Guest post from Carol Burnup, EnviroCentre.

Photo courtesy of EnviroCentre

Photo courtesy of EnviroCentre

Carol Burnup at EnviroCentre asked Green Living Ottawa to help get the word out about the earth-friendly products available in their recently renovated boutique.

She says EnviroCentre’s products are intended “to help people conserve energy, reduce waste, or assist in increasing sustainable transportation usage. They are also, where possible, upcycled, minimally packaged, locally or domestically made and functional.”

Here are some of her gift or stocking stuffer suggestions:

1. Pure Beeswax Candles: Handcrafted in Ontario from pure beeswax by the artisans at Pheylonian Bee Works, beeswax candles make a beautiful and functional gift. Beeswax burns with a bright and hot flame producing none of the toxins associated with paraffin wax candles.

2. Mohair Socks: Made just outside of Ottawa, these socks are warm and comfortable with cashmere-like feel. Theromhair Mohair is not wool and those with wool sensitivities can enjoy these premium quality socks. Great for outdoor enthusiasts, as well as those with poor circulation or diabetes.

3. Organic Cotton Bath Sets: Glo-organics offers the finest quality cotton bath products for your gift giving pleasure. Made in India where cotton has a long history of cultivation, Glo-organics uses only certified fair-trade and organic cotton ensuring that both worker and the environment are respected.

4. Wool Felt Dryer Balls: Wool Felt Dryer Balls from Didi Bahini allow you to give the gift of savings and better health. The David Suzuki Foundation reports energy savings as high as 50% (of dyer energy use) through the use of dryer balls. Our wool felt dryer balls come in a set of four balls and are stored in an attractive crocheted style cotton bag.

5. Abeego Food Wraps: Abeego reusable beeswax food wrap products are made in Vancouver from hemp, cotton, beeswax and tree resins, Abeego food wraps can be used many times and eliminate the use of petroleum based, non-recyclable food wrap. Abeego wraps keep food fresher and are a functional gift that you can give with pride.

The boutique is currently open longer for the holiday season and holiday hours of operation and location are on EnviroCentre’s website:

Here’s more from Carol about EnviroCentre:

EnviroCentre is the go-to source of practical services and programs that help individuals and organizations conserve energy, improve environmental health and act more sustainably.

We have three main areas of focus:

Building Energy Efficiency: We offer energy assessments and energy retrofit solutions for your home, business or property.

Sustainable Transportation: We offer workshops, tools and incentives to help you or your organization discover the benefits of transit, biking, walking, carpooling or car sharing.

EnviroBoutique: We sell environmentally-friendly products related to energy efficiency and sustainable transportation and are an e-waste drop-off centre.

For more information on the services and programs we provide, please visit


Written by Denise Deby.

Another beautiful winter biking video from the Ottawa Bicycle Lanes Project:

Check their website for more winter cycling inspiration.

Written by Denise Deby.


On average, Canadians use between 200-400 litres of water a day for drinking and household use—but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.

Stephen Leahy, an independent environmental journalist, has written Your Water Footprint: The Shocking Facts About How Much Water We Use to Make Everyday Products.

For example, it takes 140 litres of water to make a cup of coffee—including the water used to grow, process and ship the beans. Some 910 litres go into producing a smartphone, 2,500 litres to make a cotton shirt. One kilowatt hour of electricity (enough to surf the web for five hours) uses 180 litres of water.

The book also identifies ways for people to make choices that reduce water use and help avoid water shortages around the world.

Stephen Leahy will launch Your Water Footprint on Wednesday, Dec. 10, 2014 at 7 p.m. at Octopus Books’ Centretown location (251 Bank St.).

At the event, which coincides with Human Rights Day, Council of Canadians’ water campaigner Emma Lui will also talk about the human right to water and water issues in Canada.

You can find more on Stephen Leahy and his writing at

Written by Denise Deby.

Children's books - D. Deby

A new volunteer-led initiative is bringing new and gently used books to Ottawa families who can’t afford to buy their own.

Twice Upon a Time supports literacy by making free books available to kids up to 12 years old.

I’m a big fan of the library, which of course makes books available to all Ottawa citizens free of charge. Twice Upon A Time’s founders, who are librarians, teachers and literacy experts, say studies indicate that book ownership is one of the factors influencing success in life. Owning books means that kids can read their favourite books over and over again, too.

Alexandra Yarrow, an acting manager at the Ottawa Public Library, is the driving force behind Twice Upon a Time, which operates as a non-profit and is in the process of obtaining charitable status. Alexandra came up with the idea of collecting and redistributing books to kids who could benefit from them, as a way to encourage literacy skills and a love of reading.

Twice Upon a Time runs a “pop-up” storefront at Heartwood House (404 McArthur Ave.), where two days a week kids can come, have books read to them and take home a book.

Between its launch in May and the end of November, Twice Upon a Time had given away 1000 books to 775 kids.

Twice Upon a Time isn’t accepting book donations right now, because they’ve filled up their storage space. They do welcome volunteers, so check out the opportunities if you’re interested. Keep an eye on their website and Facebook page for the reopening of donations of good quality books.

Another way to support Twice Upon a Time is by attending their benefit concert on Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014. Voices in Harmony, formerly the Orpheus Choral Group, will perform some holiday favourites. Doors open at 3 p.m. for a holiday bake and craft sale, with the concert starting at 4 p.m. It’s at Trinity Anglican Church (1230 Bank St.) Tickets are $15 (children under 12 free)—check the website for information on purchasing tickets in advance.

Written by Denise Deby.

COG OSO-supported school garden in Ottawa - D. Deby

Canadian Organic Growers Ottawa – St. Lawrence – Outaouais works hard to support local and organic eating in the region, through education and outreach about growing organic food and its health, environmental and other benefits.

COG OSO offers programs for students, gardeners, farmers, educators and others. For example, the Growing Up Organic program helps schools set up organic garden plots and take field trips to farms. Senior Organic Gardeners supports seniors to garden at their homes and residences.

COG OSO is inviting people to come out to their annual Fall Reflections on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014.

Special guest speaker is Rick Smith, the co-author of Toxin Toxout and Slow Death by Rubber Duck, both about the synthetic chemicals in and around us and how to reduce exposure to them. The discussion will focus on “The Impact of Pesticides on Health—Ours and the Planet’s.”

GOG OSO’s annual general meeting, “Bird’s Eye View of COG OSO’s 2014,″ will follow the discussion.

The event takes place at the Glebe Community Centre (175 Third Ave.) from 1-4 p.m. Admission is free, but donations to support COG OSO’s programs are welcome.

Find out more and register here.

You can also check COG OSO’s website to find out more about what they do and how to get involved.


Guest post submitted by David Rain, USC Canada.

Eighth Notes by tonydolor on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Eighth Notes by tonydolor on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic

Come hear the award-winning Ottawa choir, The Stairwell Carollers, “Sing 4 Biodiversity!”

Saturday, November 29, 7:30 pm

First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa, 30 Cleary Ave.

The First Unitarian Congregation of Ottawa invites lovers of the pure sounds of a cappella singing to an evening of diverse choral music from many lands, “an evening of carols olde & new.”

All proceeds will go to USC Canada’s Seeds of Survival program, in support of farmers around the world who grow food for their families in ways that are kind to the environment and that nurture biodiversity.

This inaugural “Sing 4 Biodiversity” concert is also a way of honouring the memory of USC’s beloved founder, Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova, as November 28 will be the 105th anniversary of her birth.

Come have a fun evening of seasonal music featuring one of Ottawa’s premier choirs, in support of sustainable agricultural programs around the world.

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $15 at, or at the door on the night of the show, for $20.

The Stairwell Carollers will have copies of their professionally recorded CDs for sale. They make wonderful gifts! The choir has generously agreed to donate $5 of every CD sold at the concert to USC Canada’s Seeds of Survival program.

Hope to see you there!

[Green Living Ottawa suggests checking out this USC Canada video to learn more about seeds and biodiversity.]

Written by Denise Deby.


Layoffs of thousands of federal government scientists, cutbacks in program and research funding, weakening of environmental legislation, restrictions on communication of scientific findings–there’s plenty of evidence that in Canada, science is being undermined.

Those changes affect our health, our lands and waterways, our capacity to monitor and respond to problems, and much more.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers has been speaking out about this through its Getting Science Right campaign, which calls for a return to support for science in the public interest.

On Thursday, November 27, 2014 CAUT is hosting a discussion in Ottawa on “A New Direction for Science Policy in Canada? Get Science Right!”

The focus is the federal government’s approach to science policy, and alternative approaches. Panelists are Béla Joós, University of Ottawa physics professor; Diane Beauchemin, chemistry professor at Queen’s; Christina Muehlberger, PhD candidate in sociology and political economy at Carleton; Tim Powers, vice-president of Summa Strategies; Ted Hsu, Liberal MP and Science and Technology Critic; and Kennedy Stewart, NDP MP and Science and Technology Critic. Investigative reporter Mike De Souza will moderate.

The event is 6-8:30 p.m. at the Westin Hotel, Ontario Room, 11 Colonel By Dr. Admission is free.





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