Event Throwback: Getting hands-on for a DIY and plastic-free swaps workshop in Plastic Free-July

By Kristina Lee


Surfrider Foundation Vancouver gathered the city’s experts in wellness and plastic-free alternatives for an educational evening, to demonstrate just how easy it is to swap out plastic products in some of our self-care and household routines.

To celebrate plastic-free July, Surfrider Foundation Vancouver held a friendly and cozy DIY and plastic-free swaps workshop at Soundhouse Studios in Vancouver, BC featuring Regan Courtney, Linh Truong and Connie Pretula as our speakers. The Vancouver community came together to learn about a variety of DIY eco-friendly alternatives for household products and self-care items. Our three presenters are all local Vancouverites who kindly shared their knowledge and wisdom with us, so naturally - we have included their recipes below for all to enjoy!

1) DIY Granola demo
2) Body Scrub giveaways/samples
3) DIY Aloe cream moisturizer
4) Household Cleaner
5) Coffee Grounds Scrub

Be sure to stay tuned for our next Surfrider Vancouver event. We hope to see you there! 

Our three presenters delivered tips and tricks for DIY plastic-free options, swaps and practical methods.


REGAN COURTNEY - Regan is a Fitness & Health Coach based in Vancouver, BC and founder of the PACIFIC SOUL LIFESTYLE. Her mission is to Connect, Inspire, Energize and Preserve. You can follow her on Instagram @pacifisoul.regan to find out more about her events and updates.


LINH TRUONG - Linh Truong is on a mission to reduce waste, energy and toxins from our home! As co-founder of The Soap Dispensary and Kitchen Staples, Vancouver’s first zero waste store, the shop helps to keep single-use plastics out of our landfills, watersheds and energy-intensive recycling systems by encouraging customers to refill their own containers and reduce packaging waste. Check out the Soap Dispensary and Kitchen Staples on Instagram @thesoapdispensary and Twitter @soapdispensary. Drop by the store located at 3718 Main Street, Vancouver, BC.


CONNIE PRETULA – Nutrition is the foundation of our health. As a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, Connie Pretula guides her clients to better living through better food choices. Her mission is to make food both healing and nutritious! Experiencing first-hand the challenges of navigating menopause, her passion is to educate and guide women 40+ to experience the restorative and therapeutic effects of nutrition. Follow Connie on Instagram @menopausenavigator


Surfrider Vancouver would also like to give a big thank you to our sponsors who also donated their time and generosity in support of this event!


*We have included the recipes we featured at our workshop below. If you’d like more information on these recipes and the method please email us at communications@surfrider.vancouver.org

Granola Demo: Regan’s Chewy Coconut Date Bars (Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Nut Free, Refined-Sugar Free, Vegan)


2tbsp chia seeds (plus 6Tbsp of water)
2 large ripe bananas
1 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup dates, pitted
2 cups rolled oats, or quick oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
3/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup cocoa nibs
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fine sea salt


Sugar Scrub (for body or face):
Makes One Cup

1 cup granulated sugar (brown or cane)
1/2 cup melted coconut oil (avocado or olive oil work but have green colour)
1 tsp real vanilla extract (or bean powder)
15 drops of essential oil (lavendar)


1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix together thoroughly.
2. You can add more or less oil to your liking.
3. Store in an air tight container. Since this recipe doesn’t contain any preservatives, it’s best if it’s used within a month or two.


Coffee Scrub:
1/2 cup brewed coffee grounds
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup carrier oil - we will use Avocado for the workshop


Aloe Cream:

Makes 1 cup/small mason jar
1-2 Aloe leaves
1/2 cup coconut oil
1.5 tablespoons beeswax pastilles (Can also use 3/4th of a 1 oz bar of beeswax, diced finely or grated)
5-8 drops essential oil like lavender or geranium or sweet almond oil (optional)


Heat coconut oil, beeswax, and jojoba oil in a modified double boiler, stirring occasionally to make sure contents combine.

Once liquid, pour mixture into glass blender and allow mixture to completely cool (about 1 – 1.5 hours.) Once the mixture has cooled, take a spatula and scrap down the sides of the blender to loosen the contents.

Turn blender on low and slowly pour aloe vera gel into the mixture, stopping occasionally to allow contents to combine.

If contents get “stuck” in the blender, continue to scrap down the sides of the blender and whip mixture by hand until light, fluffy texture forms.

Once aloe vera has been mixed in, blend 5-8 drops essential or almond oil into lotion.

Sailing the Salish Sea With a Bounty That is Carbon Free


Aboard BC’s first 100+ year old sailboat shipping from Vancouver to Salt Spring and back again

The Surfrider Voyage


We need to make collective changes on all levels and strengthen our local circular economy. Maybe going back to how we did things centuries ago isn’t such a bad idea? Hypothesis: can one bring a bright, juicy orange to Vancouver without leaving a carbon footprint? Surfrider was invited to go on one of the first sustainable cargo sail tours in BC. We embarked with the Providence1903 on a stormy day in June when other sailors closed their hatches and secured their anchors. Every Wednesday, the wooden ship goes on its Market Ship Gulf Island Tour and returns to Kitsilano in Vancouver on Friday - Vancouver to Ganges to Ladysmith and returning to Vancouver. "We need to offer a reliable schedule to be able to make this work", says Captain Carson Tak.
We stopped at Saltspring Island's citrus farm. Farmer and researcher Jane Squier created a tropical greenhouse paradise where she grows kaffir lime leaves, sudachi mandarins, grapefruits, passionfruit, avocados and fingerlimes for trendy/hip Vancouver restaurants. Instead of flying in exotic fruits from far-away countries, we can now eat guilt-free, locally grown products.

Providence 1903 - Aging Well Like a Fine Wine

The 116 year old Providence has spent her entire life plying the sea and has not gotten tired. It was a fishing vessel in its early days, however it has been rebuilt as a charter ship. It now ships artisan products and people. While the company is still building up its network, we met more business owners with artisan goods who are eager to ship by wind and waves. Gulf Islanders embrace sustainability and the chance to break free from dependency on BC Ferries. The ship offers 20 tonnes of cargo that can be stored safely in the ship's belly. On this trip, the Providence brought over lemons and oranges from Saltspring Island, artisan ciders from Pender Island and mussels from the beds off Cortez Island.


Sail Away, Sail Away

There are some economic factors to consider in order to make this work for the future; Can local farmers supply enough products? Are clients prepared to accept longer delivery times? Due to unpredictable weather conditions, the duration of the trip can vary greatly. During our voyage we battled southwesterly winds which delayed our passage from Vancouver to Ganges. In those cases, the Providence has to run on their engine which is powered by bio-diesel made from recycled restaurant grease and fats. If you want to visit this beautiful historic ship and give your support, stroll down on a Saturday to Heritage Harbour - 1905 Ogden Ave, Vancouver, BC V6J 1A3, Canada and hop aboard to buy some fresh roasted Providence coffee off the deck or join the crew on their next sail-powered cargo tours: https://www.providence1903.com/sail-cargo-service.

Many thanks to partners @providencesailcargo, @thegardensaltspringisland, @inmykitchen. 

Photos provided by @barbaratiliphotography

How The Fashion Industry Is Destroying The Planet

By Steph Baker


The world is now producing and buying more clothes than ever.

In the last 15 years, the global clothing industry has approximately doubled in size. And because of the temporary nature of fashion, we are throwing away more clothes than ever. North America sends 9.5 million tonnes of clothing into landfill every year, of which 95% could be reused or recycled into new clothing. Less than 1% of it is.

What’s happened?

According to a study by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, clothing utilization (the amount of times an item of clothing is worn before being thrown away) has decreased by 36% compared to 15 years ago. Instead of repairing and preserving our clothes, we can too easily purchase cheap and quick replacements at the click of a button when a tear or bad stain appears. This consumer behaviour is driving the phenomenon of ‘fast fashion’. 


Quick to produce, quick to buy, quick to throw away.

Fast Fashion is a result of the high street fashion industry adapting the ‘more and cheaper’ business model. Collections are no longer released based on two seasons (summer, winter), they are released all year round, with some even reaching 52 ‘micro-seasons’. Because of this increasing demand on clothing, textiles suppliers are pressured to deliver to ever-tighter deadlines, encouraging irresponsible practices and side stepping environmental and human labour standards.

Fast fashion clothing is often produced by machines with synthetic or unsustainable raw materials. This enables them to be produced quickly and cheaply in bulk quantities. And with a speedy production system, they’re also quick to buy. Websites make it mindlessly easy for consumers to fill their baskets with just a few clicks, often offering the perks of next day delivery, so you can fill your wardrobe from the comfort of your own bed.

And naturally, the low price tag is the main driver of fast fashion. Cheap materials, high volume production and low labour costs in poorer countries means you can buy a pair of jeans for $13. Of course, their very nature predicts poor quality, and will likely fall apart within a matter of months -  destined for landfill or incineration.

This rash consumer behaviour is leading to an excessive amount of unwanted, unused clothes after only being worn a handful of times. It is estimated that more than half of fast fashion clothing is disposed of in under a year.

How does the fashion industry affect the environment?

The list of fashion-related environmental issues is extensive - but here are a few of the main areas to focus on. Remember, these issues are only being accelerated with fast fashion.

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1. Energy and Resources

“In 2015, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from textiles production totalled 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent, more than those of all international flights and maritime shipping combined.” Ellen Macarthur Study

Within every stage of a piece of clothings lifetime, energy is used and emissions are generated. It is predicted that around 98 million tonnes of non-renewable resources are used per year in the textiles industry. This includes crude oil to produce synthetic fibres such as polyester, fertilizers to grow cotton, and chemicals to treat and preserve the materials. 

The main sources of greenhouse gas emissions from the textiles industry are electricity consumption and thermal energy consumption, as well as gases such as methane and nitrous oxide resulting from chemical processes.

If the industry continues on its current path, by 2050, it could use more than 26% of the carbon budget associated with a 2°C global warming limit.

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2. Cotton Growth

Cotton accounts for 90% of all natural fibres used in the textiles industry. And for many good reasons - we don’t have to worry about cotton clogging up landfills because it biodegrades, it is a breathable and versatile fabric, and as a natural resource, it requires less chemical manufacturing than synthetic materials. 

But cotton’s benefits do not outweigh its drawbacks. Cotton farming is the single largest consumer of water in the textiles industry. The Water Footprint Network states that it takes over 30,000 litres of water to create 1kg of cotton, with one cotton shirt using approximately 2,700 litres of water - almost 3 years worth of drinking water. Cotton farming also uses harmful pesticides, fertilizers and insecticides causing tremendous damage to the air, water, soil, and the health of people in cotton-growing areas. 


3. Plastic Microfibres

Fast Fashion brands predominantly use petrochemical-based materials such as polyester and nylon due to their cheap costs and durability. When it comes to plastic pollution, most of us picture seaweed tangled bottles, fishing nets and grocery bags. What we don’t imagine are the billions of plastic microfibre particles shed from synthetic materials during washing. Fibres that shed from plastic-based materials such as polyester, nylon and acrylic are shedding microscopic pieces of plastic, which will never breakdown or disappear. One microfibre is roughly the size of half of a red blood cell - their microscopic size enables them to bypass wastewater treatment facilities and flow freely into rivers, lakes and oceans. It has been estimated that around half a million tonnes of plastic microfibres shed every year, with 1,900 fibres shedding off just one synthetic garment. Microfibres are now expected to be the most abundant form of plastic pollution in the ocean.


4. Chemical Dyes and Treatments

It is estimated that 17-20% of industrial water pollution globally is attributable to the dyeing and treatment of textiles. Worldwide, there are around 8,000 synthetic chemicals used to bleach, treat and colour our clothes, with most of the chemical run-off being released into waterways. Dye houses in India, China and Indonesia are notorious for dumping untreated wastewater into local streams and rivers. For every pound of textiles produced, a pound of chemicals are broken-down and illegally bled into rivers - colouring them unnatural shades of blood red, yellow and green. Toxic chemicals such as lead, mercury and arsenic have been found in some river run-off water samples in Indonesia. These chemicals pose a huge health risk for locals who depend on the rivers to survive, and an existential risk to marine life.

According to the World Bank, an estimated 90% of the local groundwater is polluted in China, with 72 toxic chemicals in the water supply from textile dyeing ( Ellen Macarthur Foundation )

According to the World Bank, an estimated 90% of the local groundwater is polluted in China, with 72 toxic chemicals in the water supply from textile dyeing (Ellen Macarthur Foundation)

The Solutions

“Buy Less. Choose Well. Make It Last” Vivienne Westwood

Consumer choice will be the driving force for change in the fashion industry.

By buying less and keeping more, the demands on the textiles industry will naturally decline. Stepping away from fast fashion and only investing in well made, sustainably sourced items built to last will not only relax fast textiles production, but benefit consumers wallets and the local community. 

Good Clothes Buying Mindfulness 

Buy Second Hand

Photo by  Duy Hoang  on  Unsplash

Photo by Duy Hoang on Unsplash

Buying second hand clothing is the equivalent of using recycled plastic bottles - buying recycled materials takes the demand off creating new materials. And beyond benefitting the environment, there are endless good reasons to buy recycled clothes:

  • Low Price Tags: Second hand clothes are generally a fraction of the cost of their original price tag. And let’s face it - there’s nothing like the satisfaction of finding a great piece by a top-notch brand that costs less than your dinner bill

  • Hidden Gems: Instead of buying from a brand who manufactures thousands of the same garment, buying used clothes means you’re browsing from the unique wardrobes of people all ages and cultures. Whether it’s an authentic leather jacket from the 80s or a yellow retro ski suit, wearing a one of a kind piece means you will also be, one of a kind…

  • Online Marketplace: As well as thrift stores and charity shops, second hand clothes are now being flogged online on platforms such as facebook marketplace, asos marketplace and craigslist. Just directly search what you’re after and visually rummage through all the goodies!

Buying new clothes

(Only if they spark joy, of course…)

1. Materials

If you are buying new clothes, always check the label. Avoid synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon, which are made from petrochemicals and can shed plastic microfibres. If you are going to buy cotton, make sure it’s organic. Organic cotton is grown with eco-friendly alternatives to pesticides and maintains proper soil maintenance so less water is needed for crop growth.

2. Sustainable Brands

Not all clothing labels are bad - in fact, there are an increasing amount of sustainable brands popping up each year in response to the exposure of fashion’s dirty secrets. Certifications such as Certified B Corporation, Fair Trade Certified or GOTS (Global Organic Textiles Standard) are good indicators of a truly sustainable brand.

Check out some suggestions for sustainable brands online - you might be surprised to see that your favourite shop is already doing their part! Here are a few of our favourite brands with the planet in mind:

Take care of your clothes

Home sewing and repairing was once the norm for faulty clothing garments. Rewind 100 years ago and having multiple outfits (though still not a touch on today’s standard wardrobe) reflected wealth and a high social status. Clothing was a luxury,  something people wanted to keep and preserve for as long as possible. Ensuring the longevity of our clothes is key to buying less. If you’re not a keen needle-threader, there are now brands who offer free in-store repairs, including Patagonia and Barbour.

Another important player in good clothes care is how we wash them. Most of us will already know the do’s and don’ts of laundry after a few too many tees unintentionally shrunk down small enough to fit a Borrower. Try not to overload your washing machine with clothes - the machine will work extra hard to move the clothes around and vigorously wear the materials down.

There are also ways to capture plastic microfibres shedding off your clothes in the laundry. The Cora Ball is designed to capture tiny fibres the same way that coral filters the ocean, and you can easily remove and discard the captured fuzz. Capture bags such as the Guppyfriend work to reduce the amount of fibres shedding whilst also protecting your clothes.

And finally…

When your clothes are completely unrepairable, unsellable and as good as rags - don’t throw them into landfill. Some clothes can be recycled into new clothes (but not all - this is material dependent), and some are used for other means, such as industrial rags and housing insulation. Check out this handy list of places you can recycle your clothes, including stores such as H&M and Value Village.