Late Night Rambling

14 10 2007

It’s late, for me at least. I like to be in bed by 9pm  but I’ve been catching up on weeks of chores and administration that I let slide while business and visiting family (and dog) held high spots on the priority list. It’s been so long since I’ve posted that I was inspired while folding my laundry. (Anything to take a break from that).

Today, as I ran errands, I was faced with a litany of contradictions. I was excited (yes excited) to be purchasing a compact fluorescent light bulb for my reading light. They have smaller bulbs now (maybe you knew that) that can fit smaller lighting devices so I was happy to say goodbye to the last incandescent bulb in my house. The problem? The stupid thing had more packaging than a 40 inch flat screen TV. What’s a well intentioned person to do?

Then I headed on over to Capers to buy some soy votives. Having recently researched the evils of regular candles (see my article in November’s issue of Granville Magazine) I was keen to switch to the lavender scented natural candles that I had seen there the other week. Oh the packaging sang to me – all natural, burns longer, no petroleum. But wait…..was that a plastic container for the votive??? It didn’t make sense to tout the benefits of a petroleum free product and then case the damn thing in plastic.

Bag-less (because I stupidly forgot mine) I was now walking down the street balancing a handful of things when I was sucked into a clothing store (I was powerless, I swear). I have recently begun working with a great client that involves some corporate attire (god help me) and my closet filled with Oqoqo and jeans just wasn’t cutting it. I guiltily purchased some non-natural fabric shirts and one wool one (to ease the guilt) and realized that….horror of all horrors….I would need a bag!!! A freakin plastic bag!!!

I’m usually so anal about plastic bags taking care to shoot evil (but subtle) glances to those in front of me at the super market who ask for a bag for their smarties as I hold my hemp bag at eye level. But this time I was that person!

In that instant I became the soy votive cased in plastic and the compact fluorescent in too much packaging and as I sheepishly tucked the bag under my arm (I was too embarrassed to carry it and somehow thought it might fit nicely into the fold of my armpit) I realized that we are all filled with good intentions and sometimes, even doing the best that we can do in the moment, isn’t always going to be the best ever and that is life.

Years ago there was no such thing as the soy candle or the commercial compact fluorescent and tomorrow we will see better casing and less packaging and an outright ban on plastic bags. Stay positive, passionate and empowered to make and lobby for change. We’re not there yet – but there’s good evidence that we’re trying and that’s a good thing.

A Workshop Worth Considering

24 09 2007

Greenprint Events Operations Consultant extraordinaire, Chris Hajek, has organized this education workshop for teachers:

Humane Education Workshop
Sowing Seeds by the Institute for Humane Education
October 19 & 20, 2007
Friday 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Location: Society Promoting Environmental Conservation, 2150 Maple Street, Vancouver, BC  V6J 3T3
To Register:

Through a special grant from the Vancouver Foundation a limited number of scholarships are available to eligible teachers.  For more info on how to apply email:

Sowing Seeds is a 2-day training workshop designed to teach you how to offer empowering, effective, and transformative humane education programs. You’ll learn how to provide people with the insight they need to make truly informed choices that help create a humane world.
For more information about the Institute for Humane Education visit

The Vancouver Humane Society

EarthSave Canada

Event details arranged by: Greenprint Events (

Where to find inexpensive rentals?

29 08 2007

Dear Emily,

Is there a non-profit organization that rents dishes? I just planned and hosted a very large party for my father’s 60th birthday. I was determined NOT to use disposable plates and utensils, but I could only find catering companies that rent dishes, and their cost becomes prohibitive very quickly as the number of diners climbs. I had to settle for compostable plates, but they are not very attractive and I would rather find a low-cost ceramic solution for future big events. Paul

Dear Paul,

Good question – you got my thinking cap on. I’ve never come across any non-profit rental places and in poking around on the internet I couldn’t find any there. I know that if you are a non-profit that you can negotiate better rates….but that’s not your question.

I took a look at the top 3 rental facilities in Vancouver and found plates for around 40cents per plate. With 200 people that comes to around $80 which isn’t that bad but hey, it’s still money. After some more digging I came across a chat room and uncovered a very resourceful idea; Many churches and community centers stock plates and flatware as part of their inventory. It’s definitely worth the approach to see if they might be willing to rent them to you at a low cost or to lend them to you in exchange for a small donation. It’s also worth chatting with a local, neighbourhood restaurant who might be a little slow and looking for the extra revenue in exchange for payment and promotion of their restaurant (give out coupons to all of your guests). Heck – if you have a big party it’s not a bad way for them to get some word of mouth advertising to people in the community.

I hope those suggestions help Paul. And while compostable isn’t sexy, getting the message out to your guests about why you chose the specific plate wear that you did goes a long way. Kudos to you for choosing to invite the environment to your Dad’s party.

Launching ‘Dear Emily’.

28 08 2007

Finally a chance to write after wrapping up the 11th Hour Premier and Party which was an absolute treat to work on. I’ll be giving you the low-down on all of the green elements that I included in the event very soon.

In the meantime, I’d like to thank all of the new visitors to the site. I went to my traffic log the other day and holy lily……traffic has increased by like, 100%! So I had a minor stroke of brilliance (or maybe just a pang from having a few too many beers last night – local beers of course) and was thinking that it’s time to lauch ‘Dear Emily’.

For all of you being tormented by that pressing ‘green entertaining’ question such as, ‘Where can I source Soy Candles?’, ‘What kind of eco-gifts can I buy for my cousin’s baby shower’ and ‘Where can I find a stylish yet eco-friendly outfit to rock out in?’ I am your trusted advisor. Email me at and I will post your question and my answer as soon as humanely possible.

The 11th Hour

23 08 2007

Today is the Canadian Premier for Leonardo DiCaprio’s new film, The 11th Hour – sponsored by Forest Ethics and planned by yours truly. I am about to run out the door but I’ll post about all of the fun details soon (‘green’ carpet is all natural, gift bags are comprised of local green business goodies, volunteer t-shirts made from bamboo….)

The main point of this post though is to encourage you to see the movie! See it, see it, see it!!!!!!

And also to say that in my letter to Al Gore I credited him for being the single reason for my ‘eco-epiphany’. In actuality, it was building up before that as a result of being heavily influenced by somebody close to me. You know who you are so….thanks – I wouldn’t be here without you! (Now don’t let that go to your head ; )

Al Gore’s New Video Contest – WTF??!!

18 07 2007

Al Gore and Cameron Diaz launched a new video contest – ’60 Seconds to Save the Earth’, calling on people to submit videos on how they would battle climate change. Great concept right?

I was stunned to see the runner up prizing comprised of Sony TV’s and T Mobil Sidekicks! Exactly how do these things save the earth?! It’s actually quite the opposite. Anyway – geek of the world that I am, I wrote a letter to Al Gore today and thought I’d share it with you:

July 18, 2007

Dear Mr Gore,

First let me say, that like millions of other people, you are my personal hero. Your movie inspired me to drastically change my life, start a new business (sustainable event planning) and join an organization to help fight climate change. I credit you 100% for that.

I must say that I was supremely disappointed to see the list of runner up prizes for your new video contest. Sony TV’s and Sidekicks are products that are not produced from environmentally friendly materials, have a short life span and often end up in landfills. On average, mobile phones are replaced every three years. This type of prizing perpetuates the type of consumerism that is highly detrimental to our ecology and promotes an ideology that covets gadgets and high tech ‘disposables’ as items to be valued over the earth.

I would have been much happier to see environmentally inspired prizing, demonstrating that there are quality, high value items that are just as cool that won’t cost the earth. Surely there are hundreds of willing sponsors in the sustainable sector that have big enough budgets to attach to this venture.

Millions of people listen to you and are inspired to take action based on your actions. Please think organically the next time you venture into a noble contest like this one.

Regardless, you are still my inspiration and keep up the good work.

With warm regards,

Emily Murgatroyd

Vancouver, BC


Live Earth Pledge

5 07 2007


Unless you’ve been hiding out in the wilderness with no ability to communicate (sounds nice really) then you know about Al Gore’s Live Earth Concert happening this Saturday. With 8 major citites participating and 1000s of ‘Friends of Live Earth’ events taking place, the production will bring together millions around the world, uniting with one common goal – let’s save our planet already.

I love the level of awareness that this will continue to bring to the issue of global warming, I just sincerely hope that all festival and concert goers remember to act in a way that is mindful of the environment. As an event planner I have seen so much waste generated at events and even with the best of intentions, gatherings of this scale are bound to have some shortfalls.

So please – if you are going to an event on 07/07/07, think carefully about the transportation you choose to get there, the purchases that you make and what you leave behind. (If you are going to be in Vancouver, check out the Friend’s of Live Earth Global Habitat Festival at Robson Square.) And if you aren’t participating in any Live Earth events perhaps take 07/07/07 as an opportunity to be aware of your actions and their bearing on the environment.

For further action, take the Live Earth pledge and share it with everybody you know.

Sustainability at the Office

25 06 2007


Kemp Edwards doesn’t work in a particularly sustainable industry. He’s the International Sales Manager for Arson & Orb, a popular clothing company outfitting the style-conscious outdoor set, and they aren’t exactly using hemp in their manufacturing if you know what I mean. 

But after a steady simmer of environmental interest, Kemp’s awareness hit a personal tipping point and he decided that he wanted to start making a difference outside of his own personal habits. Understanding that he was somewhat limited in immediately affecting the overall practices in the manufacturing and shipping of the clothes he presided over, he decided to start from the inside, leading the environmental charge at Arson & Orb’s head office.  

Kemp started off with the basics including switching all of the light bulbs in the office to energy saver bulbs and mandating that all printing be done on both sides of the sheet as well as using the toner saver setting. With a few more policies in place, it didn’t take long before his coworkers started to buy in. “I have started to notice that people have begun turning off lights in rooms that aren’t in use, the fans are being turned off in the bathrooms rather than left to run all day, people are recycling more than ever, re-using sheets of paper that misprinted, not cranking up the heat and leaving the door open etc. Also, it doesn’t take long to see the cost benefits of a lot of these practices. Printing on both sides of the sheet, for example, basically halves your paper costs.”  

Kemp’s interest soon evolved into a sustainability committee which he now leads and has generated enthusiasm from senior management. What started out as an internal project has now flowed over into the business practices of the company. “We’ve mandated that all of the factories that we work with must use low density polyethylene polybags bags and our preference is for a minimum of 10% post consumer content. We’re also in the process of reducing packaging by half on all clothing shipments from Spring 08 onwards.”

Kemp says that this is just the beginning of sustainable practices for Arson&Orb. “The committee is more than a trend, it’s an avenue to start to drive more environmentally responsible decision making within the company. We understand that sustainability is not just a fad; it’s forward thinking.” 

Kemp’s passion proves that small changes on the office front can lead to bigger ones on the business front. Gil Yaron, Owner of, a sustainable office supply retailer has seen his business increase 700% since last year. He attributes a lot of this growth to the individual in the office who champions environmental sustainability. “It just takes that one person who is passionate about making changes. The trickle effect can turn into a tidal wave of change as office policies turn into business practices.” 

Kemp knows Arson & Orb has a long road ahead of them; “We are in no way leading the way in our environmental push, but we are committed to positive change. An unexpected bonus is the boost to staff morale and the overall feeling that we are moving in the right direction.” 

Here’s a full list of Kemp’s office initiatives that you can take to your own:  

  1. Switched over all light bulbs in the office to energy saver bulbs
  2. Replaced our warehouse lights to something more energy efficient
  3. Recycle all paper towel in the bathrooms
  4. We have greatly reduced paper consumption by mandating that all printing be done in duplex (both sides of the sheet) in black and white and on the toner saver setting.
  5. We have made a commitment to only purchasing environmentally friendly products whenever possible (ie: recycled paper towel, 7th generation cleaning products etc…)
  6. We have organized car pools and bike to work programs for our staff.  
  7. Implemented the “Lug-a-Mug” Challenge – a donation is required for every time you arrive to the office with a paper coffee cup. These donations will be used to purchase carbon offset ‘points’ at the end of the fiscal year.


Final Showcase Showdown.

6 06 2007

Did you know that Bob Barker taped his last installment of the Price is Right today? 83 year old Barker has been hosting the show for 35 years and for 35 years he’s been signing off with his trademark “help control the pet population; have your pets spayed or neutered.” But little did I know why. Turns out Bob is a vegetarian and at his request the PIR never advertised meat products and stopped giving away fur coats! In the day and age where celebrities are glorified for obscene spending, taking drugs or collecting DUI’s like stamps, it’s encouraging to see guys like Bob with values that influence a little goodness in the crazy world of Hollywood. Nice moves Bob! (And PS – I always wanted to play that game with the mountain goat that yodels.)

Cool! The 100 Mile Diet Author blogged my question!

5 06 2007


It is true – I am a blog geek and an enviro geek to boot. So when I read the 100 Mile Diet and emailed the authors a burning question I was richly rewarded with an answer! Yeah!

I’ve cut and paste the post but you can view the original plus the 100 mile blog here……………..

Mailbag: Distant Soy or 100-Mile Cow’s Milk?

JUNE 4, 2007–Emily wrote in with a tough puzzle, rather like having to figure out who would win a fight: a polar bear, a killer whale, a lion or a black mamba? There are a thousand variables to take into account, and it all depends on your environment. For instance, a killer whale beats a lion in the water, but on land? Not so much. Soy versus milk has its own difficulties.

Emily of Vancouver wrote:

I am a sustainable event planner and my mandate is to be as sustainable as possible but I’m stumped around the ecological footprint of milk vs. non-dairy alternatives. Which has the lesser footprint – local organic milk, or no-cow soymilk? I can’t find any information on whether the popular Canadian soy brands use Canadian soy beans in their manufacturing.

When I researched the possibility of eating soy for the 100-Mile Diet, I called a bunch of Vancouver tofu companies. All got their beans from Manitoba, Ontario or Quebec. I would suspect soy milk to be the same, but you would need to call these companies to find out. It’s unfortunately true that this type of information is not readily available. We’ll have to show them we care so they start to make that information public.

The ecological footprint issue does become tricky – if local, organically raised cows are grazing on natural pastures, in many ways that is a small ecological footprint – though complicated by whether or not that land could have been used to feed more people by growing other vegetable crops for direct human consumption.

Soy shipped from thousands of miles to the east has its own environmental costs – but if you are vegan for animal-rights reasons, that is not a moral stance I would seek to change. So, if you go for soy . . . just make sure it’s organic, and not GM (genetically modified). Canada was the world’s third-largest producer of GM crops in the world (though the main crop here is canola) in 2003, according to a University of Richmond study. As a starting point, Vancouver-based So Nice uses certified organic and non-GM soy.

You could always try growing your own beans! In the Union Square farmers market in New York, we saw soy products made locally from beans grown within 100 miles, and we were intensely jealous. In our region, Saltspring Seeds sells soy seeds, though I don’t know if they would work for milk purposes – I would recommend talking to the knowledgeable staff there. It would be interesting to experiment with seeds from eastern Canada or Japan. We can all be agricultural Robin Hoods – by helping to preserve natural heirloom seeds against the technological onslaught. -ADS