Archive for June, 2010

HST in effect July 1, 2010

June 30, 2010

Flickr / D Sharon Pruitt

Recognizing that HST comes into effect tomorrow, we’ve turned the blog over to our accountant Neville. Here’s an overview of HST and how it affects you.

Harmonized Sales Tax (HST)

Effective tomorrow, July 1, 2010, through enacted legislature, both the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario will be charging harmonized sales tax (HST)

If your offices are located in British Columbia, a HST rate of 12% will apply to your invoice, or if your offices are located in Ontario a HST rate of 13% will apply to your invoice.

If your business has a GST number, you may now claim the full HST portion as an Input Tax Credit (ITC) (previously only 5% of the GST was allowable as an ITC claim). Filing of the new HST will be made on your existing GST Return.

The following table shows the sales tax rates across Canada as of July 1, 2010.

Province HST Rate GST Rate PST Rate
British Columbia 12% n/a n/a
Ontario 13% n/a n/a
Nova Scotia 15% n/a n/a
New Brunswick 13% n/a n/a
New Foundland and Labrador 13% n/a n/a
Alberta n/a 5% n/a
Saskatchewan n/a 5% 5%
Manitoba n/a 5% 7%
Quebec n/a 5% 7.5%
PEI n/a 5% 10%

Sundae Monday

June 28, 2010

Today marked the inaugural Sundae Monday at Fairware. We’re taking the fun of Fun Friday’s, combining it with the food-sharing of Salad Club, and ignoring all nutritional concerns to create the most awesome ice cream sundaes.

So how does it work? Everyone brings an ingredient that they feel necessary to create the ultimate ice cream sundae. Today we had bananas, blueberries, strawberry and chocolate sauce, peanuts, even sprinkles!

Yes. It was amazing.

If you’re in our neighbourhood on a Monday, consider stopping by. Drop us a note to tell us what you’ll be bringing.

The Panic of PechaKucha

June 24, 2010

Courtescy of @lauraappleton

I recently presented at a PechaKucha event in Vancouver – for those of you who’ve never heard of it, you’ve been missing out. Pecha Kucha started 8 years ago in Japan — loosely translated it means “chit-chat”.  It’s a gathering that happens regularly in over 300 cities around the world – a chance for folks to settle in for a night and listen to local instigators, artists and thought leaders chat about what inspires them.

The Vancouver event is produced by Jane and Steven Cox of Cause and Affect – a dynamic duo if ever there was one  (one of my staff suggested this morning that they may be the coolest married couple in Vancouver). They’ve been doing a brilliant job of packing the house with inspiration for 2 years.

It was an honour to be asked, and for a few days I mused about how cool it was going to be to speak there. Then, the panic set in. There were three distinct elements to the PechaKucha panic…

1. The name. How exactly do you pronounce it? I wanted to tell everyone about it, but never could quite figure out how to say ‘it’. Pe CHA ku CHA? PeCHACHka? Was I going to be chatting about a cool event i was speaking at and not be able to pronounce it right?… that seems like a lame prospect. But alas, I persevered, told everyone I was speaking at PeCHAkuCHA, and learned on the night that I had been pronouncing it wrong all along.

2. The venue. PechaKucha Vancouver started in Vancouver a couple years ago, in a venue that held 200 people. And as Steven Cox shared at this, the 12th event of the series, historically it was low key – the kind of event where it wasn’t uncommon to hear beer bottles rolling down the aisles. I was lucky enough to be asked to speak at a special edition, with a focus on sustainability that was held at the Queen Elizabeth Theater. The Queen E Theater is a place rock stars play and over 2000 people can be seated. Not being a rock star, I found this intimidating.

3. The format. The night (according to the PechaKucha website)  “…rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It’s a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace.” Sounds good, unless of course you’re the one having to speak, without notes, to said slides, that zip by, on cue, every 20 seconds whether you want them to or not.

The night came and went – and I spoke for 6 minutes and 40 seconds exactly.  I managed to suck up my nerves and tell the story of how I ended up going from earning a masters degree in environmental management to being an accidental entrepreneur. It was such a great experience, I was so inspired by the folks around me, and in what seemed like a mere moment it was done.

I did it. And so did 13 others that night, all staring down their own demons of PechaKucha panic to inspire the crowd to green our city and walk the talk.

You can check out my presentation here.

Intern Insights: Part 2

June 23, 2010

Flickr / kevindooley

Emily the intern is back with more cool stuff on the internet and free tools that can make your life easier. Read on.

Where did all my money go?! Personal finance minus the spreadsheet

For a business major, I am notoriously bad at keeping track of receipts. My bill envelopes at the end of the month are like Kinder chocolate eggs – guaranteed to come with a surprise inside.

The headache ends here. For those Excel-allergic, PayPass flashing, too busy wheeling and dealing to manage your wallet individuals – the solution is Money Strands.

Money Strands

Money Strands is a free personal finance site that makes it easy to enter your expenses. You can also enable it to automatically pull records from your bank, credit card and mortgage accounts, or upload digital bills yourself. If you mostly use credit or debit cards and use online banking, you will avoid the whole mundane process of data entry. Set up filters to automatically categorize your spending into Groceries, Car Repairs, Bills, Vacation and everything in between. Nifty analytic tools show you pie charts as well as cash flow patterns. Not sure where you’re at before splurging on the new iPhone? Check your budget balances and receive text message alerts. The site will also analyze your demographic and compare your spending patterns with people like you. It may or may not make you feel better about your quarter-life/mid-life crisis shopping sprees.

Money saved from not having to purchase software: $44.99 (Intuit Quicken)

More time to spend doing fun things instead of entering expenses and juggling budgets at the end of the month? Priceless!

Drawback: Uploading financial information on a third party website makes some people nervous. Many banks are launching their own apps within their online banking sites. Integration with smartphones is still buggy, so entering expenses on the go can still be improved.

For something a little more fun, but equally wallet-friendly, check out Groupon

Groupon has been big in the States for a while and recently hopped over to Canada. Use the power of the crowd to get you deals like $20 for $40 of seafood at A Kettle of Fish or half price annual membership to your favorite gym. Deal-hunting just got a lot savvier.

Until next time,

Emily the Intern

Zero Waste Lunches: Tiffin Sets for Seventh Generation

June 21, 2010

The zero waste lunch sets pictured above were supplied by Fairware to Seventh Generation as gifts for their broker sales force. Featuring an embroidered cotton carry bag, engraved stainless steel tiffin tin and reusable bamboo cutlery, the sets were well aligned with the company’s image and focus on sustainability.

Seventh Generation is committed to being the most trusted brand of authentic, safe, and environmentally-responsible cleaning and personal care products for a healthy home, with a mission to “inspire a more conscious and sustainable world by being an authentic force for positive change.” Jeffrey Hollender, the company’s executive chairman, co-founder and chief inspired protagonist, just co-wrote a book on a new era of corporate responsibility which is receiving great reviews. Given Seventh Generation’s reputation, we were pretty excited to work with them and it resulted in some beautiful and useful products.

Each tiffin set included the label pictured above. Printed on re-purposed Seventh Generation pocket folders, the imprint was achieved with a custom made rubber stamp designed by local artist Abby Manock.

Tiffin sets are only starting to become popular in North America but they’ve been used in India for ages. Here’s a fascinating article on the dabbawallas that deliver home cooked tiffin lunches to office workers across Mumbai daily. Each lunch is packed in a tiffin tin similar to those featured here.

Looking for a stylish zero waste gift or give-away? Check out our website or contact us for a product tailored to your company’s needs.

Intern Insights: Part 1

June 14, 2010

Meet Emily, Faiware’s first intern. Never having had an intern, we expected coffee runs, data entry, and mad photocopying and filing skills. It turns out Emily doesn’t do any of these things. Instead we’ve found Emily has a lot of opinions and ideas, and we’ve found many of these really useful. So we’re giving her a weekly post on the Fairware blog. She’s bringing us a seven part series on cool stuff on the internet and free tools that can make your life easier. We’re all going to learn something, so stay tuned.

This week, a lesson in keeping your electronic files and internet finds organized.

Ready, Set, Sync! Never be without your files again.

USB drives beware – having files on the go has a whole new meaning.


Evernote

Evernote is a dream for anyone who has a million ideas and to do lists going at once. Tired of digging through millions of Word documents? Can’t find that action item written down in your paper notebook? Evernote is like an electronic portfolio/clipboard that allows you to pull all the bits and pieces of your multitasking life together. Create tags and search all your notes at once. Clip and upload everything from documents, handwritten to do lists to cool stuff and media online. The best thing about Evernote is that it requires no software, and is completely online-based, so you can always access your notes, even on your smartphone. And it’s free!


Dropbox

Dropbox is like having your own network and online backup. Forget setting up FTP folders or using file upload sites with links that expire – create your own Dropbox. Drag and drop files from your desktop into the Dropbox folder and have them instantly synced and accessible anywhere online. You can access the files on your smartphone and share them with your contacts. Laptop stolen? Virus? No problem, because Dropbox has your files, photos and everything else backed up.

Drawback

For both these apps, you’re out of luck if outside the internet grid (this is where USB drives come in handy again).

Until next time,
Emily the Intern

About the Intern:

BCom from UBC. Experience with conference and event planning (and ordering swag!). Strong believer in combining business with social responsibility and a real world idealist. On weekends, volunteers and leads outdoor programs for youth with Scouts Canada. Loves travelling, quirky movies, TED talks, finding what is up-and-coming in the city and people who frequently burst into song. Needless to say – is thrilled to be working with the fantastic Fairware team this summer.

Pine Beetle Wood – Innovative Uses

June 9, 2010

Flickr / vsmoothe

British Columbia’s Mountain Pine Beetle infestation is the largest Canada has seen. By 2016 it’s estimated that  65% of the marketable pine wood in the B.C. interior will have died as a result of the outbreak. And 40% of the interior’s forests are pine! Serious damage is being incurred by the forest industry and local communities as well as to the biodiversity and carbon storage capacity of the forests.

How the Beetles Work

Pine beetles lay eggs under the bark of mature lodgepole pines. The beetles introduce a bluestain fungus into the sapwood of the tree that prevents the tree from repelling and killing the attacking beetles with pitch flow. It also blocks water and nutrient translocation within the tree. The joint action of larval feeding and fungal colonization kills the host tree within a few weeks of successful attack (the fungus and feeding by the larvae girdles the tree cutting off the flow of water and nutrients).

The mountain pine beetle is a natural element of British Columbia’s interior pine forests. Normally, cold temperatures, forest fires and natural predators keep populations in check. However, an abundance of mature lodgepole pine combined with recent mild winters and uncharacteristically hot, dry summers have led to an unprecedented infestation.

Forestry Innovation Investment Ltd.

Recognizing a mandate under the government of BC’s Mountain Pine Beetle Action Plan, the Forestry Innovation Investment Ltd. (FII) is focused on developing new product uses and markets for Mountain Pine Beetle wood. We were thrilled when they approached Fairware for pine beetle wood USB drives. Engraved with the naturally wood logo, they were the perfect promotional item for the organization.

Interested in USB drives for your organization? We have an entire collection to choose from. Contact us about custom products like the beetle wood USB drives pictured below. Read more about great products we’ve done for other clients HERE.


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