The Mindful Merchant

Shop – Eat – Live – Mindfully

The Big Reveal July 14, 2010


Ta-Dum!  The Mindful Merchant got a makeover!  What do you think?


Last summer my pal Chris handed me a birthday card. Inside were two words – start writing! He surprised me by setting up all the things I needed to start a blog; domain name, set up a site, accounts etc. Awesomely nice, isn’t he? This pushed me to stop talking about what I would like to do and actually try something new.


After geeking out, studying WordPress guides and blogging 101 books, I felt by mid-August I could give it a whirl. I wrote my first post, and nervously sent it out to a small group of friends and family. Thankfully, my peeps cheered me on with kind words and helpful feedback. I am grateful for their encouragement.


My computer/social media knowledge was…minimal. (o.k. – I am was technically challenged) The learning curve has been HUGE. I finally joined Facebook (told ya) and the magical world of Twitter. A shift in thinking about green, healthy, more earth-friendly living has grown into a fun hobby that I absolutely love. Now I have readers from different parts of the world – and they are not my relatives. Wow.  Through blogging, I have made new friends, met interesting/creative people and feel more connected to the Ottawa community.


Here we are a year later and it is time for a change. I have grown tired of the drab brown and green WordPress template. Thanks to Maria and Dawn at Sweet Blog designs for their creativity, computer tech-wizardry and “getting” my intentions and humour. I hope you like the new design – I do!


Thanks Chris for the inspiration and all the computer help over the year. Thank YOU for subscribing, joining the MM Facebook Page, sharing posts, the kind shout-outs, and taking the time to comment. I especially love the comments – so please keep ‘em coming. 


Here’s to another year making small changes for a healthier home and planet.  Cheers!



If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. 

                                                                                                                                       African Proverb





Number Knowledge July 3, 2010

Filed under: environment,heath and safety,recycling,safety,shopping,toxic — MindfulMerchant @ 9:49 am



No matter how eco-conscious we are, it is challenging to get away from using plastic. Manufacturers use resin ID codes to help us with recycling making it easy to sort our household garbage. Did you know that these numbers can also help us determine the safer plastics and which ones we should try to avoid?  I tend to put more thought to the food/products I buy and less attention to the packaging involved. Now I am starting to reconsider after reading about the differences.  Here is some information about the most commonly used plastics.



#1 Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET or PETE)

You will find it in water bottles, shampoo and pop bottles. This might be the most commonly recycled plastic.


#2 High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)

Most commonly found in cleaning product bottles, milk jugs, some water bottles, saline, medicine bottles and shopping bags.


#4 Low-Density Polyethylene (LDPE)

Found in sandwich bags, some newer plastic wraps, grocery bags. This plastic is not as toxic to manufacture as other plastics, but it is not as commonly recycled.



#5 Polypropylene (PP)

Yogurt containers and a variety of food and beverage containers. More studies are needed since research is unclear about chemical leaching. Researchers are unsure if the chemicals/substances pose a health threat.


Try to Avoid

#3 Polyvinyl Chloride (V  or PVC)

According to Greenpeace – this plastic ranks as one of the biggest environmental bad guys. PVC (also known as vinyl) contains vinyl chloride, a known human carcinogen. It is most commonly used in construction (PVC pipes in our homes) Found in some plastic wraps, cooking oil bottles and unfortunately many children’s toys. It is rarely recycled but plastic manufacturers still stand by its safety. Apparently many plastic wrapped foods like meats and cheeses in the grocery store are wrapped in polyvinyl chloride (PVC).


#6 Plystyrene (PS) Styrofoam

It is not commonly recycled. It contains benzene which is a suspected carcinogenic. Avoid consuming hot liquids, fatty foods or alcoholic drinks from Styrofoam containers since they may increase leaching. Transfer foods from Styrofoam containers to glass or ceramic as soon as possible.



#7 Other (often polycarbonate made with BPA)

This number covers any other plastic other than #1-6. This mixed bag is concerning since there is conflicting data about this plastic. Often marketed as “non-leaching” and sold as a good green alternative, it is often made using a highly toxic chlorine gas derivative and carcinogenic solvents. The data is conflicting about leaching of bisphenol A. Industry says even low doses would not be enough to hurt you, others suggest that even small amounts this hormone-disrupting chemical can be harmful. Found in microwavable plastics, eating utensils, linings for canned goods and beverage containers, sometimes baby bottles.



Eliminating all plastic packaging from our homes would be an extremely difficult task. Studies suggest that when plastics come in contact with food, certain chemicals migrate and may cause an array of health problems. Try to store food in glass or ceramic and transfer food out of plastic containers before reheating in the microwave.


I used to assume that all recyclable plastic was the same. After reading more about the number codes and what they represent, I am giving more thought to the type of plastics and the products I buy and bring into our home.





The Spring Purge April 16, 2010

Filed under: charities,eco-friendly,Ontario,recycling,save money — MindfulMerchant @ 9:48 am

"In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt." – Margaret Atwood


Hellooo spring! Goodbye snow shovels, winter coats & boots…and tuque head. Warmer temperatures and sunshine have energized me.  I am starting to think about spring cleaning. Ugh.


cleaningtools8[1] We are not hoarders and yet somehow this year our little storage room has become a dumping ground.  There are boxes we moved from Toronto five years ago and never unpacked. Hockey, ski and other sports equipment our kids have outgrown that we keep for friends and family to use. When company comes and I’m running around doing the frantic clean I usually find myself holding a paper mache volcano or a 4 ft replica of the Eiffel Tower. What to do…what to do….ahh toss it in the storage room! Today I opened the door, and the vacuum and a ski fell out on my foot.  Enough.  Time to  de-clutter and simplify in an earth friendly way…


There is an exciting program called the Ontario Electronic Stewardship (OES) to help Ontarians dispose of unwanted electronic devices and divert electronic waste from landfills. Plug in your postal code and the type of material or item and find the closest OES approved, no-for-profit collection depots. They also recover valuable resources like precious and base metals. An example of this was that the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic medals contained recycled metal from recycled electronic waste.


olympic-medals-2010 According to the OES nearly 78% of Ontarian households have at least 1 electronic device they aren’t using or isn’t working. Some of the 44 acceptable items include audio and video players, cameras, cell phones, computers, copiers, monitors, pagers, printers, radios, speakers, telephones, answering machine and televisions. We have a boom box from the 80’s buried in that storage and it needs to go to OES heaven.



Perhaps your stuff is too valuable to toss and you would like to recoup some money. Online classifieds are one option like Kijiji or Craigslist. This year my neighbours are thinking spring clean too and plan a street garage sale in May. (If you are interested in raising funds for your favourite charity, you might consider donating the profits.) Other options include donating unwanted items to the Salvation Army (Sally Ann), Goodwill or Canadian Diabetes Clothesline.  The Canadian Diabetes will come to pick up your donations too.

If you are planning a renovation, think about contacting  Habitat for Humanity, Restores. They accept kitchen, bathrooms cabinets, tubs, sinks and different building materials in excellent condition.  For a small fee they will come and remove them too.


Another neat idea I have been reading about is bartering. Websites like Freecycle, Swapstyle and Swaptree are a few examples.  You can get rid of things you no longer need/use or want in exchange for something you really want in return.   I  do not plan to barter our storage room stuff…but it sounds interesting.


Well…that is pretty much all of my spring clean get-rid-of-junk ideas.  Do you have suggestions or a favourite organization for recycling/donating unwanted items?  This weekend  I am we are going to tackle the storage room and put some of the ideas to use. 


Happy Spring!