Greener Napkin Etiquette

September 23, 2009

The paper napkin is part of just about every restaurant meal. At fast food restaurants, we can even help ourselves – and it’s easy to grab a handful without thinking, most of which end up in the trash unused or barely used. Our napkin habit consumes millions of trees a year. Millions.

But here are five simple ways you can save a tree:

At home, try to get away without using napkins in the first place
At restaurants, use just one napkin
Give extra napkins and napkins that have been lightly used a second life: use them as tissues (they’re usually a lot stronger than regular tissues), or tuck them into your car’s glovebox for a myriad of end uses.
When buying, choose napkins with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content
Compost used napkins when possible, so that they can become ingredients for the next generation of trees
Save a napkin, save a tree: it’s nature’s air filter.

In the News

US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday urged world leaders to tackle climate change on a global scale.,0,6860735.story

Could this face in the ice be Mother Nature sending us a message?
Hazy Opera House: a dust storm hits parched Sydney

Terry Fox Run

I’m delighted to share that I have raised over $26,500 in pledges. Thanks to everyone who contributed! (It’s still not too late:

Discover your inner activist

September 14, 2009

There are less than 100 days until “Copenhagen”, the critical international meeting that will determine the follow up to the Kyoto Accord. Many of the world’s biggest emitters hold positions that are miles apart – yet climate experts tell us a strong successor to Kyoto is critical to solving our climate crisis.
If you’ve never been politically active before, perhaps now’s the time to discover your “inner activist”. After all, could there be any more compelling reason than the well-being of our children?
Here are a couple of ways you can make a difference:
Tell your elected representative(s) what you think. Contact information is available here: (Canada) and here (US): Congress and Senate .
Use the power of technology to organize a ‘flashmob’, a spontaneous gathering to make a point to leaders at all levels. You can use the template of, a global web community planning a network of events September 21: .
(Check out this tactic being used in Quebec to put social pressure on people commuting solo: ).
“We must be the change we seek in the world” – Mohandas Gandhi
“We are now in a race between climate tipping points and political tipping points” – David Spratt & Philip Sutton, “Climate Code Red”, July 2008
Terry Fox Run
Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far to my Terry Fox Run this weekend. If you’d still like to contribute, please visit

When you buy a new vehicle, you’re chaining your wallet to that vehicle’s fuel appetite for as long as you’ll own it – and the lifetime fuel cost of an inefficient vehicle can be higher than the cost of the vehicle itself.

For example, Natural Resources Canada estimates the annual fuel cost for a Toyota Prius at $820. For SUVs like the GMC Yukon, Chevy Tahoe, Cadillac Escalade, Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Durango, that cost is over four times as high. That’s at today’s fuel prices – sure to rise in the coming years, making the difference even bigger.

Programs like Retire Your Ride or Cash for Clunkers are nice, but the biggest cash advantage you can get when buying a new car is to choose the most efficient vehicle that meets your needs. By chaining your wallet to efficiency, you’ll save every year!

Check out new vehicle ratings here (for Canada) and here (for the US).

In the news

“I make sure the house isn’t overheated, lower our meat intake and grow vegetables,” said 71-year old Rosie Hughes, one of thirty people interviewed in a Reuters street poll. Unfortunately, most others interviewed – particularly the men – were not as willing to change behaviours. (How would you answer?)

Beyond Green, just this once

In April 1980, Terry Fox dipped his artificial leg into the Atlantic Ocean in St. John’s, NL, and set off on his cross-Canada Marathon of Hope. He was never able to complete his journey: the cancer that had taken his leg returned, and took his life in 1981.

September 13 marks the 29th annual Terry Fox Run, to commemorate a Canadian hero and raise funds for cancer research. For me, Terry Fox is a role model and an inspiration; he changed more than just his corner of the world.

I run annually for Terry and in memory of my father, who we lost to cancer in 1992. This year, with great sadness, I add the name of my sister Cathy to that list. Our family is grieving her loss August 22 of complications after cancer surgery. I have set my personal fundraising goal much higher this year, at $5000, and I would be grateful for any support you may be able to offer for this worthy cause. Contributions can be made on-line at