are you Vancouver’s greenest family?

Standard is sponsoring a contest this month in honor of spring, Earth Day, and all thing eco-friendly.  Here’s my submission!

How many kids do you have?

We have two boys.

How old are your kids?

Our children are ages 4 and 7.

What municipality do you live in?

We live in downtown Vancouver, in the heart of the city.

List three small things your family does.

  • We make our own household cleaners from vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda instead of using dangerous, chemical filled alternatives.  It really is possible to clean your entire home effectively with water and these three simple items!  We also refuse chemical-laden personal care products and make our own wherever possible – this means avoiding cosmetics and personal body care items that contain toxic ingredients and making our own alternatives from simple household ingredients.
  • We use reusable drink and food containers (glass and stainless steel) to eliminate our use of single-use packaging.  Buying in bulk at the grocery store allows us to avoid unnecessary packaging and we transfer our purchases from our reusable bags to glass containers in our pantry when we get home.  I carry my own stainless steel water container and coffee mug with me everywhere I go, and my kids have stainless steel lunch boxes and water bottles that they take to school for zero-waste lunches!
  • We buy all of our clothes from thrift store (except underwear!) and donate clothes back to charity when they have been outgrown or are no longer loved – this promotes recycling and eliminates the amount of waste that is generated from the creation of new clothes.  We also recycled when it came to cloth diapering our youngest child and bought his cloth diapers used off Vancouver’s local Craigslist site- and then sold them on Craigslist when he potty trained!

Tell us about one big green thing your family does.

The biggest thing we do to be the greenest family we can be is to limit our consumption of everything – whether it is toys, clothes, and even food, we question our need for all things and buy only what we need.  We also avoid buying items (including food items) that are unnecessarily packaged, which means refusing plastic packaging wherever possible and using reusable produce bags, reusable shopping bags, and buying as much of our clothing and household items as are necessary from the thrift stores around our city.  We have even managed to limit the size of our home (our family of four lives in a cozy 800-square foot condo in downtown Vancouver), which has allowed us to limit our consumption of energy and has allowed us to minimize our environmental footprint even further.  We have chosen to stay in our small home rather than upgrade our lifestyle and our consumption levels.

How do you get your kids involved?

If you asked my children, they wouldn’t be able to tell you how we are living differently from anyone else.  They are young, and so living this way of refusing consumption and striving to be environmentally sensitive is really the only way they know.  My kids understand that buying from thrift stores is a form of recycling, and it is a bonus that money also happens to go a lot further there.  They also are involved in our grocery shopping and love picking out organic produce to put into our reusable bags.  We have successfully managed to involve our children in living a green life, and they do not feel as though they are missing out on anything by living this way.  In my family’s opinion, limiting our consumption and striving for environmental consciousness leads to a richer life, full of experiences rather than stuff.

one of our favourite things to do: hanging out at the beach

one of our favourite things to do: hanging out at the beach

learning about farming at Qualicum Cheeseworks in Parksville

learning about farming at Qualicum Cheeseworks in Parksville

Tell us what you love about living a green lifestyle.

I love meeting other people who have similar values when it comes to environmental sensitivity, and I am finding that it is becoming easier to do so now thanks to social networking and the internet.  Thankfully, many people are aware nowadays of the urgency around considering the environment when making purchases and using different products.  I particularly enjoy reading about other families who are striving to live in a way that is sensitive to our environment, as I find it inspirational and further motivating.  I also love the feeling I get when I discover new ways to limit our environmental footprint – I am truly an eco-nerd!

yes, we're goofy.  but we're also green!

yes, we’re goofy. but we’re also green!

If you’d like to enter the contest for Vancouver’s greenest family, be sure to check it out online at  The deadline for entries is midnight, April 24, 2013.  Best of luck!


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