Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy Green new Year

2009 is less than 24 hours away! I was just reading an newsletter I get from the Daily Green. In their New Year edition they are calling for input on what their readers think will be the hip and cool green trends for 2009. Who and what are going to be the movers and the shakers in the green movement.
I thought about this for a while and here are my green predictions;

They talk about 2007 was the year of the CFL, and 2008 reusable bags were the bomb (and I believe that the stainless steel water bottle was right up there too). But I think 2009 is going to be the year of the Compost. I think the time has come that we are going to have to start becoming a little more familiar with our garbage. With recycling having the stumbling blocks of not being able to sell to International brokers, and the landfills still filling up regardless of our children learning the three Rs in Kindergarten, we are going to have to start focusing on that 30% of municipal garbage that will actually disappear for real. Organic waste.
Our food waste is the only part of our garbage that will actually become something useful with very little effort, and almost no cost, just nature. But it is the only part of our garbage that we rarely do anything with. We will wash out every container, squish milk cartons and peel labels but we won't scrap our plates into a bucket under the sink and then empty it in a pile in the backyard to become dirt, the same dirt that we buy every year for $8.95 for a tiny baggy for out planters. Hum!

The Daily Green was also asking who we thought might be the new eco-celebrity. Decaprio and Pitt were the eco-kings in 2007 and 2008. I think 2009 it should be Horton.
You know, from Horton Hears A Who. Come on, he saved an entire global universe.
Horton shows us that a little sensitivity, and stepping outside your comfort zone, can make a huge impact on the survival of the world. That puts him tops in my book.

My predictions for cool green Mantra...we have had The Three Rs, I think the new hip catch phrase should be Do More With Less. It sounds kind of vague and interesting, and It's actually much easier that all that recycling anyway.

No matter what the green trends are in 2009, as the clock strikes midnight tonight and you raise your glass of organic locally brewed sparkling wine and cheer you good friends and family to a happy New Year my hope for you is that you do not get kissed by that creepy friend of your neighbors who's moustache is always wet.

Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Review of a Keener Greener's Christmas

I do consider myself a Keener Greener. I really want to create green changes in my life, and have done quite a bit over the years to live in a greener way that lessons my footprint on this fine fragile Earth. I try to teach my children, and model good environmental habits. But there are times that it is hard to adopt change, even when you know it is the right thing to do. This is way Christmas has been for me over the last few years.
I had great aspirations of celebrating this Christmas as green as possible. This was going to be it! Every year I think about how I want to change my Christmas habits and celebrate with less waste, less consumption, less stress in the pre-holiday days, less food, less financial debt and more time with the people I love, more time actually relaxing and visiting...I never really address the amount of alcohol that may be involved ( baby steps right?).
So, now Christmas is over...let's assess.

This year I did actually wrap my presents in newspaper, and I got my children to wrap theirs in newspaper too.
Looking at the pile of presents under the tree and thinking about all of the virgin forest we saved by using fully recyclable newspaper made me feel great. Wiping black finger prints from every surface in the house that the children touched during their wrapping process didn't really make my heart sing, thankfully our newspaper prints with vegetable inks. The other issue I didn't really consider is the amount of tape needed when using smaller pieces of newspaper. Our home may indeed be responsible for a tape shortage in the early months of 2009, sorry.
What did my in-laws think of their eco-wrapped presents? They all thought it was great, but I don't know why they all kept asking if things were okay with work?

Less consumption! I did pretty well. I bought less gifts, but more meaningful ones. It was so sweet...the kids were moved to tears over this green shift!

Less stress in the preparation for Christmas. I did pretty good in this department too. I baked less sweets and bought less junk food, no egg nog, and stayed completely away from the numerous boxes of chocolate we usually have all over the house. Again, the family was really supportive with this idea, and spent a lot of time explaining the concept to the neighbors, friends and family, anyone who would listen really.

Less financial stress. Did great with this concept, didn't put anything on the old credit card. Nope, not a thing. The Credit Card company had actually even acknowledged in November that the trip to Mexico for February would be the last thing put on the card.

One of the things that was most touching this Christmas was that my children made their gifts for me this year. They had asked what I wanted for Christmas, and I said that whatever it was I wanted them to have made it. Trying to model to them that Christmas is not about spending money, and buying things but rather about taking time to show the people in life that you love how important they are to you. The kids embraced this green choice wholeheartedly and set off to create!
That Christmas morning, while other Mothers may have been opening boxes of perfume or pretty little sets of necklaces with matching earrings...I was thumbing through a book of "Memorises" created by my daughter, and trying on the slippers my son made for me out of two 3/4" plywood circles with pillow stuffing stapled to it with a strap of material across the top.

This Christmas morning I knew I had taken one step closer to achieving some of my goals as a Keener Greener!!
Unfortunately I then had to sit down and remove the splinter it got from my slipper.

I hope everyone had a great Christmas, and I wish you all a Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Save $$ and Go Green in 2009

We are just weeks away from 2009 and many are concerned about what the new year will bring. Instead of breaking a habit as your New Year's Resolution......develop new ones! The three new habits listed below will save you money AND minimize your environmental footprint. 

Start Carpooling! Now is the time to start talking to your colleagues at work about starting a carpool group. Now, don't give me excuses! A carpool group is a great way to save money and wear and tear on your vehicle. According to David Suzuki's "Green Guide", " carpooling, you can cut your operating costs from 50% to 75% and reduce your transportation footprint by the same amount". 

Bring your lunch from home! By preparing your own lunch you can ensure that what you are eating is healthy, you can choose organic and you can minimize packaging. Bonus? You will save money! The typical lunch out costs an average of $7.00 - $15.00 per day (depending on where you live and what you eat). If you currently go out for lunch every day, you can save anywhere from $1800.00 - $3900.00 per year by bringing your lunch from home. 

Coffee, coffee, coffee...... Can't make it through your day without your Tim Horton's or Starbucks coffee? Both establishments sell ground coffee which you can make at home at a fraction of the cost. Make a pot in the morning and put the rest in a thermos and bring it to work with you. tastes so much better out of a nice mug instead of a paper cup! At an average cost of $1.50 per day for an extra large Tim Horton's coffee, you can save approximately $822.00 a year! If you drink Starbucks coffee you can multiply that number by at least 3!

So, how do you develop these new habits? The same way that you "break" a habit. No....there is no patch, no pill. Try the following:

Write it down: Get your calendar out and write down your intentions, put it someplace where you are going to look at it at least daily.

30 days: Don't do it all at once, you will overwhelm and possibly sabotage yourself. Take each new habit and implement it for 30 days. At the end of 30 days, introduce a new one.

Calculate the difference: Each of these new habits will save you money. On that same calendar, at the end of the month, calculate how much you saved and carry that $ amount over to the next page so that you keep a running balance of the tally. By having a visual reminder of your success will inspire you to continue developing your habits.

Do it EVERY DAY: You need to be consistent. If you stray.....get back on track as soon as possible.

Reward Yourself: You need to reward yourself for all your hard work. Maybe with all the money you saved you can take a trip or possibly upgrade an old appliance with an energy star appliance. 

Good luck! 


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Redefining "Having It all"

Is there a way to "have it all" this holiday season and still minimize our environmental footprint? The answer is no, probably not, because to most of us, "having it all" has come to mean something very extreme, almost unattainable. It is the perfect gift, the perfect meal, being the perfect host, being the perfect parent. 

The perfect gift is not defined by price, the perfect meal is one that is shared with those you love regardless of what you are eating, the perfect host is one that spends time with guests and the perfect parent is one that is honest with their children and doesn't create unrealistic expectations for them. One of the positives of our economic downtown is that it has actually helped the green movement. Because we cannot afford as much, we are purchasing wisely, we are reusing more, we are finding ways to stretch our dollar, we are rediscovering old traditions. We are redefining "having it all".

How do we do it? Sit down with your family and set some parameters. Speak openly with children about what your goals are for the holiday season. You need to set the example for them, you need to lead the way. 

The greenest gift of all is time. Spending time with your children, spending time with family and nurturing friendships. 

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Tips to Give By

We had such a fun time yesterday at the Public Library where we offered the "12 Days of Green Christmas". The crowd was small and intimate which made it possible to share alot of creative ideas. The only glitch.....the fact that I could not get the proxima to connect with my laptop! I am so technologically challenged sometimes!

Now Jennifer and I are off to the recording studio to record our Christmas song.......look for it soon


Friday, November 28, 2008

What the heck?

I am reading online about an American Wal-mart worker who died during the Black Friday store rush. It happened at 5:00 a.m. when the store opened for its big sale.  At a time when it seems like everything is going to hell in a hand-basket, you hear about a story like this. Are we so concerned about getting "stuff" that we would trample a person? Is this not insane?  How do you explain a death like that? I just shake my head.....

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The 12 Green Days of Christmas!

Coming soon.......we will be posting "The 12 Days of Green Christmas".......Tips to Give by!

Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah.... Whatever you celebrate, choose to make it a greener celebration this year!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jingle bells, jingle bells...

Christmas is just around the corner and Jennifer and I are giving back to the community by holding a seminar about greening the holidays. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Christmas....whatever you celebrate, choose to make it a greener celebration this year.

We are going to take a look at many aspects of the holiday season, from wrapping paper to the choice of seafood appetizer. Laugh and learn with us on Sunday, November 30th at the Dawson Creek Public Library! The seminar is free but we will happily accept any non-perishable baby food item for the Salvation Army.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Passive Aggressive Environmentalist.....

What kind of comment or note would a passive aggressive environmentalist leave? How about a note left at a health club on the cooler that stocks the water bottles, "All the sit-ups in the world aren't going to save you from the possible hormone disruption caused by your plastic water bottle!"

Don't you find this tactic tiresome? I get frustrated by those "greener than thou" individuals who make passive aggressive comments to make a point. Instead of saying, "I think it is wonderful that you are taking the time to get in shape. But, did you know that the plastic in water bottles can leech out causing potential health risks? What about switching to a stainless steel bottle?"

Now.....don't  you think they will be more receptive to that type of comment?


Sunday, October 5, 2008

FMS makes music!

Who said we are just pretty faces? (I made that up, but hey, a girl can dream). Jennifer and I recently debuted our one and only hit, "Plastics and Styrofoam" to the tune of Phoebe Buffay's "Smelly Cat". It is definitely going to be a chart topper!

Green by the numbers.....

Recently FMS was featured in the Fort Nelson News regarding the successful green planning of the Horn River Basin Economic Development Symposium. Below is a copy of the article.

Trade Shows, expositions, conferences......we all enjoy attending them, but have you ever stopped to wonder how much garbage is generated by these events?

According to Judy Kucharuk and Jennifer Singer of Footprint Management Systems Inc. (FMS), "the environmental cost of these events can be staggering". Footprint Management Systems Inc. of Dawson Creek, recently were contracted to assist with planning the Horn River Basin Economic Development Symposium held in September. "We are extremely pleased with the Symposium. Not only did it meet the goals and objectives of getting the information out about the Horn River Basin, but it was very successful at reducing the amount of waste resulting from over 200 people attending meals and meetings over one and half days".

Footprint Management Systems Inc. (FMS) developed a greed meeting policy complete with strategies to support the policy. The goals were to minimize the solid waste produced by the event that will be left in the community; reduce the amount of printed materials generated by the event; minimize the amount of energy consumed and carbon emissions produced by the event; and leave a legacy of influence through education and awareness to both community and attendees regarding green meetings and event planning.

After completing a post event evaluation, green event audit and survey, FMS posted the "Green Meeting Top Ten Strategies" of the Horn River Basin Economic Development Symposium on the Town of Fort Nelson website. The results were dramatic. For instance, by choosing to use only glass and and china dishware, stainless steel cutlery and cloth napkins for the over 200 attendees, the environmental savings were staggering. Over 1000 small and large foam plates, 1800 paper napkins, 1000 foam coffee cups and over 1200 pieces of plastic cutlery were kept from the local landfill!

Symposium registrants were not given out bags of "swag" by organizers. Instead, Nexen sponsored USB keys for all registrants which were preloaded with the presentations and symposium information saving thousands of sheets of paper being used to create package for everyone.

"It always comes down to choices", stated Kucharuk. "You can't always make the best choice, but you can generally make a better choice". Balancing the needs of organizers, stakeholders and participants can be difficult, but it can be achieved. Proof of this is the dramatic numbers released by FMS. Over one and half day symposium for over 200 participants, throughout three meeting/food service venues, only 2 1/4 bags of garbage went into the Town of Fort Nelson landfill.

For a complete list of the top ten strategies, check out the Town of Fort Nelson website at

Printed in the October 1st Fort Nelson News

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Strange but true....

I am worried that there are people in positions of power who DON'T think that global warming is caused by humans. I can't believe that there are people who think like that! Are these the same people who belong to the flat earth club? 

There are many elections taking place in the coming months. There is a real chance that the Americans will elect a team where the Vice President doesn't believe in global warming. In Canada, the Green Party was almost not given the opportunity to debate. What is going on? Why this shift? Ignoring the problem and denying the problem will not make it go away. 


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Where to draw the line

At a recent green event where we gave out 1 gig USB keys loaded with all the presentations, bios and company profiles, a guest came up to me and asked "If you really wanted to have a green event, you would have loaded all the material onto the website instead of giving out USB keys which are created using chemicals, water, etc....." 

Deep breath Judy, take it easy Judy, remember this is another instance where someone believes that doing the right thing is all or nothing. They are thinking that if you can't do everything, then what you do accomplish doesn't make a difference. I took a measured moment before responding to him. "Life is full of choices and we are always trying to make the best choice for each situation. In this case, we had guests who were used to getting bags of swag complete with handouts, binders, etc. We knew that going straight to having nothing except name tags might be quite a leap for some and it didn't really address some of our sponsorship and stakeholder concerns. We determined the best route was the USB keys which will be used over and over and over again. We also uploaded the information on to the website for those who couldn't attend. Having had this type of event once, next year our guests won't look twice when we don't hand out anything and post everything onto the web. They will know that a successful event isn't determined by the stuff they received, but by the information they received, the networking, the food, the atmosphere..."

At first I was a little upset that he didn't see what we had accomplished, only what we hadn't accomplished. Then Jennifer said to me, "Judy, at least we made him think about the choice" and she was absolutely right! I am glad he asked the question, I am glad that he confronted me because now I know that he is thinking and that is half the battle isn't it?


Friday, August 22, 2008

Club Z gets a F

I was really excited to see the often run T.V. commercial campaign by Zellers regarding their new line of eco-friendly products for back to school...and at 30%. Well, arn't they the social responsible company! Then a beautiful, glossy, multi page flyer came in the mail touting that Earth Day is everyday at Zellers. Supporting those parents who want to make choices that help teach their children that we can make choices that look after our earth.
Well, isn't that grand!
I might have to live through another episode of the ever-generational struggle of trying to clothes shop with pre-teens that would make me want to poke my eyes out, but by golly I was going to be able to buy schools supplies with integrity and a conscious look toward the future of our earth.
The pens, pencils and paper that I was going to arm my children with to set forth on the continuation of their scholastic journey were going to going to support sustainable thinking in more ways then one. They were going to be able to use tools of the trade designed with their future in mind.
I walk undaunted after hours of clothes shopping in the designer brand name, crap music filled, tiny little stores with eighteen staff re-folding clothes looking soooo bored with life, into Zellers to find the glorious section of school supplies that I could feel good about buying.
Do you know what I found? A spot on the aisle, less then a third of the one side with four products on it.
The 1" binder was over $4.00, the other 1" binders averaged $1.69,
A pack of 150 sheets of paper over $3, others ran between .99cents and $1.25
Package of 2 pens made of 81% post-consumer material over $4, others pack of 8 for $2.50
A single subject notebook, that I think only had recycled cardboard for the cover,over $5 after tax.
What the heck, it's Club Z not Club Med.
I was so disappointed! Those prices were ludicrous. The average parent could not afford to purchase all of the supplies necessary for one child much less two or three at those prices. Why did Zellers have to put such a high price on this stuff? Wouldn't Zellers volume purchase power offset the price with the manufacturer? It was such a let down.
So after waffling back and forth between just purchasing the high priced eco-friendly products to make a point to support the movement, and the stuff I could afford, and the children begging me to stop standing there muttering to myself because people were starting to stare. Eventually the length of the list I had held in my hand for two children starting grade 5 and 7 made my decision.
So as we drove home breathing in the fumes from the plastic binders, plastic pen with rubber thumb pads and ink on the virgin paper, I wondered what that t-shirting wearing teddy bear would have thought about this whole thing? Didn't he always say that they had the lowest price because it was the law?
Well damn it, there should be a law about making it cost too much to do the right thing!


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

To recycle or not recycle that is the question

Is recycling the answer? Is recycling the way in which I choose to contribute to trying to minimize my impact on the earth? Does it make as much difference as I think it does?

Anyone who has left their recycling in the basement for too long knows what I saying. Too long in my house that is about three weeks. There is an absolute mountain of plastic containers, plastic wrapping of all types, milk jugs, cans and bottles, and cardboard galore. All over flowing onto the basement floor, exploding out of the blue containers like a landslide of granola bar boxes and that hard plastic vacuum packaging that cannot even be cut by the strongest of scissors, slowly edging behind the washing machine.
You groan and moan as you sort out the mess telling yourself that it is better to do it here then at the recycling depot. Cursing those who did not fully rinse out the jar of mayo before putting it in the bin. Mumbling to yourself about manufacturers who apparently feel that they need to apply the label of the spaghettio can with enough glue to give it the strength to withstand forces of nature never before witnessed, as you sit there trying to pick it off one tiny strip at a time.
During moments like this I can’t help but feel that I am missing a key component, that there is more to this recycling process than I am admitting to myself. I start to wonder if I am really doing good for the environment through my religious actions of rinsing, de-labeling, crushing and sorting, or am I actually just making cleaner, neater, smaller garbage?
Has the concept of recycling become a media spin like Christmas. If you dug down deep would you find the recycling campaigns being driven by large corporations, just like the stop smoking ads are mostly sponsored by tobacco companies. Is all of the recycling hype created by the manufactures to keep us do-gooders buying and consuming at an alarming rate because we can justify it by recycling it?

There is a very interesting article in the August edition of the Alive magazine called “Think Outside the Blue Box”. It talks about how Reduce, Reuse and Recycle is not just a catchy phrase, but rather the order of the steps we are to take. Reducing should be the main way we make an environmental impact. Stop using the ever-increasing amount of resources necessary to feed our need to over- consume in the first place.
The article touches on the resources necessary to complete the recycling process. We can’t just throw our plastics, paper, glass and tin in the proper window at the depot and have garden furniture, envelopes, and a six pack pop out the back door. There are a lot of steps in the recycling process that use a lot of resource and create a lot of waste in their own right.

As I finish the sorting of my recycling I look around at the piles of paper, plastic, glass and tin, I say to myself once more that I’m not going to do that again, we will have to do better as a family at using less. And those darn kids are going to have do a neater job from now on of sorting the recycling... Hum, maybe I should go buy some more new bins that make it easier, or perhaps some of those metal stands that you hang the big bags in, or maybe I could get.....

“the best way to reduce any environmental impact is not to recycle more, but to produce and dispose of less” William McDonough, environmentalist


Monday, August 11, 2008

Leaving the lightest footprint on the mountain

Whew! On Saturday I did what I said I would never, ever do again.......I participated in the "Emperor's Challenge"! Climbing through a gorge up to the mountain summit at 6500 feet above sea level in 28 degree celsius weather is not really my idea of  a good time. I was accompanying my husband who only days earlier had announced that he was going to enter the race with my friend Julianne. I elected to enter the race only the day before because I felt that my hubby was not going to do too well on the 20km trek and didn't want his care to fall on my girlfriends shoulders. Heck, I think I even said, "I don't want you to die alone on the mountain hon....I guess I will come with you". So, in my 24 hours to prepare and trying to blank the vision of what it had been like the previous year, I tried to coach my hubby. I said, "you will be tired, you will want to give up, you will want to go back......". 

We arrived at the race 5 minutes prior to the race starting. We barely had time to register and take a last minute restroom break and the gun went off. We quickly fell to the back of the pack surrounded by clickers (those people that walk with those walking sticks) and the older crowd (82 year olds).

I learned a valuable husband is alot stronger than I give him credit for and he ROCKED THAT MOUNTAIN! It was him that said to ME, "I know you are tired, I know you want to give up, I know you want to go back!" He waited for me and in the end, helped me climb the stupid mountain. 

The Emperor's Challenge is a beautiful thing. It brings you so close to the clouds and the air is magnificent. The wildflowers are everywhere and sometimes you can spot sheep (laughing at us). I was surprised when I arrived at the water stations and saw the water being distributed in styrofoam cups. It seemed to be so against what we were there for and I don't know if anyone else noticed it. I wonder if it was a decision that was made because no thought had gone into it (the cups) or because there was  no time to make a better purchase like paper cups. 

What do you think?


Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ready, set, STOP!

Campaign fever is getting ready to take hold in municipalities across British Columbia. The race for Mayor and Council will heat up and with that comes signs.......EVERYWHERE. I am throwing out a challenge to candidates to think out their campaigns and identify every opportunity available to make a better choice when it comes to signage and promotional material. Identify these options and put them in writing so that all of us can see that you actually thought about it. How you run your campaign speaks volumes.....


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Future Friendly?

I am sure that I am living in a cave, but I just noticed an advertisement which touted a product as "future friendly". What does future friendly mean? What does it mean for the poor products which don't have the logo? Does it mean that they are "unfriendly to the future?" This is a new one for is right up there with Jennifer's blog about salmon friendly wine.....

Is the title "future friendly" just for products or can it apply to services like "We offer future friendly car service!" or "we offer future friendly banking services". What about a "future friendly credit card?" or "Future friendly weddings?"

Google the words "future friendly" and see what you come up with. 


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"Patience is a virtue....."

If patience is a virtue then I am seriously lacking in virtue. I know that not everyone is going to be on side with the concept of green meetings and events. I mean, I understand if I am requesting something totally bizarre and they can't accommodate me. I also understand that education is the key  when you are planning a green event. It is something new and not everyone completely understands the concept. But what about when you have educated, you have been accommodating, you have been nice as pie and they simply refuse to do things differently? What about when there is no other vendor to switch to and you are stuck together like a bad marriage? 

This is when you incorporate deep breathing. Breathe Judy, and out, in and out, in and out. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Saturday, July 26, 2008

"100 Metre Diet"

After reading the great book, "The 100 Mile Diet, A Year of Local Eating" I was struck by a realization. As a country kid growing up in Northern Alberta, we lived on a "100 Metre Diet", because that was as close as our rather large garden was to the house! We grew pretty much everything we needed, hills upon hills of potatoes, peas, carrots, beats, cabbage, lettuce...and more. The first meals were made up of salads with fresh lettuce, onions, small radishes, tomatoes and dill and as a child I didn't appreciate it fully. I didn't appreciate the freshness of everything, didn't appreciate standing in the garden, pulling a carrot, rubbing the skin to remove most of the dirt and then eating it. The next meals involved fresh baby potatoes and baby peas with a cream sauce that mom made. This was served with a moose roast that had been slow cooked with mounds of onion in the oven. 

The whole family would then be enlisted to start pulling from the garden en masse. First, it was all the beets to make beet pickles (you can't bottle that wonderful smell of beet pickles simmering on the stove), then it was shelling peas with my aunts and cousins. More peas would go into my mouth than in the bucket and mom would be blanching and bagging as we shelled. Swiss Chard relish, dill pickles, pickled carrots would all come from that garden. When the snow came and the temperature plummeted, opening a glass jar of these items would remind us of what is to come again, in summer.

Pulling the many, many rows of potatoes and then laying them on the lawn , spraying the dirt off and then letting them dry in the sun before dumping them in the cold room in the basement. We had access to the potato bin from an outside window and they were unceremoniously dumped in. As children, it was our job to go downstairs and get a bucket of potatoes for mom to cook. For the first few months (September through January) it wasn't a big deal, but when the eyes would start growing long fingers that I would imagine were real fingers started poking out of the bin, I would beg my sister Jessie to go and get them. 

Do I have a garden now? No...I don't. But I sure appreciate the hard work that my mom and dad did so that we had good food on the table. There was alot of love and pride that went into what they did. I know that it is a long time past, but thanks!


Friday, July 25, 2008

"Smart Cars"......"Dumb drivers"

I think that we all would admit that the "smart" cars are statement cars. They announce to the world that "darnit....we realize that there is an energy crisis!" Imagine my surprise today when exiting a building I see a teeny, tiny, little, cute, adorable smart car sitting there sans driver........with the ENGINE RUNNING!

 I know that it was 30 degrees in town today and I am sure they felt the need to keep their teeny, tiny, little, cute, adorable smart car cool while they were in the chiropractors office, but gosh, golly gee......isn't it an oxy-moron or ironic or one of those words that I can't think of right now to see a smart car IDLING? 


Thursday, July 24, 2008

What's In A Name - Eco Labels and Logos

What's in a name (that is a famous quote of some sort isn't it)? With the enormous influx of new Eco-labels on our foods, cleaners, wood products, paper products, etc, there is a lot to a name. And sometimes nothing to a name at all.
I was becoming very confused by so many of the labels and logos I was seeing appear on many of the products I buy, and it is important to me to try and make a good choice as far as nutrition and enviro friendliness. Thankfully there are no labels on the sprinkled covered donuts!
So I started to do some research. I was greatly surprised to learn that many of the labels we see on the shelves of the store mean nothing, they are not verified by any legislation, there are no clear guidelines, and manufactures can use them willy-nilly.
Now that is not with all Eco-labels or course, there are reliable processes for Certified Organic, Fair Trade, and many others. I am certainly not saying that it is total anarchy. But it is interesting to learn that many of the labels, and claims on products today have a slight odor of greenwashing.
For instance;
Environmentally friendly often seen on cleaners means nothing really, no government body regulates that statement. It is a general claim, it implies no harm to the environment but there is no standard for the definition. So it could mean anything from it won't explode to it is beneficial to the repairing of the ozone? Who knows.
Eco-Safe, again means nothing. Often on cleaners and personal care products. No way to determine if it is any safer than anything else.
Cruelty free, usually on personal care products. No one regulates or verifies. Parts of the product could be as gentle as the summer breeze on the little bunny's behind, other parts of it may blind the poor bugger. Who is to say.
There are Eco-labels popping up on everything. Even my wine! I noticed the other afternoon, I mean evening, that wine is now sporting the ever popular Eco-label. There is organic grown wine, bird friendly grown wine meaning that the orchards are maintained a way that are friendly to birds. But why on earth would my wine have a salmon-safe label?
Apparently, this is to certify wine that is grown on hillsides is done in a sustainable manner so as to not disturb the streams down below, and therefore maintaining the sustainability of the salmon systems within.
Are we going to start labeling everything? Is there going to have to be a whole new body of regulatory beings that certify and audit our labeling system as a society. Will the Eco-Label mania spread from food, cleaners and paper to everything. Will we labeling everything to state it's connection to the earth.
I was thinking for my kids I could label them Certified Humane Raised and Handled. But wouldn't you know that label has a certification process...I guess we will just have to go with Dolphin Safe.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's Not Easy Being Green

I move through this ever evolving field of sustainability and Eco-efficiency to bring our clients the type of business consulting they are searching for from us; and while the work is incredibly rewarding, there are also some incredibly huge downers.
I am secretly thrilled that being cheap and not wanting to buy everything is now considered green and innovative. I am also a little prideful when I tally up how many times I walked this week instead of driving, and I carry my reusable cloth bags with a slight air of confidence that I am not one of those harming the earth.
I am the Queen of Green when it's stuff I don't mind doing, or things I don't do in the first place. I don't know if I actually deserve green credits for not driving a Hummer or running my household air conditioner if I don't actually own those things? But I'll take them.
But as I am basking in my sense of Eco-friendliness, suddenly I will come across something I don't want to, my hair dryer uses more energy in one coiffure styling session than it takes to light a house for a whole day. Or that more than 300,000 trees are harvested each year just to produce Christmas cards. I love Christmas cards, they are so pretty.
I don't want to have to forego my fabulous hairdos, and I want to send glittery, over sized Christmas cards to everyone I should have actually made effort to call over the year. Darn it!
It is not easy being green. One is not always aware of the sacrifices one must make in this life.
But I shall persevere on my Eco journey. Maybe I can let my golden locks (from hair dye containing hormone disturbers which I am not ready to talk about yet) dry naturally a few times a week. Maybe I will get organized and make the effort to call some of the members of my Christmas list and talk in person...well, a quick email at any rate.
Besides, I just read that disposal diapers are going into the Canadian landfills at a rate of 4 million a day...Ha, my kids haven't been in diapers for over nine years, I'm good.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Visit your Farmer's Market while on "staycation"

With the rising fuel prices, myself and many other Canadians are enjoying a "staycation" this year. We are exploring our own communities and checking in with some favourite local summer pastimes. One of those often over-looked outings is going to the local farmer's market. Vendors up at dawn, some putting the finishing touches on fresh baking in the wee hours of the morning, doing it just for us....just so that we have the opportunity to access fresh local vegetables, organic meat and canning just like we remember as children. Quilters taking enormous pride in their creations, jewelry makers marketing their designs.

The local farmer's market fulfills another need. It us give us the opportunity to socialize within our own community. We get a chance to reconnect with our neighbours and for us to recognize the tremendous talent that lies around us.

As I sit here listening to the pot of homemade borscht bubbling on the stove from the baby beets I purchased this morning, I realize just how fortunate I am.....


Friday, July 18, 2008

Green Beans and Canopies?

Hello everyone and welcome to our new blog. Thanks to Tracy for being smarter than the machine and figuring it out for us. 

Someday I will explain what green beans and canopies mean.....but for now I will just say welcome to everyone and we hope that this space will become a place for honest conversation about the world that we live in and the footprints that we leave everyday. 

We believe that by one person or organization making one change with a commitment to making more, the world that we live in can become a better place.