Volunteer Spotlight: Meaghan Paterson

Over the past few years we have been lucky enough to stumble across some amazing volunteers here at A Greener Future. They're the type that have passion for the environment, and motivation to keep working despite difficulty. In order to honour our valuable volunteers we're shining a spotlight on them and sharing their meaningful stories over the course of 2018. Introducing our first spectacular volunteer: Meaghan Paterson! (aka Maggie)

Over the past three years Meaghan has done a number of projects with A Greener Future. Most notably, coordinating the Butt Blitz in Barrie for two (soon to be three!) years in a row and collecting 26,290 cigarette butts to be recycled! "I get so emotionally involved, I find myself talking about it year round," says Maggie. If you're from the Barrie area be sure to join her at the Spirit Catcher on May 5th, 2018 to help her reach her butt picking goal.

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One of the most inspiring projects Meaghan has taken on with us was working with Rogers TV to produce the show Generation Green. "I learned so much and got to meet some amazing people. It was so much fun and something I never thought I would do," she says. If you have a rogers account you can stream all the shows through your account and see Meaghan in action!

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Meaghan's greatest environmental achievement comes in the form of the little things she does each day. It can be hard to change your everyday behaviour, but Meaghan has done just this bit by bit. "As I walk to work everyday I pick up litter as I go. Sometimes my hands are cold and I can barely carry all the Nestle and Coke bottles I find because there are so many on my seven minute walk. But if I don't do it who is going to? They'll still be there the next day."

Meaghan has also done litter cleanups with A Greener Future and supported their Zero Waste 101 program by purchasing zero waste products to use in her daily life. "I hope one day that we can all have more respect for the environment. I think that women will change the path we are on. They are the carriers of the future and care about their children's lives more than money or power."

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So why does Meaghan volunteer with us? She says the short answer is to make the world a better place. "It’s overwhelming with all the bad things that are going on out there, A Greener Future is a way that I can find some good energy locally. I do it for the future, and my baby niece," Meaghan explains. We're very happy to have Maggie as a volunteer, her time and energy is invaluable to us!

5 Ways to Reduce Your Waste Today

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Tuesday is our least favourite day of the week. For most that would be Monday – work begins and the weekend is nowhere in sight. Wednesday is another commonly disliked day. It’s not quite Monday, but the weekend still seems just as far away. To us, Monday and Wednesday are nothing compared to our dreaded Tuesday.

In our neighbourhood, Tuesday is garbage day. Cans filled to the brim line the street. More often than not, especially if there’s a strong wind, pieces of trash will be blown out of their bins and scatter on the ground. It’s the one day each week that we see how much waste we produce as a household.

At A Greener Future, we are constantly thinking of new ways to eliminate waste in our daily lives. What we’ve realized is, you don’t have to overthink it, you just have to plan it. Here are 5 simple tips you can use to reduce your waste today:

5. Use Reusable Containers

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This may seem like a simple one, but too many of us fall victim to the convenience of plastic wrap, tin foil, and plastic zip bags. While we admit there may be a bag or two in our cupboards for emergencies, using reusable lunch containers will keep your food just as fresh, and will minimize the amount of trash coming from your household on a day-to-day basis.

 

4. Don't Let Food Expire

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You may want to sit down for this one. Canadians waste $31 billion worth of food every year. Out of that giant pile of food, 47% is wasted in the home. That statistic is garbage! Literally. Just being mindful of the expiration dates of the food in your fridge can significantly reduce your waste. Meal planning is also a great way to ensure you only buy what you need. And hey, if that cucumber does go bad, just make sure you compost it so it doesn't end up wasting space in the landfill and the nutrients can be reused as soil.

 

3. Shop Second Hand

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Going shopping with a friend after work or school? Try shopping at a second hand store. Reusing items until the end of their life is a great way to reduce waste and keep stuff out of the landfill. You can save a pretty penny, and often come out with good finds, too. Recently, we found a pair of Manolo Blahnik heels that retail for $965, for only $12.99 at our local Value Village! It’s worth it just for the savings! And it works both ways, if you have items you no longer use pass them on to a second hand shop and it might give them a better life and free up space in your home.

 

2. Use Quality Products

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Buying products that last is better for the environment and your wallet. Nowadays most products are meant to have a short lifespan so consumers are forced to replace them more often, but if you shop around you might just find some quality made products that have lifetime guarantees. For some inspiration check out this article: 43 Companies With Lifetime Guarantees on The Penny Hoarder.

 

1. Reusable Produce Bags

Now that the reusable shopping bag is finally catching on it's time to take it a step further. Come on, I know you can handle it! Reusable produce bags are an easy way to buy loose fruit and veggies at the grocery store or farmer's market. On average only one plastic bag in every 200 is recycled and each year an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide (Source). This simple switch to reusable produce bags can significantly help reduce the number of plastic bags floating around the globe.

Our 4 Favourite Zero Waste Recipes

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Ohh the long lost art of making things from scratch! It sounds challenging and messy doesn't it? Well it doesn't really have to be either, and it can be a lot of fun and teach you some new skills. Actively reducing our kitchen waste has given us the opportunity to learn how to make a few things from scratch so that we can avoid the packaging and chemical additives. Here are our four most loved and used recipes:

Bread

DIRECTIONS
1. Start with ½ cup warm water in a bowl.
2. Stir in 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tbsp of yeast and let stand for 10 mins. Stir well.
3. Combine 1 ½ cup water, milk, and margarine in a sauce pan and warm until melted together.
4. Stir in 3 tbsp of sugar and salt then add to dissolved yeast.
5. Mix in 2 cups flour until smooth.
6. Stir in additional 4 cups to make a soft dough.
7. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead until smooth, 8 – 10 minutes.
8. Place in greased bowl and cover with a towel.
9. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
10. Punch down dough, put on floured board and let rest 15 mins.
11. Divide dough in half and shape into loafs.
12. Place in 2 greased pans.
13. Let rise 30 – 60 mins.
14. Bake at 350º F for approximately 30 mins.

INGREDIENTS
½ cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 tbsp active dry yeast

1 ½ cup water
½ cup milk or non-dairy milk
3 tbsp margarine or alternative
3 tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
5 ½ - 6 ½ cups flour


Granola Bars

INGREDIENTS
1 ½ cups rolled oats
1 ¼ cups rice crisp cereal
¼ cup hemp seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp chia seeds
½  tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp fine-grain sea salt
½ cup, plus 1 tbsp, brown rice syrup
¼  cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS
1. Oil a 9-inch square cake pan. 
2. Combine the first 9 ingredients.  Stir well.
3. In a small pot, stir together the brown rice syrup and peanut butter.  Cook slowly over medium heat until the mixture thins and bubbles slightly.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.
4. Pour the peanut butter mixture over the oat mixture.  Stir to combine fully.
5. Scrape all of the mixture into your prepared pan, spreading it out evenly. If needed, lightly wet your hands and press down on the mixture to even it out.
6. Place your bars in the freezer for 10 min.
7. Remove your bars from the pan and cut into 12 equal portions.
8. Store the bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Recipe from Oh She Glows recipe book by Angela Liddon


Soft Pretzels

DIRECTIONS

1. Dissolve dry yeast in warm water
2. Add remaining ingredients and knead until smooth and no longer sticky
3. Separate into 4 pieces and roll into logs then shape into pretzels
4. Combine hot water and baking soda in a bowl and dip each pretzel
5. Sprinkle with coarse salt
6. Bake at 425ºF for 15 minutes or until browned

INGREDIENTS

1 tsp dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water
2 cup flour
½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp sugar

4 cup hot water
½ cup baking soda

coarse salt

Recipe from Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson


Pizza

DIRECTIONS

Sauce:
1. Coarsely chop the onion and tomatoes and add to a blender
2. Add parsley, garlic cloves, tomato paste, and the cup of water to the blender and blend until smooth or until desired texture is reached
3. Add sauce to a pan and season with oregano, basil, salt, and pepper
4. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 mins, stirring occasionally. Boil for longer if a thicker sauce is desired.

Dough:
1. Pour warm water into bowl
2. Stir in sugar and yeast and let stand until yeast bubbles, approx 10 mins
3. Add in salt and flour, mixing constantly to make a soft dough
4. Once mixed, slightly knead dough on a lightly floured surface to make a smooth ball
5. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover with a towel.
6. Let sit for 1 hour to rise.
7. Once dough has risen, cut dough in half for 2 thin crust’s, or keep together for 1 thick crust.
8. Roll out dough and place onto a lightly greased 12” pizza pan, pressing the edges into the pan to spread it out
9. Add pizza sauce and favourite toppings
10. Bake at 450 F, for 12 – 15 mins
11. Let cool, slice, and enjoy. Don’t forget your napkin!

INGREDIENTS

Pizza Sauce:
3 – 4 large tomatoes
½ 5oz can of tomato paste ½ - 1 large onion
1 – 3 garlic cloves
1 cup water
Handful of fresh parsley
Fresh or dried basil to taste
Dried oregano to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Dough:
1 cup lukewarm water
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2.5 cups all purpose flour