When the world’s environmental woes get you down, turn to Ecoholic – Canada’s best resource for practical tips and products that help you do your part for the earth. You’ll get the dirt on what not to buy and why, and the dish on great gifts, clothes, home supplies and more. Based on the popular and authoritative "Ecoholic" column that appears weekly in NOW, Ecoholic is a cheeky and eye-opening guide to all of life’s greenest predicaments.
The Best Green Products
For the home: cleaning and laundry supplies, furniture, linens
For renovations: flooring, paint, insulation, carpets, cabinetry
For the kitchen: cookware, appliances
For your body: cool clothes, jewellery, shoes, beauty care
For baby: toys, cribs, organic food, diapers
For the garden: fertilizer, pest control, patio furniture
For the office: supplies, equipment, energy savings
For your pet: natural food, flea control, litter solutions
For the fun of it: sporting goods, camping equipment, holidays
The Most Current Information
Avoiding toxins in the home
Buying pesticide-free food
Sustainable seafood, meat and veggie choices
Reducing energy and water use
Greening your love life
Keeping your home and garden pest-free without harmful chemicals
Green gift-giving and ethical investing
Choosing an environmentally friendly career
The big issues facing Canada and how to get involved
The Most Helpful Services
Electronics and computer recyclers
Alternative energy suppliers
Green general stores
Local organic food delivery
Incentives and rebates for greening your home
Local and national environmental groups
Household hazardous waste disposal
Also includes a city-by-city guide:
Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg
You know, it’s funny: Canadians are surrounded with so much damn nature we think that automatically nominates us for outdoor MVP of the year. But when hundreds of trees fall in the boreal every minute, does anybody really care? Well, aside from a few folk singers and some placard-bearing enviro-groups, my answer just a few years ago was a reluctant no. Observers declared environmental consciousness dead. Earth Day marches had long been cancelled due to lack of attendance. Indeed, there was but a faint green pulse left in us as we dragged our recyclables out to the curb then hopped into our gas guzzlers with the a/c blasting. Memories of acid rain, dead lakes and the Exxon Valdez had faded to black, along with any recollection of feathered hair and shoulder pads.
Then, sometime in the last year or two, someone somewhere pulled out the defibrillators and called “clear.” Was it the spike in the price of oil, forcing us to reconsider the value of spending 80 bucks a tank just to drive ourselves to the corner store? Was it the increased alarm-ringing of climate change scientists? The drowning polar bears? The breaking levies? The freak storms? The reports that DDT is still swimming in our children’s bloodstreams decades after it was banned or that non-stick chemicals are sticking to bald eagles and floating in breast milk? Maybe, as my local souvlaki guy noted, it was the realization that ever-climbing hydro bills could be tackled only with conservation and sharp questions about why our government isn’t more aggressively subsidizing solar panels and geothermal heat pumps. More realistically, it was all of the above: a perfect storm of factors that made us sit up and say, Holy Toledo, Dorothy, we’re not in Kansas anymore.
But what’s exciting about this surge, this outpouring of interest in all things green, is that everyone, from the trucker up the street to the CEO of Wal-Mart, is taking notice. And whether you’re expressing your concern for the planet by reaching for organic milk, turning off the taps as you brush, driving a little less or not driving at all, it all adds up to a movement.
Sure, sticking to a five-minute shower rule may seem fruitless in the face of a melting planet and relentless emissions from the coal plant two towns down. But are we to throw our hands in the air and bury our heads in the sand as our federal government has? Every drop of water you conserve, each watt of power you save, every green pepper you purchase from a local organic grower sends a message. To paraphrase hockey dads everywhere, if you want to be on a winning team, you have to think like a winner. And sometimes, when that team is slacking, you’ve gotta step up and take the lead. You don’t have to start a march on Parliament Hill to make a statement (though, hey, if you’re itching to try out a megaphone, go ahead). Start small. Start by leading by example. Get your workplace to turn the lights off at night and the thermostat down. Tell your grocery manager you don’t need California mushrooms vacuum-packed on polysterene when he should be pushing local ones, loose. Tell your brother idling is just burning up gas (not to mention the planet) and tell your minister of Parliament you want real action on greenhouse gas emissions for once.
The tough part is that figuring out what’s green and what’s greenwash, what’s eco-friendly and what’s ozone-deadly can be downright dizzying. This is where knowledge comes in to play. The more you know, the more effective your choices, actions and movements can be. And if GI Joe was right that knowing is half the battle, just buying this book (and reading it cover to cover, of course) should turn you a finely trained eco-warrior, or at least make it easier for you to decide what cleaning products to buy. Don’t worry: you don’t have to give up shaving and chain yourself to a tree to be green. Just do what you can, one step at time–until you’re a full-blown ecoholic.
Adria Vasil has been writing the Ecoholic column for NOW Magazine since the spring of 2004 and has covered environmental issues for NOW’s news section for four years. Vasil has a degree in development politics and cultural anthropology from the University of Toronto and a degree in magazine journalism from Ryerson. An advocate for the earth, women’s issues and human rights since her teens, Vasil has appeared on MTV Canada and CBC’s Newsworld to promote environmentalism.close this panel
"This book is for people who want to do something to lighten their impact on the planet. The small steps cost us little in the way of effort, money or time, but the cumulative effects can be enormous."
"Everything you need to know to make green, non-toxic, Earth-friendly consumer choices – and to be a bang-up planetary citizen – is in this book. Its comprehensiveness is mind-boggling! My fondest hope is that a well-thumbed copy becomes a fixture in every Canadian home."
—Rick Smith, Executive Director, Environmental Defence