Archive for the ‘B.C.’ Category

A truly green Christmas tree

Many people are turning away from the petroleum based artificial trees that, just a generation ago, seemed like the most environmentally friendly option available.

If you are looking for an Eco Friendly option for a Christmas tree this year I recommend checking out this local company. Evergrow Christmas Tree Company.

Evergrow Christmas Tree Co was started by two UBC forestry grads, and specialise in delivering live trees to people who want a greener option for the holiday season.

I first learned about this option in May when I was volunteering at EPIC, the sustainable living expo held annually in downtown Vancouver.  I was in the “kids zone” as usual, making Christmas decorations with the kids!

Evergrow offers trees for homes, business and events. They even offer cut trees if you desire one bigger then 7 feet. The trees are grown locally and the cut one are collected and converted into biofuel. They will even lend you a tree stand and set it up if you wish. No more needles dropping, worrying about the tree dying up or  what to do with it after the 26th.

If you order online you can save 10%  So shop local, save a tree, and go really  green this Christmas!

evergrow tree at EPIC 2010

evergrow tree at EPIC 2010

gifts that last

Metro Vancouver has a new campaign to curb excess garbage created over the holiday season.

This time of year is a retailers delight, with many businesses making the majority of their sales in the month of December. Our consumer culture reaches a crescendo at holiday time.  Increasingly we see “green” gift ideas, and while supporting local businesses, buying  ethically fairly traded products is a good choice, this new campaign has come along to remind us there is another option.

The website gives ideas for low waste gifts. Some idea’s include giving the gift of experiences; classes and memberships, a new soccer ball or a bike,  dinner out, tour local light displays, visit a historical site or experience a live presentation of some kind.

Be creative and have fun; make a wreath from things in your backyard, cut out paper snow flakes,  look through thrift shops for treasure, give a family heirloom to a loved one, or offer to fix a broken step or paint a room for a friend or family member who may not be able to do it themselves.

The gift of time is often the most welcome of all.  What is more valuable then memories we create with the people we love?

This holiday season if you find a way to give more of yourself you will be richer for it.

And No Message Could Have Been Any Clearer

If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

Vancouver Earth dance 2009 photo credit: Katia Somerville

Vancouver Earth dance 2009 photo credit: Katia Somerville

Man in the mirror – Michael Jackson

a matter of survival

Eco blogs and websites around the world are reporting on the climate talks wrapping up today in Cancun, Mexico.

World leaders have gathered for the Sixteenth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP16) and the Sixth Conference of the Parties serving as the Meeting of the Parties of the Kyoto Protocol (CMP6).

big tree

Canada is falling short of the measures set out in Kyoto and with the United States refusal to accept the treaty, the progress is slow going.  Even with dialogue between the two nations continuing Canada is one of the worst offending countries when it comes to CO2 emissions.

Many countries would like  the Kyoto Protocol to be extended and built upon. The present agreement expires in 2012, with little over one year until then, the movement needs a solid action plan in place.

Island nations are on the font lines of the Global Warming disaster. They are not the only ones who face catastrophic consequences if climate change is not stopped, they have the unfortunate role of  “the canary in the coal mine.”

A Canadian activist group called Evolve Love have live coverage of the meeting and their reporting indicates a strong activist presence at the talks.  Some  groups represented there are the Youth Climate Action Network, The Indigenous Environmental Network, and the people from 350.org

Will the world leaders have the courage to make this a priority? Switching to renewable energy, creating green jobs, and implementing stringent environmental protection laws is the only way to achieve the goals of these treaties and accords.

The Evolve Love promotional material asks how we can see the climate crisis as a love story?

The answer is, it’s up to each of us.

Are we willing to make the changes we need ?  The wealthiest nations have the power in our hands.

Make a change.


2005_1120image0013


Black Friday – Buy nothing day

bnd2010-blackThis Friday, November 26th, the day after American Thanksgiving, is commonly refereed to as Black Friday. In the United States it is the biggest shopping day of the year!  It is also known as BUY NOTHING DAY,  internationally its on November 27th.

The reason for this day is simple, to make people question their consumption.

We live in a time of such abundance never before witnessed in modern history. Our ever increasing appetite for the newest gadget, most convenient meal, and more of everything, has contributed to an ever larger toll on planet earth.

As we approach another holiday season, let us hope that we can share it with people we love. Spend time doing things that bring us joy and marvel at the miracles that are around us everyday.  We live in an enchanting time, if we just take a break from trying to achieve something, get somewhere, or  buy something else,  we can just relax and let it be.

Taken at the Royal City Farmers Market Summer 2010

Taken at the Royal City Farmers Market Summer 2010

World Toilet Day November 19th

website-logo

toilet

Today, November 19th is designated as World Toilet Day

2.5 billion people worldwide are without access to proper sanitation, which risks their health, strips their dignity, and kills 1.8 million people, mostly children, a year.

Even in the world’s wealthiest countries people still have toilet problems – from unhygienic public toilets to sewage disposal that destroys our waterways.

This topic is not glamorous, but the fact is this basic necessity  most of us take for granted in the developed world is not available for close to one third of the worlds population! Today in the year 2010 this is a fact.

In many  major cities in North America, even  here in Vancouver the issues of public toilets has been dealt with in some efficient and creative ways.

There are now public toilets on the streets, in small self contained steel boxes, these toilets are automated, washed after each use and open automatically after 12 minutes. They are free, and some are wheelchair accessible.

toilet vancouver

The Big Squat is an event that asks people to squat for one minute to help raise awareness for World Toilet Day.   People need access to proper sanitation and clean water now.

This campaign is about  helping people gain dignity, and helping the planet at the same time.

website-logo

World Animal Day October 4th

Celebrated annually since 1931, World Animal Day  began  as a gathering of ecologists in Florence Italy to raise awareness about endangered species.  It is now a diverse celebration the world over.

This year events have been confirmed to take place in 68 countries. This is a day to celebrate animals,  from beloved domestic pets , to caring about the well-being of farmed animals and species at risk.

PNE 2010

Why do we need a day for the animals? The biggest reason is because we have forgotten they are our brothers and sisters on this planet. Whether we keep pets, volunteer at the local animals shelter, or choose not to participate in the animals as food paradigm, the spectrum of people who love animals is varied.

MOJO

A communion exists between people and animals, we  have all experienced it at one time or another.  Each day we can choose a path that honours  the earth, and therefore all the creatures on it.

Every decision we make has a ripple effect, you can choose to have a meat free meal,  support sustainable farming practices, volunteer with animals, stop driving, grow your own food, learn about local history and traditional food, native plants and animals.

Become the change you want to see and you will be amazed at the love that you will find.

The website‘s Mission Statement

WORLD ANIMAL DAY

  • To celebrate animal life in all its forms
  • To celebrate humankind’s relationship with the animal kingdom
  • To acknowledge the diverse roles that animals play in our lives – from being our companions, supporting and helping us, to bringing a sense of wonder into our lives
  • To acknowledge and be thankful for the way in which animals enrich our lives
From the WWF website;

Zero Emissions Race – towards a green future-

Zero Emissions Race

Zero Emissions Race

The ZERO emissions race is on!

Teams from Australia, South Korea, Germany and Switzerland have gathered for an eighty day, transcontinental race.  All the vehicles are powered by clean renewable energies, solar and wind being the most popular.

Each participating team will have the equivalent power produced and fed into the grid of their home country.

Louis Palmer, was the first man to circumnavigate the world with solar power in 2008.  This August, five teams will expand beyond this accomplishment with a race towards sustainability.

The Eligibility Criteria of the competing vehicle in the Zero Race are:

  • competitors must be propelled by an electric motor
  • drive at least 250 km distance at an average speed at or above 80 km/h
  • be able to reach a maximum distance of 500 km per day, with a recharge stop of 4 hours during Lunch time
  • carry at least two passengers

You can follow the race on their blog or website

world race

Protecting Biodiversity

In addition to the amazing oppertunity to showcase  alternative energy powered propultion, the race is  set to raise awareness for the United nations International Year of Biodiversity. Each car bears the logo of an endangered species, and  contends the alternative power is a tangible solution to protect the environment.
endangered by climate change

They will be stopping in Vancouver in a few weeks!

Random Acts of Kindness

We’ve all heard stories about Random Acts of Kindness, be it opening a door for someone, smiling at at stranger you passed on the street, or buying a coffee for the next person in line at the drive through. We can all find ways to show kindness to strangers.

Double rainbow

I was thinking about this recently when I joined a facebook page that was set up to honour a woman who died of cancer. Her name was Nicole, it would have been her 36th birthday this July. To celebrate her birthday week her mother set up the page in the hopes that people would preform Random Acts of Kindness, and then think about Nicole.  People then would write about what they did and how it changed their day. I think because I too will turn 36 this year (yikes!) I was really touched by this sentiment. Nicole’s mother knew Nicole saw a lot of suffering in the world and felt that people had become detached from each other, she wanted to set up something to promote RAK, but sadly she passed away before she could do it.

While thinking about kind deeds I came across another web site The Great Kindness Challenge this is one day, August 14 2010, when people will perform as many acts of kindness as they can! What an idea! The website and idea is really focused on things children can do, there is a check list you can download with 100 idea’s that are simple to do.

Another website I found was The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation! This site promotes the benefits of kindness. In addition to being on the receiving end of kindness, just performing them can improve your physical and psychological health.  Immune benefits, reduced stress and increased happiness show that good deeds can be good for you!

The site lists these special days as well;

Pay It Forward Day 2010: April 29 www.payitforwardday.com

World Kindness Day 2010: November 13   ~  World Kindness Week 2010: November 8-14

Random Acts of Kindness Week 2011: February 14-20

Flowers

Some of my favourite quotes on Kindness;

“Kindness is a language which the deaf can hear and the blink can see” ~ Mark Twain

“Forget injuries, never forget kindness” ~ Confucius

“Spread love everywhere you go; First of all in your own house…let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God’s kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in our eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness.”

~ Mother Teresa

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around “~ Leo R. Buscaglia

“This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, own own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.” ~ Dalai Lama


Water World

When I was a kid growing up near the great lakes in Ontario, the topic of water conservation, water pollution, and acid rain where taught in school. A child of the seventies, and eighties by the time I was in school, the environmental era had taken hold in the mainstream. I can clearly remember the posters we made and hung in the school halls about all the issues surrounding water. Even then I was aware water was something of great value. I remember watching television and being horrified by the plight of people a world away in Africa dying because they didn’t have water. Live Aid, Band Aid and the likes were played on the radio and T.V, like an anthem to my generation. We are the world – We are the children -

Fast forward to my twenties; I made the pilgrimage from central Canada to the West Coast. I started spending time up at my father’s vacation property, miles away from any town, deep in the mountains surrounded by Ponderosa pines, wild streams, and rugged beauty. It was here I first learned the true value of water.

camping-papa-johns-039

Years ago at my father’s property there was no well dug yet. We trucked in all the water we would consume ourselves. Lucky to have a stream at the very edge of his acreage, we would hike down to it for water to boil to wash dishes. This gave me some small insight into what it means to have water at the tap; the convenience I had taken for granted for twenty years was never more clear to me then.

If you have never been lucky enough to experience camping in the wild, it may be hard to comprehend my experience. Here in north America we have an abundance of water, in Canada particularly, with the most fresh water in the world, it can be hard for the average city dweller to relate to a lack of water.

Today there is World Water Day - World Ocean day, and World Rivers Day to remind us of the issues and very real threats that our water supply faces. You don’t have to look far, watering restrictions, water contamination, and bottled water are all hot topics for the blogisphere and beyond. When the statistic I read in the April 2010 National Geographic related that EVERY YEAR, U.S. SWIMMING POOLS LOSE 150 BILLION GALLONS OF WATER TO EVAPORATION, one has to wonder if everyone has forgotten the value of water.

After heavy irrigation some progress has been made the world over to improve the availability of water for drinking and farming. There are still millions of people around the world who do not have access to clean water or proper sanitation. The divergence of this water has caused many problems as well, damming natural streams, piping water, sometimes miles into dense cities is not effective, the longest water tunnel supplying New York City at 85 miles, loses 35 million gallons of water a day, we can not say this is effective.

In California irrigation enables farmers to grow half of all the fruit, vegetables and nuts in the United States, while at the same time creating a dust bowl where fresh water used to flow.

Water Aid is an organisation that’s focus is to improve access to fresh water and sanitation for the poorest nations on earth. Still there are people, usually woman and girls, who spend hours a day fetching water, usually contaminated , just to survive.

An article in the April  2010 National Geographic is appropriately named The Burden of Thirst. When writing about water in Africa one quote states ” Villagers think of water as a gift from God. But someone has to pay for it. Although water springs from the earth, pipes and pumps, alas do not. And water is most expensive to provide for those least able to afford it.”

The reality in poor nations, and the world over is the same; “When clean water becomes plentiful, all the hours previously spent hauling water can be used to grow more food, raise more animals or even start income-producing businesses.”

The United Nations has stated that access to clean water is a human right. Our bodies are made up of 60% water, it is the most valuable element on earth. Water conservation and stewardship is one place to start.

This graph from the Environment Canada website is telling;
daily-domestic-use

There are many things we can do to improve on this statistic. From using more effective shower heads,  tap aerators and modern toilets, even water displacement in toilets can save huge amounts of water. Rain water collections, reusing grey water – watering plants with dish water for example.  Watering by hand instead of using a sprinkler;  take short showers, keep water in the refrigerator instead of letting it run to get cold. All these measures can make a difference.

One thing everyone can do is inform themselves about the issues and make better choices to conserve and become better stewards of the water.

Here more tips on wise water use

Thousands have lived without love, but not one has lived without water. — W.H. Auden

URBNgreen
URBNgreen is committed to education and environmental stewardship. Our objective is share information about what people are doing locally and around the world to create a sustainable future.
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delicate little plant in need of freedom. Einstein quote at DailyLearners.com