The Mindful Merchant

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Two Green book Suggestions December 17, 2009



Looking for a little green inspiration for 2010?  I received two great gifts last year that you might want to check out.  These books are suited for someone thinking about making greener changes in their life, or already trying. These are NOT suggestions for a anyone that has eliminated toilet paper, lives off the grid, and grows their own food.  Just sayin’




My first suggestion is “Sleeping Naked is Green” by Vanessa Farquharson, a reporter for the National Post. It is a funny and self-deprecating account of her attempt at making one green change every day for a year. This diary style paperback is suited for women…my husband would call this a ‘girly’ book because Vanessa happens to fall in love during the process. I laughed my way through this book.  Some of the changes are silly, but I suspect that comes from having to think of 365 days of green ideas. Many of Vanessa’s ideas are inspiring, realistic and attainable for the average person. (Except eliminating toilet paper…that one I cannot wrap my head around yet.) Unlike many green books, this one is cheerful and makes you want to make changes, even if it is in small ways. If you like a little entertainment with your education then this is a book for you.






bookCoverCan My second suggestion is another Canadian book with what I suspect has the longest book title in the world. It is “Your Guide to the most environmentally friendly information, products and services in Canada – ECOHOLIC [When you’re addicted to the planet]” by Adria Vasil. She is a writer for NOW magazine. The layout is similar to many green guides, food, beauty, clothes, gardening, cleaning, baby products, and pet sections. More examples of topics include eco-tourism, rebates for your home, ethical investing, renovating and even greening your sex life. Oh yeah!

What makes this book stand out is it provides research, background information with vocabulary explanations, and a detailed  provincial green resource guide.  I like that her research includes Canadian facts and statistics. I also love the helpful tips provided for every topic. This is a good book for anyone trying to make smart environmentally friendly changes.

Boy I wish I had it when my children were born. I find it hard to read some sections without guilt. Adria’s writing is cheeky, but the startling information, health concerns and environmental realities keep me awake some nights. What can I say?  I am a worrywart.  Be assured this is not a ‘You suck and we are all going to die negative-angry-finger-pointing book’.  It is more of a ‘This is the reality/concern; and here is better eco-friendly, healthy suggestions you can try’ kind of read. Ecoholic is an excellent resource book that every home should have.




If you are looking for a green book to inspire you for 2010, a green gift idea, or a good read over the holidays these are my picks.    Happy reading!






Climate Change – a child’s perspective December 2, 2009

Filed under: children,climate change — MindfulMerchant @ 11:37 pm
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The United Nations Summit on Climate Change begins December 7th  in Copenhagen.  Leaders from 192 countries will gather to discuss and hopefully agree to effective and aggressive new environmental solutions.

While sitting around the kitchen table doing crafts I asked my children and some of their friends what they knew about climate change, and told them about the meeting in Copenhagen.  I asked them this question.   “Do you think it is important Stephen Harper, and the other world leaders make better, tougher laws to protect the earth?”  Here are their responses and pictures.



“People who pollute on purpose should get into trouble, maybe go to jail.  Then more people would listen and stop doing it.” 

Gillian – 9 years old










Ella – 9 years old








“They should stop people littering.  Litter and garbage makes everything sick.”    Ashley – 7 years old










“They should make better laws so the water is not polluted…I have to drink it.  So does my dog.”      Chloe – 7 years old









“I don’t get why you need laws…just don’t hurt the earth!”     Charlotte – 6 years old









“We need good pollution laws so all the animals on the earth are healthy and happy.  Hey, are we animals too?     Sarah – 7 years old











“Too much global warming means we will be worried about water.  Without safe water we can’t grow food.  We can’t live.”  Amanda – 8 years old








“People should stop throwing garbage in the water, cutting down trees and polluting the air so we don’t hurt animals.  Leaders have to care about these things”  Marin – 9 years old





Why is it children understand the gravity of this situation, yet so many grownups cannot?   Climate change threatens our prosperity, our health, the environment and our children’s future.  Let’s hope this summit ensures long-term commitments, strong agreements and real environmental benefits…for the world.   We will soon know if Stephen Harper and the other world leaders have the comprehension, wisdom and compassion of a young child.




One Minute. Make a difference. November 17, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — MindfulMerchant @ 4:09 pm
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“For the sake of all the worlds people, economy and environment, we need an effective global climate treaty now.”    earth

     Dr. Tim Flannery (Scientist, Author, Chair of Copenhagen Climate Council)


Are you the kind of person to attend protests or lend support to groups taking political action for important causes? I am not…until I started reading about climate change. The more I read the more I feel compelled to get involved. My motivation is selfish. I do not want my children and their children to inherit an unfixable disaster. It is that simple.

In Canada, many consider climate change to be just an environmental problem. Not true! Climate change is an all-encompassing threat. It directly affects you, your family,  the environment, economy and the health and safety of the world.

Getting involved is easy. Take a minute to send a message to Stephen Harper and other party leaders that you want Canada to sign an ambitious, fair and binding agreement at the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen this December.


    Click here to join millions of people around the world demanding a global response.

If you would like to read more about climate change and the organizations campaigning for solutions here are some links to check out.


Canada’s Action on Climate Change

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change

David Suzuki Foundation – Climate Change 101

The Sierra Club of Canada  – Ten Popular Myths about Climate Change


Please act.  Send a message to our leaders.  Your voice counts.





I know more about computers than my 8 year old…maybe. November 14, 2009


6e62514e9aa0e1c6[1] I remember being so impressed there were computers in my daughter’s junior kindergarten class. It did not take long before she was comfortable navigating her way around a computer. Now I learn useful tips and shortcuts from my eight year old. That is humbling.

The other day I casually made one of those stupid “When I was little” comments when a few of our children’s friends came over to play. Never say anything that begins with “When I was little” unless you really want to feel prehistoric. The kids were chatting about their favourite computer games while sitting down for a snack. I piped in with “When I was little, there were no computers at school or at home…we used typewriters”. The room fell silent. Everyone turned to look at me in amazement. No computers? What is a typewriter? Followed by the inevitable “Wow, you are OLD!” comments. That night before bed, I dug out a neglected jar of wrinkle cream and tried to target certain areas.

The girl’s school does a great job educating children about environmental issues. They come home with new earth friendly ideas, (see my post on candlelit dinners) pressure us to make more green changes…and be consistent.

Now that the children are a little older, they are starting to learn about pollution, endangered animals and the effects of climate change. My husband and I do not always know how to answer their questions. While searching for information I discovered a few educational web sites that I like to explore with the kids. They talk about environmental conservation, concerns, wildlife protection and making a difference in the community. The best part is they deliver the information in an interactive, and  fun way. These websites are not just for children or teachers – I learn something every time we play a game or take a quiz.

First, I must give my cyber safety shpeel. Just a reminder to make sure your children’s computer time is a safe experience. Sit down with them, read instructions together and pay attention to their activities on line. Sometimes being in the same room while they are working on the computer is not enough supervision. Be careful and cautious.

Here are three educational websites that I think are worth checking out.


National Geographic Kids.

Our kids like the People & Places section (See and read about the 7 wonders of the world or tour Greece)

Space and Science section (Find out if Pluto is no longer a planet)

Just Joking (Me, I am not so crazy about the jokes after a few weeks – but our kids love it and it gives them a good reason to call the Grandparents)

Recipes from around the world (like Kwanzaa Creole Bread Pudding)


Eco Kids Canada

What a good site for quizzes! We love quizzes.

This is a great resource for information under Homework Help – Climate change, renewable energy, First Nations & Inuit, Earth Day, Waste and Wildlife.

Very good print outs for colouring. A fun craft for young children.


EEK ! – Environmental Education for Kids

This is my favourite site.

We like Critter Corner to read about all the critters of the world. It shines a light on endangered species.

Our Earth discusses our environment and environmental issues in an easy and direct way.

Natures Notes taught us about Phenology. (Nope. I am not telling you what that means) It encourages observation, something all children do so well.

They even discuss environmental jobs…like a Hydrogeologist. How cool is that?


Children learn from modeling. They follow our lead in life and when it comes to environmental issues, we should try to discuss, be enthusiastic, and act. If you are curious or interested in eco-friendly websites for children these are my suggestions to start. Have fun!




We filled the Hill October 26, 2009

Filed under: climate change,Ottawa — MindfulMerchant @ 12:16 pm



This Saturday October 24th I joined the thousands of people gathered on Parliament Hill for C-Day: Fill the Hill Ottawa. People from 181 countries came together for a widespread day of environmental action demanding bold leadership and strong action on the climate crisis. It was a peaceful and positive demonstration to show the Canadian Government we want leadership and action on this issue in Copenhagen at the UN Climate talks in December 2009. According to Tim Flannery (scientist and author) and David Suzuki, “Canada must step up at UN climate talks to be part of the solution”.

There was a lot of talk about 350  Here is an explanation from the website.

A year ago, our greatest climatologist—NASA’s James Hansen—and his team produced a landmark series of studies. They showed that if we let the amount of carbon in the atmosphere top 350 parts per million, we can’t have a planet “similar to the one on which civilization developed and to which life on earth is adapted.”

The bad news is we’re already past that number—we’re at 390 parts per million, which is why the Arctic is melting, why drought is spreading across the planet, why people are already dying from diseases like dengue fever and malaria occurring in places where they’ve never been seen before.


The good news: that number gives us a target to aim for. When the world’s leaders meet in Copenhagen in December to reach agreement on a new climate treaty, we need them to go farther than they’ve planned to go: we need to make sure they’ll pay attention to the latest science and put forward a plan that gets us back to safety.

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As I looked around at the crowd, I noticed that the majority of participants were young student-looking people. There were not many 40-year-old Mamas in the crowd, a few families with young children and some very cool seniors. The event was joyful, optimistic and charged with energy. My favourite moments were listening to the passionate speakers and seeing a man with a t-shirt of a bear holding a sign saying “Save the Humans”.

I left wondering why my age group represented poorly. Many of us have young children and are concerned for their future. Is it because we are so busy running around to hockey arenas, ballet lessons and birthday parties we have no time to support these events? Possibly. I think that many are unaware of the gravity of the issue of climate change. I also think we are unconvinced there is anything that can change the outcome. Perhaps the media will help get the information out through local papers and magazines. I hope that events like this will spark more dialogue and discussion in our homes and schools. I have included some photos I took on C-Day.  It is easy and fun to get involved with minimal time and effort. Sometimes you just have to sign your name or show up to (hopefully) make a difference.