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.....