Looking To Plant A Garden? Try These Ideas!

From The Root Up

87581688 Organic gardening can be very intimidating to someone that has never done it before. It can easily lead to a bit of information overload because of all of the resources available to new organic gardeners. Below are some tips to assist you in getting all of this information organized to where you can start growing organic plants effectively.

Make use of rain buckets and barrels around your home. You can later use this collected rainwater on your garden to grow healthier plants, while saving the planet. This method also reduces your water bill, as you can’t be charged for using the water that runs off your roof!

Wait for the right moment if you plan on dividing a plant. Leave perhaps two years to grow and divide it at the end of the season when it looks at its best. If your plant shows signs of diseases or has areas…

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Survivor: How to Tell if Your Tree or Shrub Made it Through the Winter

Plough and Furrow

This hardly bears mentioning, but it was a hard winter for a lot of people, and definitely a rough winter for their gardens.

Oh, I’m still hopeful that the deep freezes we had will spell doom for some of the baddest and most annoying bugs (stinkbugs, squash vine borers, I’m looking at you), but that remains to be seen. I’m hopeful but not terribly optimistic.

What can be investigated right now, however, is the price some of the trees and shrubs in the yard paid to endure those Arctic temperatures.

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Repair & Reuse

Buchanan Repairs

Outdoor Power Equipment Repairs & Maintenance
Chris Buchanan, Certificate of Trades Training

Metal Repair:

Stacy Beamer on Bowen Island.  Phone: 604-947-0786.

Small Engine Repair (up to 10hp)

Lee Dulong: 778-829-2296

Electronics & More

From bikes to computers, including smartphones, Ross can fix things. Contact Ross via email:  rossd33@yahoo.com.

Bicycle Repairs

Keith Slade
Phone: 604.947.9487
Cell: 604.626.6179

Clothing Repairs

Wendy Alexander can repair most items of clothing. Contact her at waangus@shaw.ca.

North Shore Metal Recycling

185 Pemberton Ave. (in the alley),  North Vancouver
Contact: Dan Lindner at 778-227-5092. It’s best to call first as he is often out picking up scrap.

Home Heating & Electricity

Reduce home heating and electricity use by 10% by following the tips provided in the article by the Suzuki Foundation.

Bullfrog Power, Canada’s leading green energy provider, makes it easy for homes and businesses to switch to 100% clean, pollution-free energy. By choosing Bullfrog Power, you can reduce your environmental impact, support new renewable energy project development in your region and across Canada, and help create a cleaner, healthier world.

Solar BC:  Our goal is to encourage people to be less reliant on fossil fuels, and to join the solar revolution by tapping into the free energy provided by the sun.

Rede Energy Solutions — a local company that will help you make more efficient use of energy. Led by Matthew Redekopp, the small, high-integrity team offers a comprehensive energy conservation program. 604.947.2738.

The BC Sustainable Energy Association officially launched in summer 2004 and since then it has focused on  the sustainable use and production of energy in British Columbia.

Sew your own clothes

Making your own clothes from eco-friendly cloth

  • Dressew Supply – 337 W.Hasting St has a small amount of organic cotton, rayon from bamboo and tencel.
  • Gala Fabrics 3135 Granville Street has some ecofriendly fabrics from tencel, hemp, nettle, organic cotton and rayon of bamboo.

Don’t forget that most secondhand stores sell cloth, knitting wool etc.

For inspiration and instruction on remaking used clothing into fabulous new duds search pinterest and etsy for ideas.

http://www.pinterest.com/source/wobisobi.blogspot.com/ good ideas for sosimple remakes.

Dressing for health & the environment

The Issues

  • Production of natural fibres may involve the use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers and high water usage. Many man-made fibres are a petroleum product, and chemicals are used in their manufacture.
  • Dyeing alone can account for most of the water used in producing a garment; unfixed dye then often washes out of garments, and can end up in rivers, as treatment plants fail to remove them from the water. Dye fixatives – often heavy metals – also end up in sewers and then rivers.
  • Bleaching of fibres and cloth often uses dioxin-producing chlorine compounds.
  • Formaldehyde is used to treat virtually all polycotton (especially bedlinen), plus all ‘easy care’, ‘crease resistant’, ‘permanent press’ cotton (also used for flameproofing nylon).
  • Transport of clothing form far flung lands raises the carbon footprint of your clothing purchase.
  • Sweatshops Most garment workers (possibly children) toil in third world countries, earning tiny wages for long hours, often in unsanitary and unsafe conditions. Unfortunately no overarching “sweatshop-free” label exists, and the definition of a sweatshop varies.
  • Over-consumption –  Although sending your unwanted clothing to the Sally Ann is better than sending it directly to landfill, the truth is that there is just far too much perfectly usable clothing being discarded and some of it will end up in a landfill anyway. We clearly buy far more clothing than we need, and the environment pays the price.Over 80 billion garments are produced annually, worldwide. In Canada, for example, over $30 billion is spent on new clothing each year, translating to approximately 1.13 billion garments.In Canada, an estimated 10 percent of charitable contributions are sold by thrift stores.
  • Disposal – On average, Canadians discard over 15 lbs. of clothing per capita each year.
    Natural fibers can take hundreds of years to decompose, and once in the landfill may release methane and CO2 gas into the atmosphere. Textiles manufactured from synthetics are designed not to decompose. In the landfill they may release toxic substances into groundwater and surrounding soil.

The Materials

  • Conventionally Grown Cotton is the most pesticide intensive crop in the world: these pesticides injure and kill many people every year. Nearly $2.6 billion worth of pesticides are sprayed on cotton fields each year. Many of the most hazardous pesticides on the market are sprayed on cotton fields. It also takes up a large proportion of agricultural land, much of which is needed by local people to grow their own food. Both herbicides and the chemical defoliants used to aid in mechanical cotton harvesting, add to the toll on both the environment and human health. These chemicals typically remain in the fabric after finishing, and are released during the lifetime of the garments. The development of genetically modified cotton adds environmental problems at another level. Growing enough cotton for one t-shirt requires 257 gallons of water. On top of that, bleaching and then dyeing the resulting fabric creates toxins that flow into our ecosystem. On the plus side, cotton is biodegradable – however it is unlikely to biodegrade under landfill conditions.
    (See – http://www.panna.org/resources/cotton and http://ejfoundation.org/cotton/cotton-and-pesticides)
  • Conventionally produced wool industry workers suffer from exposure to organophosphate, a pesticide in sheep dip. Sheep are big producers of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Bleaching, dyeing, and finishing uses energy and water, and causes pollution.


  • Silk is inherently natural because it’s made by silk worms, not chemical-based synthetic processing. But there’s a drawback: vegans don’t wear silk because to get at the silk fibres, the silk worms are thrown in a vat of boiling water once their hard work is complete. If that seems cruel to you, look for a new generation of the fabric: peace silk or vegan silk (it’s always clearly labeled, so accept no substitutes). This kind of silk is made from the worm casings gathered only after the moths have emerged and moved on.
  • Nylon and polyester are made from petrochemicals, Nylon manufacture creates nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide. Making polyester uses large amounts of water for cooling, along with lubricants which can become a source of contamination. Both processes are also very energy-hungry.


  • Rayon (aka viscose), another artificial fibre, is made from wood pulp, which on the face of it seems more sustainable. However, old growth forest is often cleared and/or subsistence farmers are displaced to make way for pulpwood plantations. Often the tree planted is eucalyptus, which draws up phenomenal amounts of water, causing problems in sensitive regions. To make rayon, the wood pulp is treated with hazardous chemicals such as caustic soda and sulphuric acid. The use of rayon for clothing is contributing to the rapid depletion of the world’s forests.
  • Rayon from bamboo sounds greener than it is. A somewhat better choice than regular rayon, since bamboo is fast growing, and is usually grown without use of fertilizer or pesticides, however the production of the fibres uses the same chemicals as regular rayon.
    N.B. Bamboo is sometimes used to make a cashmere-like cloth, in which case the fibres are produced without the use of chemicals. For more info see:
  • Fleece made from recycled plastic bottles and scrap fleece from the garment industry. Manufacturing this fibre is preferable to creating new petroleum-based fibres. Polyester is oil and once oil has been made into plastic bottles it’s far cheaper to recycle it into yarn than starting from scratch, both because you’ve eliminated a huge part of the production cycle (and carbon footprint) of extracting and transporting the oil and because it takes a tremendous amount of energy to make the first-generation polyester and considerably less to recycle it into second-generation.

From waste water emissions to air pollution and energy consumption, the textile industry weighs heavily on the environment.

Shopping for Eco-Clothing

Options for purchasing eco-friendly clothing are increasing. Please add your own favourites. Here are a few ideas to consider to get you started.

  • Movement Global is a local store featuring designer ware clothing made from bamboo.
  • Patagonia makes some products from recycled polyester, recycled nylon and recycled wool and organically grown hemp and cotton. The North Face has some recycled and organic options. Find both brands in outdoor activity shops like Mountain Equipment Coop.
  • American Apparel does a line of organic cotton clothing and minimizes the polluting effects of dyes.
  • Devil May Wear 3957 Main St Vancouver – locally made and as sustainable as possible.

High-End Secondhand Shops

  • Caliente Fashions 1381 Marine Dr, West Vancouver.  Sells brand names only, and since you’re in West Vancouver you can find Gucci, Prada, Citizen for Humanity, BCBG, you name it.
  • MacGillicuddy’s On lower Lonsdale Ave. Upmarket brands, nothing older than 2 years.
  • MacGillicuddy’s for Kids Specializes in children’s high end clothing and shoes 4881 Mackenzie St, Vancouver.

Places to shop online for ecoclothing

  • Rawganique.com – Vancouver based; reasonably priced. Also bed and bath products.
  • Lur.com US company making new clothes from recycled fibres.
  • LivEco stylish casuals; also Canadian
  • Still Eagle provides a list of (mostly) BC companies who provide ecofriendly and fair trade clothing.
  • Hemp & Company  are an eco-friendly clothing store based in Victoria BC, specializing in hemp, organic cotton and rayon of bamboo casual wear.