Inequality Amongst Women

Women’s Day

This upcoming Sunday will be International Women’s Day. This year’s International Women’s Day, the focus is about “Celebrating women’s achievements and increasing visibility, while calling out inequality.”

Women’s Day

As I glanced back into the past, women had done so much and had achieved so much for us, modern women, to enjoy. Let’s talk about childbirth. It wasn’t until 1902 that midwifery laws appeared and improved the quality of care of mothers. Child birth was a dangerous part of life. Even in the present day with our advanced medical system, there were many different reasons for complications.

Inequality Amongst Women

International Women’s Day reminds us that inequality between men and women still exists. Sadly, this inequality and unfairness also happens among women ourselves. After speaking with numerous working mothers and stay-at-home mothers, I notice that they all have something is common. They speak of the feeling that they are inadequate at their jobs. Naturally, many of the comments are very subjective. However, their feelings are very genuine and real.

1) Outside The Home:

As a working mother outside of the home, women are expected to excel and to focus on their jobs. Ideally, the company will accommodate requests of maternity leaves, and sick days. Also, when the mother has to leave early for changes in child care situations. Because of the Human Rights Tribunal in British Columbia, women are protected from discrimination from these situations. However, there are resentments that may develop as the company may find the employee as “hassle” to the rest of the workers who do not have these requests. After awhile, this negativity towards this mother can negatively affect her emotional state. This emotionally stress adds on to the guilt of not able to keep the home in a “perfect” state.

2) Stay At Home:

Traditionally, before the World Wars, women stayed home to care for the children and all the household chores. The husband was the one who went out to work and to pay for all the bills.However, after having the chance to work in factories during the absence of the men during the war, more women preferred to work outside the home. This change gave more women a voice in society which ultimately led to the success of suffrage movement.

Staying home to care for the family still continues to be a choice for many women for different reasons. Unfortunately, there seems to be a misconception that staying at home is easy. The caring of a home is not a simple nor straightforward task, especially in the modern world. As mothers strive to more financially independent, some even begin to work at home. (There are many instances where they feel that they lack the freedom of even purchasing a lipstick with their husband’s bank card.)

Final Thoughts

We, as human beings, in this world, need to stand up for ourselves and for the disadvantaged. May each International Women’s Day remind us to be kind and understanding of the other people in our lives.

 

Bags That Saved My Leafy Greens

Growing up in a household that loved eating leafy green vegetables, I observed they were left in the open for customers to pick what they wanted. Nowadays, plastic bags kept many of these leafy greens separated by bundles and prevented customers from picking freely. Sadly, these plastic bags also sped up the yellowing of the leafs. One way that my mother taught me to slow down this process, was to wrap paper towels around the vegetables. Afterwards, she would place them back into the plastic bag. I thought that was a bit of a waste, both the plastic bag and the paper towel.

Bags

As an adult and then a mother, myself, I really wanted to reduce the amount of plastics bags used for my lettuce and bok choy! The discovery of cotton GogoBags helped changed the way my family stored and ingested leafy greens. Imagine being able to enjoy fresh and crisp vegetables even on vacation!

Bags, Leafy Greens and Vacation

From experience, there were two main ways that the GogoBags helped:

1. On a trip: From going away on a vacation to going on a road trip to camping, I would pack the vegetables and leave them in the ice box. I would also bring empty ones, so that I could purchase fresh ones and leave them in the “salad” bags.
2. Away from home: My pet reptile required fresh leafy greens everyday. My friend was able to have access to fresh leafy greens to help feed my pet for over a week! These GogoBags were able to keep them fresher even after two weeks.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that despite the fact one had to spend some money to purchase these vegetable bags, they saved my money in the long run. Imagine being able to eat all of my vegetables instead of composting almost of it at the end.

Our World And Its Food Waste Situation

To begin, some very disturbing numbers appear as one looks at the amount of food wasted on our planet. Most people rarely think about how much food they throw out each day. According to the statistics of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, one-third of our food in the world is what we discard each year. This amounts to about 1.3 billion tonnes of food lost each year!

Some World Food Waste Number Statistics

1. $680 billion in industrialized countries (670 million tonnes)
2. $310 billion in developing countries (630 million tonnes)
3. Wealthy nations waste as much food as the amount of food that is produced in sub-Saharan Africa.
4. In Europe and North America, 95-115 kg of food is thrown away
5. In sub-Saharan Africa, south and southeast Asia throwsaway 6-11 kg (Isn’t this interesting….)

How Food Waste In Developing And Industrialized Countries Differ

Less waste

The differences between developing and industrialized countries becomes more evident when you compare them. Most importantly, most of the wasted food gets tossed at the retail level. Then, this happens again at later stages of food production.

Disappointingly, most of this food waste happens because of the lack of aesthetic appearance. Hence, if the food looks “ugly”, then it is discarded in the post-production part. If only, we, in the industrialized countries can embrace the natural aesthetics of our produce. This alone can help reduce the amount that we dispose of each day.

Furthermore, in developing countries, at the beginning stages of production is where most of the food Waste appears. Therefore, this can change with better funding to technology in harvesting and food storage. Imagine if the technology of industrialized countries helps to influence developing countries. Hence, we can reduce this part of waste.

Therefore, with better technology, our planet can achieve less pollution and less food waste. Hopefully, we can pass important information to future generations.

 

 

Avoiding Food Waste at Home

avoid food waste with these bags

 

 

Although we are not able to control the amount of food waste at the restaurants, we can at home. Reducing food waste is better for the environment and for our pockets too! As we see in the media, a lot of the food in the food supply is often discarded. Hence, we, as consumers, can try to reflect our concerns through our purchasing habits.

Reduce Food Waste At Home

According to Love Food Hate Waste, three simple steps can be take to reduce food waste.

1) Meal plan: Meal planning helps to calculate the exact amount of groceries that is needed to be bought. When you use recipes, you are able to calculate exactly how much you need.
2) Use it up: Try to use up every thing that you buy. It is wise to look through your fridge and cupboards regularly to look for close to “best before” dates. This can help eliminate the need to throw away food.
3) Keep it fresh: Discover new ways to keep your food fresher longer allows you to be able to use up more of the food.Using all natural and reusable equipment like mason jars or cloth bags can help save more food. Mason jars can be used to keep soups and food frozen too! Another tip, GogoBags Fresh bags are able to keep fresh fruits and vegetables fresher. There will be lesser amounts of rotten produce sitting in a corner of your fridge.

 

Finally, one last suggestion, when you go shopping for groceries, pay attention where the store managers reduced the prices of certain items as they are close to “best before” dates or are not “pretty” enough. Sometimes, I actually look for these discounted items. I constantly pick up these items and cook them up that night as a surprise!

 

 

Canada’s Approach to Food Waste

After doing some research, it is comforting to know that Canada actually has a plan to reduce food waste. Unfortunately, we often see a lot of good food go to waste because it’s “ugly” shape or simply discarded when they just pass their expired date!

Salad Keeper

Food Waste Reduction Ideas

Food Loss and Waste Strategy for Canada plans to cut food waste by half by 2030.

“The report recommendations, broadly supported by a diverse range of stakeholders, include:

1. Federal government support for a national food loss and waste reduction target of 50% by 2030
2. Introduction of approaches to “best before” date labelling
3. Improved inventory management at businesses and large institutions
4. Upgraded food service tracking and distribution
5. Removal of barriers to heighten recovery of leftover safe and nutritious food through gleaning and charitable networks
6. Elimination of financial, legal and policy obstacles surrounding food donations
7. Increased collaboration between government, businesses, retailers and community organizations”

Save Our Food

First, one of the easiest to observe is the switch over to more “best before” date labelling from the “expired” date labelling. Consumers are very sensitive to the word “expired”. This word leads them to believe that they can’t eat food product that reaches the “expired” date. Hence, it immediately turns into poison. The consumer thinks that they need to dispose of it into the nearest compost! However, ironically, the food is usually still edible!

Furthermore, constant and better inventory management at supermarkets and grocery stores can also helps to reduce food waste. By enabling the stores to find close to “best before” date products quicker, they can be dealt with sooner. Then, the business can make the decision to put the product on discount. Therefore, consumers can save some money and clear out the merchandise.

Most importantly, is to update the guidelines and reduce the many obstacles towards food donations to charitable organizations. This means more and more food can be donated to charities. So, people in need can benefit from this collaboration!

Plastic-Free Awareness For Our Family and Friends

When I first brought my own recycle bags to buy my groceries or go shopping, people thought that I was being very weird. I was trying to increase plastic-free awareness about reducing single use plastics. Why would I want to drag around these reusable bags when I could just pick up a bunch of free plastic ones at the store? What a hassle!!

To be honest, it was my father who inspired me to do just that. He was quite frugal himself and grew up in an era where everything was saved to be reused. (He used to reuse those plastic bottles until I told him to stop and to use a decent reusable bottle instead.) It was a bit embarrassing when I was much younger, as it seemed so unnecessary. However,as I grew older and learned more about the negative impact of single use plastics like those plastic bags and water bottles, I felt proud.

Awareness

Ways To Inspire Awareness

Just talking about reducing plastic usage to your friends and family might not be enough. We need to be more proactive and use our actions to inspire them.

1) Bring your reusable bags and grocery bags with you when you shop with them. Lend them one when you see that the store clerk offers them a plastic one.
2) When you go out for dinner or meet up with your buddies, take a reusable take out and coffee mug to bring leftovers in. Bring an extra one to share with your friends!
3) As a gift, think about all the different types of zero-waste bags and containers that you can give to them. Pay attention to their reactions when you share your reusable containers. Each person’s preference depends on their lifestyles.

Always remember that every single action taken towards being plastic-free is worth it!

How Mesh Produce Bags Helps Our Environment

The next time you visit your local supermarket, take a look at how many rolls of plastic film bags are placed around the fruits and vegetables. Each time a shopper decides to purchase some apples or oranges, they usually reach out and grab one of those plastic bags. After one use, these flimsy plastic bags are then thrown away. What a waste!! Storing your produce in these plastic bags also speeds up the rotting process…..Can you imagine all those pieces of plastics floating around in the ocean and looking like jellyfish? Poor sea creatures can mistake these pieces of plastics as their food source and suffocate. That is why mesh produce bags are so helpful to our environment.

There are many different types of bags in the market. I personally like ones that are very light and doesn’t have any extra parts that can get in the way. It’s also better if the mesh produce bags have a good stretch to it. You can use the mesh produce bags for other things if they are stretchy.

Different Ways To Use Mesh Produce Bags

1) Shopping for fruits and vegetables: You can transfer the produce into a salad bag when you get home, so that the fruits and vegetables can last even longer.
2) Use the mesh bags for delicates in the laundry wash: All those delicate pieces of clothing can be protected by using the same produce bags in the laundry wash.
3) Toy organizer and storage: By collecting those small pieces of building blocks in the mesh bags, the child can still see what is in the bag, instead of losing them in a gigantic toy box.
4) Travel bag: As you get up from the beach, you can throw your sandy clothing into the bag, so the sand can fall out.

How many ways could you use your mesh bags?

Five Facts of Plastic Pollution

 

According to Wikipedia, plastic pollution is, “Plastic pollution is the accumulation of plastic objects and particles (e.g. plastic bottles, bags and microbeads) in the Earth’s environment that adversely affects wildlife, wildlife habitat, and humans.” Unfortunately, many of us have been living in a society where items are disposed very quickly, from fast fashion to fast food. What can we do to combat this plastic problem?

Plastic pollution

1) “Approximately 51 trillion microscopic pieces of plastic, weighing 269,000 tons,” is a lot of …plastic pieces floating in in our beautiful ocean waters.

 

2) 44 percent of the world’s plastics have been manufactured since 2000. Considering that plastics began production in the 1950’s, that means that majority of the plastics appeared in the last five decade!

 

3) In United States, shoppers use, on average, one plastic shopping bag a day. There are 329,000,000 residents in the United States and increasing, according to the Census.
4) There are lots of addictives in plastics to make them stronger and more durable. As they slowly breakdown, these addictives also become pollutants themselves.
5) Microplastics are a huge problem as they get into our drinking water supply. They become so microscopic that we are also breathing them in too!

Plastic pollution

How To Combat Plastic Pollution

1) Bring your own reusable shopping bags: Besides bringing those large shopping bags, you need to bring some lightweight, mesh produce bags for carrying your apples and broccoli, instead of using the single-use plastic bags at the supermarket.
2) Avoid the prepackaged fruits and vegetables: Pick your own produce and avoid those that are wrapped in plastic wrap.
3) Avoid buying those single-use water bottles and don’t reuse those single-use bottles: These bottles are not meant to be reused and can leak chemicals as you continue to reuse them.
4) If the equipment doesn’t work, try to fix it first: Try to fix things that malfunctioned, instead of throwing it away. If all else fails, take it to the recycling depot or try to repurpose the item.
5) Try your very best: Remember that having everyone do a little bit is better than just having one person doing it perfectly.

 

No More Foam for the New Year

 

Another year has begun! A brand new start for the world! One of the best things that occurred in our community is the banning of foam take out containers right on New Year’s Day! What a wonderful 2020 it will be….

“The ban applies to all white and coloured polystyrene foam cups and take-out containers used to serve prepared food or beverages.” –Global News 

“Vancouver will become one of 100 cities in North America to ban foam, and the first in Canada.”-Vancouver Sun

This is wonderful news to us in the zero waste community! Styrofoam food containers do not break down easily and takes about 500 years to do just that. Can you imagine 500 years of single–use take containers sitting in a mountain of trash?

Foam

According to Wikipedia, there are also health risks that are associated with the usage of styrofoam containers. Microwaving these foam containers causes the material to melt and come into contact with the food. Have you noticed that the foam can melt when very hot food touched it? There are recordings of prolonged exposure to Styrofoam affecting the central nervous system, which is related the Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis.

Foam Replacements

Here are some suggestions of what to do when you go to out to restaurants:

Bring you own take out containers. You can bring mason jars too, if you do not own specific food containers. Stainless steel lunchboxes and reusable double-walled bottles are great to use too!
No foam
Try not to order too much food. When visiting a restaurant, try looking at the menu beforehand and decide on what to order. That way, the smell and sight of the food from nearby tables can not influence your choice that much. Remember when you are starving, you tend to order more.

 

Banning Styrofoam is just beginning for our community. This is one step towards a wonderful and bright zero waste future.

Boxing Day: What To Do

How was your holiday season so far? The end of the year is coming up, now what do you have planned for the next few days till New Year’s Day? Are you ready for Boxing Day? Ever wonder about the history behind Boxing Day? There are a few few theories.

Historical Theories

According to the Spruce:

1. After Christmas Day, masters of the British household gave Christmas Boxes to their servants to bring home. They also took the day off for rest.
2. Boxes of cash donations were collected at churches and they gave the money out the day after Christmas.
3. Sailors kept boxes of money for luck whenever they began sailing out into the ocean. Whenever they made it back safely, the money was donated to the poor after Christmas Day.

Present Day Boxing Day

Boxing Day

One of the most common practices for a lot of people, was going Boxing Day Sales. Before those Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, Boxing Day sales were the most popular sale event for shopping centres. There used be be long lineups at the local shopping centres, waiting for them to open at earlier opening hours. Recently, those other sale days became more in demand that Boxing Day sales.

Boxing Day

Another popular practice was the clearing out of all the waste that accumulated after Christmas Day. However, instead of just throwing everything away into the garbage can, it would be wise to sort out the pieces first. First of all, by carefully opening the presents, you could collect the wrapping paper,gift boxes, gift bags and even the tissue paper inside for future use. Then, you could separate the cardboard and plastic pieces to be recycled. This practice also applied to your party remnants. Hopefully, all the bottles and soda cans were collected to be sent to the recycling depot.

Boxing Day

After learning about the history of Boxing Day, the thought of collecting donation boxes sounds like a great idea too!

Dessert Ideas Fit For The Holidays

 

December is a month that is often filled breakfast, brunch and dinner parties. Most of the time these gatherings happen a pre-booked locations where the guests just need to show up. However, sometimes the guests are invited to the host’s home. It may or may not be a potluck, so the guest may be expected to bring a dish or dessert.

Dessert Idea Number One: Is This the Best Vegan Apple Crisp Recipe Ever

Dessert
Photo Courtesy of Westpoint Naturals

 

This apple crisp recipe appears on Westpoint Naturals blog. It is a vegan recipe that uses cinnamon, oat flakes, and coconut oil and other healthy ingredients. I notice that there are gluten-free and organic ingredients in the list. The prep time takes 20 minutes and baking takes 60 minutes.

 

Dessert Idea Number Two: White Chocolate Matcha Holiday Rum Truffles

Dessert
Photo Courtesy of Whisk Matcha

 

Do you like matcha? Matcha is a type of antioxidant green tea that contains a high level of L-Theanine. L-Theanine helps with mental focus, which is a great asset during the busy holiday season. This truffle recipe from the blog post of Whisk Matcha does not require any baking at all. But, it does require some melting and combining of the ingredients in the microwave or double broiler.

 

Dessert Idea Number Three: Christmas Cookies

Dessert
Photo Courtesy of British Columbia Mom

 

There are fifteen different easy Christmas cookie recipes that one can make to bring to parties or even give away as homemade gifts! A local mommy blogger, British Columbia Mom’s blog compiles an extensive list of cookies from different bloggers to make it easier for busy people to choose. She collects both baking and non-baking recipes.

Have you seen anything that interests you? There are so many delicious sweets to choose from!! Which sweet recipe is the one that you like the best? Please share with us if you decide to make any one of these!

How to Use Wish-lists and Support Local Small Businesses

 

How do you like to do your Christmas shopping?There are so many different ways to search for the perfect gifts. Christmas wish-lists are often utilized by well-meaning friends and families to make life easier by telling them exactly what they wanted to receive. However, these list can also become a burden to others. These wish-lists often limit the gift-giver the type and the cost of the gift. Sometimes, the type of gift may even go against the person’s habits or philosophies. Therefore, these frustrations can turn into a very uncomfortable time during the holidays.

Wish-lists

In the spirit of Christmas, as a parent, I like to emphasize that Christmas is a time about giving and not receiving. As technology becomes more and more prominent, it is important to remember that it is our local businesses that support the communities around us. Giving back to our local neighbourhoods should be one of the most important themes during the holidays, even while doing our shopping.

Let’s see how we can use these wish-lists to help local businesses.

Popular Items On Wish-lists

1. Clothing: Local consignment stores do sell brand-new items of clothes. Sometimes people buy some pieces and do not wear them. I have seen pieces that still have their original tags on them too!
2. Jewellery: Visiting local Christmas markets can help you discover some unique and handmade pieces of jewellery. Remember to pick up a brochure about the jewellery-maker to put inside the wrapping. That way, your recipient can continue to shop for their own friends too!
Wish-lists
3. Toys: I still bought toys for children, but as a daycare educator, I prefer to choose educational toys that require children to either use their imagination or have more players. Our local toy shops stock toys that are using less plastics and packaging. For the older children or even adults, the shop has some unique game boards that the whole family can play together. This can facilitate communication among friends and family.
Wish-lists

These are just a few ideas for some of the items that I often see on wish-lists. Of course, you must do what makes you the most comfortable. Remember, Christmas is about joy and happiness for world. It is crucial that we all work together to share this positive message.

Five Fabulous Christmas Activities Happening In Our Neighbourhood

December is here! The Christmas holiday spirit is very apparent throughout our city. However, I am sure that there are a lot of different fun activities that are happening in your city too. As a parent, December can be a very expensive and stressful time.

First of all, many parents are doing a lot shopping for presents. Then, they are getting really tense about preparing for all the different parties and gift exchanges. Now, let us take a step back. We need to pause to discover five fun and almost free Christmas activities in our city instead!

Five Fabulous Christmas Family-Friendly Activities

1) Bright Nights At Stanley Park: Of the five activities, this popular event happens inside Stanley Park, which is a very large garden right near our downtown core. Initially, families can enter the park by donation. Afterwards, visitors can purchase train tickets to ride on the Christmas miniature train.
(This event starts from November 28 to January 1, except on December 25, Christmas Day.)
One of the five activities
Photo courtesy of https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/bright-nights-train.aspx

 

2) Gingerbread House Lane at the Hyatt: Many of our local talents from different bakeries, and cooking schools build wonderful gingerbread houses. Even students from local schools participate in this gingerbread house baking competition. Then, visitors are welcome to vote for their favourite creations. Hence, from November 30 to December 31, 2019, you can go and admire their creative baking creations.
One of the five
Photo Courtesy of Vancouver’s Best Places https://vancouversbestplaces.com/events-calendar/december/top-things-to-do-at-christmas/gingerbread-lane/
3) Christmas at Canada Place: The Canada Place is where you can bring the little ones to view the beautiful and bright displays. So, as a family, you can participate in an assortment of fun and free art activities. Canada Place is open for visitors from December 6 to January 1, 2019.
One of the five activities
Photo Courtesy of Canada Place (https://www.canadaplace.ca/events/christmas/)
4) Ice Skating at Robson Square: So, if you own a pair of skates, you can skate for free at Robson Square’s outdoor rink! Therefore, you can skate to your heart’s content from 9am to 9pm. All this occurs till the end of February. If you do not own a pair of skate, you can rent a pair for just $4!
5) Holiday Hi-Light Festival at Park & Tilford: This shopping centre has its own garden.  Therefore, they decorate it with an abundance of Christmas lights and decorations. It isn’t as epic as the ones that I have mentioned. However, it still has live entertainments, and a visiting Santa!! Proceeds go to the City and District of North Vancouver Fire Fighters Societies.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are quite a lot of activities that the families in our neighbourhood! Which one would you love to visit?

Make A Gift Day: Time To Make One Today

Make a gift

 

Did you know that each December 3 is Make A Gift Day?

This unofficial fun holiday reminds us that handmade presents are excellent ways to add some personal touches and save some money too! As I mentioned before, I made most of my presents by hand. As an adult, I would shop for great deals on items that my family and friends needed, but, I would still make some of the gifts as I had always been quite crafty. Time was passing, I watched my children began to get older, they were also starting to make their own gifts for the family too.

Make A Gift

Make A Gift Ideas

Today is a perfect day to start brainstorming for ideas and inspirations to add some handmade gifts to add to your gifts. Here are some gifts that can be adapted to different skill levels

1. Beginners: ​

– Make a collage of past photos that you can download or cut out from photocopies. Then put it behind a frame.

-Using the same collage idea to make Christmas ornaments. Looks for those small photo frames that you can tie a ribbon to that they can hang it on their Christmas tree.

-Buy one of the Christmas cookie doughs that only require to cut and bake on a cookie sheet. Fill up some cookie tins and give them away!

2. The Next Level:

-Make a sketch, a drawing or paint something that the recipient loves. For example, you might even use some fancy calligraphy to write out a motivation quote and put that into a frame.

Make a gift

-Go to a craft store and buy some quick dry clay. Roll it out and use a Christmas theme cookie cutter to cut out some shapes. Remember to make little hole at the top of a piece of ribbon. Wait for them to dry and then paint  away! You can write the name of the recipient and the current year on the ornament.

-Search out for a nice and fancy cookie recipe and bake them from scratch…Yum!

Make a gift

Remember, the holiday season is about giving and sharing your love of others. We all need to step back and rethink about what kinds of messages are we trying to convey to our loved ones.