An Inspired, Conscious Life

TEXT by Celine MacKay | PHOTOGRAPHS by Erin Monett



IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE THAT WE ARE ALREADY RELEASING VOLUME 10. It feels like both an eternity and the blink of an eye that I started this venture—an eternity because the work consumes me and it can be hard, and the blink of an eye because I still feel ignited by the passion and ethos behind the magazine, and I desire nothing more than to see it grow exponentially and to see my desire to affect change realized. Recently, we solidfied our mission, which is no small thing to put on paper. As I went through the necessary reflections to write it, I realized that I have never truly shared the backstory of Pure Green and my evolution toward living an inspired, conscious life, something I'd love to remedy now. Pure Green is always evolving, and our most recent evolution was a pretty giant step with the launch of our new site, the creation of our online community, and the offering of digital content. These changes were made to serve you better, to grow the PGM community in a meaningful way, and to take steps towards turning Pure Green into the successful company it deserves to be. I think of it day and night, and as I think about where we are going, thoughts of where we came from cannot help but rise to the surface.


Living green has always been a part of my ethos, as the values were instilled in me from childhood. Aside from growing up in Muskoka, surrounded by trees and lakes, my mother was committed to health and natural foods, which meant grinding our own flour, making pasta, bread, preserves, yogurt and more. We were homeschooled, and lived in an artful and family-oriented home. It was less about living green back then, and more about a healthful way of living. It is this state of mind that I adhere to as an adult. I don’t believe that green should be a movement; it should be a way of life.

However, growing up a certain way and continuing that life as an adult are two different things. My lifelong commitment to living healthfully, naturally and consciously was solidifed by two simultaneous events. The first was disovering a book called Ecoholic by Adria Vasil—she, and my mother, are largely to credit for my obsession with conscious living. I came across her book by chance, picked it up, and was soon underlining and dog-earing pages like mad. Her book, in rather alarming detail, proceeds to cast a downright scary light on the things we put in our homes, use on our body, and do to our planet. She knocks you down in fantastic fashion, BUT, she provides hope with suggestions for alternatives and writes in a light tone keeping some of the panic at bay. I was reminded of the way I was raised, but it was the first time I had encountered actual scientific evidence that there was merit to such a lifestyle. I no longer saw it as a choice, but as a duty to live and do better. While reading Ecoholic I distinctly remember chasing my husband around the house, quoting the book and chucking out toothpaste and deodorant at the same time. I took a rather fanatical approach and purged our lives in a matter of weeks. I read more books, and then more, and became immersed in educating myself in all the toxins and pollutants we were exposing ourselves to every day. I told my family and friends, petitioned them to do the same because I cared so much, but it wasn't long before I realized that the place of fear that I had gotten to didn't feel good either. I could see my non-green friends glazing over when I started in on their toxic beauty routines, and I also felt disheartened when I read yet another report on global warming. I wanted to find another way to communicate my message, but do it in a way that seemed empowering, positive, and beautiful rather than depressing, fearful, or hopeless.


The second event was renovating my first home with my future husband, PGM food editor Jonathan. I had had few prior experiences that opened my eyes to waste like renovating. We filled dumpsters with tired paneling, even more tired kitchen cabinet doors, old siding, insulation, etc. There is no experience more humbling than a trip to the dump, where one realizes that very little ever truly "goes away". Our home had been built in the 50s so many materials we were uncovering were suspect, things like asbestos in the walls, insulation and flooring, and lead paint. When the time came to finally fix the giant mess we'd made, we realized that green, nontoxic building materials were nearly nonexistent in Canada at the time. We went ahead and finished the reno anyway, doing the best we could with what we had available, but I had definitely noted this sorry lack.


As we completed the renovation on our home, we had spent a great deal of time researching alternative building products, and with the help of Adria's book, we sourced green building products, arranged for distribution, risked it all and opened a store in 2008 called Sustain in our home town to sell them. At the time, we were one of 5 stores dedicated solely to green and nontoxic building products, and we are now one of the oldest too. When we opened our doors, there was a common conversational thread among our customers who expressed surprise that green design could be so stylish. Eventually, I realized there was a need for a resource which presents green in a diverse, modern, beautiful and accessible way. Enter: Pure Green. 


Since then, Pure Green has evolved from simply a blog, to an online magazine, to a print magazine, and now to a hybrid digital and print publication, but since the beginning it has been our intent to craft a new conversation around green living. In fact, we've shed the words green, or eco, or sustainable intentionally because they are polarizing words. You are not green, or not-green. You are evolving, and each of us lives on a spectrum of green moving towards something more sustainable every day. There are plenty of people greener than I. (I don't live off the land in an Earthship, for example!) There is lots of media reporting on the dire state of our environment everyday, and I wanted to be part of the change, but in a way that felt more accepting and harmonious to me. I truly believe that fear is a barrier to progress, so I have opted for a different way, by telling stories using beautiful imagery and thoughtful words of people who live an inspired, conscious life, in the hopes that it would inspire change in readers. And I believe that it's working. Pure Green is now read by thousands daily online, and in print around the world. It's been a humbling journey, that is certain, and it has been hard work. Very hard work. But the rewards in seeing this community grow has been beyond measure, and we have dreams, really big dreams. Help us realize them by subscribing today, and know how truly grateful I am. 


I want to continue this discussion centered around defining and sharing the "how-to" on living an inspired, conscious life as defined by me and Pure Green. I'll share a little of what I've learned along the way, and some of what I'm still learning. I'll walk you through "detoxing" your life, if you care to join me. If you've read this far, thank you for sticking with me, and I'd like you to feel welcome to ask me questions on what you're curious about in terms of this lifestyle. I'll address them either in a new post, in the comments below or perhaps even in a magazine feature! Please leave a comment below or email your questions/comments using our contact form

A note about the photography:

These were taken by a dear friend and longtime contributor to the magazine, Erin Monett. I owe a lot of our beginnings to Erin, who largely introduced me to the world of beautiful photography and I am forever grateful and indebted to her. It was with her that I developed an eye for good imagery, and with practice and her patience I developed my styling capabilities as well. These images, while not related to building, felt right to share with this post since they are reflective and sentimental!