Ecosia and The Rainforest Site

Trees are among our best allies against climate change: they absorb carbon dioxide and lock it up as wood fibre.  In the process, they produce the oxygen we inhale and purify the air we breathe.

Not everyone has the time or place to plant a tree – but you can support trees and forests every time you browse the internet:

  • Use org as your default internet search engine, because every search helps fund the planting of trees – over 7.5 million so far!
  • Set The Rainforest Site as your web browser default home page. With a simple click, you can preserve one square meter of rainforest each day – a small amount, but last year, enough people clicked to preserve 3600 hectares of rainforest!

And, if you do happen to have the time and space, May is the perfect time to plant or transplant a tree!

Choose the right tissue paper

Home tissue products have long been made from virgin fibre (IE straight from the tree; zero percent recycled).  That means we have cut LOTS of trees to make napkins, paper towels, facial tissue and bathroom tissue, which are designed to be used once and then trashed or flushed.  Even today, several leading brands of tissue products are still 100% virgin fibre.  Arg – we are flushing trees down the toilet.

Fortunately, the market is changing: many paper companies have started offering tissue products that contain recycled paper.  You can help speed up that market change (and save a tree) by choosing recycled tissue products the next time you shop.  Look for the recycled logo, and aim for as high a percentage of post-consumer content as possible.

Click here for more background on this issue (dated but good information).  Click here (for Canada) and here (for US) to see how some popular brands stack up.

Why not plant a tree this week?

Trees are nature’s carbon dioxide sponges: as they grow, they inhale CO2 and lock it up semi-permanently into wood and roots.  It’s said that a single tree can absorb up to a tonne of emissions over its lifetime.

If you aspire to live a carbon-neutral lifestyle, make trees a part of your solution.  A typical Canadian household has emissions of over 20 tonnes a year, which can be offset by planting 20 trees annually.

Sort of – because there are two catches.  First, notice that’s 20 trees annually, to offset 20 tonnes of annual emissions.  Secondly, trees do lock up CO2 for a long time, but not permanently, because most of that CO2 is emitted back into the atmosphere when a tree dies and rots.

So the best strategy toward carbon neutrality starts with reducing our emissions by consuming less fossil fuel.  But when we’ve made our carbon footprint as small as possible, the next best thing is to offset the remainder – and that’s where planting trees comes in.  May, the month of returning life, is the perfect time.  June 5-11 is Canadian Environmental Week, with the theme, “Preserving our forests – protecting our future”.

You can obtain plenty of free tree seedlings in roadside ditches everywhere.  You can find great resources and information at Tree Canada.

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. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-obama-climate23-2009sep23,0,6860735.story

Could this face in the ice be Mother Nature sending us a message? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1210706/Caught-camera-Mother-Nature-cries-river-tears-global-warming-threatens-planet.html
Hazy Opera House: a dust storm hits parched Sydney http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/09/23/world/AP-AS-Australia-Dust-Storm.html

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: http://www.terryfox.org/cgi/page.cgi/Run/participants.html/USH8SW)

Not all recycled paper is created equal: different words, different percentages and different certifications make buying paper a lot more complicated than it used to be. But here’s a bit of clarity.

Paper made from Post-Consumer Waste is made from honest-to-goodness recycled paper: material that has gone through one consumer cycle, been collected via recycling centers or blue boxes, and re-processed into new paper. The percentage of Post Consumer Waste in paper varies, but if you find a product that’s 100% Post-Consumer Waste, you’ve got the best – because it’s made of material diverted (rescued?) from the landfill.

Paper made from Pre-Consumer Waste is made from scrap paper that never made it to the consumer: trimmings from print shops and newspapers, surplus copies printed, etc. Paper made from Pre-Consumer Waste is better than paper made from virgin pulp, but not as good as paper made from Post-Consumer Waste.

And since most paper available is not 100% recycled, look for an FSC (Forest Stewardship Council – http://www.fsccanada.org) or Green Seal (www.greenseal.org) logo that certifies that the non-recycled portion of the paper comes from sustainably managed forests.

In the news

Ontario’s first annual 50 Million Tree Weekend (http://www.treesontario.ca/news/index.php/50_million_tree_weekend) happens this Friday and Saturday: ordinary citizens are being challenged to plant trees in support of the United Nations’ Billion Tree Campaign (http://www.unep.org/billiontreecampaign/).

Trees play a vital role in the world’s carbon cycle, and this is the perfect time of year to plant them. Learn more here: http://telegraphjournal.canadaeast.com/rss/article/655623