Archive for eco-friendly

Why our rivers and lakes are not as safe as we think they are

By Erica

 

424787_377628258987813_1990258022_n While doing my daily Facebook cruise I came across a picture stating that Canadian rivers and lakes are no longer protected thanks to Stephen Harper (see pic on right).    In hopes that it was one of those weird Facebook trends that go around (i.e. if you like this photo of this sad puppy, some organization that does not exist will donate a dollar to nothing), I did some research.  While I am unsure if the exact numbers are right, the premise behind the picture is sadly true.  While this can have a number of implications (developers have more freedom to do what they want.. technically the lakes and rivers could apparently be pumped), word on the street is Harper did this  as a sneaky, low publicized move to let pipelines run through what, ever body of water they choose.  Which means many of our lovely lakes and rivers are now prone to the risk of oil spill.  Another controversial item relating to this, is the rivers and lakes that are still protected seem to hold some bias (for example, lakes in Muskoka where many wealthy people have cottages are safe, but all rivers in Nova Scotia do not, according to Macleans Magazine).  What can be done about this? Not sure, but Harper tried to do this quietly, so perhaps getting the issue some publicity and raising some awareness would be the first step.

 

 

 

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Supporting Fair Trade Coffee through Micro Finance

By Erica

I have previously written posts on both fair trade and micro finance, and the pros and cons that go hand-in-hand with both.  Fair trade is often a topic riddled with controversy surrounding what is actually fair trade and is it actually supporting who it needs to support.  Often farmers who are actually fair trade may struggle with start up costs or wind up paying hefty fees to support a fair trade or organic status.  This often winds up in a familiar scenario of the big guys once again winning out due to their more substantial finances.  However, a new consumer finance model called Grow Ahead is looking to solve this problem and support small scale coffee farmers through consumer lending.  Farmers need money to plant/grow their crop, but if they don’t have left over money from last year, and they have not yet turned any profit this year, they struggle to make that initial investment into this years crop.  This is where Grow Ahead comes in.  In a nut shell, they ask you, the consumer, to loan money to the farmer.  So just say you loan $25 dollars to a farmer through Grow Ahead.. your loan, along with the loans of others, lets this farmer plant his crop.. once the crop has been harvested, and the farmer has sold his crop, you get your loan back.. pretty cool!!  Click here to check out their site!

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Baby, it is HOT outside!

by Liz,

I don’t know where you live but where I am it is HOT!! It was 32 degrees before 8am! That means I was sweating even before I left to go to work! Tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter! As you can see below I have a ladylike “glow” or let’s be honest, I am sweaty!

With heat comes air conditioning.  I don’t have a/c but I am sitting in front of a fan.  With the high temperatures comes high energy consumption.  There are a lot of things we can do to keep cool AND save energy!

Some tips:

  • Keep your shades and curtains closed to keep the cool in and the hot sun out!
  • Don’t use appliances you don’t need! For example if you have to cook something, cook it in a toaster oven and not the big oven.  And unplug everything you aren’t using!
  • Keep your air conditioning at 78 when you are there and 85 when you aren’t, or even better turn it off when you go to work!
  • Turn off the lights! They produce more heat you do not want!

Here is a great comparison of fans versus air conditioning from www.weconserve.ca :

A stand up fan uses 75 watts, and a window unit will use 100 watts.  Running continuously for twelve hours a day they will use 2.1 KWh of electricity. A 1,000 watt air-conditioner, running all day for 75% of the time will use 18 KWh. A central air-conditioning unit can use up to 3,500 watts, and will use about 63 KWh.

Using the two fan system can save between 16 and 60KWh of electricity each day.”

So do what you can to keep cool and save energy! Happy Summer everyone!

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Black and Orange and GREEN Halloween!

by Liz

Halloween is probably my favorite holiday.  I spend months thinking of my costume and getting it together.  Last year I was Roberta Bondar, the first Canadian woman in space.  This year I am dressing up for the Night of Neon which raises money for the Christie Fund which helps people with cancer.  If you would like to donate to our team, the link is here!

Roberta Bondar and Dolly Parton (most of the costumes were made by things we already had)

Ok now that I have self promoted let’s get down to the nitty gritty;  Green Halloween! Halloween is awesome so why don’t we make it even more awesome by making it good on the environment too!

The most important is the costume! It is very easy to buy a costume at a store or online.  Granted some of them are funny and creative but there is a problem with almost all of them.  The problem is that they are often used out of plastics that cannot be broken down easily. So what I suggest is you make your own costume.  Old clothes, materials from around the house, natural makeups and I bet you can make an amazing costume that will really impress coworkers or friends or other trick or treaters!

As far as treats go, try to get treats with minimal packaging and natural flavors.  Or go above and beyond and join the Reverse Trick or Treat movement! Global Exchange has created this fantastic idea where as kids are out trick or treating they also bring along fair trade chocolate with an explanation card and give it to the person handing out candy at each house.  You can get these kits here or at your local fair trade store.

Buddy Holly and Lady Gaga (all materials from around the house!)

Other tips for a green Halloween:

  • Use reusable bags to get candy with. My favorite is actually pillow cases because they are more sturdy and can collect the optimal amount of candy and then can just be washed after!
  • Reuse your Halloween decorations year after year.
  • Use candles (beeswax or soya) to set the mood and save some energy.
  • Use wind up flashlights while trick or treating.
  • Head on over to www.greenhalloween.org for more tips and ideas to make a truly green Halloween!
Happy Halloween!!

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Partially Motivated in Thailand

With neither Liz or I living in Canada anymore, we have both gotten to experience how other countries deal with environmental issues.  Liz’s experiences in England have been mostly positive, however, for me in Thailand I am having trouble keeping it real with Mother Nature.  Living in a country that is not characterized by the same economic status as Canada, I am not expecting hybrid buses, or door to door recycling pick up; the country operates within its limits.  However, as an individual living here, it is definitely harder to do your part (unless I want to make the transition from partially motivated to fully motivated).  Things that make it hard:

-Flights are dirt cheap and the travel opportunities are fabulous.  I am flying to Singapore for a weekend soon.. oh the decadence! agh.

-drinking water in BKK is somewhat questionable.. therefor water bottles are bought in abundance.  I do have water filtration at home (which is rare), but anytime I eat out (which is often) its bottled water for me. Plastic bottles also come with a layer of plastic over the top.. just to add to the plastic.  Also, when you buy a bottle from 7 Eleven, they bag it and give you a straw.. that is inside plastic wrap.

-When I do not eat out, I get take-away.  It is cheaper to buy food from street vendors than grocery shops.  But this means plastic bags, styrofoam, etc.  With the language barrier, it is hard to communicate that I do not need the extra plastic bag of chillis, or that I brought a bag from home

In a country where plastic is quite expensive, the extensive unnecessary use and consequential waste of plastic boggles my mind.  However, I try my best to do my partially motivated bit.. like running out of the 7 Eleven before the clerk manages to bag and straw me.. or trying to reuse paper rather than throw it in the garbage.. sleep without the air con on.. and will continue to find other ways to do my wee little bit in a country that doesn’t place tree hugging as high priority.

 

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Friday Fun: Celeb Eco-Hypocrites

by Liz

There is always something fun about criticizing celebrities, or maybe it is just me. I was trying to come up with something fun for Friday when I came across this article. (And this one)  In the past I have written articles about the great green things celebrities have been doing.  I have talked about Woody Harrelson and how he has been an activist long before it became the ‘cool’ thing to do, I’ve talked about Jason Mraz and his avacado farm and many others and their green ways.  Well this article talks about eco-hypocrites.  It tells of some incidences where green celebs have slipped up. We all have slip ups here and there, like maybe forgetting the the cloth grocery bags at home or forgetting to turn off a light but these celebs are on a different scale! I mean when is that last time you flew in a eco friendly hybrid car from Japan to England? Or took a private jet to talk about green initiatives?  So check out the articles below and learn abotu some celeb slip ups!

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/07/seven-celebrities-needing-eco-education.php

http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/celebrity/article6931572.ece

I guess what to take away from this is not that all celebrities spouting green living aren’t living up to their values, but to try your best to live in a green way.  Also celebrities talking about green living is also influencing others to try it out so they absolutly are doing good for our environment!

John Travolta in his private jet

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Canadian Cities 3rd Best in Air Quality

by Liz

Going through Google news I found an article about how Canada ranks around the world in terms of air quality.  (You can read it here.)  This spiked my curiosity for two reasons; I am happy for Canada but want to know more about it.

When I moved here to the UK I spent the first couple of days in London.  I found that my asthma (which never usually bothers me) kicked in and I developed a slight cough and finally, when I blew my nose, my snot was grey or black (nice eh?).   I decided to take a closer look at the medical side of air pollution.  I found out it affects young children and elderly people more severely but can hurt everyone in the short term and long term.  Short term problems could be irritation to the eyes, ears and nose or could even develop into bronchitis or pneumonia.  Long term effects could be as severe as lung cancer, heart disease and cause damage to the liver or brain.

Smog in LA, California

How can we reduce air pollution?  Click here for a list of 50 ways to improve air quality.  The following are some I wanted to highlight from the list:

– Use public transportation

– Walk

– Don’t use aerosol cans

– Use latex paints and not spray paints

– If you do have to drive, keep it in great working condition (leaky air conditioners emit the greatest amount of CFCs, having full air in your tires, cleaning your air filter and getting a tune up can increase gas mileage)

Wouldn't you rather breathe this air? - Yorkshire, England

This list will not only help air quality but are in general rules we should live by to keep the environment green.

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