Archive for the ‘Fun’ category

Can a Green Lifestyle Make You Happier?

08/18/2011

Nature Mountains 19

Last week, I read a New York Times article written by a social scientist who moved to a cabin in the woods, joined by his wife, cats, and three boys. They don’t have power, hot water, a microwave, or a washing machine. Most shocking of all, they don’t even have a coffee maker.

Referring to the inconveniences that come with their new lifestyle, the writer explained that it takes them longer to heat leftovers, prepare drinking water (which must be boiled first) and wash the dishes.

That said, the writer seems very excited. His family doesn’t have to commute or inhale fumes. The kids in particular seem happier and have all but forgotten about YouTube and cell phones. Having taken up swimming, biking, exploring, and kayaking, the whole family feels tired at the end the day, although in a pleasant way.

I’m not suggesting everyone move to a cabin in the woods. That’s neither realistic nor enjoyable. For example, as some of the article readers point out in the comments section, the author’s idyllic retreat may not turn out to be so great once winter arrives, what with water pipes freezing and ice covering the windows and the walls.

Nevertheless, the article raises two valid points. First, most of us have grown too dependent on modern amenities. Second, reducing the intensity of this connection will not only make us “green,” but also happier and connected to nature.

I have written before about the importance of making “green” convenient and affordable. Yet we shouldn’t forget the ability of a green lifestyle to make you happier. Here are some ways to achieve this:

1. Press the “off” button. Go for a hike rather than watch TV or sit down at your computer. No need to wear hiking gear or shoes. Your local park will do.

    Green Benefit: Decreased power consumption.

    Well-being Benefit: Nothing beats stress like breathing in fresh air amid trees and plants.

2. Reconnect with food. We often forget about the pleasures of cooking. Ignore precooked meals and buy the best quality ingredients you can find (organic if possible, or from a local farm).

    Green Benefit: Less pollution from local food, which doesn’t need to be transported from far away. If you buy organic, this will result in fewer pesticides being used.

    Well-being Benefit: food will taste better. If you cook with your partner and kids, you will all relearn to derive pleasure from the most important task humans faced throughout most of our history.

3. Cancel your gym membership. We’ve come to believe that we must join a gym to be fit. But that’s not true. House chores can be a fantastic way of being active. So is shoveling snow. Consider taking up gardening and growing herbs and vegetables. Cut your grass with a manual lawnmower. Park further away from the office and walk to work, preferably someplace where you can encounter nature. Go for a sprint. Play with your kids as if you were a child yourself.

Green Benefit: no driving or commuting to a gym equals less pollution and less congestion (it also puts more money back in your pocket).

Well-being benefit: feeling tired at the end of the day because you were active beats feeling tired because you put 10k on a treadmill. Trust me on that one.

Do you have any suggestions to lead a green lifestyle that makes you happy?

A Green Way of Having Fun and Being Active

08/05/2011

Saving the planet one smile at a time.

You probably did it all the time when you were a kid. Not because it was green or because it was healthy. You did it because you enjoyed it.

Here’s what you did: you biked. And you had a blast doing it.

But when was the last time you did it? When was the last time you rode a bike downhill, the wind cooling your face? When was the last time you came back home tired and sweaty, yet happy, feeling like you’d earned the right to sit down a for a nice big meal?

Besides being lots of fun, the great thing about biking is that it also cuts down on pollution. Not to mention, it helps reduce your gasoline expenses.

These days, though, few people bike for fun anymore. Biking’s become a hobby for committed enthusiasts. They’re easy to recognize: they wear tight, bright Spandex clothes and special footwear and they ride expensive, aerodynamic bikes that make you hunch over curved handlebars.

All of which is fine, if you’re into that sort of thing. But if you want to bike for the hell of it, all the while knowing you’re helping your planet as well as your pocket, then get a commuter bike. (You can buy expensive Dutch models, but stores like Canadian Tire also sell commuter-style bikes with more reasonable price tags.)

Commuter bikes are designed so that you can sit in an upright, more comfortable position. They also typically have mudguards and a bell and a rack for you to carry stuff on.

In other words, they’re designed for life.

In Port Hope there are many biking trails. Just tomorrow there’s a group bike ride from Port Hope to Presqu’ile. The ride is categorized as smooth, low traffic, safe, and scenic. Biking in a group may not be as romantic or enjoyable as doing it with close friends, relatives, or your partner, but if you haven’t biked in a while, it’s a great way to get the hang of it again.

When was the last time you went on a bike ride?

Tips for Green Summer Grilling

07/29/2011
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.

Sunday with Your Dad!

06/22/2011

Father’s Day is this Sunday! If you’re a dad, like me, you’re probably looking forward to spending the day with your kids.

Now, if you’re looking for gifts or ideas on what you can do with your dad this Father’s Day, I have a few suggestions to help you out.

If buying a gift is a must, you should consider buying something that your dad will actually use, so it’s not being discarded after Father’s Day. Forget another tie or a book he won’t read, and consider gifts made locally and/or organically instead.

If your dad loves technology and gadgets, then shop for electronics that are energy saving or solar powered first. Find some cool gadgets that may interest your dad here.

A DIY gift can be a fun project for you, and dads love homemade gifts, so if you have time, give it a go! Need more gift ideas? Find them here.

Buying a gift can be difficult, especially for your old man. Sometimes, a gift is unnecessary, and all your dad really wants is some quality time with you. Here are some fun activity ideas you can do with your dad this weekend:

  • Visit a local farmers’ market and buy some food to grill on the BBQ with your dad on the Sunday afternoon.
  • Plan an afternoon of outdoor activities, like going for a bike ride, a hike, a game of Frisbee or if you’re like me, some street hockey.
  • Gardening can also be a fun activity, especially if your dad likes to garden. You can help him out with his lawn!

If you still need more ideas, you can check out these adventure getaway deals all over Ontario for Father’s Day weekend.

Whatever you do with your dad on Father’s Day, make it a fun time! Let me know how it goes.

Happy Father’s Day!

Parks Canada Marks A Hundred Years

05/20/2011

As summer is slowly approaching us, everyone is gearing up for outdoor activities. I recently dusted off my bike and pumped up my tires, getting into gear for the season. Now camping season is about to kick off, giving you even more reason to be outdoors enjoying nature!

This week, Parks Canada celebrates its centennial anniversary, which means we’ve had a hundred years of conservation, storytelling, and wowing visitors and residents alike with the amazing natural spaces we’re lucky to have all across Canada.

Parks Canada is the world’s first national parks service in the world (Go Canada!), and it currently protects 167 national historic sites, 42 national parks and 4 national marine conservation areas. To celebrate its 100th year anniversary, Parks Canada will be hosting events throughout the year, starting off this Saturday at the CN Tower in Toronto. If you’re closer to the Trent-Severn Waterway, like our homeowners at Avonlea in Peterborough, the historic site will be open as of this weekend as well, and check out their celebration, the Just Add Water festival, in Port Severn next weekend.

This season gives you the perfect opportunity to visit one of the 42 national parks and explore the wilderness wherever you are in the country. Get out your camping gear and make the most out of your summer this year!

Follow @ParksCanada on Twitter to get updates on events and tell CBC which Canadian park is your favourite, and you could be featured on their interactive map.

Score a Win for the Green Team!

04/21/2011

How’s your favourite hockey team doing? Watching the playoffs the other day, I got to thinking about things we can do to make our favourite sports a little greener.

Just a few little things can make a difference.

Spring and summer are the best seasons of the year to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking or biking, and the best thing you can do is keep an eye on where you’re going. If you stay away from areas that might have sensitive wildlife and plants, you’re already on the right track to doing some good for your environment. There are many trails across Ontario for you to enjoy, and you can find one near you here.

Spring and summer are the best seasons of the year to enjoy outdoor activities like hiking or biking, and the best thing you can do is keep an eye on where you’re going. If you stay away from areas that might have sensitive wildlife and plants, you’re already on the right track to doing some good for your environment. There are many trails across Ontario for you to enjoy, and you can find one near you here.

If you play hockey like I do and you’re thinking about buying new equipment, and your old stuff is still in good shape, why not donate it? You’d be saving it from a landfill and helping someone out along the way too. The flip side of that is buying your next set of great at a store like Play It Again Sports, where you can buy, sell, or trade your used equipment.

There are many other ways you can make your favourite sport or leisure activity a little greener. If you’re interested, please click here for other ideas. If you’ve got a great idea of your own, let me know! Leave a comment below, share it on Facebook or tweet me on Twitter.

Enjoy the playoffs. Go team!

Family Fun in Barrie

02/18/2011

It’s Family Day this Monday, Feb. 21st and I’m excited to spend some time with my family this long weekend. What do you have planned with your family?

On Saturday, February 19th, our friends at the Canadian National Home Builders’ Association are holding the 6th Annual Ice Fishing Tournament at Kempenfelt Bay in downtown Barrie. This will be a great family event, like every year, with over $50,000 in prizes to be won at the tournament!

Register for the tournament here.

Barrie has many great things to offer. You can spend the rest of your weekend shopping, dining out, or enjoying other outdoor activities (like snowmobiling, tobogganing, or snow tubing). Barrie is a friendly town, and JUST4U has been receiving a very warm welcome. We’re having a special event next Saturday, so be sure to visit then as well!

Have a happy family weekend, everyone! Hope you get to spend some quality time with your family or your loved ones this weekend.


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