Community Engagement

Going Green at 70 - Getting Rid of Plastic

Going Green at 70 Blog Redesign Instagram Post 1

Hi there green beans,

We’re gearing up for July “Be Plastic Free”, which of course can’t really happen because we use plastic in everything - our clothes, furniture, packaging, toothpaste tubes, actual toothbrushes, combs, brushes, shavers, even our pantyhose, unless you buy eco-friendly brands – the list is endless but we can’t throw in the towel any more than we can throw out all these products. So, we start small.

The biggies to get rid of are: bottles of water (you can do it); store your food in glass, silicone, or foil and never heat up food in the microwave in a plastic container NEVER, you are truly inviting bits of plastic into your system.

Invest in a few of those veggie bags so you can avoid tossing your pears into those wretched little plastic bags that are harder to get into than breaking into a safe. Also, you can buy silicone baggies at the Great Canadian Dollar Store and they are great. Use them, wash them, reuse them. And buy milk bags, freeze 2 and when they are empty wash them and reuse them.I know it’s not easy. I found it easier to give up paper towels than to get off plastic because it is just so darn convenient and we are a culture who loves convenience.

We need to change our mindset. When I am out and about in stores or even yard sales and I spy glass containers I grab them. I also try to buy condiments in glass as opposed to plastic and then I wash them out; they are perfect to store and they go into the microwave. And hey, maybe you can consider volunteering at the New Glasgow Net Zero Volunteer Group; you’ll be doing your bit, meeting new people, and having some fun. Until next time…

The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire. FERDINAND FOCH

Going Green at 70: It's All About Summer

going Green blog

Hi there green beans,

World Environment Day is June 5th and the 3rd week of June is Pollinator week and some of you are going to be very busy mowing! Plus, Father’s Day is June 16th. What can we do in June to acknowledge these events?

I’m going to start by copying verbatim what I saw on the internet when I googled ‘gifts for dad’:

Personalized digital greeting cards. Sustainable fashion clothing and accessories. Unique experiences like cooking classes, outdoor adventures, or subscriptions to streaming services or online learning. Gift cards for local stores or dining experiences.

I was very impressed with all these great ideas that do not deplete any of our natural resources. I think commercial based paper cards are on the way out and if you don’t like the digital idea, you can always make one using re-cycled paper. If you want to know more about the eco cost of paper, read Janet Wallace’s new book “It is Time – A Time to Change”; a very informative piece on, what I still refer to as, Scott Paper. I bought my copy on Amazon and it is an excellent read.

Look for sustainable clothing or even better, hit the thrift shops. Keep your gifts as local as possible and we have so many wonderful options. This applies to Father’s Day but adopt these ideas any time you feel the desire to treat somebody to a gift.

Now for Pollinator Week - is the Pollinator Week Toolkit and it covers everything from the history to ideas that we can celebrate. It includes wonderful ways to get children involved so patents and teachers will love this site. And we must keep sharing that New Glasgow is an official Bee City!

For me as soon as the weather stays warm, I will be planting as many herbs and flowers as I can to attract as many bees, butterflies and maybe hummingbirds as I can.

See how you can learn more and get involved in helping New Glasgow celebrate Pollinator Week.

Each person, group or organization working toward a different world may seem powerless and insignificant, but all of them can add up to a force that can become irresistible. David Suzuki

Enjoy your summer!

Going Green at 70: Its All About The Bees

going green no mow may

Hi there green beans,

Hard to believe another year has gone by and here we are again – No Mow May! Firstly, the good news is that summer is coming and secondly, we need to get into the commitment of not mowing our lawns. If you adhere to No Mow May, excellent; you are setting an example for others. And every time you have an opportunity, tell people why you do it!

When the grass begins to grow in early spring, hungry bees start to look for nectar and pollen. By reducing how often you mow, you are letting the flowers bloom, and you are providing a natural habitat for your buzzy friends. We need these little guys not just for their honey, but bees also play an important role in promoting food security. The reality is they are in decline because of all the pesticides being used and urban sprawl. So, what can we do? If I had a huge yard and were 20 years younger, I would follow the lead of Marian Whitcomb from Baddeck. I was reading about her online and how she changed her one-acre yard from a lawn to a native garden. It is gorgeous. But a small yard doesn’t mean that I can’t do my part. I will plant what will attract bees and butterflies and at the same time, not invite the deer to share in the feast. First up is lavender. I’m told it’s easy to grow in pots and bees love it. You can’t beat that fragrance. I love using fresh herbs so lemon balm, mint, rosemary, sage, tarragon, and thyme will attract bees and mint and oregano will also attract butterflies. Then I can sit out this summer with my tea and enjoy the aroma, the beauty, and I will know that I am doing my small part.

Lastly, please brag that New Glasgow is Nova Scotia’s first Bee City; we were given that honour in November 2021. New Glasgow is very serious about being a Bee City. They are planting more native plants and flowers. They are installing four bee hives around the town, adding four bee water drinking baths, installing hummingbird feeders, and making a wildflower garden. One of the many reasons I love calling New Glasgow my home.

In the words of B.B. King - We are here because there are things that need our help. Like the planet. Like each other. Like animals. The world is like a garden, and we are its protectors.

Going Green at 70: How Wi-Fi Affects the Environment

Hi there green beans,

Today I want to focus on the Internet. Did you know that internet pollution seriously affects the environment? It accounts for 4% of global greenhouse emissions. According to my research on the internet (a bit of irony here), it generates about one billion tons of greenhouse gases a year. At worst, it is expected to double by 2025. It increased substantially during and since COVID. However, had it not been for the Internet, I would not have gotten so involved in the climate crisis. We don’t want to give it up but what changes can we make to reduce our technical footprint?

One of the most challenging things for me is when I can’t remember something. A simple example, I am watching a movie and I think ‘Hmmm, where did I see that person before’. Without a second hesitation, I grab my phone.  The reality is the information is there in my brain, I just don’t have the patience to try to remember it. The Internet has become too easy and it has affected our ability to use our memory. It’s almost like - use it or lose it. I am training myself to pause and work on remembering. And learning to survive perhaps not knowing where I saw a particular actor before.  Simply, I will use the Internet for more important things like…. learning about the environment.

The other thing I will work on is not using my phone when I am out. Seriously, can we not at least have a nice meal and not be checking our phones? Our parents didn’t have them and they survived. They went shopping without a phone, they went to a movie, they even went out to dinner. Honestly, if somebody is calling you to let you know you won the lottery, they can leave a message.

We need to get a handle on technology. As great as it is, let’s try and give it an occasional break.

Each morning we are born again. What we do today matters most. – The Buddha

Going Green at 70 : World Wildlife Day

       Facebook: Going Green at 70                      March 1, 2024

Hi again Green Beans,

March 3rd is the United Nations' World Wildlife Day, It is a day to celebrate wild animals and plants. It's an opportunity to learn more about the role and contribution that wildlife offers to people and our beloved planet. 

This has got to be the best quote and it truly sums it up: This is the message of World Wildlife Day that really hit home for me. - "It will not change the world if you will save one animal but it will certainly change the world for that one animal."

Living in New Glasgow has so many benefits but the biggest one for me is I can get in my car and within a few minutes I will be in the country. That used to take several hours when i lived in Ontario. There is still such beauty to be enjoyed that we have to commit to doing our part to keep it that way.

It's about getting rid of chemicals in the house and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. It's about trying to reduce our waste; trying to stop the never-ending cycle of shopping, and trying to reduce meat in our diet. And that's just a wee start.

I have written a lot about how to rid ourselves of chemicals by using household-safe ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, eco-friendly detergents, peroxide, and eco-friendly scrubbers.

it's been a cold winter and I have embraced the idea of layering and wearing socks. In fact, I just bought the clunkiest pair of slippers I have ever seen but they keep my feet toasty so they are a keeper. I turn the thermostat lower than I would like but again if the waste of electricity on the planet doesn't get me, the high cost of electricity will. 

I have been very good at making meals and storing and using leftovers. I am incorporating more meatless meals into my diet and next week, black bean burgers are on the menu!

We can all work together to keep the planet a little cleaner for all.

"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo. "So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." - J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Going Green at 70 : Rethinking Valentine's Day

Email:           Facebook: Going Green at 70 by Nancy MacRae

Hi there Green Beans,

Valentine's Day is approaching and although it’s tempting to buy cards, roses, and chocolates – let’s see if we can try something different this year.

You can make Valentine’s Day cards with recycled paper or you can look for re-cycled cards. Or maybe it’s time we try to get away from this card-giving business altogether. Here is a stat that made my head spin:

How big is the greeting card market in Canada? $369.1 M for 2023

Seriously that is a lot of hard-earned dollars being given to people who read and toss. Unless you are one of those people who save cards, although I still think it’s a crazy amount of money.

See if your florist offers organic flowers. Organic flowers use less artificial chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides. Even if they don’t carry them, it might get them thinking that It’s time to start offering alternatives. Another option is a plant; something that hopefully will survive. Even if it makes it to the spring where it can be planted, better than smell and toss.

Sometimes I wish I had never started down this path. Did you know that cocoa production is linked to child labour, slavery, deforestation, and low wages? Now before we all swear off chocolate, realistically that could be pretty daunting for a lot of us – there are ways to get chocolate without the negative effects. We can check out labels for Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, or UTZ certifications. Words like sustainable and eco-friendly can be green-washing; meaning not accurate. I hate green-washing because the bottom line - it is just taking advantage of our ignorance; we need to start getting educated on this stuff. Buying dark chocolate is a better alternative; it at least gives more money to the cocoa farmers because dark chocolate contains more cocoa.

I think the best gifts are cooking a nice meal for your loved one, treating them to a massage gift certificate, a spa day, or telling them to put their feet up and all chores are off limits for the day. Now how romantic is all that!

“Love does not consist in words or feelings, but in deeds. It is an act of the will; it is a gift; that is to say, a giving.” — Maria Faustyna Kowalska

Going Green at 70 : Greener Cleaning

January 2, 2024    Email:           F: Going Green at 70 by Nancy MacRae

Happy New Year Green Beans!

I know we say this every New Year but hey – where did this year go?

I have never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions; mainly because they have always faded by February but this year, I am going to make it simpler. I am going to try to adopt one better habit every month. Here’s January’s:

Recently I was reading raves about microfiber cloths; and how they were the best dusters, cleaners, and a must-have for your home. Now the old me would have just gone out and bought them. Now, I try and get a bit more information. Turns out microfibers are actually small synthetic fibres, usually made from polyester and nylon. They are tiny pieces of plastic and they account for a huge portion of the pollution that ends up in our waterways

.When did we start buying specialty items just because we read about them – it’s not always the latest and greatest, sometimes it’s just a cash grab and we are the naïve consumer who falls for it. Instead of falling for the hype, reuse what you have. Can’t we just use old clothes like our mothers did? Before you put an old t-shirt in the give-away bag or throw it out – repurpose it as a cleaning cloth. You know when you finish the laundry, and you find that lone sock or you have one with a hole in it and you can’t darn – repurpose - socks make great dusters. If you do need to buy something to clean with, try J-clothes, they are environmentally friendly. All we need to do is make good choices. Sometimes we think it will be harder than it actually turns out to be – I haven’t used paper towels in over 2 years and honestly, I haven’t missed them, well – I haven’t missed them too much. I am also committed to using up my throw-away dusters and never buying the refills again.

Using better cleaning cloths is just one small thing you can do to reduce plastic. A much bigger topic would be the perils of synthetic clothes that shed tiny plastic fibers but that’s for another day.

Before I make a purchase - I am committed to doing my research, looking for better alternatives, and never falling for the advertising hype again! Bravo if you are already on board!

I think this quote is right on the month:

We get a larger life by asking larger questions and keeping those questions before us – not from settling for the available answers, which ultimately prove limiting. - James Hollis

Until next time – stay green!

Going Green at 70 : Affordable Holidays

 With Climate Action Committee Member Nancy MacRaeDecember 2023               
F: Going Green at 70 by Nancy MacRae

Hey there Green Beans, I’ve been thinking a lot about the holiday season coming up and trying to avoid the non-stop commercials on TV and online about all the deals that are on. I’m tired of people being enticed to spend huge amounts of money even when they can’t afford it. Often parents get roped into buying their kids the latest and greatest because they know their friends will be showing their haul come Boxing Day. The sad thing is kids don’t understand if their parents can’t afford it.

I was at the food bank the other day delivering some stuff and I got very emotional. There were so many people in line getting their groceries and yet there was such laughter in the crowd. As I was leaving a woman stopped me and offered me some Kraft Dinner because she wasn’t a fan. I nearly cried. The reality is – there by the grace of God go each one of us.

Maybe this year one idea would be to take your kids to the grocery store buy a good basket full of food and take it over to the food bank. If you do this sort of thing, bravo! But if you haven’t thought of it, maybe your kids would benefit from knowing about food banks.

Try the second-hand stores for gifts. I got a great Christmas ornament at Forbes on Stellarton Road for a friend and I know she’ll love it.

Donate money to a friend’s charity. Get crafty and make something. Crafting is not in my wheelhouse so I am going to try my hand at making cranberry sauce, how hard can that be? Plus, I do bake a mean cranberry bundt cake. These are gifts that show you care every bit as much as big pricey gifts. And it is about caring!

Please, if you are wrapping stuff – stay away from the glitter, foil paper, and basically anything shiny because it can’t be recycled.  Instead of ribbons and bows try raffia. Better still make cloth gift bags, that would be great and the recipient could definitely reuse them!!

Let’s all try and make one change this holiday season.

This is our modern curse: A century of conspicuous consumption has trained us to be dutiful citizens of the Republic of Not Enough, swearing allegiance to the marketable myth of scarcity … Along the way, we have unlearned how to live wide-eyed with wonder at … the “little joys” – those unpurchasable, unstorable emblems of aliveness that abound the moment we look up from our ledger of lack. —Maria Popova, “The Marginalian” Until 2024, stay green!!!

Going Green at 70: Sorting Your Waste

Going Green at 70 Blog Posts sorting your waste

On May 24, 2023, CTV had an interesting article - 'There's no excuse': An expert's tips for the garbage Canadians get wrong.

I used to lament about what to put where when I would visit Nova Scotia from Ontario, I literally threw up my hands and eventually delegated the chore to my husband. I simply couldn’t figure it out. Now of course, several years later I work very hard at ensuring the right thing goes in the right spot. Fortunately, Pictou County Waste has an app for that. It’s so easy, you just key in the item and it comes back and tells you where it goes. If it doesn’t have the item, it asks you if you would like to add it. Now – I ask you, could it get any better or easier than that?

According to the CTV article, it advises us how easy it is to mess up the system. If you throw in a dirty package with all your clean recycles it could very well all end up as garbage because many facilities do not have the staff nor the infrastructure to sift through every single bit of what hits their conveyor belt.

Do we all know about glass – it would normally get recycled but if it’s broken it has to go in the garbage.

One of my frustrations was in Ontario you could line your green bin with a nice snug biodegradable bag and when it was full you simply tied it up and threw it in the big green bin for pick up. No muss, no fuss, no bugs, no need to get somebody to clean your bin. Much to my dismay, I moved home and discovered that you can’t use them. However, once I immersed myself in Going Green, I learned that it could take months and/or years for those bags to actually break down. So as much as I loved the convenience I have learned to accept, not necessarily embrace, the paper or cardboard boxes! And if your green bin gets stinky google The Bin Butler; and arrange a cleanup!

Another biggie is if you are using toxic chemicals on your paper towel, throw the used paper towel in the garbage; it is not recyclable. If you can try using vinegar, water and baking soda for some of your cleaning then you can!

Sometimes it seems like it is so hard but as ‘they’ say - I guess anything worth doing is doing right!

So Green Beans, until next time…..

'Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world'.~ Harriet Tubman

Going Green at 70: Think before you buy

Going Green at 70 Blog Posts think before you buy

October 1, 2023
F: Going Green at 70

Hello Green Beans,

Today, let’s get into re-using stuff. Re-using, re-purposing, re-inventing is one of the best things we can do for the environment.

We need to stop throwing things out and the first step to achieving that goal is to be prudent when we buy. Think before you buy.

Jeanne Armstrong · CBC News · Posted: Aug 20, 2023 a story about Jim Allison, a woodworker from New Brunswick who was asked by a friend if he wanted their old piano. He agreed, thinking there would be some good wood he could use. That turned into transforming old pianos into jewelry boxes, miniature furniture, and even musical instruments.

That’s a cool story but I’m sure there are many more stories so before you toss something in the bin or take it to the dump – stop and think, could anybody use this. How many times do we need to hear - one person’s trash, is another person’s treasure!

Let’s get a little more basic. I started saving bottle caps to use as irrigation – just toss a bunch in the bottom of a plant pot (obviously a small pot) and then fill the pot with soil.

Or how about all the things you can do with coffee. I know I mentioned One Good Thing by Jillee before but she’s worth re-mentioning. I look forward to her emails every morning. Recently she offered the following ideas on coffee:

Dry out the coffee grounds in the oven, once dry put them in a bowl in your refrigerator or freezer to tackle odours. I use a French Press coffee maker so it’s easy to get those grounds.
I started putting coffee grounds at the base of my hydrangea; I’m a bit of an optimist but I think the blooms are bigger. Also good for azaleas and rhododendrons.
Enrich your composter with phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, and copper; all in coffee.
If you have ants, try sprinkling old coffee grounds in discreet areas or sprinkle them directly on ant hills themselves. They can also repel snails and slugs, too.
This one I will try – I have some lovely neighbourhood cats who like to use some of my shrubs as their own personal litter box. Mix used coffee grounds with chopped orange peels and sprinkle the mixture liberally around your garden and flowerbeds. Seems the scent of coffee grounds and citrus might well send them back to their own bathrooms.
I don’t have a dog so can’t vouch for this one. After shampooing your dog’s fur, rub 1 to 2 cups of coffee grounds into the fur and rinse well. Apparently, it will help kill any fleas that may be hiding in their fur, and they’ll feel silky smooth afterward! Again, no dog has confirmed this result with me but it might be worth a try! Do it outside though, coffee grounds can clog your drain.

Never lose a holy curiosity. Stop every day to understand and appreciate a little of the mystery that surrounds you and your life will be filled with awe and discovery to the very end.  —Albert Einstein

Stay tuned for future ideas on how to re-use ― we’re just getting started!

Stay Green