I Spy Parent Interview: Julia Mackiewicz, founder of GoGreenInStages.com
On the occasion of Earth Day, we’re talking to fellow Montreal parent Julia Mackiewicz, a West Island resident who runs GoGreenInStages.com, an online shop that sells waste-free lunch kits, stainless steel water bottles, biodegradable tableware and environmentally friendly cleaning products.
I Spy Montreal: Hi Julia, please introduce yourself.
Julia: I founded GoGreenInStages.com, an on-line store that sells eco-friendly products to individuals and organizations, in 2008. My background is in education and the arts, but I’ve been aware and sensitive to environmental issues since my university days. I live in the West Island with my husband and our six-year-old son, Liam.
ISM: Go Green in Stages offers littlerless lunch kits – are they becoming more popular as schools discourage lunch waste? What is your most popular product?
Julia: We offer quite a number of litterless lunch products such as stainless steel water bottles and food containers, as well as washable lunch bags.
There has been a lot of interest in the last year or so expressed by schools and parents in general about finding quality, healthy alternative products to replace single-use (and often plastic-based) products that students use at lunch time. Knowledge and concerns over BPA found in some plastic containers has fueled that interest as well as a recognition that using plastic film wrap or baggies as a single-use product amounts to tons of waste at the end of a school year.
It’s estimated that each student generates approximately 60 pounds of waste a year just from their school lunch waste. Small changes to lunch preparation can dramatically bring down that number and give our landfills a break. So, through our site’s blog and newsletter, we try to offer useful tips on these and other health and environmental issues. Our stainless steel food containers and lunch bags (from Built NY) are extremely popular.
Individuals and companies are also interested in our compostable tableware products in the event that reusable containers aren’t practical. We sell glasses, plates, cutlery and take-out containers that are biodegradable and compostable (made from sugar cane fibre or corn) and we sold quite a lot of glasses to sponsors of the Vancouver Olympic Games when they hosted their events this past February.
ISM: Can you suggest any fun ways or projects to encourage kids (and parents) to go green?
Julia: My son and I love to drop in on garage sales to see what books we can find. We have a recycling bin everywhere we have a garbage bin, like the kitchen and bathrooms. We compost, so we generally have very little garbage to take out (quite a bit of composting for our backyard composter and a lot of recycling to put out, though!) We also have a bird feeder, which, along with the worms (which love our composter), bring in a lot of different birds to our back yard. We’re trying to shop in stores where they keep the packaging to a minimum (like Ikea) and we always bring our shopping bags with us.
ISM: Can you share any favourite weekend family activities or destinations?
Julia: Our family enjoys cycling and the many parks in our area. A favourite place year round is Bois-de-Liesse park, where we go hiking, cross-country skiing and tobogganing. The Cap St-Jacques Park trails, sugar shack and animal farm are always on our to-do list, as is the Ecomuseum and ice cream on Ste. Anne de Bellevue’s boardwalk. We love living in the West Island. There’s so much to do and many great green spaces – like Angell Woods– which we try to enjoy almost every day.
ISM: Great to meet you, Julia!