Garbage Free 3rd Birthday Party Part One

We did it! We celebrated Aurora’s b-day garbage free (or pretty close).
Aurora and I made invites, mostly out of new materials but there were some pieces of paper and cardboard from nylon and naan bread packages. We included a note about trying to be garbage free to curb packaged gifts and wrapping paper. Another way to do it is to simply ask for no gifts, but we love presents so we couldn’t do that!
Kyle made the cake, getting ingredients in bulk.
I made buns and provided a simple sandwich and veggie with hummus supper (with help from some friends-thank you!) Drinks were iced tea (home made), water and coffee (for adults).
Her gift from us was tap shoes second hand from Kijiji and recycled drawing paper, wrapped in a cloth reusable bag. I’ll post pictures of those in part two. Instead of loot bags I made little animal party hats out of felt for everyone to take home. It was a bigger project than I had hoped and of course I started late, and my sewing machine (the new one) refused to work, so my mom was employed as slave labour to hand sew.
I have to be honest and say that it was really hard work and a few times it crossed my mind how easy buying convenience food would be, but alas I persevered;) Everyone had fun and it was a guilt free party.
We also had face painting, which wasn’t entirely garbage free because the box of Snazaroo face paints came wrapped in plastic. I did most of it, but I also had some help from my friend Jill.
At the end of the photo gallery, I’ve included pictures of a felt board we made for another friend who was turning 3. Hand-made items tend to produce less trash because they don’t have packaging. This project is also a great one for using up small scraps, as are the animal hats. I’ll have to do another post with recipes and photos of the food and at least our gift.



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It’s getting to be my favorite time of year in Ontario- harvest season. The easiest time to eat a lot of delicious food with no packaging!
Mom and Dad, if you are reading brace yourself….. yesterday at the market I bought some really yummy Brussle sprouts! I’m not kidding. Last year I discovered I really liked them fried in butter and garlic with lemon juice, and today I had them with olive oil and garlic and lemon juice. They were very yummy (though the butter was definitely the winner).
Tonight/s supper was
Oven roasted acorn squash, mashed and mixed with butter, salt and pepper for Kyle and mashed and mixed with butter and maple syrup for the girl and I.
Brussle Sprouts, as mentioned above
Mashed Potatoes (cloud fluff)
Lentil Loaf
AND my new favorite which does have packaging but it can all be recycled or composted (don’t worry we don’t get them often…just as a special treat because to me they taste like a little bit of heaven)…..
Tofutti Key Lime cuties (non dairy ice cream sandwiches)
I will try to post soon about garbage free kids birthday parties as we are currently making invitations for one.

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The Clean Bin Project

I wish I had blogged about this sooner, but I didn’t and there’s nothing I can do about it except blog now. These people are doing a very similar project to ours except they are also actually accomplishing all the things I wish I had. To give us some credit, Kyle and I had a baby almost as soon as we finished the project so we have a good excuse, but I still wish I had gotten further with writing the book. Anyhow the project I am telling you about it called the Green Bin Project. Go see the movie if you can or at least check out the blog. The cinematography is so beautiful it made me cry. Yes I cry during Mormon commercials and kid’s plays and various concerts, but still, it’s great. Plus they are active so you don’t have to sit around waiting for me to blog every month or two!


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Playing Chicken

In the past few years I have become obsessed with real food. Gone are the days of Flakey’s and Jolt. I am now a hip mama shopping at farmers markets and making as much as I can from scratch. I am fascinated by growing food, even though I am just learning to garden (unless you count potted herbs). I was really excited when I found Path to Freedom and I even blogged about it. I also found an awesome bed and breakfast in Kitchener that grows their own food and has their own hens.
Finally, we have reached THE POINT of this post. There are a lot of awesome people in Kingston trying to legalize backyard hens. It seems that it is really going to happen, and because that is so exciting and important to me, I want to make sure that it does. So, if you are in Kingston, go to the meetings, sign the petitions etc. And if you are not, then at least read THIS…unless you’re chicken…brooock brooack.
And just in case you are too lazy (or busy or what ever) to go to the link, here’s some of it:
Benefits of Backyard Hens

Affordable Food:

The cost eggs for backyard hens are between $1-$3/dozen depending on the season and the amount of kitchen scraps supplementing purchased feed. Cost also depends on if the feed is organic, and upon the size and breed hen. A final variable is what type of bedding is used and how it is procured (straw, wood shavings, etc). (info sourced from forums on, accessed April 9th, 2010)

According to a 2005 study of grade 5 students in Nova Scotia, 73.7% of the children did not meet the minimum recommendations of Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating for meat and alternatives (eggs) ( accessed April 9, 2010).

Accessible Food:

True free range eggs are only available at the farm gate of a farmer whose operation you can see. If people want to buy farm fresh free range eggs, they need a car, and will have to pay at least $4/dozen. Those who keep hens in backyards can easily be car-free and receive delivery of bags of feed. Carless people can buy free range eggs at upmarket stores for $4-$6/dozen, but are they really free range? According to the Chicken Farmers of Canada, “The term has not been legally defined in either Canada or the U.S” ( April 9th, 2010).

Reduced Solid Waste:

Those who wish to can enhance their food-waste-food cycle at home. Composted hen manure provides an excellent source of garden fertilizer: higher in N-P-K, phosphorus, and calcium than any other animal (Rodale Guide to Composting).

There is no hard data on how much of an impact allowing backyard hens would have on Kingston’s solid waste volume: we expect a small but measurable (on a household level) reduction in waste. Mouscron, a small city in Belgium has twice distributed laying hens to willing residents, as part of a multi-faceted campaign to reduce waste (, accessed April 9th 2010).

A Community-Building Food Source:

There are a variety of ways in which hens build community. In almost all cities that allow hens, there are henning societies that provide knowledge-sharing venues on-line and in groups. They often form buying clubs to secure better pricing and delivery arrangements. Like dog-owners, henners like to get together and talk shop.


Children will see where their food comes from and have the chance to eat healthy, ethical food.

A Sustainable pet:

Many owners report taking delight in the behavior and character of their hens. Most continue to care for them when they stop laying after around five years (they might still live another two years). Eight hens would weigh about half of a Labrador retriever, the most popular pet in North America. Eight hens would produce about 240g/day of feces, all of which can be used to make excellent fertilizer (;jsessionid=3F5C48821BFEF99A572D92B6FD803481.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=606984 accessed April 9th, 2010). A typical dog produces about 340g/day of feces that must be landfilled (…/dogwastecomposting2.pdf accessed April 9th, 2010).

Humane Food:

Backyard hens allow people to detach from the industrial-egg machine. It is not feasible for most to go to a farm in the countryside each week, and the claims that free-range supermarket eggs come from hens with good lives are overstated. They are not in cages, but still live 20,000 to a barn, and though there is an open door in their barn, they never go outside.

An April 7, 2010 video from the Humane Society of the US which depicts the typical treatment of conventionally raised egg laying hens :

Canada has 25 million hens are kept in battery cages:

Food of High Quality:

There can be no substitute for a fresh egg that comes from a healthy hen eating a variety of green leafy matter. The yolks are bright yellow/orange and are much better for cooking and baking.

Healthy Food:

Eggs are a good source of dietary protein (Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating). There is a small but building body of evidence showing that pastured free-range hens that eat a variety of leafy greens (ie grass and carrot tops) are more healthy than barn-raised free-range eggs organic or otherwise. Aside from being free of pesticides and antibiotics, pastured poultry eggs have:

• 1⁄3 less cholesterol
• 1⁄4 less saturated fat
• 2⁄3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene

( accessed April 9, 2010).
Animal Rescue

Unlike other pets, which can be bought on impulse because they look cute and are kept indoors, hens require significant input of time and money before they can be brought home. Coops cost upwards of $500 and must be delivered, and home construction is more time-consuming and can not likely be done for less than $200. Furthermore, hens are usually ordered, also requiring forethought.

We are taking steps to ensure that anyone who hens will be prepared and informed of best management practices. Based on this and the experiences of other communities, there seems no reason to anticipate a problem of abandoned hens.

Already there are henners in Kingston raising hens rescued from slaughter at local egg farms. We expect that there would be willing adopters for any hens that are abandoned.

Local veterinarians have expressed a capability to offer full service to hens: treatment, euthanizing, disposal.


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Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Yesterday Aurora and I made granola bars from the site I recommended, but I altered the recipe (for no bake granola bars) so much that I thought I better post it as we made it. It’s not totally garbage free because we used ground up rice cakes, and the rice cakes come in plastic. You could use any sort of cereal, purchased in bulk-I Just used what we had.They stir together in just a few minutes and require no baking.
• 1 cup peanut butter
• 1 cup honey
• 3/4 cup chopped peanuts
• 1 cup peanut butter
• 3 cups crushed (in food processor)rice cakes
• 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
• 1/3 cup oats flakes

1. Lightly coat a 13×9-inch pan with oil
2. In a large saucepan, heat pb and honey over low heat until bubbles begin to form.
3. Quickly stir in everything else.
4. When the mixture is cool enough to handle, press into the prepared pan and cool completely.
5. Cut bars into desired size and shape and wrap pan tightly ( I actually just threw a reused bag over top and that worked).

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Chitter Chatter Let’s get at’er

OK I have a few minutes to update you on what I’ve been doing, and I have no idea where to start!
As you know from the last post, I just gave a talk at St.Lawrence College. It went fairly well but there was a lot I wished I had said so perhaps I’ll start there. I wish I had talked about:
Plastic bags– how they reproduce like bunnies
-how we try really hard to get rid of them by bringing are own cotton produce bags but still have none
-we know it’s unhealthy but we do wash and reuse them until they are gross or broken and then recycle them, though I’m not positive if they actually get recycled once they are all cloudy and yellowed.
Household Cleaners
I have a big post on this somewhere in the past but it has changed somewhat since moving to Kingston. We have a hard time finding Borax we like here so we clean with Vinegar and Baking Soda almost solely. We also use Hydrogen Peroxide Bleach for somethings. We can no longer get theses products in bulk (except if we go to Toronto), so we get the largest containers possible and then reuse or recycle them.
I can’t actually remember what else I wish I had said, but no I remember some things I want to say to you.
Our garden isn’t doing very well, but we are buying local organic, package free produce at the Kingston Farmers Market (the oldest active Market in Canada).
We had a little break from worrying about garbage at all, and got a lot of prepackaged goods. I am now making our own granola bars to try and get out of that cycle.The recipes I have tried are from best ever cookie collection.
One of the reasons I haven’t posted in forever is that I have been busy sewing and making home made body products for my business Hip Hip Horrah. There are interesting challenges with packaging now that I am making things to sell. Mason jars are awesome because they only come in a cardboard box, whihc I can reuse to transport my product. I need smaller sizes than they offer though, so I order smaller glass containers from New Directions Aromatics. Every lid has a Styrofoam part inside that needs to stay there fro the container to shut properly. Plus they all come in plastic and bubble wrap. The bubble wrap we reuse for paintings, packing or play, but the plastic is trash. I put a deposit into my prices which I return if the container comes back to me, but only a few people seem to use that system. If anyone has suggestions on how I can eliminate waste and still sell my product, my ears are open.
We now have an air conditioner, which we were quite torn about but it means we can now function and eat. We cook again, so we buy less packaged goods. We are saving water by not taking constant baths and showers to cool down, and we use it as little as possible.
And as a closing note, yesterday I asked my 2 year old to please open the door and move a bit so I could get out of the room, and she said ” No I can’t because it’s a waste of water.” LOL so apparently we are raising her to tread lightly on the earth, even if she is a bit mixed up about it right now.


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I think I broke my own record for longest time between posts. I’m not going to even explain myself, or make excuses but I will try to post about some of the things I have been doing, very soon.
On Monday I am speaking to a St.Lawrence College Sustainability Class. I was asked to write a bio and I thought I would post it here, just in case you have forgotten who I am and what I am about.
Sarah McGaughey is an artist and mother who only begrudgingly accepts the label environmentalist. She feels it is obvious and necessary to care for “the environment” and thinks only people that don’t should be labeled.
From a very young age, Sarah refused to use Styrofoam, started and joined reusing and recycling clubs and brought environmental and other activism into her art work, school work and social life. In 1999 she graduated with a degree in Fine Arts from the University of Regina and began working as an artist/activist in the mediums of performance and installation.
From 2004-2007, she and her husband embarked on an art in life project to not produce ANY garbage for 31 days consecutively. Because she started the clock back every time they obtained one piece of garbage (even if it was as small as a sticker on a piece of fruit), it took them years to achieve their goal. She and her husband, Kyle Glover had a weekly article in the Globe and Mail as well as interviews in various magazines (Glow, Today’s Parent, Modern Babies and Children, Urbanite, Organic Earth). They also appeared on several Canadian TV and radio shows (Canada AM, the Gill Deacon Show, News Talk, The Paula and Carole Mott Show, The National, Toronto Living, the Hour), and in schools and community centers to explain what they were doing and what the average person could do to make a change in garbage production.
She stresses that this project was an Art in Life project, rather than an environmental project because some of the choices they made in order to produce zero garbage were not necessarily the most ecologically sound ones.
She is now focusing on being ecologically sound in her family life and home, as a whole. Her three person family throws out approximately one small grocery bag of garbage every 3 weeks.

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