Community Journal

3 Eco-Friendly Product Choices

Make informed choices to minimize your environmental impact

Want to help the environment? Too busy to dedicate volunteer time to the cause? Well there is an easy way for you to support environmental sustainability…by buying things!

These 3 eco-friendly product choices are some alternatives to everyday products that you might be already using. We only have one Earth, so let’s take care of it.

(We are not sponsored by any of the following products)

1. Cleaning Products

There are many different types and brands of cleaning products out there. Most of them have chemicals and toxins that aren’t good for the environment and are not sustainable.

Things to look out for:

Non-biodegradable: They can pollute streams and rivers

GMOs: Genetically modified organism, made in a lab (not found naturally in the environment)

Tested on Animals: Can hurt animals and is not sustainable

Toxic: Bad for human or animal health  

Nellies All Natural

80dishtin_front_turn-web

The first company is Nellies All Natural. Their products are biodegradable, non-toxic, GMO free, chlorine free, not tested on animals, and more.

Let’s break some of these features down.

Biodegradable: Once you wash and rinse your clothes or dishes with this soap,  it won’t be washed away and pollute the ocean. It will decompose away.

No GMOs: Nothing here  was genetically modified in a lab.

No Animal Testing:. Keep the animals out in the wilderness to be a part of their natural life cycle.

If Nellies All Natural isn’t for you then don’t worry, I’ve got a few more cleaning products to tell you about.

Mrs. Meyers

radish-multi-surface-everyday-cleaner

Mrs. Meyers products’ are free of chlorine, bleach, ammonia, petroleum distillates, and more.. They use a biodegradable formula and 25% post-consumer plastic for their packaging. Some of their products also use renewable plant resources to add extra cleaning power.

ECOS

honeydewThe last cleaning product brand that I will talk about is made by ECOS. Their safer choice products use safer chemical ingredients, are EPA certified (Environmental Protection Agency), and are more environmental friendly than typical cleaning products.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Reusable Bags

Plastics shopping bags don’t break down/ decompose, they last 20-1,000 years. Nothing that we use should take that long to decompose. This includes plastic grocery shopping bags and plastic Ziploc bags. You can also wash and reuse your Ziploc bags that you already have too!

One of the easiest things you can do when you go shopping is bring your own bags to carry your groceries, clothes or whatever else back home. Buy a tote bag or any non-plastic bag and simply re-use it. By simply using a reusable bag you help reduce the use of thousands of plastic bags.

Blue Avocado

blueavocadoOne company that provides eco-friendly alternatives to both shopping bags and Ziploc bags is Blue Avocado. They have reusable tote bags and reusable food storage bags (Ziploc alternative). The reusable food storage bags are more durable than Ziploc bags and you can reuse them and have a better reseal. You might be able to find these bags at some of their listed retailers: Staples, Bed Bath & Beyond, Whole Foods, and online at Amazon.

 

3. Shoes

Most people in the world wear shoes. There are more than 20 billion pairs of shoes manufactured each year. We don’t have 20 billion people to wear all those shoes. The manufacturing stage has a large impact on the environment, through the use of large amounts of water and energy. Shoes also have many toxins, chemicals, and fossil fuels are produced and leaked into the environment in a shoes life cycle.

Sole Rebels

runaround-freedom-2_yellow_2Sole Rebels are handcrafted shoes made in Ethiopia. Some of their shoes have insoles made from recycled car tires, laces made from recycled truck inner tubes, and are vegan. As the only WFTO Fair Trade certified shoe company in the world, they’re not just good for the planet, but also people! 

Neuauashores

aliya_in_black_pu_2__36991-1448048446Neuaurashores is eco-conscious and animal-product free. Animals have a large impact on the environment when us humans get involved. Neuaurashoes only has women’s shoes but they are all animal free vegan shoes. They are also partnered with a factory in Brazil that decided to take responsibility of solid waste of the entire production, aiming to make it less harmful to the environment. The factory reuses 68% of their monthly 250-ton waste, the rest is taken to a Hazardous Industrial Waste Landfill, it’s not just being dumped into a lake or river.

 

 

 

I hope you learned something from this post and will apply it to your everyday life. Even just spreading information about environmental sustainability can help. We here at NVOSAS care about the environment, sustainability, and educating others. Let’s work together to protect the environment. Little changes can go a long way.

-Cam “Scruffy” Cottrell

4 Weird & Wonderful Fall Fungi in North Vancouver

For some, the Fall season marks the tragic decline of Summer: the temperature drops, leaves fall, and the rains torrent down in full force. But for those in the know, Fall is a wonderland filled with colour and life. Why? Fungi!

Scientists estimate there are over 10,000 species of fungi living in the Pacific Northwest (Northern California to Alaska) and up to 1.5 million species worldwide. Since we don’t have time to cover all 10,000, here are 4 relatively common (and super weird looking) fungi we found right here on Vancouver’s North Shore. We found these mostly in Capilano Canyon and on the Kennedy Falls hiking trail, but many of these can be found on lawns and in gardens even in the city! Let’s dive in with a Super-Mario looking mushroom, the Fly Amanita.

1. Fly Amanita

The Fly Amanita is a cheerful looking fellow, with bright red cap dotted with many white warts on it. The cap can either by round like this one, or convex like a bowl. You can find it pretty much everywhere there are pine, spruce, fir, birch, or aspen trees around between June and November. Danger: this mushroom is dangerous to eat or even touch without gloves so be careful.

fall-fungi-fly-amanita

Why fly in the name? Traditionally, this mushroom has been used in homemade fly traps. People would crumble small pieces of the cap into a bowl of milk – the flies are attracted to a chemical in the mushroom, then are poisoned by it and drown in the milk.

fall-fungi-fly-amanita-man

Fun Fly Amanita Fact: This mushroom was said to be a favourite of the ancient Romans to poison their enemies.

2. Angel Wings

Moving from devilish to delicate, the Angel Wings fungus is easy to spot growing on coniferous nurse logs throughout the forest from September to October. It has a thin, wavy top, usually no stem to speak of, and thin dense gills underneath.

fall-fungi-angel-wings

Be careful when petting the dense gills underneath, as this fungi is fragile.

3. Orange Jelly

Many fungi like the Fly Amanita and Angel Wings have a defined structure to them. Others are alien blobs of goo. That’s the category Orange Jelly fungus falls into…

Orange-Jelly-Fungus

This is definitely the weirdest looking fungus we found in the forest this season, and you can probably go find it as well. It grows from coniferous wood (see our rundown of common BC trees here) from May to November. Moist mountain valleys like Lynn Canyon and Capilano Canyon in North Vancouver, or Paradise Valley (Cheakamus Centre) in Squamish are the best places to look for these.

Fun Jelly Fungus Fact: Jelly Fungus is easiest to spot when the weather has been super rainy – it soaks the moisture up and swells to the size you see in the picture above. When moisture levels drop, the fungus dries up to lay in wait for the next big rainfall.

4. Crested Coral Fungus

While the coral reef isn’t doing too well in the ocean, coral fungi – named for their resemblance of oceangoing coral – are abundant on the forest floor. We think this here is Crested Coral Fungus, but it’s tough to tell between that and Pink Coral Mushroom which happens to be super poisonous.

Regardless, both kinds can be found on the ground underneath coniferous trees like Western Hemlock and Douglas Fir. It isn’t a good idea to eat any kind of Coral Fungus, but they sure are neat to look at and feel with their interesting structure.

Fall Fungus For Everyone

That’s all folks! If you have any weird or wacky fungus you’ve spotted this season, send us a picture at nvosas@gmail.com and we’ll post it for everyone to see. Otherwise, happy fungus hunting friends.

-Mark

 

Photos and Words by:

Mark Tallman

President, NVOSAS

Mark-Tallman-NVOSAS

 

Let’s Start Thinking Green

ANDY1

 

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Globe 2016 Expo at the Vancouver Convention Center where several companies had booths set up to share their efforts in developing sustainable technology. I would like to share a few of the companies and technologies that I enjoyed the most!

 

  1. Enerkem

 

As part of my courses in university, I toured a few industrial plants around Alberta – my favourite being Enerkem, located in Edmonton. I was excited to see that they had a booth at the Globe conference. Enerkem is a company that takes a portion of the non-recyclable municipal wastes to convert it into bio-chemicals that can be used in products or for energy. To me it sounds like magic!

ANDY2

                                   The Enerkem facility in Edmonton

 

Waste contains large amounts of organics which, at a landfill, will naturally break down to produce CO2 and methane. When there is too much waste to be contained, an incinerator will be used to burn it, which will produce a lot of CO2. Enerkem’s technology works by gasifying the organic wastes to make what is called syngas, and this syngas can then be run through a reactor packed with catalysts to reform it into biofuels and chemicals.

ANDY3

                A landfill, definitely not as nice looking as the recycle plant!

 

  1. BioCube Corp

 

I was interested in the BioCube because it takes the already established technology of making biodiesel and making it more accessible and economically feasible.

Biodiesel is made from a transesterification process where a triglyceride (Perhaps from a vegetable oil) is reacted with an alcohol. A current major problem with biodiesel is that the process to produce it in a big plant is quite energy intensive and takes a lot of infrastructure and transporting of materials, which is exactly what the BioCube was invented to prevent!

ANDY4

                                     Just some plain ol’ biodiesel

The BioCube is a modified 20 foot shipping container that can be used to produce biodiesel. The idea behind the BioCube is that you can ship it to where biodiesel can be used and a feedstock is present. The first BioCube sold went to DR Congo, which allowed them to no longer rely on shipping in diesel oil for their energy needs which cuts down on costs as well as greenhouse gas emissions!

ANDY5

                     Pongamia seeds, one of the many usable feedstocks

  1. Designergy

 

I am a fan of Designergy for the same reason as the BioCube – they take a technology and make it more accessible. Designergy produces a roofing material that integrates a photovoltaic with the necessary insulation and waterproofing needed to be a construction material. Based in Switzerland, Designergy has been participating in the construction scene for roughly 5 years.

My favourite thing about solar energy is that if someone tells you there has been a solar spill, they really just want to say that it’s a gorgeous day. Jokes aside though, solar energy is a fantastic technology to get behind. It does have difficulties, however – such as efficiency, space, and the materials it takes to make them. Companies such as Designergy really pave the way for investors to get behind solar energy, which will hopefully assist us in tackling some of the issues with solar energy and allow us to see a lot more of it in our future!

ANDY6

                                    The lone ranger, powering our future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Andrew “Rabbit” May
ANDY MAY

NVOSAS Vice President

How to Spot the Top Three Trees in BC

Ever walk through a forest in British Columbia and don’t know the trees? After reading this guide, ancient forest giants will be your best friends. Here’s a guide of the most common big BC trees that will help!

Douglas Fir

Douglas Firs can grow up to 70 meters tall and are found at low elevations. They have flat yellowish green needles that are 2 to 3 cm long.

Douglas Fir Tree Trunk

How to spot a Douglas Fir:

  1. There’s a story to help identify the Douglas Fir:

There was a mouse trying to get away from a small fire. So, the Douglas Fir said to the mouse: “hop in my cones and I will protect you.” If you look at the Douglas Fir cones you will see the back end of the mouse sticking out. It has two back feet and its tail.m2

 

  1. You can also identify the Douglas Fir by its thick, grooved bark.

                  M1                    

               

 

 

Fun fir facts:

  • The Douglas Fir is technically not a true fir. Its cones point downwards while true firs’ cones point up.
  • Douglas Firs are somewhat fire resistant. Thanks to its thick bark, it can survive a small fire. Wild fires are a different story though

Western Hemlock   

Western Hemlocks can grow up to 60 meters tall and are found at low to middle elevations. They have short needles that are unequal in length from 5 to 20 millimeters long. They have small cones that are about 2 cm long.

m3

Identifying a Western Hemlock:

There is also a story to help identify Western Hemlocks:

Long ago, a raven was handing out cones to all the trees. But the Western Hemlock didn’t want to wait so it budged to the front of the line. The raven didn’t like this, however, so it sent the Hemlock to the back of the line. So now the Western Hemlock bows its head in shame.

m4

Interesting Facts:

  • The Western Hemlock is the most common forest tree in Alaska as well as the North Coast of British Columbia.
  • The Western Hemlock is used as medicine by most groups along the Northwest Coast.

 

 

Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedars can grow up to 60 meters tall and can be found at low to medium elevations. Their cones that are about 1 cm long and egg shaped. The Western Red Cedar has scale like leaves.

 

Identifying a Western Red Cedar:

You can identify the Western Red Cedar by its scale-like leaves. It can also be identified by its bark that is a reddish-brown colour and looks like it can be peeled off in strips.

m5           red-cedar-bark

Sweet Cedar Facts:

  • It’s said that if you stand with your back against a Western Red Cedar it will give you strength.
  • It is also widely used by the pacific northwest coastal First Nations people for canoes, baskets, masks, coffins, totem poles and much more!

 

By Meghan “Spike” Lang

MEGHAN

Member at Large