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What We Loved (And Didn’t) at the Green Living Show

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Strolling though the indoor garden at The Green Living Show.


Torontoist visited The Green Living Show this weekend, and among the organic food sampling and catching glimpses of Colin Firth, here are eight things we really loved—and one we weren’t really over the moon about.

We Loved…

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E-Bikes
Quite a few of these convenient little beauties were posing at the show and they seem like a great option for an urban or commuter eco-phile who loves moving at a thirty-two kilometres per hour limit. These bike/scooters run on electricity and power up by plugging into your average socket overnight, only cost about a dime per charge (!), and are good for about three- to four-hundred charges. They’re handy for zipping between annoying taxi drivers and aren’t that expensive either, topping out at about twenty-five hundred dollars. Motorino, Zero Motorcycles and Mobility Unlimited were there showing off their eco-wheels.
Birds & Beans
North American songbirds that fly south for the winter often end up in South America, but clear-cutting and deforestation for the purpose of maximizing industrial enterprise are leaving these birdies homeless. As coffee is a naturally shade-loving plant, it could happily grow under the canopy of trees that could, in turn, provide ample habitat for the birds. Birds & Beans sells Bird Friendly® coffee and chocolate at their Lake Shore café or their online shop.
Bio-wine
The Green Living Show hosted Canada’s first eco-friendly wine tasting exposition with a smattering of organic and sustainable wines from around the world, like Collefrisio from Italy and Stratus from Canada. Many of the wines are also biodynamic, a process reached through a particular organic agricultural method. Most labels can be found at the LCBO and start at about fifteen dollars.
Rain Barrels
Catching storm water runoff in a barrel to use to water your garden or wash your car is not necessarily a new or sexy green idea, but it’s one that bears repeating. It reduces the demand on the municipal water system, especially during lawn-thirsty summer months, and can really cut down your water bill. Riversides.org was at the show displaying their barrels, which are made out of recycled material and sell for about two-hundred-and-fifty to three-hundred dollars each. Riversides claim it takes about forty-five seconds to install one of their units, so, if you’ve got the space for barrel and have a green thumb, it’s really worthwhile. Check out this Canadian Gardening article for other options.
Milk Paint
That’s right, paint made out of milk. And it’s not just a fluffy hippie idea, it really does work. Homestead House Paint Company is the only Canadian manufacturer creating this calcium-caseinate mixture made of just milk protein, lime (the calcium, not the drink garnish), and natural pigments. The first mixture of this kind of paint was used about six thousand years ago—it’s even been found in some early cave paintings! The product claims to “never chip or peel” and can be used for exterior or interior applications. Five pounds worth of paint costs about thirty-seven dollars.

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Olympian Clara Hughes loves the green life.


Clara Hughes
The world-class Canadian cyclist and speed skater (and the only person to have won multiple medals in both the Summer and Winter Olympics!) spoke about lessons learned as an athlete and the importance of living a green lifestyle. She probably got a hand cramp from signing all those autographs, but that big smile on her face never showed it. Classy gal.
Meatless Monday
The Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) has recently hopped on board with Meatless Monday, an international campaign to encourage non-vegetarians to go meatless one day a week as a way of doing something small to combat climate change. Eating meat is not considered to be a very environmentally friendly practice: the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization has called the meat industry “one of the most significant contributors to the world’s environmental problems” and a 2006 United Nations report found that the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than all the SUVs, cars, trucks, planes, and ships in the world combined. If you sign-up at meatlessmonday.ca, they’ll even send you recipes every Monday so you’re never stumped for dinner ideas.

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HD Threshing Floor Furniture’s recovered barn wood.


Barn Floor Furniture
If you’ve driven around Southwestern Ontario, you’ve probably seen the majestic and crumbling barns of yore rotting beautifully in the middle of fields. HD Threshing Floor Furniture has reclaimed some of the mostly pine and hemlock wood to create tables, benches, wall units, and other customizable pieces. The tables they displayed at the Green Living Show look like long highways of worn wood, and are really something special. The rep sees Torontoist eyeing up his wares and assures us that the pieces are built to last: “It’ll be the last table you buy in your lifetime,” he says with a grin. A finished table starts at $2,200, a finished bench at $750.
EcoSex
With organic-everything-else in the world, why not sex toys, too? Ecosex.ca sells organic, chemical-free lubes blended with aloe vera and vitamin E so that you can moisturize during adult play time, checking off two things on your to-do list at once. They’ve also got soy-based candles that melt to produce hot massage oil and Phthalate-free dildos made of Pyrex glass or wood (with a no-splinter guarantee). But our favourite product was the Lelo Mia, a lipstick-sized vibe that charges via your USB port. That’s right, you can charge it on your laptop and everyone will think it’s a memory stick. The technology-sex future has arrived.

We Didn’t…

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Green cars still aren’t the greenest option.


The Canadian Automobile Association
The Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) had a booth extolling the enviro virtues of carpooling, choosing EcoPower engine oil, and recycling old car batteries (CAA Autogreen promises to plant a tree on your behalf if you do), but, if you ask Torontoist, an auto association and a green living show are strange bedfellows. Last week, a CAA representative was the only member of the public to speak out against the University Avenue bike lanes. The association also regularly lobbies in the interest of car owners, siphoning potential resources away from urban planning and public transit.
When asked about the appropriateness of their attendance, they stuck firm to the idea of “balance” and that it was unrealistic to think that everyone would retire their cars. “We’re a car company,” their representative said while gesturing to the cars on display. “We strive for green solutions that include cars.” The CAA have also begun Bike Assist, roadside assistance for CAA card-carrying cyclists—or so they say: the www.caasco.com/bikeassist URL found on a pamphlet they gave us appears to be a dud.
All photos by Nick Kozak/Torontoist.

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