#10 in #1000WaystoNourish | Don't make trash a holiday tradition | Don't throw wrapping paper 1000WaystoNourish

#10 – Trash Shouldn’t Be A Holiday Tradition

Giving gifts is a big (the biggest) part of the holidays but what about the paper that the gifts come wrapped in? #10 on my list of #1000WaystoNourish is Don’t Throw Wrapping Paper.

#10 in #1000WaystoNourish | Don't make trash a holiday tradition | Don't throw wrapping paper

Canadians generate 25% more garbage during the holiday season. That’s 540,000 tons of gift wrapping paper, ribbons, bows, foil, gift bags and greeting cards and more. While the regulations vary across cities and countries, waste experts agree that intense colours, shiny finishes, velvet textures, metallic elements, all that make gift wrapping paper attractive also render it un-recyclable. And don’t get me started on the plastic ribbons and bows.

What if we shifted our mindset on what is attractive?

What if we judged a book by its contents rather than the cover?

You see where I am going with this.

Here are earth-friendly alternatives to wrapping those pressies for your loved ones:

#10 in #1000WaystoNourish | Don't make trash a holiday tradition | Don't throw wrapping paper | Nourish by Numbers

Reuse What You Have

  • Don’t throw wrapping paper that can be reused. Reuse old newspapers, old wrapping paper and magazines.
  • Glass jars and containers, bags and tins – there are tons of options out there that are more fun to open rather than ripping paper up in shreds.

Buy What You Don’t

  • Gift bags that you can reuse again and again, season after season. I bought these at our local home store and they were affordable and will withstand the test of many more Christmases in the future.
  • If you do need to buy wrapping paper, look out for plain colours that have the “can be recycled” logo on it. Dull colours, plain finish, no glitter, shiny elements etc. or it will end up in the landfill.

Then pretty it up with twine, string, pine cones, paper doilies, cedar, leaves etc. There are so many fun choices available to decorate gifts that are not ribbons and bows. Choices that are beautiful AND earth-friendly, and won’t add to the burden of trash that we face today. Let’s do our part to make this a GREEN holiday.

Don’t Make Trash A Holiday Tradition

Questions about the blue bin in Toronto? See the Waste Wizard on

Looking for ideas on making sustainable choices all year round? Everyday tips from the series #1000WaystoNourish here.

Rethink the season of giving 1000WaystoNourish

#9 – Rethink the Season of Giving

To Give or Not to Give…That Should be the Question

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
A partridge in a pear tree…

So goes the song, listing the various gifts that were given during the twelve days of Christmas. And then there is Eartha Kitt’s “Santa Baby”, which is an ode to the gift-giving culture of Christmas. What is it about this holiday that drives us all to the mall? This year rethink the season of giving.

In 2018, holiday retail spending in the US crossed a trillion dollars! That’s a TRILLION dollars – 1 followed by 12 zeroes. The shopping frenzy usually starts immediately after Thanksgiving, with many stores around North America opening early for Black Friday sales. Recent years have seen a movement against this commercialization trend, with many people signing up for “Buy Nothing Day” or the “No Buy November” challenge. But what about December?

When it comes to gifts, we all struggle with how much and how many. For many families, Christmas is the one time of the year when they buy gifts. So is it OK to max out credit cards for a once-a-year shopping spree? It’s Christmas after all. What if we plan our purchases and pay for everything ahead of time? And then there’s the movement towards sustainable and earth-friendly? What about ethical gift-giving? Can’t a gift simply be an expression of affection? You see how we can argue this from both sides.

Whatever your stance on gift-giving this Christmas, here are a few things to consider:

A Gift of Time

Give the gift of your time to the people you love. This is especially true for your family and friends. We lead increasingly busy, multi-tasked, over-scheduled lives. Your undivided attention for your child, spouse, parent or sibling are the most memorable gifts you can give. Ask your loved ones how they would like to spend a day or an evening with you. And then follow through. Preferably without devices.

A Gift of Effort

Make something with your hands. Run an errand for a neighbor. Cook a meal for a co-worker. Volunteer at your favourite charity on a day that’s not Thanksgiving. Your efforts, big or small reflect your regard for the recipient of your gift. And some of the most thoughtful gifts are homemade and show that you were paying attention.

Gifts That You Can Buy

When you spend your money, make it count. If all else fails, there are a ton of gift lists that come out at this time of the year. Oprah’s Favourite Things is a good place to start. There are top gifts for travelers and tech lovers, the bookworms and the fashionistas.

Buy many, buy a few. As we go into the festive season, remember that holidays are a celebration of your time with family and friends. The most precious gift that you can give to your loved ones is the gift of YOU. Everything else is just stuff.

#9 in #1000WaystoNourish | What can the adults do for climate change | 1000WaystoNourish

Who’s cleaning up this mess? #1000WaystoNourish

“People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

“How dare you?” thundered a 16 year-old Greta Thunberg at the UN Climate Action Summit. The world was watching and listening, and it was shamed.


Greta Thunberg nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for climate activism

Greta Thunberg is an ordinary citizen of the world. A few years ago she learned about the growing climate change crisis in school and decided to do something about it. She was 15 when she started by protesting in front of the Swedish parliament. Her parents didn’t approve but they saw how much it mattered to her, and once they saw all the research that their daughter had collected, they came around.

Today Greta is 16 and she is leading a revolution.

Kids Lead The Way

Greta Thunberg is inspiring climate strikes around the world and millions of people are organizing or attending #FridaysforFuture to raise awareness. Most of the people attending? They are kids themselves. Kids who should be in school, preparing for a life that is yet to begin. Kids who should be hanging out with friends, playing outside, doing their homework and making poor choices behind the school building.

That’s not what these kids are doing though. Instead, they are stepping up and fighting for a better world because the adults – all of us – have been too lazy. We need urgent action from the adults to combat climate change.

We should be ashamed of ourselves. Ashamed that our actions and our inactions have brought the world to the brink of awful, irreversible change. Our need for convenience and efficiency has reduced food to a commodity. And it’s affecting the planet.

Our disregard for our collective resources and the natural world means young children are spending their days fighting for a world that may already be ruined before they have a chance to experience the wonder of it.

Climate change is here. Scientists have validated it a number of times, in multiple reports. The planet is transforming before our very eyes. We can’t afford to weigh the pros and cons anymore. We need action and it needs to come from the adults.

It is not our children’s job to clean up the mess we made.

Impacting Climate Change Action 

  • Educate yourself on how climate change will affect your life. Learn about food waste, plastic pollution and the UN special report on global warming in the resources on this website.
  • Find out what your government is doing to preserve long-term prosperity and public health.
  • Engage your community and your leaders to implement a plan to accommodate for far-reaching climate change.
  • Advocate for our children’s future.

Our collective future depends on it.

#9 of #1000WaystoNourish

#8 of #1000WaystoNourish | Energy Conservation tips to save energy 1000WaystoNourish

#8 – Don’t Touch the Thermostat

It’s almost Fall. The calendar doesn’t say so yet, but nature knows. My nose knows. I can feel it in the air. Read on for #8 in #1000WaystoNourish and one of my top fave tips to save energy. This will need a whole lot of self-control.

Changing weather often means battle lines and war in our house. Between two kids, teenage angst and the widely fluctuating hormones of a 45 yo, thermostat settings is just one of many things we can’t agree on. Which brings me to this next in the series of #1000WaystoNourish. Real, actionable tips on making better choices that are good for us and the planet. Normally these tips are around food, but since general comfort at home is a BIG factor – maybe even the BIGGEST – in who cooks and what we eat, let’s get into it.  

Top Tips for Saving Energy

When the temperature starts dipping outside, our first instinct often is to adjust the thermostat inside, and turn on the heating.

Don’t! Here’s why:

“Energy is the dominant contributor to climate change, accounting for around 60 per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions.”

– Source UN SDG’s Goal 7

All the climate research tells us that our energy resources are running out. Energy efficiency is a desperate need of the hour. We all need to make drastic changes and work together as a community to reduce our dependency and cut down on usage. Turning the heating on at home as late as possible is a first step in the right direction. 

Let’s  give our bodies time to adjust to the changing weather. Let comfy clothes and socks be our first line of defence against cooling weather. 

Bonus Benefit – heating bills will be much lower. We save money AND the planet. Isn’t that a big step forward?

#8 of #1000WaystoNourish | Energy Conservation tips to save energy


#7 of #1000WaystoNourish | Ways to Reduce Food Waste | Take the Pantry Challenge 1000WaystoNourish

#7 – Take the Pantry Challenge

Welcome to Nourish By Numbers. We are a public awareness initiative to help people better understand the future implications of the food choices we are making today. Good food isn’t just about flavour and nutrition, it isn’t just about us. That’s the basis of this better food movement. In this edition, seeking out ways to reduce food waste.

#7 of #1000WaystoNourish | Ways to Reduce Food Waste | Take the Pantry Challenge

Food Waste is a mountain of a problem. Canadians throw away 58% of the food we produce. The world average is a little lower at 30%. That’s millions and millions of tons of food that could have satisfied hungry people around the world but instead ends up in the landfill. It’s an atrocity of the civilized world that this enormity of waste is taking place in homes and factories and farms around the world.

As a part of the last post in this series of #1000Waysto Nourish, I offered Step 1 in combatting the enormous task of reducing food waste. Shop your fridge first. Here’s Step 2.

Take the Pantry Challenge

Shop your Pantry.

Every day take at least three items out of your pantry and use them for dinner. Supplement with what you find in your fridge. That, you may remember was Step 1.

Give youself a bonus if you used ONLY pantry ingredients.

If your pantry is anything like mine, this can go on for a while before you make a dent. Cans of lentils and corn, sauces and peppers and baked beans, there is so much in there that can be transformed into a wholesome meal. Chillis and stews and curries, all are great dishes to make with pantry ingredients.

Make it a habit.

That’s it. Sounds easy enough, right. And you save money in the bargain

One Last Thing: check the dates on the cans and jars. The Best Before End on many pantry items advise quality rather than safety. The people behind Love Food Hate Waste have done research into keeping different foods fresh. Check out the information they offer. It will help.

Believe we can make a difference? Follow and share #1000WaystoNourish.

#6 of #1000WaystoNourish | Reduce Food Waste | Shop your fridge first 1000WaystoNourish

#6 – Start with your Fridge

To “nourish someone” is to feed them deeply in a sustainable way. When you nourish you consider the what, how and why. That’s how Nourish By Numbers started. We are a public awareness initiative that is bringing people together to influence better food for all. In this edition, our first step of many in the ways we can reduce food waste.

#6 of #1000WaystoNourish | Reduce Food Waste | Shop your fridge first

As a part of this movement, I am sharing #1000Waysto Nourish. These are real actions that we can take in our daily lives to change the way we grow, consume and talk about food, and where that food finally ends up.

A third of the world’s food ends up in a landfill. Canada is one of the worse offenders where 58% of the food produced is either lost or thrown away.

– Source – Second Harvest, Canada 2019.

Food waste is a big problem. It is a waste of not just food, but also the time and resources that went into producing that food. The garbage takes up space – billions of tons of landfill space – and it also adds to emissions that are causing global warming. Food waste is a huge problem. Yes! But like all seemingly insurmountable problems, the solution to this one also starts with people taking that first step.

What can you do?

Shop your fridge first.

Every time you think you need to make a grocery run, open the fridge first. Look in the back, check old containers, look through the leftovers. Make it a habit.

Shop for what you need in your fridge FIRST.

I have to be honest – it is wonderful to have fresh produce to cook with. But this life of abundance where we can walk into a grocery store and buy what we need whenever we want has diminished the value we attach to our food. So before you head out to the grocery store, shop your fridge first. Make sure there’s nothing else that you can find hiding in there.

One Last Thing: Find wilted carrots and limp spinach? They can be transformed into a comforting bowl of curry. Millions of people make curry every day because you can add anything to it and it transforms into something warm and flavourful. Kind of how life can be

Over the next little while, I will be sharing many more real steps that we can take in our lives to reduce the sheer quantity of food waste that we see in our life. Follow and share #1000WaystoNourish. We all need to work together.


#5 of #1000WaystoNourish | Nourish by NUmbers | Make Curry 1000WaystoNourish

#5 – Curry Favour?

Welcome to NourishbyNumbers, a grassroots social initiative to help make better, more sustainable food choices. In this edition – one of my favourite ways to reduce food waste.

Better Food = Healthy Planet

Make Curry Not War

There’s a reason billions of people eat curry every day. Actually there are many reasons but first and foremost, curry forgives. Always.

Curry is a generic word for any dish which has a richly spiced sauce and is cooked with meat and/or vegetables. It is usually eaten with rice but may also be accompanied by flatbread like roti, naan or parantha. In the age of paleo and keto, it may even be eaten over a pile of lettuce. I don’t judge. The dish has travelled nations and continents, from Thailand and Malaysia and India to England and even far-reaches of Canada.

This dish has been tweaked and tasted by billions of households around the world, and somehow there is never one set recipe. Every family and community has its own version.

My favourite recipes are here and here. The foundational ingredients are often onions, ginger and garlic with some liquid often coconut milk. This dish makes a great carrier for other herbs and spices turmeric in particular along with basil or coriander.

With all these ingredients and flavours making curry may feel overwhelming. But the one thing that brings it all together is that curry forgives.

Curry is the one dish that is open to interpretation and experimentation. And though many have tried, it is very, very difficult to ruin a curry.

#5 of #1000WaystoNourish | Nourish by NUmbers | Make Curry  Ways to reduce food waste

What Can You Do?

Make curry. Consider recipes as guidelines and add in ingredients that you like. Use vegetables that may be bruised and wilted. It doesn’t matter they will become flavourful and wholesome once they go into the pot of curry. Imperfect produce is perfect for a curry. The pursuit of perfection in our lives and even in our kitchens has driven farmers to grow and harvest only perfect looking fruits and vegetables, leaving behind piles of produce resulting in so much food waste. More on this later. But in the meanwhile make curry. You can add in dodgy looking carrots and bruised tomatoes and wilted spinach. It’s a culture shift to reach for the ugly vegetable but your planet will thank you. Your farmer will too.

One Last Thing: Recently I was invited to watch Before the Plate documentary that took us behind the scenes into the journey of food before it ends up on our plate. It helped me not only see the effort that goes into growing our food but also what happens when farmers are forced to adapt to changing consumer behaviour. Watch the movie.

Visual depicting pollution caused by empty plastic water bottles 1000WaystoNourish

#4 Of #1000WaystoNourish: Stop With The Bottled Water

Welcome to NourishbyNumbers, a grassroots social initiative from the trenches. This post is #4 in the series of #1000WaystoNourish. Real steps that we can take in our daily lives to change the way we raise, grow, consume and talk about food.

Better Food for all = Healthy Planet


Plastic is consuming our planet. We see horrific images every day. Garbage pickers standing on giant mountains of plastic. Mama penguins unknowingly feeding their chicks plastic pieces that scientists know will eventually kill them. Polar bears eating garbage in northern towns in Europe and Canada. Turtles and whales suffocating on the amount of plastic there is in our oceans. We see these images and we know plastic is bad, so very bad for us and our future, but we continue to buy bottles of water by the million.

Single-use plastic bottled water sales have in fact continued to rise around the world.


It’s that awful ugly word that we all love so much. Convenience.

We need the convenience of bottled water, right?

Driving kids to soccer or dance? Thirsty? Here’s a couple of coins for the vending machine.

Planning a roadtrip this weekend? That case of 12 bottles looks like just what we need. It’s just 2.99 after all. We can afford it.

We can’t afford it though! The cost of that case of water isn’t just the change from our wallet, it’s the price we will be paying for generations to come. It’s the cost that our kids will be paying for the next millenia.

Visual depicting pollution caused by empty plastic water bottles and slogan "Stop Buying Bottled Water".
What’s the REAL cost of that bottled water?


Stop buying bottled water. That’s it. Just stop.

Imagine there is no vending machine. Tell your brain we can’t afford that case of bottled water. Because we can’t.

Plan your day. Carry your own bottle. Rinse it out every couple of days. Keep an extra one in the car and your backpack. If you work in an office – have a pitcher of water with glasses for visitors. Instal a tap or a water fountain for staff and visitors. 

It’s cumbersome, I know, but there is no other choice. Repeat with me – STOP buying bottled water. Just STOP. Our brain and our economy will eventually come up with alternatives.

Using recycled plastic for water bottles? That’s a step in the right direction but not enough companies are doing it. Share and tag @NourishbyNumbers and #1000waystoNourish on social media if you spot them in your grocery store. Let’s support the companies who are trying hard.

One last thing: if you’re thinking that the brand of water bottles that you buy are recyclable, think again! That’s next in #1000WaystoNourish

Reduce takeout waste, bring your own container 1000WaystoNourish

#3 Of #1000WaystoNourish: Takeout Without Waste

Reduce takeout waste

Welcome to NourishbyNumbers, a social initiative from the trenches. This post is #3 in the series of #1000WaystoNourish. Real actions that we can take in our daily lives to change the way we raise, grow, consume and talk about food.


Life is busy and cooking at home often falls last on the to-do list of a crazy day. I’m a huge supporter of homemade food but with family routines and only one person who cooks (me!) we end up doing takeout a couple of times a week. That can add up in cost, and garbage!

I can’t help with the cost but I have a solution for the garbage.

Green space polluted by garbage
Choose to reuse! Reduce plastic waste.


Restaurants normally use foil or styrofoam containers or black plastic boxes with lids for takeout and delivery. While a few cities may recycle these items, mostly they end up in landfills around the world.

A whopping 91% of plastic around the world isn’t recycled.

– National Geographic, July, 2017

The only choice remaining is to use less plastic, and takeout containers can be the first to go.

A few months ago I started bringing our own containers to restaurants for takeout food. It was a little complicated at the outset. Making sure I had the right sized containers and that they were available when we needed them, and clean, yes, it was complicated.

Reusable plastic containers
BYOC – Bring Your Own Containers

The waiters at restaurants were also unhappy, iniially. Their job is hard enough as it is and I felt bad asking them to pack the food in my containers, rather than use their own.

Doing things differently is hard, I get it. But most people understand the importance of reducing the amount of garbage we produce, and they are supportive.


Carry your own takeout container. I can’t stress that enough. I have washed a few plastic containers and tupperware that I now keep in a bag in the car. They are handy for when I need them, and then I wash and keep ready for the next takeout dinner.

Takeout twice a week means adding atleast 8 styrofoam containers to the landfill every week. That’s not including the extra bits and bobs of dip containers, rubber bands, plastic bags etc. Reduce plastic at home. Take your own food containers the next time you order food. That’s one small change that can impact millions of tons of garbage thrown away every minute, every hour around the world.

One last thing: If you’re taking food home, skip the plastic cutlery. The planet will thank you for it. 

Like what you read? Join the NourishbyNumbers Community. Learn about what good food is and how we can support the community and the planet at the same time. Read and share with your friends and family.

Visual with green background and slogan "Join the Better Food for all Community"
Make small changes, have a BIG impact.
#1000WaysToNourish image of green vegetables in produce aisle 1000WaystoNourish

#1 of #1000WaystoNourish: Ask your Grocer this

Welcome to #1000WaystoNourish.

Food is central to our existence. Everything we care about, our families, our kids, our community and the planet, they all come together at the dinner table.

But what we eat and the choices we often make around food are not sustainable. Nourish by Numbers is my commitment to change that. This is a social movement to learn and share about food that tastes good, is good for us and our planet.

Ask the question – where does our food come from?

To answer this question honestly, I had to first take a look at my own fridge, and boy was I surprised.

My fridge is a veritable travel bucket list of exotic destinations. The fruits and vegetables have travelled from countries that I would love to visit. The oranges are from Morocco, lemongrass from Thailand, bananas from Chile. Finally our favourite red and yellow peppers and asparagus from a greenhouse right here in Ontario, Canada

Global food distribution is here to stay. What we eat comes from further than one can imagine. That’s just the reality of the world we live in. While I would love to buy local, life in Canada (and many other places) doesn’t really permit that. In fact, 3 out of every 4 grocery dollars that Canadians spend go towards imported food. Blame that on Canadian winters, and till we have greenhouses at every corner, all-season farming is still a dream.

What can we do?

As consumers, we need to know where our food comes from and make conscious decisions. Asking questions will also let our grocery store know that we care.

Look for labels on the produce – they often list the country of origin. Some grocery stores support even more transparency and will state the country of origin right there on the price tag.  But there are many who don’t, and that’s when we ask.

Where is this pear from?

Like what you read? Share it with others.

Support good food for all? Join the #1000WaystoNourish community here.