Posts Tagged ‘good news’

Everything grows and grows

Babies do, animals do, everything grows…. 02-17-09-002That’s how it goes, under the sun

That’s how it goes, under the rain…  Everything grows, everyone knows

that’s how it goes…

So goes the famous song by children’s entertainer Raffi.  If you are a parent of young children there is no doubt you know Raffi, his songs are the theme of childhood for many generations. Baby Beluga, the More We Get Together, One Light One Sun.

Raffi actually played a significant role in my life, one I never expected and I will always be grateful for.

It was the year 2000.  I was a new mother to my first born son. I was offered a job, part time weekends, not bad money, easy work being a product demonstrator in a grocery store.
The product was a Tide roller ball, not knowing very much about Tide I decided I would do a quick search on the Internet and see what I could find out about Tide and what they were doing for the environment.

At first everything looked good, I found the Tide website, the detergent was phosphate free, all looked good. Then I thought maybe I should search anti-Tide to get the other side of the story. That was when I first started to learn about Proctor and Gamble, the parent company of Tide and thousands of other everyday products.

P&G remains one of the biggest companies in the world. They also are one of the biggest exploiters of animals. They regularly practise vivisection (testing products on animals). At the time, I had never even heard the word ‘vivisection’. I was  vegetarian but didn’t really think much about what huge corporations were doing everyday under the nose of the public.

The more I read, the more convinced I was that I would not promote the Tide ball or any product made by P&G.

I found this logo no_animal_testing-100x100which is the industry standard that tells a product is made without animal testing.

I learned that many products, things I would never have thought of,  were still being tested on animals. I decided right then to never buy any product that was tested on animals, had animal by-products in them or where made of animals. I became vegan. I still hold dear the vegan ideals and strive to be conscious of any animal products in my  life.  I joined earthsave and the fur bearers (now fur bearer defenders)

What does this have to do with Raffi? Well at the time I had decided to not take the job, a friend of mine who had offered it to me was perplexed as to why I would turn down such easy money.  It was at the exact same time the children’s entertainer Raffi had publicly withdrawn from a performance he was to be a part of in the Vancouver Children’s Festival. He decided it had become to commercial ( if I recall the festival had decided to have a number of cars on the lot as well as corporate sponsorships galore). Raffi stood up to the big corporations and said he would not be a part of it.

I decided I too would follow my heart and not be blind sided by money or any other tokens, I would listen to my own heart and no one could buy that. I felt like Raffi showed me the way. That if we only have our values then we are richer then many.

I have learned a lot about myself as a mother, a consumer an activist and person since then. I will always remember how Raffi made a difference in my life. His songs are a wonderful ode to childhood, the earth and the love and light that is a part of all of us.

(originally published February 17th 2009)

Cutting out the noise

This was originally published on May 20 2008,  my family will be on vacation for a few weeks we are re-posing some articles that are still relevant today!

Spring has arrived and with it the return of the growing season. We don’t have to look far for reminders that it’s time to mow the lawn. A week-end view from above reveals  people  emerging from their homes ready to trim down grass and weed. They have many tools at their disposal, but foremost is the lawn mower. The gas mower emits noise and air pollutants and can be expensive to run . Difficult terrain can make a corded electric mower unmanageable. Gardeners need to remember there is another option, the push mower (also known as the reel mower).

Green mowing is an idea that has been around long before the advent of the gas and electric mower, and it  is gaining popularity. The rising gas prices makes the push mower an attractive alternative. While saving money on gas or electricity you can get some exercise, and contribute to a healthier planet.

According to the California Environmental Protection Agency, a gas mower can pump out as much emissions as 40 new cars while in use. With roughly 2.7 million Canadians mowing their lawns each summer weekend, gas powered lawn mowers can release 80 000 tones of pollutants annually, and use more than 151 million litres of gas, according to Statistics Canada. We don’t need all the statistics to highlight was is obvious. What’s old is new again!

Gardeners agree that a push mower may need to be sharpened fairly often for best results. Ultimately a green mower will leave a greener lawn because the blade slices like scissors, not pulling or tearing it as a rotary gas powered machine will do.

A reel mower may take a little longer, but the result will be a healthier lawn that needs less care, an environmentally friendly alternative and a more peaceful one.

Remember what they they say; mow high and let it lie. (leave your grass clipping on the lawn as a natural fertiliser!)

National Volunteer Week 2010

Today, April 19th, marks the first day of a week long celebration called National Volunteer Week! Many websites has sprung up to encourage volunteering around Canada and the world.  A simple look on Craigslist  reveals dozens of opportunities to get involved. It is estimated that in Canada alone there are close to 12.5 million volunteers.

This week is dedicated to celebrating volunteer-ism and to encourage more people to get involved in volunteering.

There is a great one minute video on the site for National Volunteer Week in Canada, it states volunteers are making change, igniting movements, perusing the cause or just tying to make things better. They are artists, coaches, fire-fighters, community services staff, health care workers, disaster relief workers, activists, cooks, child care workers, and  teachers. They give 2.1 billion hour of work per year, the equivalent of 1.2 million full time jobs! Without them many services would cease to exist.

06 Camp Byng 042

Volunteers fight poverty and  work for a stronger environment, they are at the heart of the democratic process, they are the ones to call when a disaster strikes, they offer arts to people who may not be able to experience them otherwise, they drive social justice and they are your neighbours.

Maybe you think volunteering is for college kids to improve their resume, or the elderly to keep busy, that is true, but it is also for anyone who is interested in people, in any cause, who would like to be involved in something greater then themselves.

This week is a time to say thank you to the millions of people who lead and to the millions of people, like me and you who care to make a difference.

A community is built by one person at a time, with a dream, with hopes, people who want more, for themselves and others. If you have some time visit one of the hundreds of websites online today and find a way to volunteer. You will never be sorry or more amazed at how hard you can work for something that you believe in.

on the path

The secret is that money will never buy what you get by giving.

Some of the hundreds of places to find volunteer activists are;

Craigstlist,, CADIP, SARVAC, Go Volunteer, Environment Canada, KatimavicCUSO-VSO, Charity Village

You can find  ways to volunteer in anything you are interested in; a local theatre production, a soup kitchen, a community garden, a seniors centre, animal shelter, thrift shop, the list is endless.

To all the volunteers out there; you make the world a better place! You should be a part of that.

work parties in the new millenium

The words “work party” may conjure up images of office staff at a Christmas party, drinking too much, and smooching over the photo copier. The type of work party that is gaining popularity these days has little to do with office workers socialising over sugar cookies, and more to do with people coming together to create something, share information and of course have fun!

Some parties are held  around Vancouver, B.C. by a local group The Sustainable Living Arts School. They host “learning parties” or “work parties” to build gardens, preserve food, learn about herbs and foraging for food in nature, or building a fence. The parties are bringing back the arts our grandparent’s generation learned along with the alphabet and addition, that have  been almost lost in our  modern day lifestyle of convenience and instant gratification.


I took part in a local work party this month. It was not about saving the planet this time, but about brewing beer! I am Canadian and beer is part of our culture here in the great white north.  I heard about the party on a local email list and wanted to learn more about the organisation SLAS and beer making. It was a perfect opportunity to experience learning in a community environment and that we were brewing beer was just a bonus!

Hosting numerous events to share knowledge  in an intimate atmosphere strengthens a community. The SLAS  brings people together to learn and work.  The party I attended was hosted by a local family. I knew I was at the right house when I walked up to the house and noticed the front lawn had been transformed into a vegetable garden! The friendly people at the party and the relaxed topic of brewing  beer was a wonderful introduction into a way of learning and skill building that one could not help but feel has been almost lost.  Not so long ago there was a time when people would  come together regularly to raise a barn, harvest a crop, cook for a sick neighbour or a new mother. We can get back to that way of living one step at a time.

Today an even  larger party is being planned. is planning a global work party on October 10, 2010 – or 10 10 10 – and you are invited!  Working together we can create the changes we need  for a sustainable future. The science of is simple, there is too much CO2 in the environment.


The number 350 is the parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide that the planet can safely manage. The number today is 387 ppm and still rising.  The website displays colourful photographs taken all over the world in an attempt to show that people do care about the planet and want to help make changes. Environmentalists, educators, and prominent global leaders like David Suzuki, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and  Vandana Shiva are some of the supporters of this movement.

By hosting climate leadership workshops people are educating themselves and drawing attention to the fact that the planet needs us to help restore what has been lost.

Advances world wide since the industrial revolution have stripped the earth of it’s innocence and depleted natural resources, while pollution and global population has exploded at an unprecedented rate.

The sad fact is that we may see half the species on earth become extinct this century, if that is not a sobering statement you have not been paying attention.

All hope is not lost, and people like me and you can make a difference. The local food movement is strong and growing. Schools and community centres are taking the lead, with many adding solar panels, creating recycling programs and incorporating environmental education into curriculum. Children represent our future, and what legacy they inherit is up to us.

Championing movements to improve the environment, young people have historically been the ones to bring changes to the for front. Maybe because they are physically closer to the earth, they are still optimistic about the future. Children are naturally interested in learning about how the world works, this is  why they are not only our best hope, they are our inspiration to do better.

You can organise a work party and be a part of the largest world wide movement for the environment.  This is one party you should  mark on your calendar, and invite all your friends!

As you are


One day not too long ago I was walking past the local elementary school and noticed something in the tree. It was a wooden sign nailed on the tree that read “AS YOU ARE”

I looked at the other tree’s around me and noticed something, more signs, they all included messages. Who were they intended for? Who put them there? It turns out that these questions don’t really matter. The only thing that matters was that I saw them, other people saw them and will see them.

These messages are for everyone.

They read; “AS YOU ARE”






What better message to give or receive?







(Originally posted January 13 2009, some things are worth repeating)

Bottled Water Free Day!

By now most people know that bottled water is bad! Bad for the environment, bad for your health if you factor in that the plastic leaches toxins into the water you are drinking. and bad for your pocketbook, as it costs hundreds of times more then tap water, which is what most bottled water is.

In Canada this March 11th will be the first

Bottled Water Free Day!

Watch this short video and visit the website. Learn the facts and tell your friends. Small changes made by everyone will equal big changes felt by everyone.

Carbon Diet

Like many people the middle of winter has got me thinking about a diet.

Not the calorie counting kind

The CARBON reducing kind!!

A Carbon Diet would make a huge difference to our family’s pocketbook and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Electric Bill 22

Choosing to make these  simple changes can impact more then just us.

Running the Television for  just 2 hours = 1 lb of  CO2 in the atmosphere.

Turn down the Thermostat  by 2 degrees in the winter and summer =  save 600 lbs CO2/year.

Change 6 light bulbs from incandescent to florescent saves money and cuts out 1200 lbs CO2/year.

Unplug appliances = 18 Million tonnes of CO2 emissions / year.

display clocks and memory chips account for 5% of energy used in the United States each year.

Group Electronic Equipment onto power bars  unplug/switch off = Reducing CO2 emissions by 1.6 tonnes / year.

Run only a FULL dishwasher, skip the pre-rinse cycle,run it once a day = Save 600 lbs CO2/year.

Shorten your shower by 2 minutes = 1 tonne CO2 / year.

Close the refrigerator as soon as you get your items out.

Turn off taps when brushing your teeth.

These small changes can reduce our families carbon emissions by 4 tonnes a year!

An impact equal to not driving a car for up to five months!

SUN0204 Hanging Bug

You can find out your carbon footprint here

I found these surprising statistics while researching Sara Snow and her green living website.

Eye of the Tiger

white tiger Gung Hay Fat Choy! Around the world it is the Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year, or Spring festival. The year 2010 is the year of the White Metal Tiger. Promising to be a fruitful and positive year astrologically. We are encouraged to to aim at fulfilling our most cherished plans.

In that spirit, and to honour the symbol of the year, let us direct our attention to the flesh and blood tigers of the world.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
, reports there may be as few as 3200 tigers alive today.

India, which has the largest wild tiger population in the world, is estimated to have fewer than 1400.


Climate change is a huge threat to tigers . Rising sea levels are destroying habitat.  Destruction of forest for timber, agriculture and road building contribute to vanishing land for tigers to live on. Poachers for their skins and organs for their “medicinal” properties, all threaten the survival of the species.

You can help Save the wild tiger.

Launching an ambitious project to double the wild tiger population by 2022, the next year of the tiger, the WWF campaign coincides with the new year.

Conservation projects, raising awareness, ending poaching, and encouraging industry to better manage forests will help in this effort.

If action is not taken there may be no tigers left by 2022.
This is a critical point in time.

Tigers are in crisis, it is up to us to take a stand.

waste reduction.. get on the bus

As usual the European Union is ahead of use here in North America when it comes to innovated ways to draw attention to environmental issues.

Belfast waste reduction bus

These buses have been driving all over Belfast. In addition to buses and cars with messages a Waste Reduction Week was born this winter. With workshops, fashion shows and  sculptures made of recycled items, people are faced with the realities of the amount of garbage created.

Belfast waste reduction bus

Some of these buses focus on food waste, as well as clothing, plastic and electronic waste.

Belfast waste reduction busNow we just need to get these buses over here!

Eco-Tidings of joy

At our house this is our favourite time of year.  Baking cookies, decorating the tree, making gifts and sending out cards for the holidays are all fun activities. One other thing my kids look forward to is checking the mailbox each morning for cards from our family on the other side of the country.  This is the one time when we are most looking forward to getting the mail!

Since moving this summer we noticed an increase in the amount of mail and newspapers that get delivered to our house. It is not that we didn’t get all the flyers and junk mail at our last address, I had forgotten to put the red dot on our new mail box.

The Red Dot Campaign was an initiative started in Canada to curb advertisers wasteful use of paper in advertising. The idea is simple, put a red dot on your mail box and the mail carrier will not leave flyers and advertisements in your mailbox. You can also simply put a note on your mailbox that says no junk mail, no ad-mail or no flyers and they will get the message.

tree in Stanley Park

Some companies even go further and sell Postal Junk Mail Reduction Kits and U.S. residents can sign the petition to stop junk mail!  at the Forest Ethics site.

There are many ways we can all stop wasteful practices, stopping junk mail, using things like e-post in Canada to get your bills on-line. You can also pay your bills on-line reducing even more need for paper products and trips to the post office.

Most companies now have their weekly flyers available at your fingertips with a simple search you can find what you need.

By stopping junk mail from entering your house you will be sending a message and helping to curb climate change, deforestation and reduce consumption.

You can even send e-cards for the holidays and cut out the paper habit completely. Our family often re-uses the cards received from previous years to make new ones for family and friends. If you are not so crafty there are many Eco-friendly options in greeting cards.  Look for cards made of 100% post consumer paper, printed with soy or vegetable inks and printed in Canada. This year I bought some from Pistachio, a Canadian company that cares about all these things and more.

Whatever your choice, think of the environment when you go to the mail box and the planet will thank you.

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