Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

Green from the Get Go

By Michelle Mather

It’s spring and the world around me is greening up before my eyes! The lawn, which was brown just a few days ago, has quickly turned into a lovely emerald green thanks to all of the wonderful sunshine and rain we’ve had. Trees are breaking bud and wildlfowers are blooming. It’s easy to love spring!

People are “greening up” too. I’ve noticed that more people are identifying themselves as “environmentalists” and newspapers and magazines are full of articles and tips on how to live a more “planet-friendly” lifestyle. A few of my long-time friends, who know that Cam and I have been enviro-conscious for over 20 years, have said to me “You must be so happy that everyone is finally listening – you guys were way ahead of your time.”

Cam speaks at an Earth Day event in 1992 that he helped to organize

Businesses are beginning to make changes too. Every day I read or hear about another business that has managed to reduce their energy requirements, or begin to recycle their packaging or cut down on their transportation. Often I read about these businesses with a sense of wonder…. I wonder how they have manged to stay in business and be successful while  apparently being wasteful and inefficient and with an obvious disregard for the planet!

It makes me realize what a truly different business Aztext Press is. Right from the start, we have made decisions based on our environmental consciousness. Obviously when you run a business “off-the-grid” you run it as energy efficiently as possible and the energy you do use is “green” and renewable. We use laptop computers which are more energy efficient and we turn our computers, printers and lights off when not in use. Ever notice how well lit most office buildings are, even late at night?

We’ve never bought packaging for our products… we have always just re-used the boxes and packaging that our books and DVDs come in and I visit local grocery stores to pick up the rest of the boxes we’ve needed for shipping etc.

We learned early on in the publishing business that one way we could cut costs would be to have our books printed in China. Even when you factor in the cost of shipping finished books across the planet, it would be cheaper for us to print our books in China. We choose to pay a higher price to print our books here in Canada which not only employs Canadians but keeps our transportation carbon footprint smaller. We then warehouse our books at our printer in Manitoba which is a more central location for shipping them to our distributor in the U.S. or throughout the rest of Canada.

To be honest, when I try to list all of our “green” practices here at Aztext Press, it is hard to identify them. Living lightly has been part of my life for so long that I find it hard to remember how other people/businesses do things!

Of course the “greenest” aspect of our business is the subject matter. Helping our readers to learn and make decisions about energy efficiency, renewable energy, transportation and organic gardening is the most important thing we do!



  1. Rita Marsh

    I see now that there are businesses trying to be “green” and sustainable but sometimes the whole industry should be a moot point. Take for example the paper industry. Paper napkins, paper towels and paper dinnerware can all be made from a recycled material, which is good, but the point is that it is better to use non-disposable products in the first place. But you don’t want to target a whole industry, they tend to get defensive, unless you can show how they can easily slip into something that will make them just as much money without taking a loss in profits or employees. People tend to want to maintain the status quo if it means they will continue to receive that paycheck. The solutions shouldn’t cause loss of livelihood.
    I applaud your decision to not ship your printing needs to China. As businesses we need to look locally for as much as we can, and constantly consider whether our “needs” are real, or just “wants”.

    • aztextpress

      Thanks Rita. Speaking of paper products, about 15 years ago we hosted a potluck dinner for our neighbours in Burlington. About twenty-three of us enjoyed a meal together. We used real plates and cutlery and cloth napkins and tablecloths. At the end of the dinner, we composted all of the food scraps and washed and re-used all of the dishes and cutlery and cloth napkins. Not a single bit of garbage was made. Many of my neighbours didn’t seem to understand why this was so important, but I was proud of our accomplishment that night!
      Instead of paper towels we use rags… in fact some of the rags are made out of the cloth diapers that my babies (now 23 and 21) wore! We don’t buy tissues in this house – all of us have our own supply of cloth hankies. I’m afraid the paper napkin, paper towel and paper plate companies aren’t being kept in business by me! 🙂

  2. Rita Marsh

    For some reason it always makes me chuckle when we have people over for dinner for the first time and the confused look on their face when I hand them a cloth napkin. My napkins are made from the fabric of cast off clothing. I cut them into squares and hem the edges. The clothes had been destined for Goodwill. They had a lovely flower pattern and seemed to be mostly a cotton mix. Good absorption. They launder up nice as well. I have had to live very frugally for some time now and reuse whatever I can. I do a lot of repair to my clothing to make them last longer. I just repaired a hole in the bottom of the slippers my mom knitted for me a couple of years ago for Christmas. There are some of my clothes which seem to spend an inordinate time in my mending basket. For my health I cook from scratch which takes up a bit of time. So I try to find ways to make more of what a meal is so I can put the extra servings in the freezer. I also have several things I make up in large batches when the ingredients go on sale. Doing for yourself takes time, but having someone else do things for you takes money. Right now that is in short supply. The frugal times come and go. There is always something wonderful to look forward to. Keep up the great work. I enjoy your writing tremendously. Change will happen when each one of us takes steps toward it. 🙂
    As a side note, I heard Cam’s talk on the Survivalist Podcast. It was nice being able to put a voice to a face. It was enjoyable and informative. Thank you to you both!


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