, Cruelty Free, Gluten Free, SLS Free, GMO Free. Link: https://amzn.to/2HG0Q4
  2. Matter Company – Day Pack. This includes a lip balm, all-heal salve, and heat rub. I love these mini travel sized items, they are perfect for an outdoorsy gal like me who tends to dry out her hands and windburn her face! They are Toronto based as well which is a plus, love to keep it local. Herbal, Made in Canada, GMO Free, Not Tested on Animals, Paraben free, Organic + Natural. Link: https://www.mattercompany.com/product/day-pack/
  3. Pink House Glow Stick – Peach. Love, love, LOVE this highlighter/blush stick! It brightens up my whole face and is super reasonably priced for a clean beauty product. The brand has a very bittersweet back story as well about a family and their loss, which led to this wonderful company. Natural + Cruelty Free. Link: https://www.shoppinkhouse.com/products/glow-stick-peach-1
  4. Basd Body Wash – Seductive Sandalwood. This body wash sounds sassy and frankly, it is! If by sassy you mean super great for the environment and your skin that is. This Kitchener, Ontario based (hehe Basd) brand was created by a couple who wanted ingredients and scents they both loved, so you know your partner will like it too! Organic, Tested on Consenting Adults, Paraben Free, Leaping Bunny Certified, Naturally Derived Fragrances and Oils. Link: https://www.basdbodycare.ca/collections/organic-natural-skincare/products/basd-body-wash-seductive-sandalwood
  5. Shea Moisture Overnight Face Oil. This is a fantastic, BIPOC founded company which keeps community support and fair trade front of mind. The oil is something new for me, as I always used creams as my overnight treatment, but oils are supposedly much better for your skin, especially in the winter months! No Parabens, No Mineral Oil, No Phthalates, No Petroleum, No Formaldehyde, Fair Trade, Cruelty Free, Ethically Traded, Certified B Corp. Link: https://www.amazon.com/Shea-Moisture-Coconut-Hydration-Overnight/dp/B0727WY21S
  6. Herbivore Botanicals Hair Mist – Coconut + Sea Salt and Face Mist – Rose Hibiscus. Both of these sprays are divine and I use them every single day. The hair spray makes me feel like a beachy surf babe and the face spray makes me feel like I just dunked my face in the water (in the best way). Not Tested on Animals, Non Toxic, GMO Free, Organic, Recyclable Packaging, Paraben Free, Petroleum Free. Links: https://amzn.to/3e0ddEC, https://www.herbivorebotanicals.com/collections/body-1/products/sea-mist-hair-spray-coconut
  7. Ilia Beauty Mascara – If you are searching for the perfect, clean mascara for your everyday life – look no further! It’s award-winning (Allure, Glamour), natural, and lightweight so you don’t feel like you’re weighed down. Safe Formulas, Inclusive Shades, Responsibly Sourced Packaging, Leaping Bunny Certified, Recyclable Packaging (through TerraCycle). Link: https://iliabeauty.com/products/after-midnight
  8. Lauren Conrad Beauty Cheek and Lip Tint Peony. Lauren Conrad just released a clean beauty line! She is one of the first celebrities to come out with a strictly clean beauty brand under their name, which is super influential – love it! This product is a two-in-one, which I think we can all get behind (can I get an amen!). Who doesn’t love two products for the price of one? It’s also a very environmentally friendly way to market a product. Recyclable, Paraben Free, Cruelty Free, Ethically Sourced, Vegan. Link: https://laurenconradbeauty.com/collections/makeup/products/the-lip-and-cheek-tint
  9. Leahlani Skincare Bless Beauty Balm. This Hawaii-based company is as dreamy and tropical as you might imagine. I would buy up the whole line if I had the budget, but for now this is the one product that I MUST have and continue to buy once a year (it lasts that long!). It’s sort of a stand in for face cream, but instead it’s a smooth, buttery godsend that melts into your face. I put this on right before bed and it makes me dream of coconuts and the beach. Natural Ingredients, Not Tested on Animals, Locally Sourced Ingredients. Link: https://www.leahlaniskincare.com/products/bless-balm
  10. Tower 28 ShineOn Milky Lip Jelly – Coconut. If you hadn’t guessed by now, I love coconut/tropical smelling products (I know I’m not alone here). This falls seamlessly into that category with a yummy scent that does an even better job of making my lips look delicious! Yes please! This is also a brand specifically designed for sensitive skin. BIPOC owned, Non-Toxic, Non Irritating, Vegan, Cruelty Free. Link: https://www.tower28beauty.com/products/shineon-milky-lip-jelly?variant=32245684830263

More Items I Love:

  • Bite Beauty – Custom Lipstick
  • Burt’s Bees – Overnight Mask
  • Westman Atelier – Vital Skin Foundation Stick
  • Juice Beauty – Green Apple Peel Face Mask

Questions? Email me at: info@sustainablesyd.ca, DM me on Instagram @sustainablesydb

Muskoka Hikes: Huckleberry Rock Lookout Trail

Main Lookout Point

Fall hikes in cottage country are a must and the Huckleberry Rock Lookout Trail is a perfect spot to view the autumn leaves this season. This is a 2.9km loop to a scenic lookout point over Lake Muskoka, Ontario that takes about 20mins to get to the top if you’re really hoofing it (like we were). Overall, the hike was easy to navigate (although I can see it being difficult in the winter if it was snow-covered), mostly because there were hoards of people coming up and down the hill, but it was also decently well signed for the average hiker.

  • Location: 8mins from Port Carling, 2.5hrs from Toronto
  • Length: 2.9km
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 1hour (including time at the lookout)
  • Time To Go: Weekdays, Sunset, avoid Thanksgiving Weekend (this is when we went and it was VERY busy)
  • Viewpoints: Awesome 180 degrees of Lake Muskoka
  • Dogs Allowed: Yes, on a leash!
  • Weird sightings: People wheeling strollers to the top of the hike (it didn’t go well)
We exited the hike a different way – this lead to a main road
  • What we brought: camera, sweaters, water bottles
  • What we left: footprints/crunched leaves, nothing!

20 Ways to Make Your Life More Sustainable (right now!)

So you want to live a more sustainable/low waste lifestyle, but you don’t know where to get started. This is completely normal! Sustainability as a concept can be broad, hard to follow and super intimidating, so I’m going to provide you with a few simple tips that you can do TODAY (or this week because hey, procrastination is alive and well even during a pandemic).

  1. Get yourself some tote bags. I’m sure many of you already have these at home, but it’s time they left your coat rack and made their way out into the world! Here are a few I’ve been using lately: https://baggu.com/collections/reusable-bags, https://www.filt1860.fr/en/9-net-shopping-bag
  2. Instead of plastic bags and containers, use reusable baggies and glass containers to store your leftovers or to go sandwiches: https://amzn.to/2T8lsVv
  3. Reduce food waste by making a list before you to go the grocery store. This seems so simple but we’ve all been guilty of just “winging it” and coming home with 3 bags of chips when you already had 2 in the cupboard.
  4. Download these apps: Good on You – a great sustainable fashion app that rates clothing brands based on how ethical they are for workers and the environment https://goodonyou.eco/ and Think Dirty – a clean beauty and skincare app that makes you rethink everything on your bathroom shelf. Bonus: you can scan all of your products and see how “dirty” or “clean” they are! https://www.thinkdirtyapp.com/
  5. Challenge yourself: try and only buy thrifted or previously loved clothing for a month! I wouldn’t recommend in person shopping too often during the pandemic, so if you can’t support local, here are some online shops to try: https://www.depop.com/, https://www.thredup.com/
  6. Use Dryer Balls! Goodbye heavy synthetic scented dryer sheets. These are the ones I use and they put a smile on my face every time I take the little sheep face out of my pile of clean clothes: https://amzn.to/3m6CEY5
  7. Visit a zero waste store! Don’t forget your mason jars and a bit of patience. If you are in Toronto, my faves include Unboxed Market and Bare Market.
  8. Bring your travel mug and water bottle everywhere you go! Nobody wants to buy plastic water bottles or those “devil in disguise” coffee cups coated in plastic. I’ve used a Keep Cup for the past few years and no complaints! https://amzn.to/349ywjL
  9. Turn off the lights and unplug your small appliances! You’ve heard this since you were 8 years old, you get it.
  10. Use fibre cloths instead of paper towels. This is usually where I lose people, but honestly it’s not as tough as it sounds! Just buy about 20-30 cloths (those Frank brand ones at Canadian Tire are nice and cheap!) and keep them in a drawer that’s quick access for spills. Just give it a try! I’ll be the first to admit that we still buy the occasional roll of paper towel just to have on hand, but we use it much less with the cloth option.
  11. Stop “Wish-cycling”! The easiest way to describe this is the black take out container you stood over the garbage thinking about for 5 minutes before opting to recycle it. This is NOT recyclable! But, this is also NOT your fault! Unfortunately, we are taught “reduce, reuse, recycle” from a young age but we aren’t taught how to do these properly or effectively. Look up the recycling rules in your area on your town or city’s website. Bonus tip: if you don’t clean all of the food out of your recyclable item (ie: leaving peanut butter in the container) it will go to the landfill – sad but true! Toronto’s waste app: https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/recycling-organics-garbage/towaste-app/
  12. This may only apply to certain readers, but switch to e-billing! The paper waste is just madness, madness!
  13. Switch to recycled toilet paper (at least some of the time). I can’t lie, this is a hard one because we all love to indulge in a soft brand, but in the words of Dwight Schrute, “don’t get me started on how coddled the modern anus is!”. Oh, I found a cross stitch of this quote for your bathroom, you’re welcome: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/786943673/dwight-schrute-quote-coddle-anus-cross?ref=landingpage_similar_listing_top-1
  14. When you get to the produce section of the grocery store, whip out your mesh product bags! These are a great way to avoid one of life’s most horrible tasks: opening the plastic bags in the fruit and veggies section. Here are the ones I use (only down side is they make your veggies a bit soft, so make sure to take them out of the bags before you put them in the crisper drawer of your fridge): https://amzn.to/3j8KZbD
  15. Empty your email inbox! I know a lot of us have that sad old Hotmail account that is just collecting dust and American Eagle promotions from 2004, so please, CLEAN IT OUT! All of that cloud storage space uses energy which creates C02 emissions. If you’d like to read more about this here’s a link: https://carbonliteracy.com/the-carbon-cost-of-an-email/
  16. Save your veggies scraps and freeze them! This makes for a great broth starter whenever you’re looking to make a quick soup.
  17. Meatless Mondays! I spent a few years as a Vegan (opinions not needed) and I have been a Vegetarian for the last 8 years. I recently decided to add fish back into my diet, but I mainly eat plant-based as a personal choice. My partner eats meat, but we try and keep it to a minimum for environmental reasons. See if you can lessen your meat intake! It’s all about personal preference, but if you like a challenge this is for you.
  18. Walk or bike when you can and try to drive less! This one should be easy peasy right now during the pandemic, so walk that extra 30 minutes and get out into nature!
  19. Collect rain water to water plants! Obviously, going into fall/winter right now you won’t be watering your garden, but you can still collect rain in a container and bring it in to nourish your house plants.
  20. Use beeswax wraps and reusable bowl covers! The beeswax ones smell so yummy and they are great to actually wrap the food itself (I often wrap half an apple in these) since they are all natural. Use the silicone bowl covers as an alternative to plastic wrap or aluminium foil. Here’s what I’ve been using: https://amzn.to/34a3aJW, https://amzn.to/34eCbgq

Hope you enjoyed these tips! If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at info@sustainablesyd.ca or send me a message on Instagram @sustainablesydb.

Hello, Howdy!

Welcome to my very first blog post – from me to you with love.

Ken Reid Conservation Area – Kawartha Lakes, Ontario

I want to start by saying THANK YOU to anyone who’s come to read my blog, whether it be family members and friends or strangers, this really means a lot that you care. To quote the great Liza Minnelli, “you like me, you really like me!”.

So what am I doing?

  • taking you on my favourite hikes/paddles in Ontario while leaving little trace that I was there except for the distant echoes of my loud voice
  • trying to be more sustainable with my clothing and cleaner with my beauty products – take this journey with me, it’ll be fun and your skin might even thank you!
  • all the same stuff I was already doing but now I’m going to share it HERE and try to improve and make myself better (and hopefully funnier??) along the way
  • providing tips for low waste living (my friends already hate me for not buying paper towels, now your friends can hate you too!)
  • creating a positive and joyful space – anyone can live sustainably, it’s about baby steps and willingness to help our MUTHA EARTH!

In my first few weeks I hope to post about some of my favourite hikes/paddles/camping, recent local trips I’ve done, and my faves for sustainable fashion and clean beauty. Don’t hold me to all of this because frankly, it’s kind of a tall order. That being said, I’m going to try and do what everyone does and balance 500 things at once, say I don’t have enough time, then proceed to watch 5 reruns of RuPaul’s Drag Race back to back and call it a night. I hope if you’re reading this I’ve sparked your interest (or at least your pity) and you’ll join me on this new creative journey!

Check out my “About” page for more info about this blog and me! Oh and toss me a follow if you like nature, preserving our planet, or the occasional weirdo post.

Instagram: @sustainablesydb