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!






Two Sale$ that look green and Interesting December 1, 2009

Filed under: coupons,environmentally friendly,save money — MindfulMerchant @ 3:10 pm
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I received an email from a company called Planet Forward. They are a Toronto based company that carry hip, functional eco-products that promote living a greener lifestyle. Their on line store offers organic fashions, reusable baskets and bags, stainless bottles etc.  I will pass along two sales that look green and promising. The first is a warehouse sale coming up this week in the GTA.


    Planet Forward 3-Day Blow-out Warehouse Sale 40-50% OFF!! 

Location: 5-51 Roysun Road, Vaughan, ON L4L 8P9  (2 blocks South of Highway 7 on West side of Martin Grove Ave)

Thursday December 3, 2009 10 am 8 pm

Friday December 4, 2009 10 am-8 pm

Saturday December 5, 2009 10 am –4 pm

For more details click here for the Planet Forward website and here for a closer look at the flyer.



Warehouse Sale Flyer[1]



The second sale is for those of us living outside Toronto.  Planet Forward is offering a 25% discount off their online purchase with coupon code XMASDL25. to all Mindful Merchant readers!  Plus free shipping on orders over $50.00. Coupon expires December 24, 2009.

Eco-friendly gifts and discounts?   My frugal senses are tingling.  Please let me know how the warehouse sale was…if you decide to go shopping.





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!




The SIGG Saga September 17, 2009

Filed under: eco-friendly,health warning,heath and safety,toxic — MindfulMerchant @ 11:21 pm
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Many friends have asked me what to do with the pre-2008 production SIGG water bottles containing the BPA (Bisphenol A) lining. Here is an interesting 2nd letter posted on the SIGG company website from CEO Steve Wasik.





Dear SIGG Customer,

(STAMFORD CT) – Last month, I wrote a letter to try and provide you with as much factual and historical information as I could in regards to the 8060.30[1]evolution of the SIGG bottle liner. I also suggested that people could email me if they had any questions and comments.
After reading and responding to hundreds of emails and viewing nearly as many blog & Twitter posts, I realize that my first letter may have missed the mark. What I should have said simply and loudly to all of our loyal SIGG fans is: I am sorry that we did not make our communications on the original SIGG liner more clear from the very beginning.
I have learned much over the past 2 weeks. I learned that many of you purchased SIGG bottles – not just because they were free from leaching and safe – but because you believed that SIGGs contained no BPA. I learned that, although SIGG never marketed the former liner as “BPA Free” we should have done a better job of both clearly communicating about our liner as well as policing others who may have misunderstood the SIGG message.
For over 100 years, SIGG has earned a reputation for quality products and service – and we do not take that for granted. From the day we made our announcement last month, we made a commitment consistent with SIGG values that we would offer anyone who is concerned about BPA an opportunity to swap their old SIGGs for new SIGGs with the new EcoCare liner. Today, I am announcing that this voluntary
Exchange Program will be in place until October 31, 2009 to ensure that our customers have ample time to send their former liner bottles back to us should they choose to do so.
Once again, I truly apologize for the lack of clarity in our previous communications. All of us at SIGG hope that we will have an opportunity to regain your confidence and trust.
Steve Wasik
CEO, SIGG Switzerland




Bottles containing the former liner can be mailed for exchange directly to SIGG.  The information on how to identify your bottle and participate in the exchange can be found by clicking this link.

My reaction to Mr. Wasik’s original letter was anger and mistrust.  I quickly made the decision not to buy or use SIGG products again. This second letter (with the PR spin) has made me change my thinking slightly. Clearly, the company realizes this is a corporate catastrophe.  I imagine Patagonia terminating all business with SIGG last week was a good indicator of the magnitude of their mistakes. Speaking with many friends about this dilemma, almost everyone agrees to give SIGG a second chance in the hopes they have learned from this and will be honest in the future. I also believe in giving second chances…and will be cautiously optimistic.

If you are not inclined to mail the bottles to SIGG directly, I suggest you contact the store you originally purchased them.  My friends and family report that L’il Niblets & Baby Sprouts (Toronto) is providing  an excellent hassle free experience returning the old BPA lined SIGG bottles. Great customer service!   Here is shout out for Boomarang Kids (Ottawa)  They agreed to exchange the SIGG BPA bottles (up until the October 31 deadline) even if you didn’t purchase it at their store!  That is impressive!  

I hope this information is helpful.  It looks like we will have to be patient with the arrival of new exchanged bottles…I have heard SIGG is overwhelmed and scrambling to deal with the return debacle.  Please let me know how it works out.  Good luck!




Let’s go there September 9, 2009

Labour Day 2009 004 002


We all do it. However, for those of us that own dogs (or in my case, I have a small dog walking job) we have to pick it up. Yes, you know what I am talking about…Poop, Poo. Poops.


Most municipalities now require dog owners to pick up our beloved pets poop. It is a good law. It is disgusting though, isn’t it? Not to mention all those plastic bags going into the garbage is a frightening environmental issue. Think of the number of dog owners, the amount of walks a day, and do the math. That is far too much plastic in the landfill.


Now that many grocery stores charge for plastic bags it might be a good time to consider buying compostable clean-up bags. Be wary of companies that advertise as ‘degradable’. This is a very misleading term since plastic bags degrade…eventually.  There are many companies manufacturing clean-up bags and advertise as bio-degradable and environmentally friendly.  It is challenging to find one that is processed in a responsible way and breaks down in all types of conditions. 


I have tried many biodegradable bags only to curse (and gag) at their ineffective, poor quality construction. Some brands are adequate for little wee dogs but for those with big Labradors and Retrievers the requirement is far greater. I want to know that when I go in for the catch there is a decent layer between my hand and the….um….ball.  Biodegradable sounds fabulous, but the bag has to keep it together until the long walk is over. Can I get an “Amen” people?


If you are thinking of switching over to an environmentally friendly poop bag, I recommend trying Bio Bags Dog Waste Bags.   I should warn you this is not the kind of product you want to stock up on.  They really decompose so do not expect them to last for 6 months or a year.  Impressive, no?  Bio Bag Dog Waste bags get the job done and you don’t have to feel too guilty throwing them out in the garbage. My friends with dogs of all sizes and exiting abilities also agree. 





To Market we go September 4, 2009

I like to shop at our local Farmers Market. On Saturdays, I attempt to feed our 100-mile diet. The rest of the week, I am not as successful. It is a fun outing for the whole family. There is so much more to buy  than fruit and vegetables. You can find arts, crafts, meat, dairy, homemade jellies and sauces, fresh baking and sometimes a live band.


Our children are fussy eaters. Visiting the market has grown their vegetable repertoire. Seeing varieties of produce in beautiful shades and colours has inspired them to try new things. My daughter was offered a raw brussels sprout, tried and liked it.  I could not believe my eyes.   Who knew you could eat them raw?!  I thought they only appeared at Christmas boiled until they are pale green and mushy. (gag)


Meeting the farmers that grow the produce and chatting with them has given me a completely new outlook on vegetables.  Feel free to ask questions, their answers might surprise you. Some of the easiest and delicious recipes I use have come from producers. 


I realize that some prices are slightly more expensive compared to a large grocery store chain but you will find that many prices are cheaper.  I think the quality and freshness of the produce is undeniable. It feels good to support family farms and local business. There is value in knowing how your food is grown and produced. I like feeling connected with neighbours and the community.

If you are looking for something to do with your family consider a visit to your local farmers market. Happy shopping!


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