Archive for sustainable

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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Generation Waking Up

by Liz

Generation Waking Up is igniting a generation of young people to bring forth a thriving, just, sustainable world.  I’m not doing enough, you probably aren’t doing enough.  Let’s be part of history in a good way.  Please watch the video below:

What will our legacy be?

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National Sweater Day Flash Mob!

by Liz

We have been absentee bloggers as of late.  I am going to try and put an end to it because I am back in Canada and should have more time to write!

National Sweater Day began last year.  (Read last year’s post here) The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) has created a National Sweater Day on February 9, 2012.  What does that mean? Well it means turn your thermostat down 3 degrees and put on a sweater! 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.

This year is catching on a bit more than last.  This year Vancouver Improv Anywhere is organizing a flash mob! So if you live in Vancouver get practicing and join in on this exciting event!  All the details are on their Facebook event page here. (You can also follow our blog here on Facebook!) The event gives you dance instructions as well as practice times and the actual event.  I know if I were in Vancouver I would be all over it.  They also invite anyone to use the same dance and music and create your own flash mob somewhere else in Canada.  I wish I had the time!

So if you aren’t able to be part of the flash mob then at least turn your thermostat down 3 degrees and wear a sweater! Preferably an ugly one for fun!

Me in my ugly Christmas sweater in 2010, I had an even uglier one this year from the Kathy Lee Gifford collection circa 1993!

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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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My Friends Are Doing Good Too!

by Liz

My friend from university, Ashley Finlayson, is part of Sustainable Concordia.  Sustainable Concordia is celebrating its 10th year and will be doing a big investigation on how sustainable Concordia is in three sectors; education, building operations and planning and engagement.  So along with her colleague and fellow student, Justin Giovennetti, the will be using the STARS system.

“Using the STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System) framework and working closely with both students and administration, the assessment evaluates Concordia’s sustainability progress in three sectors: education, building operations, and planning and engagement. This assures the university is evaluated across the board — from curriculum and research, to energy consumption and greenhouse emissions, to social elements, such as pay equity and gender equity. These sectors are then given a credit rating, which total up to 180.” (Please read full article here by Jennifer Charlebois)

They are also planning on using social media like Twitter and Tumblr to help their findings.  So good luck with your assessment Ashley and Justin!

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