The honourees at the Green Living Show Victories Party. Photo by Stuart Bulmer.

The whole A\J gang came out to the Green Living Show this month. We shared a busy booth with Gordie Wornoff (who just won the Livegreen Toronto Awards, by the way!) and his freecycled furniture, brought the DIY pop can solar heater to life, hosted three events on the main stage and met a whole lot of people promoting some really cool ideas and products. Here are some of the highlights.

Learning to celebrate

In his article Copy the Cure, in our September/October 2012 issue, Gideon Forman argued that events in the environmental movement “lack fun and celebration,” and that we don’t take enough time to revel in our victories. So we decided to change that with the first Victories Celebration at this year’s Green Living Show.

In honour of their role in recent environmental success stories, we honoured a number of special guests, including Michael Stadtländer for his Foodstock and Soupstock efforts to (successfully!) stop the Highland Mega Quarry; Celine Cousteau, on behalf of the Cousteau family for creating awareness and paving the way for ocean conservationists around the world; Mike Morrice in recognition of the unique success of Sustainable Waterloo Region's Regional Carbon Initiative; Faisal Moola, from the David Suzuki Foundation, on behalf of Canada’s first urban national park, Rouge Valley National Park; Maggie MacDonald, Toxics Program Manager, on behalf of Environmental Defence and Rick Smith, for getting BPA banned from baby bottles; and 12-year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney, actress, singer, songwriter, and environmentalist from the Sliammon First Nation, performing her song Shallow Waters.

Ta'Kaiya Blaney. Photo by Stuart Bulmer.

A\J staffers’ favourite moments & top finds

Eric, Editor: Getting to collaborate with Gordie Wornoff, a strange and beautiful man who lives and creates like so many more of us should. I love that Gordie found a way to wrap an A\J complement into a comment about blood doping during our main stage show — a great example of his particular brand of creative madness.

 

Gordie Wornoff and Eric Rumble on the main stage. Photo by Stuart Bulmer.

 

Eric’s top find was Rallis raw olive oil. Eric and I met Theo Rallis, a Canadian engineer who, along with his brother, inherited the family’s ancestral olive farm in Greece a few years ago. Traveling to Greece to check out the land, they learned that cold-pressed doesn't really mean cold-pressed at all; that it’s as meaningful as someone labeling their product as "natural.” So-called cold-pressed olive oil is processed somewhere between 20-30 degrees Celsius. Realizing there was this thing that wasn't being done anywhere – truly raw olive oil, processed at near zero temperatures, or what Theo coined ice-pressed – they decided they were going to figure out a way to do it, so Theo quit his job and went for it. Within 3 years, they had a method established, the business was off the ground and quickly gathering momentum in Toronto and other cities where there is a healthy appetite for innovative food products like this one.

Semini, Editorial Intern: Chocosol – rich and delicious chocolate that kept me going the whole weekend – and the large scale map of Ontario and the Greenbelt. You truly get a different perspective seeing the big picture.

Anežka, Graphics & Production Coordinator: Riding the Zümaround! (Unfortunately, we do not have a photo of Anežka on the Zümaround.)

Emily, Associate Web Editor: We had a good time in the EcoParent Village – it was awesome to hear stories from my partner Dan about the other kids and toddlers who played with Dewi (our 5.5 month old) throughout the day. It was great that there was a place for her to roll around in the kids area, and the designated diaper changing room was a lot easier to navigate than setting up in a bathroom!

I also really enjoyed being at our booth! Last year I was a little more apprehensive since I was an intern and didn't know if I'd be staying on with A\J, plus I tend to find selling products a bit awkward. But it was much easier this year to try and win people over and buy into the magazine – it was great to see how many people still bought copies after sadly learning that we couldn't give them away for free.

David, Business Manager: Watching 12-year-old Ta’Kaiya Blaney and Sarah Harmer in reciprocal awe of each other at the Saturday night Victories Celebration.

Laura, Web Editor: Two of my favourite discoveries were Purethanks, who make adorable plantable party favours, and eco|stems, a sustainable flower shop. Fresh City Farms, which offers city-farmed produce in a food box program with bicycle delivery, is doing something really cool and important. I’m also loving my completely detergent-free SmartKlean laundry ball! I’ve been eyeing them at events for years and finally took the plunge – it seems to be working so far!

 

The eco|stems booth. Photo by Semini Pathberiya.

 

Other than Gordie’s quirky stage show, one of my favourite experiences was chatting with network spinal analysis (NSA) chiropractors and learning about how tension along different points of your spine affects other, specific, areas of your body.

I’m also pretty excited about Step Forward Paper, which uses wheat production leftovers from Manitoba farms to create high-quality, tree-free paper – and is supported by actor Woody Harrelson.

Emma, ESAC Intern: Personally, my favourite part of the show was the food, coordinated by the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance. I love discovering new food and especially when it is local! In general I enjoyed the diversity of vendors. Sometimes when you go to shows like this, you see a lot of repeats but this time, for the most part, each booth was unique.

Julie, Academic Coordinator: I enjoyed meeting people involved in cycling advocacy – especially the crews from Momentum Mag, Bicycle Coffee Co and Cycle TO. They're doing some truly great work. And hanging out with the A\J gang is always a good time. I'm also looking forward to digging into my Five Brothers cheese.

Marcia, Publisher: My fave moment was when I came back from preparing for hosting that evening, a little bushed from the mad rush of press week and being in the midst of this really big Green Living Show that we love so much and always want to make the most of – and the A\J booth was rocking and rolling like I had never seen before. In one corner Gordie had a crowd of curious folk talking to him about his creations. Eric was skillfully organizing and preparing the booth stage to create the pop can heater with Gordie and GLS patrons. And over at the A\J tables were Emily, Julie and Laura engaged in their own animated conversations, introducing new folks to A\J.

Advice for eco-parents

Our good friends at EcoParent Magazine put on an excellent panel on raising greener kids. The wisdom shared by these educators and parents included Outward Bound Canada executive director Sarah Wiley’s advice to “start with yourself” – if your children don’t see you enjoying being outside, what’s to motivate them to get out there? EcoParent’s Sam Stedman agreed that constructing the outdoors as something “worthwhile” is a great way to get kids to follow your lead.

Ecotherapist Michelle Brans encouraged parents to seek out programming that fosters curiosity about the natural world, while Ryan Lindsay from the Toronto Waldorf School warned against too much (indoor) programming: a less scheduled life leaves more time to play freely outside – and that getting to know our neighbours can ease parents’ anxiety about letting kids play outside.

Lisa Borden from Borden Communications suggested food as a great place to start conversations about the environment: take them to the market, get them helping out in the kitchen and grow your own food at home – something most kids will love!

Didn’t make it to the show? You can still look up all the vendors online and check out our photo album on Facebook (you don’t even need an account!) to see more of our favourite discoveries.

Congratulations to the winner of our draw for a $500 RONA gift card, Thaia Jones! Stay tuned to the Sustainable A\J blog next week for our final Earth Month update and another giveaway!

Laura is a past A\J managing editor. She has an MA in Communication Studies from Wilfrid Laurier University, is an organizing aficionado, lackadaisical gardener, and former musical theatre producer. @inhabitings

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