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Vote for Vancouver’s Greenest Family!

At the beginning of April, and launched our search for Vancouver’s Greenest Family. We asked you to enter, and you did. We were so inspired by all the steps you’re taking to green your lives, and your enthusiasm over living more sustainably. It was very difficult to narrow our field down to five finalists – but that was what our judges were tasked with, so that’s what they did. Today we’re thrilled to be sharing them with you. We know you’ll find them every bit as inspiring as we do.

Vancouver’s Greenest Family Finalists

In alphabetical order, here are our five finalists:

The Bal Family

vancouver's greenest family balPreet and Harwinder Bal have two kids, aged two-and-a-half and nine months, and they live in Vancouver. They have dedicated their entire front yard, a large portion of their backyard, and even built four raised beds on their roof to growing food and beneficial plants. They are loyal customers, taking pride in the fact that the grocery choices are local, and delivered to their door. Some of their family favorites include ground bison, and chocolate croissants. They also reduce, reuse and recycle, switching to e-billing for their utility bills and amassing a good stock of reusable grocery bags. As well, Preet and her sister started a recycling initiative for the annual Vaisakhi parade in Vancouver, urging the city to mandate recycling at public events. But their biggest representation of being green is their home. Last year they completed construction and moved into a highly energy efficient new home. Their house was featured in the February edition of BC Hydro’s connected newsletter and is recognized as a Power Smart Home, with an Energuide rating of 89, which puts it in the upper end of the “highly energy-efficient new house” category. Highlights include solar hot water heating, an air source heat pump, Energy Star rated applicances, large south-facing windows to allow for substantial amounts of natural light, programmable thermostats and LED lighting for high traffic areas. Their sons enjoy the harvest of their garden, and as they get older they’ll get involved in recycling initiatives. When asked what they love about their lifestyle, they said, “It comes naturally. It makes sense, and as new parents it needs to happen for our kids.”

The Behnke Family

vancouver's greenest family behnkeGillian Behnke was one of our Top 30 Vancouver Mom Bloggers for 2010, and so it’s fitting that she submitted her entry as a blog post. This North Vancouver mom of two kids – aged three and six – doesn’t own a hybrid, doesn’t wear all organic cotton fibres and doesn’t have a living roof…unless moss counts. But her family does quite a number of things on a daily basis that make them green. They grow their own veggies, mostly from seed. They limit their energy consumption by choosing LED or CFL bulbs, installing “low-e” windows and “High-R” insulation, and using an energy detective to chart their power usage. They also downsized one of their cars from a minivan to a smaller vehicle recently. Their biggest change, though, was reducing their garbage output to less than one kitchen bag per week by composting and recycling (including things that don’t go in the regular blue box). Their kids help with the veggie garden, get involved in recycling, and love to work with the compost. Gillian lists a number of other small changes, including making her own deodorant, removing all products containing parabens from their home, carrying reusable shopping bags, using a push lawn mower, and using green cleaning products. She says, “I love that we do all of these things because they are simple and we know they have an impact on the world around us.”

The Gillis-Land-Murphy Family

Ed Gillis and Jocelyn Land-Murphy live in New Westminster with their three-year-old and five-year-old. They’re taking lots of steps towards living a green lifestyle. They don’t own a car, cycling everywhere together on their bikes. Their awesome three-seater starts conversations everywhere they go. They eat an organic, vegan, local diet. And they don’t own a TV, preferring to spend their free time exploring and enjoying the outdoors. They’re also taking steps to make it easier for their neighbours and friends to be green, too. They started a compost program, children’s veggie garden and monthly vegetarian pot luck at their housing co-op. This was inspired by The Otesha Project,a bike-touring, theatre-based organization promoting a sustainable lifestyle, which Jocelyn co-founded in 2002. Their kids get involved, learning to ride a two-wheeler without training wheels by age three, heping to choose, buy and cook their vegan meals, gardening and composting, and hanging wet clothes on the drying rack, among other things. Jocelyn says that being green, “Is a set of values that links us together as a family and offers us an incredible amount of family activities to do together! It gives our children a sense of self-awareness and self-esteem for contributing positively to the Earth and all its inhabitants.” They also created a fabulous submission video, which we encourage you to take a few minutes to watch.

The Jang Family

vancouver's greenest family jang familyStan and Elisabeth Jang live in Vancouver with their 13-year-old and 15-year-old. They’re committed to living sustainably. They don’t own a dryer, choosing to air dry their laundry to save energy. They’re frugal with their hot water, since heating accounts for 21.5% of home energy use according to Fortis BC. They hand wash their dishes and take “navy showers“. They also have geothermal space heating in their certified air tight house, which is significant because Fortis says that heating your home accounts for 55.8% of home energy use. They cycle almost everywhere. Their kids walk to school and cycle or bus to extra-cirucular activities. Her husband rides to his job sites as a Certified Energy Advisor, suprising many homeowners by arriving at their homes for an energy assessment on a bicycle pulling 45kg of equipment. Elisabeth cycles to work, clocking in about 100km per week. In fact, she even rode to the hospital to deliver her first child, and she walked home afterward. Their kids don’t need encouragement to get involved – they “get it”. When asked what she loves about her green lifestyle, Elisabeth writes, “By consuming just what we need, we reduce the strain we place on Mother Earth, and we benefit from the financial savings.” To find out more about the Jangs, check out this story CTV did on their green family in 2009.

The McEachern Family

vancouver's greenest family mceachernThe McEachern family lives on a small acreage in Maple Ridge with their three young children, aged four, six and ten. They own a hybrid plug in electric car, they commit to completely litterless and plastic-free lunches, and they make all their own body products and cleaning products. They also raise as much of their own food as possible. They have an organic vegetable garden, fruit trees and bushes, honey bees, chickens and dairy goats on just under two acres. Their kids get involved collecting eggs, helping with the animal chores and helping to harvest the food. Mom Leona is providing her son’s class with a class garden, teaching them how to grow their own food and where their food comes from. Leona says, “An all natural lifestyle is liberating. Once you stop dealing with chemicals you realize that you can, indeed, make, grow and raise your own food and products from basic ingredients that are safe for the body and the environment. An all natural lifestyle is simple, and teaches the difference between want and need. An all natural lifestyle is sustainable. We are living not only for our children, but for our children’s children. Our footprint makes a difference.” You can read more about their green lifestyle at their blog, My Healthy Green Family.

The Prize

As you can see, our roster of green families is quite impressive. But before you cast your vote for the one you feel is actually Vancouver’s Greenest Family, we’d like to remind you what they’re competing for. In addition to bragging rights, the winning family will receive a prize package valued at over $1500, including all these goodies:

vancouver's greenest family
One month of FREE groceries delivered to your door
Valued at $300

Golden Ears Cheesecrafters

vancouver's greenest family golden ears cheesecrafters
Locally made artisan cheeses
Valued at $175

Happy Planet

vancouver's greenest family happy planet
Fresh, all natural, premium delicious soups and chili
Valued at $200

Salt Spring Coffee

vancouver's greenest family salt spring coffee
Get caffeinated
Valued at $100


vancouver's greenest family vega
A gift basket full of energy
Valued at $100


vancouver's greenest family glutenull
Delicious locally crafted gluten free treats!
Valued at $65

Left Coast Naturals

vancouver's greenest family hippie foods
Delicious snacking basket
Valued at $100

Terra Breads

vancouver's greenest family terra breads
Gift basket of goodies
Valued at $80

GM Canada

vancouver's greenest family
Drive a Chevrolet Volt for one week

Nature’s Path

vancouver's greenest family nature's path
Gift basket
Valued at $150

Sapadilla Soap Co.

vancouver's greenest family spadilla
Green cleaning package
Valued at $60

Fable Naturals

vancouver's greenest family fable naturals
Local, natural skin care
Valued at $48

Vote for Vancouver’s Greenest Family

Now that you’ve read all about our families, and you’re familiar with the prize that Vancouver’s Greenest Family will win, it’s time to vote! Voting closes at 12:00 noon on Monday, April 29, 2013. You may vote for one family, up to once per day, until then.

[polldaddy poll=7052925]
Happy Earth Day, and happy voting!

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  • Guy Boileau
    April 22, 2013 at 11:40 am

    There is absolutely no doubt what-so-ever, that, despite their crazy lengthy family name, the “Gillis-Land-Murphy” crew is by far the greenest family in Vancouver. And parents have been living by example for years and years. An inspiration for many. Congrats to all of you! GuyB.

  • Enid McLernon
    April 22, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    I vote for the McEachern Family

  • Marieke
    April 22, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    I’m voting for the McEachern family! Read the website and follow on Facebook and you will see why. I happened to meet Ms. McEachern in person while we were both waiting for our children in swimming lessons, and am very glad I did get to meet her! By her example, and through her education in person and through her website, she has turned my mind toward starting to implement healthier, greener ways of living. Since meeting her, I have started washing my hair with baking soda/vinegar (did wonders!) And, after she let me watch her make soap, I have plans to get going with that project once materials are in place–very inspiring! And, I have completely used up some home made deodorant that she gave to me, never expecting anything in return (by the way, it worked wonderfully, in fact, better than any green product that I have ever purchased–it actually worked!!!) Ms. McEachern is kind and generous!!! And, her enthusiasm is contagious. Would love to follow this family’s example of raising backyard chickens someday…hoping for some city bylaw changes! Love reading about all the green activities that this family is involved in through the website. I know this family would be a GREAT candidate for this prize!!!

  • Thanh
    April 22, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    The Jang’s got to be the greenest. She rode her bike to the hospital to give birth…crazy.

  • Kathleen McEachern
    April 23, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Ryan and Leona McEachern are definitely the greenest family I know. But the real reason that I think you should vote for them is that they are so willing so share with everyone all the things that they have learned about living sustainably in their corner of the earth. This year, their son’s class is coming to plant a vegetable garden on their land. So far Ryan has rototilled the spot, added composted manure, and Leona has helped the kids transplant their seedling tomato plants and is keeping them in her living room until their unheated greenhouse is warm enough for the tomatoes to be planted in there. They have helped the class plant potatoes in the ground and roped off that area for them. Leona supplied the potatoes too! Leona also generously shares every recipe that she develops or finds with all her friends and followers on her blog. She has made the most lovely face cream and many other products. With her help, I now make my own dishwasher soap, toothpaste, and granola. Even the cherished honey from their hives has been shared with the rest of the family as gifts. So yes, there are lots of worthy green families out there (isn’t that wonderful!) but I think Leona and Ryan McEachern are also the most generous with their knowledge and experience. I really appreciate their generous and sharing spirit with the community and anyone they meet. This is the best way to improve our world! Vote for the McEacherns family. Thanks!

  • joan MacNab
    April 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    I will vote for Preet and her familly. They are an inspiration to all of us, especially the south asian community.

  • Marion Lewis
    April 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    I think this family is the one to make number one because of all they have shared with others to help us all become as green as we want to be. I used to do so many of these things when young and got away from it over the years with my children all growing up and now I have retired and get on her blog I am encouraged again. I have chickens for eggs and compost. a lovely raised garden bed, 3 blueberry shrubs and as part of the front landscaping I have included 2 cherry trees and two apple trees and enjoying the blooms from them already. My whole yard is more peaceful because of people like Ryan and Leona who are willing to share all the good things. I have used organic, “green” cleaners for over 40 years and still wouldn’t be without them but so fun to learn of others so interested in keeping as green as possible. Thank you Leona and Ryan McEachern for spurring me on to do even more. I could hardly go to sleep last night thinking of the worm farm I will start after attending a composting seminar. Which I would not likely have done without your encouragement.

  • Hika Ito
    April 25, 2013 at 10:42 pm

    Wow, I think all the families deserve a round of applause for their efforts to live in a greener society. Truly inspiring. A tough decision, but I’m going with Preet and the Bal Family. I was impressed with the modifications that they’ve made to their home, especially after reading about it in BC Hydro’s newsletter. Despite the higher initial costs, they chose the greener route and now have an energy-efficient home with lower utility bills. This is something that all home buyers could learn from. Well done.

  • Sarah
    April 25, 2013 at 11:53 pm

    The Gillis-Land-Murphy family lead by example for their children and their peers to celebrate being green and making it fun! They enjoy all of Vancouver by bike, skis and foot! Their compassion for others and nature is inspiring! Vote for the Greenest family…………..Gillis-Land-Murphy!!

  • Hargo
    April 26, 2013 at 10:07 am

    Preet and Bal family definately the greenest and teaching their kids how to go green by living by example.

  • Lisa
    April 26, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    I agree with Thanh… and I’m voting for the Jang family!
    I remember reading an interesting article about their house (LEED-certified?) in the paper.

  • lisa
    April 27, 2013 at 10:31 am

    I met the Gillis Land Murphy family 2 years ago…Ed and his sons Heron 3 and Sitka 1 1/2 brought a huge donation of food to where I worked…St Barnabas Emergency Food Bank. Ed and his boys went out on Halloween and instead of collecting candy they ask for non perishable foods. I did not see them till the next Halloween and now all 3 show up each and every Friday to help me hand out food to the people in need in New Westminster. They are a wonderful addition to our Emergency Food Bank…our customers just love the boys! I am in AWE over how Ed is with his boys…calm, caring…just a breath of fresh air. Heron, Sitka and Ed come willing to work, they help carrying boxes, putting bread in the freezer with huge smiles on their faces. They Are the greenest family I know!!!!

  • DM
    April 28, 2013 at 11:59 am

    By choosing to live in a small multi family co-op unit instead of a large single family house, the Gillis-Land-Murphy clan is being way greener than any of the others, even before you start considering other factors. If this contest is truly about which family is the most environmentally friendly, they win, hands down.

  • Enid McLernon
    April 28, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I think the McEachern Family are the Greenest family Their recipes and facebook posts are very interesting and makes ones want to do their part in having a Green world

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