Archive for April, 2011

Friday Fun: The Royals

By Liz

Since the whole world can’t stop talking about them I decided to write about the British Royal Family.  Happy wedding day William and Kate.. see you there!

The wedding itself with be very eco-friendly.  The invitations have been printed on recycled paper, the flowers are all seasonal flowers which will be replanted after the ceremony, the media scaffolding will be made from sustainable wood, and even Kate’s dress will be made from eco-friendly materials such as peace silk and fair trade cotton!

Most energy is lost through heat loss.  Buckingham Palace has been on top of their heat loss since 1995.  They now have heat resonance imaging which is constantly taking pictures and checking for heat loss.  Most heat loss (like most homes) is through windows and skylights.  Windows and skylights in the Palace are now double glazed.

Lighting has been a big topic on this blog.  CFLs versus incandescent bulbs is a big issue.  Pollution versus energy saving?  I am not entirely sure where I stand on the issue.  Buckingham Palace, however, has made it’s stand.  All lighting in the Palace is LED.

It is not only London where the Royals are sustainable.  In Sandringham and Balmoral have organic farming.  They compost the organic waste and in Sandringham they turn their apples into juice using only Vitamin C as a preservative.

Prince Charles has been a major environmental promoter.  He was once laughed at for talking to his plants to promote growth, but now his ideas which he has been pushing since the 80’s are very important issues.  Farming has been big to Prince Charles.  He has created a company called Dutchy Originals which is all organic food from his arable lands.  The company also makes soups and dishes with these vegetables.  All of the profits from this company are donated to environmental charities.  Prince Charles has also been vocal about the urgency of reacting to climate change since 1990.  Hopefully this will be his first priority when he becomes King.

This list of environmental practices is not even the tip of the iceberg. To find a timeline on the Royal’s environmental action click here.

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Happy Earth Day!

by Liz

Happy Earth Day everyone! I have been very lucky here in England with the weather lately. It has been in the low 20s and sunny for the past week and a half (knock on wood) while my unfortunate Canadians are getting snow in April.  This could be do to climate change but this is not what this post will be about.  I am choosing to enjoy the weather and the Earth and do what I have been doing all week which is to read outside and play some frisbee! I have discovered some nice parks around my area and I am not the only one with this idea.

One thing I noticed about English parks is that there is no recycling.  It is much more acceptable to drink in public here so many choose to buy a cider and enjoy it while taking in the sun.  As I walk around all of the bottles and cans end up in the bin.  One afternoon we decided to join in and have a beer and as we were packing up to leave some friends just threw the empties in the bin!  I then went on an environmentalist speech and ended up taking all the empties with me home where I knew there was recycling.

I also found out that the bar my friend works at doesn’t recycle ANY of the bottles from the bar. None!  I was quite shocked.  So  was my friend who works there and has thankfully been trying to get the owner to get a recycling bin.  Hopefully that works out soon, but it made me wonder what other bars are doing with their empties.  It is my new mission to ask bars what happens and if it is not recycle then I will talk to the manager, because not recycling at a bar is ridiculous.

My other mission in regards to recycling is to talk to Heads of Schools at the schools I supply at.  I find at every school I have been at students throw there plastic bottles in the bin as well as there paper scraps.  I tell them to recycle it properly and then realize that there is no other recycling.  The only recycling in most schools is in the cafeteria where there is bottles recycling or in the staff room for paper recycling.  Not acceptable.  Kids are the ones that need to learn about recycling and the schools are not being good role models.

So my Earth Day pledge is to talk and write to bar owners and head teachers about their lack of recycling.  What will you do?

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Canadian Elections and the Environment

By Erica

As a member of Canada’s youth generation who so dislike voting, here we are at another election, and once again I am pondering reasons for voting.  Generally, politicians try to appeal to students through education related platforms (“We will freeze tuition! Increase student grants!”).  To me, this is like being in high school and the kid running for class president states that if you vote for him, you will get Taco Tuesdays. Sounds great…never happens.  But as environmental problems become increasingly more prevalent, our generation is becoming more concerned, and a strong motivator for the youth group (or at least this particular youth) is environmental factors (which hopefully will be more successful than the education platforms).  So here is a quick break down of the parties’ platforms:

Green Party: The name says it all.  Great environmental platform.  A common phrase heard in the halls of my university is “but voting Green is throwing away my vote”. False.  Even if they don’t win, if they are getting votes, it shows whoever DOES win, that environmental issues are important.  And as David Suzuki says, politicians will only focus on the environment when we show them it is important to us.  Check out:

http://greenparty.ca/issues/vision-green

NDP:

Oh Jack Layton. I like you. But please make a commercial where you tell me what you actually stand for, and not just one filled with political slander.   I would love to see a politician try to go through a whole political campaign only promoting their party, and not trying to slander others. It would be refreshing.  However, NDP does have a good environmental platform.   Other than emission caps, and making big polluters pay, NDP also is setting aside $750 million to help families make the transition to a sustainable economy. Check it out:

http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/posted/archive/2008/09/11/ndp-calls-for-80-greenhouse-gas-emission-reduction-by-2050.aspx

Libs: Paul Martin was a fellow tree hugger. Well maybe not a tree hugger. But he did like trees..AKA the environment.  But Ignatieff, as far as I know, is not particularly known for his green endeavors.   Their website reads like they dig enviro causes. But I am skeptical. See for yourself:

http://www.bcliberals.com/bc_liberal_record/environment/

Cons: Stephen Harper can’t take a joke from Rick Mercer. He’s out.  And the big one….he ditched the Kyoto Accord. So once again… environmentally speaking… HE IS OUT!

Anyways everyone..do what Paris Hilton tells you..well in this case anyways..and vote!

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Chorlton’s Big Green Festival 2011

The days big events!

by Liz

This past Saturday was Chorlton’s Big Green Festival and as far as I can tell it was a success.  I haven’t been to previous years events but it was quite busy!   It was a beautiful warm and sunny day (it still is which is why this post is so delayed!) and the bands that I was able to catch were great.

The crowd from the band tents overflowed.

I volunteered at a booth where students from two schools created various things out of recycled paper and learned how to compost.  The students could unfortunately not be there so I helped represent them to the best of my ability.  One school had demonstrations on how to compost while I was at the other end showing beautiful purses and bags made out of old skirts, jeans and other crafty recycled material.  They also made pencil holders from toilet paper rolls and juice boxes.

Some examples of what the students made.

I was also in charge of getting children to write their wishes on our wish tree.  They were supposed to be wishes to help the environment but some younger kids did not quite understand the concept but we got some great wishes anyway! Here were some good ones:

– I wish I was a butterfly.

– I wish my Auntie would move back to England

– I wish everyone would stop littering.

– I wish people would stop smoking and leaving them on the ground.

– I wish for peace on earth.

The wish tree!

I got a chance to walk around and check out the other booths and they were quite impressive.  There was a lot of vegetarian food for sale, Oxfam was there, cheap bike tune-ups, homeopathy, plant sales, jewelry made from recycled materials, organic beers and ciders and so much more.  There were people of all ages there too.  It was quite a great day!  If I am in Manchester next year too I will definitely volunteer again!

One of the booths.

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Friday Fun: Robert Redford

by Liz

Growing up in my house there was a running joke that Robert Redford always played the same type of characters.  At the time I don’t even think I knew who he was or what movies he was in, and got him confused with Richard Dreyfuss for some reason.  I now know he has been in many great films and for some reason Spy Game is his most memorable to me.  Well what I didn’t know about was his longstanding environmental activism.  He has been in the environmental game since the 1970s and quite influential at that.

In 1975 Redford started to campaign for solar panels on every American home.  He criticized the Bush administrations for their dependence on foreign oil and that solar energy would be a viable source.  He also talked of the damage drilling for oil in fragile habitats like the Arctic will cause.  He is actually continually fighting for Arctic National Refuge in Alaska.

Robert Redford spent 30 years on the National Resources Defense Council and campaigned to preserve an enormous plot of land in Utah and save it from commercial hands. In 1996 President Clinton effectively closed it to development.  This plot of land inspired him to create the Sundance Institute for aspiring young filmmakers and the annual Sundance Festival is now a very important film festival in the movie industry. He has also created the Sundance Channel where he dedicates a large block of programming to environmental shows.

He has been so involved over the years that he is known for educating the public about environmental issues and trying to get politicians to put climate change into their top issues to deal with. He has used his celebrity and influence to further his causes.  His work has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.  Some of the environmental awards he has received over the years are the 1987 United Nations Global 500 Award, the 1989 Audubon Medal, the 1993 Earth Day International Award and the 1994 Nature Conservancy Award among others. I think we could all use to take some inspiration from Robert Redford.

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Ban the Bulb: UPDATE

By Erica

After doing more research than humans generally do on light bulbs, I have come to the conclusion that the banning of incandescent (regular)bulbs in lieu of CFL (curly) bulbs, is in fact more sustainable.  A few key points that lead to this conclusion:

-The mercury released into the air while producing incandescent bulbs is actually greater than the mercury contained in CFL’s

-While CFL’s do use up more energy during manufacturing, the benefit far outweighs this cost when it comes to actual usage

-Because less CFL’s are used in a household (as they last longer), they contribute less to landfills.

-Bottom line: because they last longer, and do in fact use less energy, they are the more efficient choice.

Exciting stuff?? you know it.

One of the main tidbits across all the studies I have read is that banning the bulb is ineffective if people do not know why they have been banned in the first place (one lady said she changed her bulbs because “Oprah told her to”).  So in order for this to have a positive impact on the environment, do not buy more lamps because you think CFL’s give off less light, and do not throw the bulbs out, but save them up, and next time you are at Ikea (or other similar box stores that recycles them), bring ’em in! Oh and still turn off your lights when you are not in the room.

In the long run, changing from incandescent bulbs to CFL’s really won’t make thaaat much of a difference.   But hey, its a difference right?? Steps in the right direction.  But as Dr. Peter Thornes points out, energy efficiency in manufacturing is more likely to be achieved through competition or taxation rather than regulation.  Money saved or earned is a pretty great motivator I’d say, more so than politicians telling us what we can and can’t do.

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Documentaries of the Day

By Erica

In the past year I have developed a documentary addiction, especially documentaries about the environment.  While I often am left with a feeling of depression, its a great way to learn about the world, although one must remain objective.  I have recently watched two great docs that everybody should watch..

Billy Connelly’s Journey to the Edge of the World

I LOVED this one. Billy makes the journey across Canada via the North West passage in the Arctic.  Not only does it make one realize how kick ass Canada is (I find I don’t get Canadian pride too often..which I feel guilty about), but also it shows how global warming is effecting our northern regions.  It was not really the purpose of Billy’s journey, but through him travelling to these remote, rarely visited regions, we get to see areas that were once frozen which are now green.

Tapped

This one is another documentary that makes me mad at corporations.  The film looks at how Nestle is going into Maine, pumping out all their natural waters without giving ANYTHING back to the communities, and then bottling and selling it for a huge mark up.  This phenomenon is  not only occurring across the USA,  but even in drought stricken India.  Coca Cola was asked to stop taking the water from India, because the people themselves hardly have enough to survive on. Coca Cola said no. jerks.  Bottom line: there is no need to drink bottled water when our tap water in Canada is fine. You are just feeding money to villains like Nestle AND wasting more plastic.

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