Going green isn’t just a trend, it’s a way of life. It’s easy, it’s attainable, and it’s cost effective, but it isn’t always easy to get motivated (especially in today’s quick and easy delivered-to-your-door lifestyle). We’ve all heard about going green at home, but taking that to the office or the lake is another story.
“You do have to do a bit of planning ahead,” explains Sherry Sobey, owner of Generation Green in the Exchange (home of ethically minded and sourced food and lifestyle products). “Once you do it and you see the difference and the savings. Winnipeggers are cheap, we like a bargain.”
Those savings come after doing some research, and may require a few bucks up front, but it’s worth it in the end. But before you go tossing your products and investing full-on, we’ll take some baby lifestyle steps into the shallow end of the green pool.
“I see people come in and say they’re giving up plastic all together. Woah,” Sobey says with a cautious laugh. “If you have that all-or-nothing thinking you’re gonna fail at it. Your expectations are too high. It’s not realistic when you’re first starting out, it’s about making habits. Get into the habit of taking a bag with you, bringing a cup with you, reusable produce bags. It’s a snowball, that’s how it started for me. This doesn’t happen overnight.”
The business owner, who also runs the Acorn Cafe out of Generation Green (located at 433 Main Street) believes there are three building blocks to getting started: What you’re putting in your body, on your body, and around your body.
“Once you start with one and you see how easy it was to get through that one, then you go to the next one,” she says. “Usually a lot of people start with cosmetics because they’re replacing the things that they’re using. It took me forever to find a vegan refillable dental floss, things are not easy to find a lot of the time. It’s overwhelming to think about.”
Overwhelming for sure, which is why, in this “treat yo’ self” world, people are all for the easy way out. Sobey is quick to note that there are ways to educate yourself in an easy out lifestyle, too.
“We’re self centred when we just like something or want something, but there are safe ways to treat yourself, too!” Sobey says. “You’ve gotta do your research on this. Environmental Working Group is a great reference for people who are looking for a database for ingredients and products, to see the known hazards and the effects of those chemicals.
“If you love this convenience so much, research it. Become your own advocate, especially when it comes to health.”
It’s not just your own health, but your family’s as well. Sobey mentions how people buying for their children and parents all frequent her shop.
“A lot of millennials are coming in to shop for their parents, to get them to make changes. It’s a bit of a generation thing, where they’re having to teach now. This generation is conscious of it, and they want a future,” she says. With infants, there are plenty of ways to start them off on the right foot (and make your own life easier in the process).
“Reusable diapers have come a long way,” she says, holding up an award-winning cloth diaper called AMP, named for its creator, Annie Marie Padorie. “This gal who makes these is local and has seven babies. These are birth to potty with moveable snaps and are virtually leak proof. This is the only one you’ll need.
“A lot of people start making changes when they have kids, because parents won’t compromise when it comes to the health of their children.”
Whether you’re taking your family out to your own cabin or a friend’s over the long weekend, you’ll need to be mindful of what you bring and how you use it. From beer to sunblock, Sobey has some guidance. She recommends visiting Little Brown Jug to fill up a growler or two, which is a much more attractive and economical way of bringing beer to the lake.
“You have to think about what you’re gonna be putting down into the lake water,” she notes, mentioning that things like body washes with microbeads are just as bad for the fish as for the septic tank. “What do you have on you for sunscreens? When you’re going to the cottage you want septic tank safe products, whether that’s your dish soap or body wash.”
You can also pick up some reusable straws, cutlery, and glass takeout containers to help bring those leftovers home (and to work for lunch).
Speaking of your workplace, Sobey encourages all offices to get on the compost train, and to find a drop off location or enlist a service like Compost Winnipeg.
“There is a responsibility when it comes to business owners and waste,” she says. “One neat thing you can do is use a compost collector in your office. Just be mindful of the amount of waste you’re using. Go paperless if you can, however you can. A coffee cup is a very easy thing to bring to work with you.”
It’s in all of us to get green, for ourselves and the community we’re in. If people around you aren’t already on board, build it and they will come. That’s what Sobey did.
“I love coming here everyday, I love seeing my customers. I make sure I’m in the store every afternoon, it’s so important to be in touch with people. I’ve been known to go in and do dishes, too. I have the best team, I have a bunch of people who care about what they do, they’re passionate,” Sobey says. “Anything that’s about community and living our best lives is what we’re all about.”