Most of us feel good about recycling, and for good reason: recycling helps us stretch more life out of resources and it can greatly extend the life of landfills.

But recycling isn’t truly recycling – it’s actually ‘downcycling’, because products sent for recycling are never remanufactured into the same product – they are turned into something of lesser quality, lower down the chain of products. Eventually, virtually everything ends up as trash.

So while recycling is much better than throwing something out, the best thing you can do for the environment by far is the first R: reduce.

You can read more about downcycling here: http://miramichileader.canadaeast.com/rss/article/701445 and an excellent book on the subject is “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things” http://www.mcdonough.com/cradle_to_cradle.htm .

In the news

Yesterday, the Obama White House released a worrisome 196 page report projecting how climate change will affect Americans in the coming years. As one scientist put it, the report shows that climate change “affects the things people care about”. http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2009/06/17/17climatewire-us-study-projects-how-unequivocal-warming-wi-29186.html

Energy independence in ten years? That’s the goal of Repower America – and here is their latest 30 second ad. http://www.repoweramerica.org/(Hmmm… if the US can set such a target for a power grid much, much larger than Canada’s, what’s holding us back?)

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According to Statistics Canada, eight of ten Canadians count themselves among a faith community. Faith communities – be they Christian, Jew, Muslim or other – can be tremendous forces for change and social progress. Since environmental stewardship is consistent with the teachings of virtually every faith, faith communities can play a huge role in ‘spreading the word’ and ‘being the change’.

If you are a member of a faith community, there are plenty of resources out there to help:

http://www.faith-commongood.net is an interfaith organization based in Toronto to provide guidance toward improved sustainability

http://www.theregenerationproject.org is a California-based interfaith group with similar objectives and an information-filled website

More ideas for ways faith groups can combat global warming are available here: http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2009/04/faith_earth_day.html , and a full column on the subject is here: http://tribunenb.canadaeast.com/rss/article/687165.

In the news

Huge new solar power projects are planned for Australia and Argentina – harnessing the free, limitless energy of the sun.

The UK is taking bold steps toward more efficient housing. By 2016, all new homes are expected to be net-zero (producing as much energy as they consume), and smart meters will be installed on all homes by 2020.