Archive for the 'Inspiration' Category


This is an incredibly inspiring, motivating video about wisdom? How do you define wisdom?

Small gestures, big outcomes

Sometimes the smallest of gestures can roll into a huge ball of kindness.  One less-fortunate school learned this recently.

It all started with a meeting.  Best Tools for Schools met with Harmony Public School to discuss the program.  Reluctantly, the Principal, Ms. Herr, had to turn down the opportunity to offer BTFS kits because most of the school’s parents simply can’t afford to buy school supplies. The school relies heavily on donations.

Laurie and Candace want to help ensure that all students get the supplies they need, so they helped form a partnership between Harmony Public School and a Toronto private school.  Parents at the private school can purchase donated kits that will go directly to their ‘adopted’ school.

That was only the beginning.

An article in on July 26 highlighted this partnership and the work Best Tools for Schools was doing to ensure students are assisted when in need.  The article was distributed on Twitter by Daryll Koster of Buster Rhinos.  He challenged other Durham-area businesses to donate as well.  He then donated 4 kits himself.

Elfie Hayes of Mortgage Intelligence in the meantime, after seeing the article, contributed 5 junior and 5 senior kits to the school.  In a small school, Daryll and Elfie’s contributions meant nearly 10% of the students were fully stocked with supplies, plus the additional 12 that the Toronto school had already contributed.

Small gestures.  Unexpected and welcomed acts of kindness multiplied in the matter of a day. 

Best Tools for Schools would like to thank everyone who is supporting schools in great need of supplies.  If you are interested in contributing to help schools and parents get supplies to students in the Ottawa are, you can contribute to the Supplies for Smaller Scholars Program.

Plastic Alternatives and Safe Plastic Alternatives: In the home and Back to School

Plastic is everywhere, and realistically, it would be a hard task to avoid it all together. However, as I said in my last post, you can avoid a lot of it; you just have to do your research when it comes to safe alternatives. I have put together a few products that I personally use in my home as well as a few others I have seen around that look interesting and that I may need to purchase in the next while!

Around the home

Food Storage – I came across this great Anchor Hocking glass container set a few years ago and I now have quite the collection! The containers are glass and they come with BPA/Phthalate/PVC free lids. I use them to store leftovers, to store baked goods, you name it. They are very versatile and can be used for much more than food. I have been using them for about 2 years now and have had no issues. They are dishwasher safe, and they refrigerate and freeze perfectly and the lids are recyclable.

I bought my set at Canadian Tire. Pay attention to those flyers; they put these sets on sale quite often!

Cutting Boards – This is a simple one. I bet most of you still have plastic boards in your kitchen. I did, up until not too long ago. When it comes to a wooden board, the thought of germs and bacteria getting into knicks and indents made over time may be a bit intimidating. However, if you take care of your board properly, clean it right and use separate boards for different foods (such as 1 for produce and another for meats) you will be good to go.

Mixing Bowls – I ditched my plastic mixing bowls a long time ago and started using these stainless steel bowls. Why didn’t I make the switch sooner? I love these bowls and I will never go back. These bowls in particular have rubber bases that prevent the bowl from moving around while you mix.

Back to School

School lunches are a big concern when it comes to disposable plastics and eco-friendliness. Let’s face it, lunches have the potential to create so much unnecessary waste, but it doesn’t have to be this way! Here are a few products that are healthier for you and for the planet.

LunchBots –We use these as a family and find that each one of them is amazing. They are constructed from 18/8 stainless steel (the same stainless steel that your cutlery is made from). They are dishwasher safe, extremely durable, will last for a VERY long time. They are perfect for little fingers and come in 4 different sizes and styles, one perfect for each member of the family. They can be used for snacks, lunches and if you feel extra creative and have lots of time on your hands, you can try this!

Reusable Snack Bags – Plastic baggies…yikes! Each year hundreds of thousands of plastic baggies make their way to the landfills. What is the point in using them once and then throwing them out? Why not buy something that can be used and washed over and over again? There are quite a few reusable and washable snack bags out there, but these happen to be my favourite. They are zippered which is what I love. They are plastic/ BPA/Phthalate/PVC free and have so many uses beyond snacks and lunches.

Lunch Boxes – There are quite a few great lunch boxes on the market, the trendy ones tend to be bento style and my top picks are Laptop Lunches, Goodbyn and Yubo. These lunchboxes are all wonderful eco-friendly options. They are all made from plastic but rest assured, they are made from safe plastics and they do not contain BPA/Phthalate/PVC. They are also all recyclable.

Stainless Steel Water bottles – There are TONS of different water bottles out there and their makers all claim that theirs is the best one. As a storeowner, when it came time to pick from the masses, the one that came out on top was thinksport. What I love about this bottle is that it keeps liquids hot or cold…for hours! There are two sizes, one geared towards adults (750ml), and the other for kids (350ml). If thinksport is not your thing, just be sure to stay away from plastic bottles and to make sure that you are buying a high quality non-leeching bottle. Do the homework; it will be worth it in the end.

Now you may look at the prices of some of these products and think “wow, that is expensive!”. However, think of the big picture. Think of the amount of money you would be spending to purchase their plastic equivalents repeatedly…plastic baggies, plastic containers, 1 use plastic water bottles…the useable lives of these products are not long and they stick around in landfills for a countless amount of years after you discard them. The products mentioned above will last you many years and in the end save you money, which is a good thing! The investment is worth it.

Of course, there will be times when you simply cannot avoid buying a plastic product. When you do buy a plastic product, be sure that it is constructed from a safe plastic and that when you are through with it that you recycle it.

Image Sources: Canadian Tire, Ikea, Nayla Natural Care, Laptop Lunches, Goodbyn & Yubo websites

Donate a Kit, help a child in need

We understand how stressful back to school shopping can be.  Not only are there school supply lists to shop for (which is why we started Best Tools for Schools), but new clothes, new shoes and backpacks to buy.  All of this makes for a stressful, and expensive time of year.

Unfortunately, too many children in our school systems simply can’t afford to purchase all of these items. 

We want to help.

That’s why we created our Supplies for Smaller Scholars Program.  Individuals and businesses can donate kits to kids in need simply by purchasing one or more on our website.

Kits are delivered to schools (in towns BTFS services) for September and school principals determine which children at their school are most in need.

We’ve been donating kits since the beginning of Best Tools for Schools.  Our philosophy is that in order for our children to succeed, other children need to as well.

Best Tools for Schools wants to give all children the best start with the best supplies.

Interested in donating a kit?  Here are the simple step-by-step instructions (or proceed online and follow the prompts):

  1. Visit our website at
  2. In the ‘Enter your 5 digit code’ box type one of the following:
    1. 00001 for a Junior Kit
    2. 00002 for a Senior Kit
    3. Click ‘Find’
    4. Click ‘Buy the Kit’
    5. Enter the following:
      1. For ‘First Name’: Donation
      2. For ‘Last Name’: Kit
      3. Select ‘Buy the Kit’
      4. At the check out, you can purchase more donated kits, or simply click ‘proceed to checkout’.  You will then be taken to Paypal for payment.

For businesses who would like to donate more than 10 kits please contact us at 1-866-980-1133.

We can’t thank you enough for helping us make the school day a little bit easier for many students.

Happiness is contagious

Happiness spreads through our networks of families and neighbours like an emotional flu bug, according to a huge medical study that tracked 4,700 average people and their moods for 20 years.  When one person becomes happy, the effect on a network of friends or relatives can be measured between up to three degrees of separation.  Your happiness starts a chain reaction that benefits your friends, your friends’ friends and friends’ friends’ friends (or relatives).  It helps if they live nearby.  The effect can keep spreading for up to one year. (Excerpt from an article in The Ottawa Citizen)

We want to spread the joy today.  Hope you catch the happy bug after you watch this!

Sound of Music/Central Station Antwerp

Lost Generation

Most of the time the e-mail we receive from our friends is quickly read and promptly put in the trash bin. We all just get so much mail, you can’t possibly keep it all.   Once in a while though, you get one that moves you.

We received this one today and loved it.  You may have seen it before but it’s worth watching again.  Enjoy and feel free to send us your comments.

Lost Generation on You Tube


Candace also blogs for
the Yummy Mummy Club!