Archive for July 2011

Tips for Green Summer Grilling

BBQ Grill Light Duty

Can’t go wrong with burgers and corn on the cob.

With the long weekend coming up, I’ll bet you’re thinking about doing some grilling.

While the occasional grilling marathon isn’t going to kill the environment, it would help if most of us followed tips that help preserve our planet. Just imagine how many grills will be fired up this weekend alone throughout most of Canada, and you’ll get the picture.

So, without further ado:

•    Ditch the charcoal. Many a grilling enthusiast maintains that charcoal makes food taste better. Right or wrong, there’s no denying the fact that propane and electric grills are cleaner than charcoal.  Or, if you have a sunny patio, you can also try a solar cooker.
•    …Or not. If you must have your charcoal fix, consider switching to regular lump charcoal, which is much cleaner than briquettes.
•    Switch from lighter fluid, which releases smog-forming VOCs, to a chimney starter.
•    Use natural products to clean your grill. Tests show some of these products can be as tough on grime as traditional cleaners, yet won’t leave any chemicals behind to leach into your next burger. Ask for brand recommendations at your local green store.
•    Set your picnic table with reusable dishware and silverware as well as cloth napkins. Or look for biodegradable or recycled-paper dinnerware, unbleached cups, and recycled-paper napkins.

Grilled Peaches

If you haven’t had grilled peaches, you’re missing out. Just coat them in melted butter, and sprinkle on some brown sugar with a pinch of salt before grilling.

Follow these tips and you’ll be grilling in the healthiest way possible, not just for the environment but also for you and your guests.

What Makes a Home Green?


The answer to this question is not as simple as you’d think. But I don’t want to bore you with details about international certifications and green technologies and agreements and so forth.

Instead, I’ll briefly discuss what makes a Mason Home green. We’ve worked very hard at coming up with what we think are the best ways to make our homes environmentally-friendly, and the result is our unique Green for Life program, which gives you a green, healthy home.

With our Green for Life program, you get:

1. Homes that are EnergyStar qualified. As you most likely know, EnergyStar is an international standard for energy efficiency that ensures a reduction in energy consumption of about 30%.

We achieve this through superior insulation, high-performance windows, and high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. The best part? Unlike many builders, our homes are EnergyStar qualified as a standard and not as an upgrade. We’ve very proud about this.

2. Green Communities. We always try to make sure our communities have ample neighbouring parks, as well as pedestrian-friendly streets and enough nearby resources to allow you to reduce car usage.

We also do our best to preserve the existing landscape as much as possible, and to plant native species that require less watering.

3. The best air quality. We offer high-quality air filters and heat recovery ventilation systems to improve indoor air quality, as well as low-VOC paints, sealants, and adhesives to reduce harmful gas emissions. You and your family deserve to breathe pure air.

4. Better water conservation. With our low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets, you’ll not only use less water, but also lower your water bill.

As always, I’m interested in your opinion. Leave a comment below or contact me on Twitter at @MasonHomes.

Live Green in Toronto this Saturday


Summer is the best time to be outdoors, and for its sixth year, the Live Green Toronto Festival will take place in the downtown core of Toronto, at the Yonge-Dundas Square this Saturday (July 16th) from 11am to 10pm.

This will be a great opportunity to head to the city, if you don’t live in Toronto! A greener way for you to get to the event is to park your car at the closest TTC parking lot and to take the subway down to Dundas Station, where the event is held.

You can expect to learn easy and practical ways to reduce energy use, water, and waste in your everyday life. You will also learn about how to be green while you live, travel, shop, eat, and play.

A portion of Yonge Street will be closed from Dundas St. to Queen St. on Saturday, where you will find tons of products and services to help you “green” your lifestyle. You can also learn about rebate programs and incentives offered by the government and the City of Toronto to help support green living necessities.

There will be food, live music and buskers to keep you entertained all day. Local acts such as Classified, Crash Test Dummies, Lowest of the Low, and Meagan Smith are scheduled to perform live this weekend.

Bring your old movies and music to take part in Swapsity’s Movie Music Eco-Swap. For full details on the event, please visit the website.

Follow @LiveGreenTO and tweet me #LGTOFest and keep me in the loop if you’re attending the event this weekend! If you learn some great new tips, please share!

Have a great weekend!

Staying Cool is Easy


A while back, I provided tips on prepping your home for the season, so you can stay cool in your home all summer. Today, I’m going to offer you more tips on keeping your body cool on a hot day without relying on an air-conditioner.

Turning on your a/c is easy, but it can be costly and drying on your skin—and don’t forget its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere!

So, how to stay cool: first of all, keep the heat out of your home by closing your curtains or blinds. Avoid turning on lights unnecessarily and give yourself an evening off from cooking on the stove, as these heat up your home quickly. Getting outside to BBQ is a great solution.

Now, on a really hot day, here are a few things you can do to stay cool:

  • Drink water. Lots of cold water will keep your body hydrated and you feeling happy and energetic.
  • Have a shower or a swim. Jump in a nice cool pool or just rinse off in a cold shower to keep cool.
  • Eat cold fruits and cold meals. Have a watermelon or a nice glass of lemonade, as both are good sources of vitamin C and can keep you feeling cool and refreshed.
  • Enjoy frozen treats. Have a Popsicle, ice cream or your favourite frozen treat.
  • Try minty or menthol products. A hint of mint in your drink is always refreshing. You can also use peppermint lotion or soap, or a minty powder to cool your skin and body.
  • Get an ice pack. Placing an ice pack on your wrists cools the blood in your veins and instantly makes you feel cooler.
  • Invest in a portable fan. Use a portable fan to keep you cool and comfortable.
  • Plant trees. It’s good to plant trees on both (east and west) sides of your home, so your house is kept in the shade, blocked from the sun’s heat.

Got any other solutions that I haven’t mentioned here that work for you? Post your stay-cool tips in the comment box below or tweet me @MasonHomes!

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