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Dreaming of a Green Christmas

 

 

 

We know Elvis had a Blue Christmas, and Bing Crosby dreamt of a White Christmas, but we want to help you make yours a Green Christmas.

green christmas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buy with purpose:

Many people get caught up in the holidays and feel the pressure to buy something for everyone. The old adage is true- it is the thought that counts. Try giving someone an experience rather than a material item or a homemade edible gift. Perhaps an antique would be a good option for someone on your list- there are many hidden gems in antique stores.

Rather than buying a gift for everyone you know, what about simplifying the list and doing a few Secret Santa games where you buy for one specific person?

Look for locally made gifts and shop local too. Craft fairs and artisan shops are a good source for gifts and there aren’t any added costs for transportation from halfway around the world.green christmas

When giving gifts to children, do everyone a favour by giving battery free toys. Discarded batteries are an environmental hazard and their parents will thank you. It’s much friendlier to give toys that nurture a child’s creativity – let them make the sounds and movements of the toys. Before Christmas comes, take a look around and recycle any dead batteries lying around your home. 

Connect with Nature

A great way to celebrate the season is to embrace the outdoors. Rather than sit inside all day, take a family nature hike to get yourself prepared for the big family meal. See if you can spot different species of wildlife and engage everyone in your family to have a healthy holiday.

It’s always better to give than to receive, so why not give a little Christmas cheer to the bird? Leave out seeds on a tree or pinecones for the birds and give them a little something extra for the winter.
 

Choose a live tree

Although plastic Christmas trees are reusable from year to year, real trees are the more sustainable choice. While artificial trees can last forever, research shows that they are typically discarded when repeated use makes them less attractive. Discarded artificial trees are then sent to landfills, where their plastic content makes them last forever. green christmas

Live trees, on the other hand, are a renewable resource grown on tree farms that are replanted regularly. They contribute to air quality while growing, and almost ninety percent are recycled into mulch. Live trees are usually locally grown and sold, saving both transportation costs and added air pollution. Live trees also smell really good.

Craft with paper goods

Christmas cards can get expensive and while they can be recycled, it’s always better to reduce the amount of waste first. Reuse photos from throughout the year, or maybe images from an old calendar. Think about how you could turn a newspaper clipping into a tree just by cutting it into a tree shape, or a snow scene with a bit of glue and cotton balls. The recipients will appreciate your creativity and your hard work.green christmas

Use environmentally friendly wrapping paper that has recycled content, or reuse your gift wrap from previous years. You can find rolls of recycled paper at many stores and you can decorate them with any craft supplies or markers you have at your home. Try to use tape sparingly or not at all. If you are planning to use ribbon or twine, you can hold the wrapping on by tying it around the gift. It also allows the recipient to reuse both the wrapping and the ribbon again.

Reuse/recycle

We already mentioned reusing your gift wrap from previous years, but what about reusing things around your home to repurpose into Christmas decor? Old clothes can be cut up and sewn into stockings, the bottoms of old plastic bottles make great snowflake ornaments, and last year’s Christmas cards can be repurposed into gift boxes, gift tags, ornaments and garlands.

Consider buying recycled packaging materials from us when you are wrapping your gifts this year. After all of the gifts have been opened, bring by your flattened cardboard boxes, recyclable packaging materials and old electronics that may have been replaced for recycling.

What are your tips to making Christmas Green? Drop by our Facebook page to let us know!

Stan’s Tips for Green Transportation this Winter

November 18th, 2013 • By: happy Eco Tips, Live Green, Uncategorized

   

 

 

While our preferred method of getting around is by bike, as the weather turns to rain and snow, it’s not exactly the safest time of year to have two-wheel commute. So how do you get around when the weather isn’t cooperating? green transportation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In colder conditions, relying on transit may be a better option. It’s much less expensive than owning and running a car, plus you can avoid bumper-to-bumper traffic when commuting from the suburbs into the city. We also like the speed and comfort of the West Coast Express to get Downtown. It’s a great way to start the morning enjoying a coffee and the morning paper without paying attention to the road.

green transportation

If your destination isn’t on a transit route or you need to transport a lot of things with you, a great option is a car share program. There are several options to choose from in the Lower Mainland. You need to sign up ahead of time and will be given a scan card to unlock the car. When you need a car, book online or through the company’s smart phone app to easily find vehicles nearby. The keys are stored in the vehicle and away you go! This is especially handy when you need a pickup truck for moving a couch one day and a car to go for a family dinner a week later. You get the best of both worlds without having to own a vehicle.

green transportation

 

If you’re using the car share program for your commute, offer to carpool. You can split the cost of the expenses and utilize the high-occupancy vehicle lanes.  There are also programs in place for existing carpool programs. This video explains how ridesharing and works from http://www.travelsmart.ca

For the more hardcore bikers, here are some tips for riding your bike in the rain and snow:

·      Winterize your bike:

  • Riding in the ice and snow is hard on your bike, so you may want to switch out to an older bike that you don’t mind getting scratched up
  •  Check your brakes and tires – studded or knobby tires are your best bet to grip slippery lanes

·      Winterize yourself:

  • Make sure you have layers of clothing that you don’t mind getting wet and dirty, as well as appropriate reflective clothing. The fall and winter months are much darker, especially at commuting times, so make sure you are being seen by drivers by wearing reflective clothing.
  • Carry a de-icer for your bike in case parts freeze up
  • Protect your extremities and eyes. There is usually more sand and gravel on the roads, so you want to keep your body safe and warm in the cold weather.

However you get around, there are many green options to get there. Tweet us or find us on Facebook for more tips on living a green lifestyle!

It’s Waste Reduction Week!

 

 

Now that we’re full swing into Waste Reduction Week, we want to share our favourite ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle at the place where you spend most of your days: the workplace. It may seem like your actions won’t make a difference, but it’s the small things that equal to big changes. 

Whether you spend your work week at the office or on a construction site, there are plenty of ways to reduce your footprint. We’ll show you how.

At the Office

waste reduction week

Paper Shredding and Data Destruction

At HSR Services, we’ll discard confidential daily records and confidential documents by professionally shredding and destroying them. Then we’ll have them baled and sold as paper fiber to be used again. We also have many other services that will help generate your LEED Certification, just contact us for more details.

 

Sustainable Purchasing

A few simple changes you can make right away are purchasing recycled paper and buying supplies in bulk to reduce transportation costs and energy. You can also look at ways to reduce packaging, like asking suppliers to take back shipping boxes and pallets so they can be used again. Depending on your budget, you can also opt for EnergyStar-rated office equipment. 

Create a Recycling Program

Setting a good example at work will help your employees mimic the same green practices at home.  Happy Stan’s provides an Office Recycling Program that takes care of everything you need, from paper to batteries, to computers and electronics. Depending on your needs, we can pick up anywhere within Metro Vancouver. Just tell us what you need and we’ll figure out the rest!

For more office recycling tips, visit our blog post where we share more ways to keep it green.

At the Construction Site

waste reduction week

We provide unique services that are catered specifically for building contractors. All you have to do is bring us in at the start of your job and we’ll take care of all of your disposal and recycling needs. From removal of furniture and displays to minor interior demolition jobs, we’ll sort, separate, and recycle!

We can also provide a number of roll-off services for material such as junk wood and pallets, drywall, cardboard, cardboard tubes, plastics, and metals. Our cleanup crew is fast, efficient and most importantly, knowledgeable.

Waste Reduction Week is a good wake-up call for businesses everywhere to take an eco approach to handling their operations. As an independent business ourselves, we know exactly the type of pressures and stress you face, which is why being green may seem like an after-thought. That’s exactly why we do what we do – to make it easier for you! We’ve really just scratched the surface on ways HSR Services can help you become a green company and save money. Feel free to contact us and let’s chat!

Make it a Green Halloween

October 16th, 2013 • By: happy Uncategorized

 

 

 

 

Have you ever thought about how much we waste during Halloween? Purchasing costumes that our kids will only wear once, individually wrapped candies that are thrown in the trash, and those poor pumpkins that are tossed in the bin after their big night is over.

 

green halloween

Let’s remember that Halloween isn’t really about the candy. Kids have fun when their parents, family, and friends get involved. Since part of being green is focusing on people rather than things, this year try and decrease the amount of ‘things’ you incorporate into your Halloween and increase the focus on fun.

How exactly can you do that? Glad you asked!

Here are some of Stan’s ideas for turning your Halloween from orange to green:

  • Try to use old materials to make your child’s costume. Old cardboard boxes can be turned into virtually anything, like a robot, a car, or a roll of dice. Get creative with scrap fabrics, pipe cleaners, and even old wrapping paper. You’ll be surprised at just how easy (and cheap!) costumes can be. 
  • Make a big deal out of your child’s costume – getting dressed, taking pictures, etc. Make the focus on getting ready for the event, rather than collecting candy (good for your dentist bill too!).
  • Give kids a full, healthy meal before they go out trick-or-treating so they are not hungry.
  • Talk to your kids about what is in candy and why it is not healthy. Ask them to come up with creative, Earth-friendly alternatives that your own family can hand out and feel good about, like these:green halloween

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Model healthy choices. Remember that your children look to you for cues. When you take good care of yourself, others and the planet, your child is bound to follow in your footsteps.
  • Compost your pumpkin! Show your kids how to rid of the orange guys in a sustainable way.
  • Hand out something alternative to candy that kids will love and be able to use over and over again.Some ideas of treats to hand out instead:
    • Pencils
    • Erasers
    • Crayons or Felts
    • Magnets
    • Barrettes
    • Stickers
    • Small toys

        If your child does collect candy:

      • Do something good: You may consider letting your child keep a small amount of candy and donate the rest to a charity.
      • Have a candy trade: let your kids trade their candy towards other little gifts or give them a “pumpkin point” for each piece of candy they collect. Use pumpkin points to “buy” a toy or do a special activity with your child.
      • Let them choose a limited amount of candy to eat (for example, one piece for each year your child is old). Many Dentists do a candy trade program, to keep candy out of the mouths of kids.

      If you follow these tips, and remember to have fun, you’ll make this Halloween a fun and healthy time for you and the environment.  

The New Swap Meet: Food Swapping

October 7th, 2013 • By: happy Current Events, Eco Tips, Live Green, Uncategorized

 

 

 

Whether you do it as part of a social group with friends or show up at a meeting of fellow food swappers you’ve never met, you can bet on getting some wonderful and unique homegrown, homemade and foraged foods to bring back to your home.

food swapThe idea behind a food swap is to meet with other gardeners, canners, bakers and cooks to swap food in a relaxed environment and to share your passion for locally made items. One person might bring homemade bread, another several jars of fruit preserves, and another herbs from their garden. Bring 20 fresh baked scones to the swap and you might go home with lemon curd, garlic confit, lavender, handmade pasta, salsa, shortbread, and more. It’s a way to diversify one’s pantry, support local vendors, reduce your environmental footprint, and bring people together to share the bounty of their labor and creativity.

If you plan on hosting a party, here are some rules to a successful swap:

  • Let people know that swap items must be homemade, homegrown, or foraged
  • Bring samples to share at the potluck so people can taste your culinary skills
  • Pick a venue that is big enough for everyone to sit and chat.  Besides your home, you could try a community centre, business, or park
  • No money is to be exchanged
  • Be thoughtful in your offerings. Have options for those who eat gluten-free or vegetarian
  • Set time guidelines. We usually say around two hours, the first for people to mingle and sample, the second for actually swapping

When packaging your foods to bring to a swap, make sure that they are in easy to see-through containers, and of course we recommend reusable, earth-friendly packaging whenever possible. Municipalities are also catching on, as The River Market in New Westminster recently hosted a food swap and Burnaby’s Moveable Feast holds one monthly, with the next one happening on October 21, 2013.

Whether you hold a swap with 5 people or 50, we highly recommend giving it a try. You’ll come away with new foods and build relationships with others who are just as passionate about food as you are.

Try this recipe for your next food swap from Smitten Kitchen.

Zucchini Bread

food swap 

Yield: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins

3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans, liberally. (See those pictures of the cakes inside their non-stick pans? Yup, they’re pretty much hanging out in there for the time being.) Alternately, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using.

Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.

Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake far more quickly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

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