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    Parenting, Green Living and Aging Well.

    Parenting, Green Living and Family

    Parenting, Green Living and Family

    Filtering by Category: Aviva Health + Wellness

    Audit Your Pantry

    Green Family Hub


    12 Yucky (As in Dangerously Toxic) Household Chemicals to Avoid


    Audit Your Pantry: 12 Toxic Household Chemicals To Avoid 

    Audit Your Pantry: 12 Toxic Household Chemicals To Avoid 

    Between grocery shopping and getting the kids to school, there is little time to think about if the products we use are safe for our children and the environment they live in.  Many baby items and toys can be more harmful than we think.  Although the good news is that through public awareness many individuals and families can now reduce their families exposure to harmful chemicals - like parabens, petrolatum and phthalates.

    Here are the following recommendations for new moms and families wanting a healthier environment for their families.  You can start by doing a quick audit of your bathroom and replace any potentially harmful ingredients in cosmetics with safer alternatives.  They are identified here in bold – and through The Dirty Dozen Guide by the David Suzuki Foundation – using the naming convention Health Canada requires for Canadian cosmetic ingredient lists.

    1. BHA and BHT

    Used mainly in moisturizers and makeup as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disruptors and may cause cancer (BHA). Harmful to fish and other wildlife. 

    2. Coal tar dyes:

    p-phenylenediamine and colours listed as "CI" followed by a five digit number

    In addition to coal tar dyes, natural and inorganic pigments used in cosmetics are also assigned Colour Index numbers (in the 75000 and 77000 series, respectively).

    Look for p-phenylenediamine hair dyes and in other products colours listed as "CI" followed by five digits.1 The U.S. colour name may also be listed (e.g. "FD&C Blue No. 1" or "Blue 1").  Potential to cause cancer and may be contaminated with heavy metals toxic to the brain. 

    3. DEA-related ingredients

    Used in creamy and foaming products, such as moisturizers and shampoos. Can react to form nitrosamines, which may cause cancer.  Harmful to fish and other wildlife.  Look also for related chemicals MEA and TEA. 

    4. Dibutyl phthalate

    Used as a plasticizer in some nail care products. Suspected endocrine disrupters and reproductive toxicant. Harmful to fish and other wildlife. 

    5. Formaldehyde-releasing preservatives

    Look for DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine and quarternium-15. Used in a variety of cosmetics. Slowly release small amounts of formaldehyde, which causes cancer. 

    6. Parabens

    Used in a variety of cosmetics as preservatives. Suspected endocrine disrupters and may interfere with male reproductive functions. 

    7. Parfum (a.k.a. fragrance)

    Any mixture of fragrance ingredients used in a variety of cosmetics — even in some products marketed as "unscented." Some fragrance ingredients can trigger allergies and asthma. Some linked to cancer and neurotoxicity. Some harmful to fish and other wildlife. 

    8. PEG compounds

    Used in many cosmetic cream bases. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Also for related chemical propylene glycol and other ingredients with the letters "eth" (e.g., polyethylene glycol). 

    9. Petrolatum

    Used in some hair products for shine and as a moisture barrier in some lip balms, lip sticks and moisturizers. A petroleum product that can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which may cause cancer. 

    10. Siloxanes

    Look for ingredients ending in "-siloxane" or "-methicone." Used in a variety of cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. Suspected endocrine disrupter and reproductive toxicant (cyclotetrasiloxane). Harmful to fish and other wildlife. 

    11. Sodium laureth sulfate

    Used in foaming cosmetics, such as shampoos, cleansers and bubble bath. Can be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, which may cause cancer. Look also for related chemical sodium lauryl sulfate and other ingredients with the letters "eth" (e.g., sodium laureth sulfate). 

    12. Triclosan

    Used in antibacterial cosmetics, such as toothpastes, cleansers and antiperspirants. Suspected endocrine disrupter and may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Harmful to fish and other wildlife.


    The first steps individuals and family members can do to get started on creating a much healthier and safer home for their family is to start with doing a quick audit of your pantry, fridge and bathroom cabinets. Check your labels and if you see any of these ingredients - don’t panic. Eliminate them and reduce your exposure to those harmful chemicals by recycling those products. It may seem daunting at first after realizing how many food labels and household products are filled with unnecessary ingredients but just think you can have a clean slate by filling your cleaned out pantry, fridge and bathroom cabinets with safer non-toxic alternatives.
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    Top 5 Ways For Your Mind and Body To Stay Healthy

    Green Family Hub

    Life moves so fast that sometimes you have to just slow down and take a moment to think about what truly matters in life.  As parents, and working professionals we learn to put home life, work life and others before ourselves and after a while your body and mind can really start to show the signs of stress.  The good thing is that we can learn to recognize common body stress triggers and replace good habits that can hopefully replace any of the bad habits that we haven't yet kicked.  Behaviour experts tell us, that even the smallest changes can make big impacts and incorporating these small tips can help you get on the right path to making big changes towards good health and overall well-being.

    1) Let's Talk About Your Stress Levels + What Happens To Your Body

     When you get stressed what happens is you start to feel common Acute Stress symptoms that can be described as a reactionary trigger, when you are under a lot of stress your adrenal glands produce adrenaline and cortisol that causes your heart rate to speed up, blood pressure rises which then send more signals to your liver to release glucose and increases more blood flow to muscles.  These flight responses can leave you feeling even more restless and frustrated to the point where you are not able to think clearly and it causes you to get more angry and less able to control your emotions.  Some people rage through a fight/flight response and of course those responses can leave you feeling more down about yourself and ultimately lead to Chronic Stress symptoms.  Chronic stress is a game changer and can wreck havoc on your whole body, it can cause high blood pressure problems, lower your fertility, and weaken your immune system.  It can also create some serious heart and stomach problems such as abnormal heartbeat, irritable bowel syndrome, peptic ulcers, heart failure and increases your risks for a stroke and heart attack. 

    2) Learn How To Effectively Manage Your Stress

    Although it may be hard to remember to try these tips out when your are experiencing a bad day, try remembering what stress does to your overall health.  Stress increases a hormone cortisol which increases blood sugar, stores fat, is toxic to neurons and suppresses immunity. Your overall health and mind are just too important not to give them a try.  Next time your are having a less than favourable day try removing yourself from the situation and walk it out.  Remember to breathe it out, give yourself a moment and opportunity to control the situation effectively.   If you need some alone time to think and sort out your feelings definitely take that time out to put things back into perspective. 

    3) Work Out Smarter (Not Harder)

    Incorporating regular exercise into your daily routine actually causes your Pituitary glands to release endorphins that can help with easing anxiety.  Besides helping you feel much more happier, fitness experts tell us, that if we all made small lifestyle changes, such as setting aside time to do at least 3 sessions of 10-30 minutes per week that even with short and intense workouts - it still will provide us with improved athletic capacity and a healthy metabolism.  Best of all it is as equally fat burning as being on the treadmill for an hour.  You can incorporate reminders right from your mobiles, or tablets to book your workouts on your calendar and to set a phone reminder to reinforce that they are just as important as other obligations.

    4)  Minimize Blood Sugar Spikes

    Rapid absorption of carbohydrates will lead to quick increases in blood sugar. Your body responds by releasing insulin which lowers blood sugar levels, but is also responsible for fat storage as well as making you feel fatigued. You can reduce the risk of a stroke and heart attack and also reduce many other future chronic diseases by eating smaller, more frequent meals - doing so will decrease how much carbohydrates you absorb at once. Another great step is to change from eating simple sugars present in white flour and sweets to low-glycemic complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes that get absorbed slower. Eating foods with high fiber will result in even less absorption and are healthy for the gut. Remember to avoid eating too many carbohydrates and sugar laden-drinks such as soda and concentrated juices which allow you to consume too many simple sugars in a short amount of time causing major insulin spikes that can't be good for your long-term health. 

    5) Recharge Yourself + Get More Rest

    Maximize your REM Sleep, getting enough REM sleep is a crucial part of a good night's rest.  The benefits of being well-rested can help aide in weight loss, lower diabetes and heart risks, and it can help reduce stress levels and help fewer mood swings. Disrupting your REM cycle leaves you feeling groggy regardless when the alarm goes off. Waking up at the same time everyday can help you naturally fall into a proper sleep cycle - even on the weekends you will get sleepy at night at the time to optimize deep sleep over time. Avoid drinking alcohol 2 hours before bedtime, alcohol affects the rhythm of sleep and acts as a sedative at first but often a few hours later when your blood alcohol level drops your body won't be able to get that deep sleep you deserve.  Be sure to stay clear of mobile phones, computers, and tablets at least 60 minutes before sleepy time - although it may be hard not to avoid checking emails before bed, make a checklist and move on - the led lights from screens reduces your melatonin and makes it harder to fall asleep especially if you are thinking about all the things you need to do tomorrow.

    In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.
    — Abraham Lincoln
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