In praise of Ecotarians

April 29, 2009

Are you an “Ecotarian”? (You don’t have to change your citizenship to be one…)

An Ecotarian is someone who considers the environmental implications of their food choices, and selects a diet that has a minimal impact on the planet. Since our food makes up big part of our personal carbon footprint, selecting wisely can make a huge difference. High on the ecotarian menu: local food (especially from your own garden); minimally processed food; food with little packaging; organic food; food high in veggies and low in meat. At the bottom of the ecotarian menu: food, especially produce, from faraway places; meat; highly processed and/or frozen food; food with heavy packaging; food originating from endangered or threatened species.

Be an Ecotarian: you’ll do the Earth a big favour by making wise choices at home and wherever else you eat.

After Earth Day

April 22 marked the only holiday that is recognized around the world: fittingly, a day to think about our world. And many people did: the news was full of stories about special green activities. But the planet needs just as much attention today as it did yesterday – and it will need it tomorrow too. So please spread the word: we can fix our environmental problems – but it starts by making every day Earth Day.

In the news

New York’s famed Empire State Building is undergoing a major retrofit – with energy efficiency as a top priority! http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/07/science/earth/07empire.html?_r=2

Know anyone who still doubts the reality of climate change? Here are five points EVERYONE can agree on. http://miramichileader.canadaeast.com/rss/article/642788

I’m guessing anyone who’s worked in an office setting knows about burnt coffee: the tar-like stuff that tasted great when it was brewed hours ago.

Not only does burnt coffee taste terrible – it’s a symptom of wasted power too. Coffee makers use a lot of electricity – household ones use about 600-700 watts, but some commercial types use over 1000 watts, or as much as about 75 compact fluorescent light bulbs. And they keep using power as long as the switch is left on.

The solution? One: why not plan to make just the amount of coffee needed, and encourage everyone to enjoy it while it’s fresh; and Two, just turn the pot off as soon as it’s done brewing. Plus – consider swapping that energy-hungry commercial coffee maker (especially the instant-brew ones) for a more efficient one.

For great coffee and great power saving, it’s as simple as that!

In the news

Wilkins adrift: the narrow ice bridge holding the Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica shattered into thousands of icebergs on April 4. The entire shelf, which is about 2.5 times the size of PEI, is now at risk of breaking away from the continent. http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSTRE5326HO20090404

From carbon sink to carbon source: forests are normally among the best absorbers of carbon dioxide from the air, but thanks to milder winters caused by climate change, pine bark beetles are causing some forests in western Canada to die and become net emitters. http://features.csmonitor.com/environment/2009/03/10/canada’s-carbon-sink-has-sprung-a-leak/

Have you ever heard of ‘precycling’? It’s way better for the environment than recycling.

Precycling is the practice of avoiding waste in the first place by making choices such as buying in bulk, choosing products with minimal packaging, using and reusing your own containers and avoiding throwaway items (such as paper cups, foam plates and plastic cutlery). How much precycling you can do is limited only by your imagination and how far you’re willing to go to protect our environment.

Recycling is better than trashing, but it is still an energy-intensive activity, because recycled materials need to be transported and reprocessed. Precycling is simply about thinking a few steps upstream, and making more eco-friendly choices. You could argue it’s a fancy name for Reducing, the most important of the three Rs!

In the news

What will they do next? The imaginative folks at Google are set to roll out new free software that will help people track their home energy use in real time so that they can find areas for improved efficiency. http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSLH73139520090317

Interested in solar home design? You’ll want to see the new Canadian Solar Home Design Manual, with up-to-date content, graphics, photographs and case studies. More info is here: http://bonmot.ca/booklaunch/index.html