My campus at Thompson Rivers University, like many campuses, has a Tim Hortons. And like many campuses, 80% of the students spend 80% of their time and 80% of their money there. I made that up. But you know what I mean. And as a result there are empty Tims cups everywhere (and a lesser amount of cups from the lesser used other on-campus coffee places). Even if they do end up in the garbage its not like anything good happens as they break down in a garbage pile. Anyways, some fellow students came up with a potential solution to the problem, and entered it in the TD Go Green Challenge. I think it is a great idea. Take a look at their video and give them a vote if you dig it!!
Archive for February, 2011
Just over a week ago I moved to the UK to pursue more teaching opportunities. This has caused a great deal of eco-guilt but at the same time has shown me how other parts of the world try to curb the environmental destruction.
First, the guilt. I have been told that the worst thing you can do for the environment is to take a flight. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time or money to take a boat from Canada to the UK. So I flew, and it was cheap. I was convincing myself that it was a necessary evil and tried to ease my conscience. Then I get on the plane, which was a giant airbus 777, and realized that the flight wasn’t even full. There were about 100 free seats. This did not make me feel very good about my decision anymore. I think if you are going to fly across the ocean and pump all the pollution into the air you might as well fly a sold out flight.
I arrived in London and some of the guilt eased. I realized from now on I wouldn’t have a car and I would be depending on public transportation. This, unlike the airplane, was busy and full. The tube was so full of people I felt a little claustrophobic. I also realized that the buses and trams I’ve encountered in the UK so far are hybrids. They are run by both electricity and diesel. I even noticed a taxi company called Radio Taxis that are doing what they can to try to have zero carbon emission.
I was living in a hostel for just over a week and I felt okay about that. It wasn’t deemed as an eco-hostel, but there was barely any heat and the showers conserved water very nicely because you had to push a button every 30 seconds in order for the water to come. The only problem was that it was very expensive and I obviously had to find a more permanent place to stay. After seeing a really gross place and a gorgeous place I went with something in between. The problem was that I had nothing; no bedding, no cleaning products, nothing. So as I was shopping for these things I tried to get the most eco-friendly products possible. Cleaning products were easy. There were brands that claimed all natural products and no harmful side effects so that was great. Yet I still needed sheets, pillows, a duvet, drying rack, hamper, and so on. I could not find anything but stuff covered in so much plastic. Also as I was buying everything, I was thinking, I already have one of those in Canada, two of those, etc. It made me question my whole decision to move here. I felt so wasteful. But I am here and the only thing I can do now is to really try to minimize my footprint. So today I am going to check out my local market!
If there are any UK followers out there I would love some advice for some eco-friendly products and tips!
Adrien Grenier is not just an actor with piercing blue eyes. He considers himself an unconventional environmentalist. He is most well known for his role in the TV show Entourage but is lesser know for his eco-friendly side. As said in an interview with Tiny Green Bubble (http://www.tinygreenbubble.com/eco/celebrity-activists/item/1323-adrian-grenier-not-your-conventional-environmentalist), Adrien Grneier explained, “I consider myself more of an explorer – wanting to explore all of the new and better ways that we can live on the planet, embracing a better quality of life through better technologies. I’m working with SHFT constantly looking at ways to push forward the message of more awareness and more sustainable choices. It’s my daily job, my daily pleasure, to live and engage on that level.”
Along with SHFT Adrien create dthe show Alter Eco on the Discovery Channel, Planet Green. Unfortunately I have not been able to catch the show but I keep searching the internet for it! According to the website it says Alter Eco is, “an eco lifestyle and makeover series presented by Adrian Grenier and his team of green activists, experts, and friends. As all work and no play makes for a dull show, Adrian always concludes Alter Eco with a meal or a gathering where he and his green team celebrate their accomplishments for the week.” (http://planetgreen.discovery.com/tv/alter-eco/alter-eco-show-info.html) Some of the accomplishments made on the show include creating eco initiatives on the set of entourage, creating LEED certified headquarters and homes, helping high schools become more green and spread the word on the evils of plastic bottles.
Outside of television Adrien has also been part of a campaign to bring awareness to overfishing and has asked that everyone to stop eating sushi to preserve the bluefin tuna species. He is also known to wear eco-friendly clothing. He even insulated his home with old jeans! I think it is fantastic that Adrien Grenier is using his celebrity to promote eco-friendly life decisions. I hope his ideas spread!
Next time you are at the supermarket, and looking to buy coffee or chocolate products, be a nice human and buy fair trade (look for a Fair Trade certified logo on the packaging). By doing this, you are ensuring that workers in countries less fortunate than ours are getting fair wages and fair treatment by big evil corporations. If something is fair trade certified, you know that:
-The workers got fair wages
-no child labor was involved
-the farming was done sustainably
-some of the money goes into community development
When you buy regular coffee only about $0.04 of a dollar goes back to the farmers. Let’s all make the move to support fair trade, and make life more sustainable for others.
Leonardo DiCaprio is very well known for his various movie roles such as the Basketball Diaries, Titanic, Blood Diamond, and Inception. What you may not know is that Leonardo is an avid environmentalist. Among his movies is the 11th Hour. The 11th Hour is a documentary written and narrated by Leonardo. It is about the state of our planet Earth and some practical ideas to help save the Earth. It is definitely worth watching.
Leonardo DiCaprio is also known for driving a hybrid car, going on commercial flights instead of a private jet as well as having solar panels installed on his home. He has a website (www.leonardodicaprio.org) which is for the Leonardo Dicaprio Foundation which aims to secure a sustainable future for our planet and all of its inhabitants. He brings awareness to the dwindling tiger population among other campaigns. He also gives lists on which documentaries to watch and what books to read which will help people realize how bad our planet is being destroyed. He also teamed up with Al Gore to help bring awareness to Earth’s environmental problems. So needless to say, Leonardo is not just a pretty face. Join in Leonardo’s mission and help spread awareness on our Earth’s environmental state.
Today is the day. Turn down your thermostat by 3 degrees and put on a sweater. Today is National Sweater Day. Check out more information from our other post: http://wp.me/p1gecu-1U.
These are pictures of my sister and I participating using the Loblaws/Superstore advertising.
Ahhh tourists. Getting off their tour buses in large numbers, speaking loudly, throwing garbage on the ground, ignoring local customs, complaining about things being different…..My dislike for tourists began when I lived in Canmore AB, which due to its proximity to Banff is packed with tourists. Tourists like to treat the town as their personal amusement park.. here is a hint.. my yard is not for you to have picnics in, it is quite clearly my yard. But here is the one of the biggest problems with tourists in Canada. They do not understand that wildlife..is in fact..wait for…WILD. That means do not try to feed the bear or pet the moose. Despite warnings all over Canmore, on the radio, in every brochure, when you enter Banff National Park, people still think it is a good idea to try and put their baby on top of an elk, because, hey, it’s a great photo op. But then, one of two things start happening:
1) Animals start to rely on human hand outs for food, and can no longer survive in the wilderness. One time a bear puked in my drive way. It had clearly not been having a healthy bear diet.
2) The animal start to get mad that you keep trying to put your baby on top of him. He charges. Local regulators come in and more often than not, if the animal is starting to act threatening towards the invaders of its territory, it will be shot (I have sadly witnessed this happen to a moose)
There is a lot more to come on sustainable tourism, but for now, if you see wild life, keep your distance. It does not want to be your friend, and does not want to be in your Facebook album. It probably thinks you look stupid with your tilly hat and giant camera.
I figure by Friday after a long work week most people want to shut their brains off a little. This is what this new weekly post will be about. Mindless entertainment. It is a spotlight on a celebrity who is actually trying to do something to help our earth.
The first person I’d like to tell you about is Natalie Portman. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Harvard University and took graduate courses at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She was even a guest lecturer at Columbia University talking about terrorism. Right now she is very pregnant and has always been a big environmentalist.
Natalie Portman is a fashionable vegan and even had her own brand of vegan footwear! It was available only at a boutique in NYC in 2008.
Her engagement ring is also eco-friendly. It was made with an antique stone and conflict free diamonds. Even the platinum setting was made of recycled materials.
Her non fashion related accomplishments with the environment also produce a long list. She teamed up with Jack Hanna to film the documentary Gorillas on the Brink to bring the declining gorilla population some awareness. Natalie has also teamed up with various groups such as Environment America to help limit mercury pollution and joined up with FINCA (Foundation for International Community Assistance) to help women and children in third world countries. These are just some of the things that Natalie Portman does and now that she is about to have a child I would assume that she will just get more involved in making the world a better place for her child.
The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) has created a National Sweater Day on February 17, 2011. What does that mean? Well it means turn your thermostat down 3 degrees and put on a sweater! They also give some great ideas for parties, like maybe an ugly sweater party? I know I am a fan of those as I participate in an ugly Christmas sweater party every year.
But why do this? According to the WWF Canadians biggest ecological footprint is due to transportation, electricity and heating. If we turn down our thermostats by 3 dregrees in the winter we could save 2.2 megatonnes of carbon dioxide per year which is like taking 350,000 cars off the road! (http://wwf.ca/takeaction/sweater_day/why_participate/) That is a huge deal. Also it will save you money! Especially with the smart meters being installed.
So on February 17, 2011 turn down the heat and wear a sweater! Spread the word too! (Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=149283475125509) And if you feel so inclined, turn it down everyday! Especially since spring is coming!
BC has just became the first Canadian Province to ban incandescent light bulbs in favour of compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). According to the government, a CFL can save you 30$ on your electricity bill over the life time of the bulb, and a mass switch over to CFL from old school light bulbs will result in MASSIVE energy savings across the country, as well as reduced greenhouse gas emissions and coal emissions. However, before we get all excited, some things to consider:
-DISPOSAL: CFL’s contain mercury, which is extremely unsustainable when disposed of. The government’s argument is that the amount of mercury per bulb is minuscule. However, if the whole country is using them, than the minuscule amount becomes huge when large quantities of bulbs are being disposed of.
-What is happening to the energy saved?? Often, when energy gets saved in one place, it is either re-distributed to another place in need or sold to other countries/industries in need of increased energy. So are we actually doing anything to help the planet by purchasing these bulbs? Or just allowing the government to profit from the sales of excess energy?
Governments, both left wing and right wing alike, are jumping on the ban-the-bulb bandwagon. It is an easy way for a politician to create the appearance of being pro-active when it comes to the environment. But has this really been researched from beginning to end? As our pal David Suzuki said, politicians are businessmen and lawyers, not scientists, so are they really in the position to make well rounded, effective, non-self promoting environmental decisions? um……no.
Until we know more folks, switch it off, and use natural light whenever possible (tip: painting your house? ask the sales rep for a paint that reflects light well, making for brighter rooms and less light bulb usage).