John Lennon

If someone thinks that love and peace is a cliche that must have been left behind in the Sixties, that’s his problem.

Love and peace are eternal.

John Lennon

The “F” word

Hungry No More _ ONE Campaign_ Take action now!

It  is really overwhelming watching the hunger crisis unfold on the other side of the world, while here in Canada we are so insulated from anything even close to this. Hungry No More form the ONE campaign uses pop culture icons to appeal to our senses and asks us to sign this petition;

Dear World Leaders,

The famine in Somalia could kill 750,000 in the coming months, and tens of thousands have already died. When you meet at the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in November, you have the opportunity to break the cycle of famine and ensure people are hungry no more. Lives are in your hands. Please keep the promises you have made to the 2 billion poor people who depend on farming for their livelihoods.

From what I have read and heard it is already too late. When cholera and disease that always come with the wet season hits these people their chance of survival will be slim. They are malnourished, and even with food aid now they will die. Thousands of children everyday day are dying.

My “Western Guilt” surely gets to me. I feel like I honestly try to work towards food security in my own backyard, still I feel helpless when it comes to the unimaginable human tragedy that exists in the world today – October  8th 2011.

The stock market fluctuates, Occupy Wall Street – and other streets- rages on. Is this the revolution?  I want to believe things could change.

Is this the beginning ? Or will we all continue with our blinders on. What do our  “important” schedules and appointments today mean while while millions of people around the world live on less then $3 a day and  struggle to exist.

I consciously send out love and peace to all the people of the world who do not know the security I take for granted everyday.

This Thanksgiving – which in Canada is this weekend – Please send your thoughts and prayers to the most vulnerable people. Do everything in your power to try and help them. Everything you do can make a difference. Give your time, your money and your attention to this issue. These are our brothers and sisters and what we do to them we do to ourselves.


One man’s trash. . .

When you live in a big city you often see people moving in and out of houses and apartment buildings. One casualty of many movers is furniture and electronics left abandoned near apartment building dumpsters at the end of the month. Luckily there is a huge network of people ready to rummage through castaway treasures on every other street corner too.

“Binners” or “dumpster divers” are recyclers roaming the city on bikes and pushing shopping carts. Although many of these people collect mainly bottles to take to the recycle depot, transfer stations, or Encorp Return it centres, these places  will also accept electronics. This helps in the reduction of hazardous toxins in landfills, and reduces the amount being shipped over seas to be processed by workers who’s health and very lives are put at risk  in the name of  “Ewaste recycling.

Toxins like Lead, Cadmium, Mercury, Chromium, and Polyvinyl Chlorides (PVC) are found in many common electronic devices today. When they become obsolete the items are discarded, leading to  these toxic materials being released back into the environment during the process of reclaiming more valuable components.

People today are more aware of the issues and Extended Producer Responsibility or “Product Stewardship” is now becoming more commonplace in manufacturing.

What to do with unwanted furniture has been a solid waste issue for many property owners, landlords and householders alike. There are some places that will take furniture to resell, requiring the items be delivered there. When this is not an option people look to places like Big Brothers, The Salvation Army, and The Developmental Disabilities Association to take away the unwanted furniture.

Most places are so overwhelmed with unusable junk that it actually costs them money to dispose of these items causing them to no longer accept any furniture, good, bad or otherwise.These organisations will still pick up clothing, toys, books and small household items.

The Home Start Foundation now offers an environmentally friendly option to recycle your good used furniture. This foundation takes used items and helps furnish houses and create homes for some  needy and deserving people. Clients include  families, elderly or other people who are in need  and are refereed through social service agencies.  They help create a comfortable environment when it is most needed.

This is a great example of finding a way to reduce your waste and in turn into do a good dead for someone else.

Solar Bottle Light


A good use of plastic bottles, using water, bleach and sunlight  people are turning trash into a useful and necessary product – light!

This website gives more details.

Happy Birthday GREENPEACE

Greenpeace was started 40 years ago this week in a living room in Vancouver, BC.

On their website it proudly boasts 40 years of  Inspiring Action, Making Change, Bearing Witness, Solutions, Victories! And this is what I think of when I hear the name as well.

Activists had a simple message in 1971 and it remains vital today; TAKE ACTION! The founders of Greenpeace were regular Canadians. What began as protests against nuclear weapons testing / transporting/ now covers climate change, toxic pollutants, protection of forests, oceans, agriculture, and even PEACE and disarmament.

I am proud to live in the same province where such ideals could evolve into an international movement called Greenpeace.


Old pallets get a second life!

This is a great short video that shows many uses for old pallets. The Canadian Wood Pallet and Container Association links to this video, showing old pallets that have been made into many beautiful and useful items; including furniture, decking, and even homes.


Ethical Oil?

Relaunching his website Ethical Oil. org this week,  Alykhan Velshi, a Canadian born lawyer, argues the oil in Canada’s Tar Sands is “Ethical” while the majority of the other large oil suppliers around the world produce “Conflict Oil”.

Velshi, also a ministerial assistant and political policy analyst, expands on Ezra Levant‘s book Ethical Oil The Case for Canada’s Oil Sands. In the book Lavant questions the accountability the West has taken in it’s unquenchable desire for oil. By supporting nations with atrocious human rights violations we choose; Environmental Degradation, Forced Labour, Repression of Woman, Aboriginals and Gays.  The argument goes that here in Canada we have a superior record on these issues and therefore the oil that is being extracted here is somehow a better choice for us and the world.

It would be naive to believe that Canada is some kind of ideal Oasis of peace and equality for all. I can say for sure every Canadian believes Human rights are a necessity that must be met. We are free to disagree with the government, to protest and write blogs and books, and lobby for what we believe in (or whoever makes the highest bid).

While the choices millions of people make each day create the need, the financial toll continues to rise as does the Ethical burden.

The ads are smart. The images and juxtaposition of ideas speaks to all of us who  want to make fair choices and respect people and the land. The problem with it is the only choices offered are Ethical Oil or Conflict Oil, but not No Oil.

Still some people will maintain that the oil sands do not pollute, cause cancer, increase greenhouse gases and generally harm as many people as they help.

One thing is clear; big corporations control what is happening now and what will continue to happen. If people demand cleaner energy then it will have to be created. Instead of finding reasons to continue down a path of known destruction, we can choose a future with forward thinking innovation that is holistic and sustainable.

Toxic legacy! Canada’s Asbestos Industry

Black Lake Asbestos Mine in Quebec,

This week is the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention  (COP5 ) From June 20-24th

(Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade ) Essentially it is a multi-party treaty about trade in hazardous substances within the United Nations Environmental Program

Today Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper refused to bend to pressure  to add chrysotile asbestos to an international trade list of toxic substances.

Asbestos is used  as insulation, as a binder in cement, and in anti-fire walls. Evidence that Asbestos is harmful is mounting and undeniable. As asbestos is being removed from homes, businesses, schools  and even the  Parliament Building in Ottawa, Canadian asbestos producers continue to promote and sell their fibre worldwide – especially to developing nations.

The danger is from small asbestos fibres inhaled by labourers. The fibres cause cancerous growths in the lungs, lung lining and abdomen but can take 20 years or more to manifest.

In 1997, Canada exported 430,000 tonnes of asbestos - more than 96% of production – most of it to the developing world.

Canada is the world’s second-largest exporter of asbestos after Russia. 1

In Europe the evidence is overwhelmingly;  Ten EU members have banned asbestos.

With startling facts like  seven out  of Canada’s top 10 markets are Third World Nations, the question of ethics needs to be raised.  In countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America workers are being exposed to deadly toxins, while in the developed world the alarm bells are sounding.

The Third World News shines more light on this issue.  The reasons seems clear;  a political stand off is at work. In Canada Quebec has the dubious distinction of operating the last asbestos mine.

The headline in the Montreal Gazette reads that Canada concedes the science is correct, yet still opposes limits on exports of this deadly fibre.

How far will the Canadian government go to protect some jobs? Why are the lives of these Canadians more valuable then that of the potential thousands  who will have the misfortune to work with this material?

Moving towards policy that protects people equally around the world needs to be a priority.

Responsibility, transparency, and calling on all countries to honour their commitments to fair and ethical practices is mandatory when it comes to workers rights around the world as well as at home.

Food or Fuel ?

Is there a food crisis looming?

If you read the news online you can find numerous stories warning that the yes a real food crisis does exist and may in fact be worse then has been predicted.

Climate change leading to extreme weather events like flooding and droughts, and massive soil erosion have left farmers the world over scrambling to produce a stable food supply.

A few months back the USDA fully deregulated genetically engineered (GE) corn that is grown in the United States. This is considered to be an industrial crop and not for human consumption but grown to become Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol.

It is estimated that ONE THIRD of the corn grown in America today is not for FOOD but for FUEL

As world food prices continue to rise, even where yields are at record highs,  the worlds  poorest nations continue to suffer the most. A change in the worlds climate  has created a market of uncertainty and food insecurity.

Growing  food for fuel is controversial. Growing genetically engineered crops for fuel could be considered immoral and, at the least, is a dangerous guessing game when it comes to maintaining a diverse organic seed supply. The fear is that corn grown as biofuel will contaminate food crops with irreversible consequences. Can we really afford to take these kind of risks with our food supply?

There are alternatives like recycled biodiesel, and in fact most major cities,including Vancouver has a bioDiesel co-op!

Made from recycled vegetable oils collected from restaurants, this is true recycling.

There are no modifications needed for a diesel engine to run on this fuel.

So why is there even a need to grow new crops for oil?

These are the questions that we should be asking.

The decisions we make each day when it comes to the food we eat, and the fuel we deem necessary may become an even hotter topic to debate as the prices at the grocery store continue to rise.

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.
delicate little plant in need of freedom. Einstein quote at