January 25, 2012
Bullfrog Power, a green energy supplier, asked that question of its customers last month, and they answered in droves: from individuals to huge companies like Walmart; from non-profits to large municipalities; and more.
And what kinds of things are they pledging?
- “To reduce household trash to one bag per person per year”
- “To join a co-operative, to buy used goods and to ‘free-cycle’ what I don’t need”
- “To buy carbon offsets for all our air travel” (from a musical group)
- “To eliminate single-use boxes on most orders and save 76,000 boxes”
- “To be 100% supplied by renewable energy, and a zero-waste company” (from Walmart!!)
That’s just the start. Read more – and be inspired, as I was – at Bullfrog’s website. Then plan your 2012 environmental story!
December 27, 2011
A couple of years ago, I completed an on-line quiz about my footprint on the planet. It asked questions about how I live – house, vehicle, driving, food, waste and more – and then calculated how much land it takes to sustain my lifestyle. I was shocked when it told me that if everyone on the planet lived like me, we’d need four planets. I’ve worked really hard since then to reduce my footprint – but more recently I discovered that that ratio applies to all Canadians: if everyone on the planet lived like us, we’d need four planets.
Of course, there is only one: this fragile, beautiful, precious and irreplaceable planet.
So perhaps the best New Years resolution any of us can make is this: to strive to use less of everything, in whatever way we can.
March 6, 2011
Staying fit is a healthy choice – but the way we do it may not be very healthy for the planet. Consider the modern fitness center and its electric lights, electric fitness machines, electric air conditioning, electric televisions and electric sound systems. Plus heating; plus laundry; plus showers; plus bottled water; plus the emissions of clients getting to and from the gym. It all adds up to a significant strain on the planet’s health, just to maintain ours.
Perhaps there’s a better way. In some places, pioneering efforts are underway to reverse that equation by generating power from fitness machines – check out this link. But since that’s not mainstream yet, for now, maybe it’s worth bypassing the treadmill and… just going for a walk or run outside.
May 18, 2010
Here’s a challenge for you: skip a shower sometime this week.
When I issue that dare to audiences, I often hear a snicker and a murmur that sounds a lot like, “uh-uh”. Yet if truth be told, most of us shower every morning not because we’re dirty; we shower because it feels good. It’s our wake-up therapy.
But our daily shower habit is one of the reasons we North Americans use more water per person than anyone on the planet. And – even worse – much of that water is hot water, heated by fossil fuel-fired electricity. Our morning feel-good isn’t very good for the planet.
So here’s the challenge again: skip a shower this week, and every week. You can make a big difference for the planet!
May 4, 2010
What’s good for the environment can be great for your wallet, and a clothesline is a perfect example.
Clothes dryers are among the biggest power hogs in your home, consuming about 4500 watts of power – equal to six microwave ovens or 350 compact fluorescent light bulbs. If your power rate is 10 cents/KWH, a big load in the dryer adds 45 cents to your power bill. One such load a day uses about $150 worth of power annually.
Then there are emissions. If your power comes from coal or oil (as most of North America’s does), one big load in the dryer equals 4 kilograms of emissions. One such load a day for a year adds over a tonne of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Clotheslines make environmental and economic sense. Springtime is a great time to get reacquainted with yours, or to install one if you don’t have one. Here’s a great seven minute video that explains everything about planning and installing your clothesline (except they use a rope where most clotheslines are plastic coated wire).
January 26, 2010
December 7, 2009
The long awaited Copenhagen Climate Change Conference kicked off yesterday. It’s a critical moment, one that will test our global community’s ability – and desire – to work together to solve a problem that will impact every single human on Earth.
This week, a few visuals worth watching:
From 1992, “The Girl Who Silenced the World” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQmz6Rbpnu0, a twelve year old’s powerful message to world leaders gathering for the Rio Earth Summit.
“The Story of Stuff” http://www.storyofstuff.com/, a frank look at where stuff comes from and where it ends up – worth thinking about during this ‘season of stuff’.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to speak to 500 young people about climate change. To me, their bright, young faces represent hope and promise for the future. For their sake and the sake of all youth everywhere, let’s hope our leaders gathering in Copenhagen get it right.
In the news
Check out this editorial http://www.thestar.com/news/sciencetech/environment/copenhagensummit/article/735124–star-joins-global-climate-crusade calling for action from world leaders on climate change, published yesterday by 56 newspapers around the world in 20 languages.
Sometimes short-term cheap comes with a much larger long-term cost. http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/magazine/article/873098
November 17, 2009
The clothes dryer is one of the biggest energy hogs in your home; clotheslines can save a heap of money and energy. But what about those cold winter days, when hanging clothes out isn’t very pleasant?
Consider portable or retractable clotheslines: lines that can be set up indoors or in porches when needed, and neatly put away when not in use. There are many models available, from single strands that can be strung above your bath tub to room-length multiple parallel lines that can hold a full load of laundry. (If you have wood heat and a ceiling fan, you’ll be amazed at how fast clothes dry indoors.)
You can see different models here http://www.urbanclotheslines.com/retractable-clotheslines or here http://www.breezedryer.com/ (note: not an endorsement, just examples).
One important note: it’s good to dry clothes indoors, but beware that you’re not creating excess moisture in your home, because that can cause problems such as mold. In many homes, the natural air leakage is enough to remove moisture. In more air-tight homes, air exchangers usually prevent moisture problems. But take note!
In the news
Disappointingly, world leaders meeting in Singapore have given up on reaching a global climate agreement in Copenhagen next month http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1929071_1929070_1939676,00.html, and Prime Minister Harper’s office has indicated that the PM is not going to the summit http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/725776–pm-to-skip-summit-on-climate-change?bn=1.
For a quick overview of the Copenhagen summit, click here: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/search/article/858411.
Check out this YouTube video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Hs1aUMGaOQ and get involved with a neat new project, Love Letters to the Future.
November 4, 2009
Even something as simple as the way you park your vehicle can have an impact on the environment. Here are small ways you can make a difference:
1. most important: pick the first available spot you come to instead of driving around looking for a closer spot.
2. choose a ‘drive-through’ parking spot if possible, so you can pull out without having to reverse
3. turn off your engine and coast those last few meters into your parking spot (easier with a standard than an automatic). For safety’s sake, be sure the area is clear first, keep your foot ready on the brake, and remember that the steering wheel can lock if you turn the key too far and then try to straighten out the wheel!!
In the news
A new study shows Canada CAN reduce emissions significantly while growing jobs and the economy. http://www.cftktv.com/news/16/1014342
Nepal’s Cabinet will hold a meeting on Mount Everest to highlight the threat from global warming, which is causing glaciers to melt in the Himalayas. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jfY-HAhhnjCmbcDBufRy84xY3VlgD9BNAK380
The world needs many voices to speak in the in the run-up to Copenhagen – are you ready to be the change on climate change? http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/magazine/article/843540
October 21, 2009
If your household is like mine, the approach of Halloween is one of the most exciting times of the year. It also results in a pillowcase full of treats which tend to last into spring.
Even Halloween has a impact on the planet – mainly through treats, decorations and travel. If you’d like to reduce your family’s ‘Halloween carbon footprint’, here are a few ideas:
1. the biggest and best single action you can take is to leave the car home and walk around the neighbourhood. Bundle up, and for added safety consider flashlights, reflective tape, face paint instead of masks, and, if the kids allow it, adult accompaniment.
2. minimize the use of inflatable decorations (they use as much power as 4-6 CFLs or even more) and lights; use timers to turn them off automatically and save money
3. consider ‘greener’ treat options, food or otherwise. Check out http://www.greenhalloween.org for lots of information and suggestions.
In the news:
The President and cabinet of the Maldives, one of the places on Earth most threatened by rising sea levels, held an extraordinary underwater meeting Saturday, to raise awareness and sign a declaration calling for cuts in global emissions. http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/10/17/maldives.underwater.meeting/
The CEO of Shell, one of the world’s largest oil companies, is urging the US Senate to act on climate change legislation. http://www.timesargus.com/article/20091016/NEWS01/910160314/1002/NEWS01