Community Engagement

Going Green at 70 : Rethinking Valentine's Day

Email:           Facebook: Going Green at 70 by Nancy MacRae

Hi there Green Beans,

Valentine's Day is approaching and although it’s tempting to buy cards, roses, and chocolates – let’s see if we can try something different this year.

You can make Valentine’s Day cards with recycled paper or you can look for re-cycled cards. Or maybe it’s time we try to get away from this card-giving business altogether. Here is a stat that made my head spin:

How big is the greeting card market in Canada? $369.1 M for 2023

Seriously that is a lot of hard-earned dollars being given to people who read and toss. Unless you are one of those people who save cards, although I still think it’s a crazy amount of money.

See if your florist offers organic flowers. Organic flowers use less artificial chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides. Even if they don’t carry them, it might get them thinking that It’s time to start offering alternatives. Another option is a plant; something that hopefully will survive. Even if it makes it to the spring where it can be planted, better than smell and toss.

Sometimes I wish I had never started down this path. Did you know that cocoa production is linked to child labour, slavery, deforestation, and low wages? Now before we all swear off chocolate, realistically that could be pretty daunting for a lot of us – there are ways to get chocolate without the negative effects. We can check out labels for Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, or UTZ certifications. Words like sustainable and eco-friendly can be green-washing; meaning not accurate. I hate green-washing because the bottom line - it is just taking advantage of our ignorance; we need to start getting educated on this stuff. Buying dark chocolate is a better alternative; it at least gives more money to the cocoa farmers because dark chocolate contains more cocoa.

I think the best gifts are cooking a nice meal for your loved one, treating them to a massage gift certificate, a spa day, or telling them to put their feet up and all chores are off limits for the day. Now how romantic is all that!

“Love does not consist in words or feelings, but in deeds. It is an act of the will; it is a gift; that is to say, a giving.” — Maria Faustyna Kowalska

Going Green at 70 : Greener Cleaning

January 2, 2024    Email:           F: Going Green at 70 by Nancy MacRae

Happy New Year Green Beans!

I know we say this every New Year but hey – where did this year go?

I have never been one to make New Year’s Resolutions; mainly because they have always faded by February but this year, I am going to make it simpler. I am going to try to adopt one better habit every month. Here’s January’s:

Recently I was reading raves about microfiber cloths; and how they were the best dusters, cleaners, and a must-have for your home. Now the old me would have just gone out and bought them. Now, I try and get a bit more information. Turns out microfibers are actually small synthetic fibres, usually made from polyester and nylon. They are tiny pieces of plastic and they account for a huge portion of the pollution that ends up in our waterways

.When did we start buying specialty items just because we read about them – it’s not always the latest and greatest, sometimes it’s just a cash grab and we are the naïve consumer who falls for it. Instead of falling for the hype, reuse what you have. Can’t we just use old clothes like our mothers did? Before you put an old t-shirt in the give-away bag or throw it out – repurpose it as a cleaning cloth. You know when you finish the laundry, and you find that lone sock or you have one with a hole in it and you can’t darn – repurpose - socks make great dusters. If you do need to buy something to clean with, try J-clothes, they are environmentally friendly. All we need to do is make good choices. Sometimes we think it will be harder than it actually turns out to be – I haven’t used paper towels in over 2 years and honestly, I haven’t missed them, well – I haven’t missed them too much. I am also committed to using up my throw-away dusters and never buying the refills again.

Using better cleaning cloths is just one small thing you can do to reduce plastic. A much bigger topic would be the perils of synthetic clothes that shed tiny plastic fibers but that’s for another day.

Before I make a purchase - I am committed to doing my research, looking for better alternatives, and never falling for the advertising hype again! Bravo if you are already on board!

I think this quote is right on the month:

We get a larger life by asking larger questions and keeping those questions before us – not from settling for the available answers, which ultimately prove limiting. - James Hollis

Until next time – stay green!

Going Green at 70 : Affordable Holidays

 With Climate Action Committee Member Nancy MacRaeDecember 2023               
F: Going Green at 70 by Nancy MacRae

Hey there Green Beans, I’ve been thinking a lot about the holiday season coming up and trying to avoid the non-stop commercials on TV and online about all the deals that are on. I’m tired of people being enticed to spend huge amounts of money even when they can’t afford it. Often parents get roped into buying their kids the latest and greatest because they know their friends will be showing their haul come Boxing Day. The sad thing is kids don’t understand if their parents can’t afford it.

I was at the food bank the other day delivering some stuff and I got very emotional. There were so many people in line getting their groceries and yet there was such laughter in the crowd. As I was leaving a woman stopped me and offered me some Kraft Dinner because she wasn’t a fan. I nearly cried. The reality is – there by the grace of God go each one of us.

Maybe this year one idea would be to take your kids to the grocery store buy a good basket full of food and take it over to the food bank. If you do this sort of thing, bravo! But if you haven’t thought of it, maybe your kids would benefit from knowing about food banks.

Try the second-hand stores for gifts. I got a great Christmas ornament at Forbes on Stellarton Road for a friend and I know she’ll love it.

Donate money to a friend’s charity. Get crafty and make something. Crafting is not in my wheelhouse so I am going to try my hand at making cranberry sauce, how hard can that be? Plus, I do bake a mean cranberry bundt cake. These are gifts that show you care every bit as much as big pricey gifts. And it is about caring!

Please, if you are wrapping stuff – stay away from the glitter, foil paper, and basically anything shiny because it can’t be recycled.  Instead of ribbons and bows try raffia. Better still make cloth gift bags, that would be great and the recipient could definitely reuse them!!

Let’s all try and make one change this holiday season.

This is our modern curse: A century of conspicuous consumption has trained us to be dutiful citizens of the Republic of Not Enough, swearing allegiance to the marketable myth of scarcity … Along the way, we have unlearned how to live wide-eyed with wonder at … the “little joys” – those unpurchasable, unstorable emblems of aliveness that abound the moment we look up from our ledger of lack. —Maria Popova, “The Marginalian” Until 2024, stay green!!!

Going Green at 70: Sorting Your Waste

On May 24, 2023, CTV had an interesting article - 'There's no excuse': An expert's tips for the garbage Canadians get wrong.

I used to lament about what to put where when I would visit Nova Scotia from Ontario, I literally threw up my hands and eventually delegated the chore to my husband. I simply couldn’t figure it out. Now of course, several years later I work very hard at ensuring the right thing goes in the right spot. Fortunately, Pictou County Waste has an app for that. It’s so easy, you just key in the item and it comes back and tells you where it goes. If it doesn’t have the item, it asks you if you would like to add it. Now – I ask you, could it get any better or easier than that?

According to the CTV article, it advises us how easy it is to mess up the system. If you throw in a dirty package with all your clean recycles it could very well all end up as garbage because many facilities do not have the staff nor the infrastructure to sift through every single bit of what hits their conveyor belt.

Do we all know about glass – it would normally get recycled but if it’s broken it has to go in the garbage.

One of my frustrations was in Ontario you could line your green bin with a nice snug biodegradable bag and when it was full you simply tied it up and threw it in the big green bin for pick up. No muss, no fuss, no bugs, no need to get somebody to clean your bin. Much to my dismay, I moved home and discovered that you can’t use them. However, once I immersed myself in Going Green, I learned that it could take months and/or years for those bags to actually break down. So as much as I loved the convenience I have learned to accept, not necessarily embrace, the paper or cardboard boxes! And if your green bin gets stinky google The Bin Butler; and arrange a cleanup!

Another biggie is if you are using toxic chemicals on your paper towel, throw the used paper towel in the garbage; it is not recyclable. If you can try using vinegar, water and baking soda for some of your cleaning then you can!

Sometimes it seems like it is so hard but as ‘they’ say - I guess anything worth doing is doing right!

So Green Beans, until next time…..

'Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world'.~ Harriet Tubman

Going Green at 70: Think before you buy

October 1, 2023
F: Going Green at 70

Hello Green Beans,

Today, let’s get into re-using stuff. Re-using, re-purposing, re-inventing is one of the best things we can do for the environment.

We need to stop throwing things out and the first step to achieving that goal is to be prudent when we buy. Think before you buy.

Jeanne Armstrong · CBC News · Posted: Aug 20, 2023 a story about Jim Allison, a woodworker from New Brunswick who was asked by a friend if he wanted their old piano. He agreed, thinking there would be some good wood he could use. That turned into transforming old pianos into jewelry boxes, miniature furniture, and even musical instruments.

That’s a cool story but I’m sure there are many more stories so before you toss something in the bin or take it to the dump – stop and think, could anybody use this. How many times do we need to hear - one person’s trash, is another person’s treasure!

Let’s get a little more basic. I started saving bottle caps to use as irrigation – just toss a bunch in the bottom of a plant pot (obviously a small pot) and then fill the pot with soil.

Or how about all the things you can do with coffee. I know I mentioned One Good Thing by Jillee before but she’s worth re-mentioning. I look forward to her emails every morning. Recently she offered the following ideas on coffee:

Dry out the coffee grounds in the oven, once dry put them in a bowl in your refrigerator or freezer to tackle odours. I use a French Press coffee maker so it’s easy to get those grounds.
I started putting coffee grounds at the base of my hydrangea; I’m a bit of an optimist but I think the blooms are bigger. Also good for azaleas and rhododendrons.
Enrich your composter with phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, and copper; all in coffee.
If you have ants, try sprinkling old coffee grounds in discreet areas or sprinkle them directly on ant hills themselves. They can also repel snails and slugs, too.
This one I will try – I have some lovely neighbourhood cats who like to use some of my shrubs as their own personal litter box. Mix used coffee grounds with chopped orange peels and sprinkle the mixture liberally around your garden and flowerbeds. Seems the scent of coffee grounds and citrus might well send them back to their own bathrooms.
I don’t have a dog so can’t vouch for this one. After shampooing your dog’s fur, rub 1 to 2 cups of coffee grounds into the fur and rinse well. Apparently, it will help kill any fleas that may be hiding in their fur, and they’ll feel silky smooth afterward! Again, no dog has confirmed this result with me but it might be worth a try! Do it outside though, coffee grounds can clog your drain.

Never lose a holy curiosity. Stop every day to understand and appreciate a little of the mystery that surrounds you and your life will be filled with awe and discovery to the very end.  —Albert Einstein

Stay tuned for future ideas on how to re-use ― we’re just getting started!

Stay Green

Going Green at: Simple changes can make a difference.

Hello Green Beans,

Several news feeds arrive in my email inbox every day and one is called 1440 Daily Digest. It is not specific to the environment. On July 17, 2023, I was saddened to see that the following were some of their items:

  • Alaskans spent the weekend experiencing an uptick in seismic activity, with a series of volcanic eruptions from the remote Shishaldin Volcano Friday followed by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake late Saturday morning off the southwestern coast, which briefly triggered a tsunami warning.
  • Country-wide heat wave leaves 100 million Americans under heat advisories over the weekend, stretching from Oregon to Florida (More) | Phoenix reached 118 degrees Saturday, on pace to break the record this week of consecutive days above 110 degrees.
  • Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu was briefly hospitalized for dehydration amid a heat wave.
  • Four people died, three others missing, after flash floods hit the Philadelphia area.
  • At least 31 people were killed as heavy rains triggered landslides and flooding in South Korea.

The tragic reality is that there is such an increase in these news reports. We certainly had our own wildfires in NS, and then BC and Yellowknife were battling theirs. California is enduring Hurricane Hilary. We survived Fiona and we know there will be more to come.

I will be very honest – it does make me feel a tad bit better knowing that I am doing my best to reduce my carbon footprint, but it has also motivated me to do much more. Again, I am more than aware that I alone can’t change the trajectory we’re on, however, I take the following quote quite seriously:

"The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it."
Robert Swan

And although we are lucky to have these people on our side, we simply can’t wait for the ‘others’ to do all the work; we need to step up and do more than just recycling.Please send me a friend request on Facebook at Going Green at 70. Let’s start a Climate Group and share ideas. Over the next two weeks, I ask that you commit to making some changes:

  • Like the song says ‘Turn out the Lights’. Don’t light rooms you’re not in and in broad daylight, maybe you don’t even need lights.
  • Unplug! Commit to unplugging a lamp you never light, your toaster, your kettle, and your charger when it isn’t charging which creates phantom energy. It will only save you a few cents a year, but it would have an impact if we all did it. I have very little plugged in and I now have a reminder to turn on my outdoor light in the evening and off in the morning.
  • Lighten up on your water usage. One easy way is to turn the water on when you need to rinse your teeth; no need to watch the water run down the drain while you are brushing.

Here are just three small initiatives.

Good luck, I know you can do it

Until next time – stay green.


Sustainable Beer Production

 Email Nancy MacRae, author of "Going Green at 70" at

Hello everybody,

Time for some good news.

It’s all about beer! How is that for trying to hang onto summer?

In California, Devil’s Canyon Brewing Company teamed up with Epic Cleantec to create a beer made from greywater. Greywater that actually came from an apartment building; we’re talking laundry and showers. Their intention was to prove that you could do it and their testers said it was delicious. Bad news is it isn’t for sale. Their goal was to get people talking and thinking about future potential. But let’s stay tuned – who knows when our local beer stores will be selling greywater beer!

I’m excited because I believe we can find good news if we look for it – people are doing remarkable things and sometimes that’s what we need to hear about.

There is a company in the Netherlands, Swinkels Family Brewers and they have teamed up with other like-minded companies to install the first iron fuel system to provide the heat needed for brewing their beer. Plus, researchers are working on a project to become the first to convert a coal-fired power plant into a green iron fuel plant by 2030.

I am not a huge beer drinker but I do enjoy a nice glass of wine. The great news is you can now find what is called ‘sustainable wineries’ in Nova Scotia. That means they have sound practices in place, for their water and energy use, preserving ecosystems and the local wildlife. Plus, they maintain healthy soil because that means they will grow robust grapes and for a long time.

You know when you buy six beers or six cans of pop, they often come in those dreadful plastic ring things, also referred to as yokes? Please make sure you cut them just in case they end up in our waterways or landfills. We know they are a trap for animals or fish to get caught in or strangled by. Molson Coors has decided to make a change regarding these plastic rings. They will discontinue using them and instead, their six packs will come in a recyclable, sustainable cardboard carrying box. This applies to Canada as well as the US so let’s keep our eye out for them.

The positive news is some companies are taking action and that’s what is important.

I just contacted Pepsi Canada to see if they have any plans to replace their plastic rings. Let’s hope they respond. If you have a few minutes to spare – send them an email. Things happen when we confront….

If you believe in a cause, be willing to stand up for that cause with a million people,or by yourself. ― Otis S. Johnson 

Until next time, stay green. 

Going Green At 70: Tips to Save Water

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Email Nancy MacRae, author of "Going Green at 70" at 

(August 1st, 2023)

Hi Green Beans,

It’s time to talk about water.

Water is something we take for granted. My favourite line from a movie is when Diane Keaton in “Baby Boom” explains to her plumber – when she turns on the tap she wants water, she doesn’t want to know where it comes from. I was a little bit like that character when I first moved back to New Glasgow. I didn’t worry much about the power I was using nor the water. I wasn’t too concerned about the plastic or if cans really did have BPA in the liners. I also didn’t wonder if my shower curtain contained PVC. And I certainly never thought about all the products going in or on my person! But all that changed. Now I am more diligent, which brings me to water.

According to The World Counts:

Unless water use is drastically reduced, severe water shortage will affect the entire planet by 2040. "There will be no water by 2040 if we keep doing what we're doing today". - Professor Benjamin Sovacool, Aarhus University, Denmark.

I’ll be 90 by then – I know, I have always been a very optimistic person! And if I’m right I need to know that I’m doing my bit to not waste the water.

So why are we in this mess:

  • Climate change is causing droughts.
  • We’re using tons of it to produce electricity.
  • Again, according to The World Counts - it takes 24,000 liters of water to produce just one kilo of chocolate and more than 15,000 liters of water to produce one kilo of beef.
  • Never mind the amount of water used to create clothing.

I am happy to say, I bought my first rain barrel last summer. This year I may add another one and connect the two. What do I do with my rain water:

  • Obviously, I water all my indoor and outdoor plants.
  • Using the hose, I will wash my car.
  • I will be able to rinse down lawn furniture and the deck.
  • There is always a bowl in my sink to rinse bottles or cans before re-cycling them.
  • You can do a quick rinse before loading the dishwasher.
    • I use the dishwasher once a week and although you need to do a wee rinse, you do not need to use tap water.
    • In the winter when I don’t have the rain barrel, I save the water from boiled vegetables and use that to do a quick rinse of dishes.

I haven’t figured out how to rig it up as a shower but stay tuned!

Other things I try to do:

  • Don’t just run water. I don’t turn on the tap until I am ready to rinse after brushing my teeth or washing my hands or face.
  • I have quicker showers than I used to.
  • I don’t boil a full kettle to make one cup of tea.

This quote kind of sums it up for me:

"I have one life and one chance to make it count for something … My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference." - Jimmy Carter

It’s very rewarding when you find your passion; something that makes you happy when you wake in the morning. I found mine! Plus, it sure makes retirement…. joyful!

Until next time, stay green….

Going Green at 70: Lifestyle Tips to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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Email Nancy MacRae, author of "Going Green at 70" at 

(July 18th, 2023)

Hi Green Beans – me again!

Sometimes it’s challenging to figure out how to reduce your footprint. Overall, it comes down to making some changes in your choices.

I think I mentioned this one already but consensus seems to indicate one of the best things we can do is to stop eating meat; especially beef. Apparently, cattle consume 11 times more water and produces 5 times more emissions than chickens. Now, the fact is I doubt that I will ever give up meat but I have made a few changes:

  • I try to reduce the amount of red meat I eat.
  • Experimenting with vegetarian meals has actually been fun so the goal is to eat a veggie meal at least once a week.
  • There are thousands of different ways to cook chicken so that has become my number 1 protein.
  • Happily, I am eating lots of fish and one of the many big bonuses to living in Pictou County for me is driving around and taking advantage of the fish trucks.
  • The protein should take up the smallest space on your plate so you can load up on veggies.
    • I do wash all my fruit and vegetables in a water / baking soda solution; soak for at least 10 minutes and then rinse.

In keeping with the food theme, grow your own when you can. I am not nor will I ever be much of a gardener but I might deserve an E for effort. And based on that, as I said previously, I am having another go at growing my own herbs. One of the best things is making my own tomato sauce, and I was using canned tomatoes.  My objective this year is to make my sauce with my own herbs and my own tomatoes – how great would that be?

I have my first tray of parsley seeds germinating in an egg carton on my sunny windowsill. If I am successful then I’ll start the next herb. The great thing is planting the whole egg carton right into a pot because it will decompose.

Having a garden would be so rewarding and bonus – plants absorb carbon dioxide! I will also try planting bee friendly flowers this year. Another plan came from a friend of mine – buy a couple of cedar trees and enjoy them on the deck all summer. Then in the fall I will plant them in the yard. Personally, I would have all trees in my backyard if I could. Only major drawback is I absolutely must get to my clothesline!!

If you can’t get into growing your own for any number of reasons try our local farmer’s markets, we reduce the footprint created from shipping foods from all over the world and it’s supporting our local economy. And going to the Farmers Market on Saturday morning is a truly enjoyable experience. they often have live music, some truly great vendors, and you get to see people that you don’t normally run into. All in all, you can spend a few fun hours.

It isn’t necessarily easy but take baby steps – what one thing can you change this week?

We’re in this together!! I hope you enjoy my quotes as much as I do:

"One of the most beautiful gifts in the world is the gift of encouragement. When someone encourages you, that person helps you over a threshold you might otherwise never have crossed on your own."  - John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes

Going Green At 70: Chemicals in the Household

Going Green At 70 Chemicals in the Household. With Climate Action Committee Member Nancy MacRae.

Hey Green Beans – how’s it going?  Are you ready to dig into household products that are loaded with chemicals? Let’s get started!

First off, I am not suggesting you throw out every product you use but you could, like me, replace them with more environmentally friendly products.

Let’s tackle the kitchen.

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