Posts Tagged ‘green consumerism’

July 3rd is International Plastic Bag Free Day!

Amazing news today, as of July 1st 2012 Seattle  has banned plastic bags!

This is a move that has caused great celebration as well as proven that we can move forward with sustainable ideas.

Check out this Great Video- The Majestic Plastic Bag Narrated by Jeremy Irons.

By now most people are aware of the side effects of plastic bags ending up in the oceans. I wrote this article four years ago when I first learned about the Garbage Patch that exists in the Pacific Ocean.

Last Fall I attended a talk by Sea Captain Charles Moore. He writes of his experience sampling and exploring the garbage patch. His book Plastic Ocean documents his findings. Refereed to as “The 21st century Silent Spring it is beyond a wake up call. It is a remarkable account of one mans experience with the Sea and the devastating effects of plastic on sea life.

We are all compelled to take action. To protect the ocean and animals of this planet, and to make sustainable choices in this new century for the future of  life on earth. It is the small everyday choices that make a difference.

Green washing

The “Greener Living” headline on the cover of the local Metro newspaper today caught my attention. It turned out to be an add sponsored by a bottled water company!

The paper included a four page insert that features tips about Zero Waste, stories about things like Extended  Producer responsibility and the environment.  I was bemused and a little annoyed to read that “Metro has partnered with Dasani to “teach Canadians about  Choices” Really?

Clever marketing schemes like this disguise the truth, and while I appreciate the fact that some information in this ad is actually factual, the bigger story is the  Green Washing of this product.

Most people are aware of the environmental catastrophe that has resulted from the bottled water industry. Companies like Dasani (owned by Coca-Cola) want to green their image and help ease consumer concerns by creating plastic bottles made out of plant materials instead of the traditional petroleum plastics. The fact is that we are facing a food crisis, we are also dealing with a global garbage disaster, with a major source of the this garbage being disposable water bottles.(plastic or otherwise)

1 second — that’s 90,000 bottles per minute

From the reuseit site;

Fast Facts on Disposable Bottles

  • 2,480,000 tons of plastic bottles and jars were thrown away in one year (2008).
  • Tap water is cleaner, cheaper and healthier than store-bought water.
  • 60 billion single-use drink containers were purchased in 2006, and 3 out of 4 were thrown out directly after use.
  • Plastic bottles are among the most prevalent source of pollution found on our beaches.

Understandably  water bottle companies are now taking a new approach and turning to non petroleum based plastic for the bottles.  This does not stop consumers from throwing them away.

Bottled water has been proven to be less regulated then public drinking water, it is more expensive and  destructive to the environment, from the natural disruption in water flow at the source through the manufacturing and transporting of the water itself. It carries a large carbon footprint.

Single use items and products made to sooth our conscious, without long term thoughts about the impact these products have on our planet and sustainability are just a ploy to confuse matters.

Using Sugar cane Ethanol From Brazil is suppose to give us all a happy kumbaya feeling about this choice, but it leaves a bad taste behind.

When we choose to turn food into fuel, packaging, or anything other then nourishment, while millions of people around the world,(especially in places like Brazil) don’t have enough to eat each day it is not responsible. The production of sugar cane entails mono-cropping, the extensive use of pesticides, and perpetuates poverty.  We have to question the ethics here, and the reality of what choosing to support this product really means.

It is not just another choice. The reality of the matter is this;  if we  support products that harm the people and the planet we will all be forced to deal with the consequences.

 

 

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.

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.

 

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.

what goes around comes around

Who would have thought there would be a day that promotes buying something used!

Well there is and it is tomorrow.

From the  reyouzd website the reasons for buying used helps the planet in many ways;

IT’S SIMPLE!

    Used goods require
    NO new agricultural or industrial practices
    NO new manufacturing processes,
    NO new packaging and
    NO transglobal transportation to marketplace.

The three R’s of Recycling are REDUCE, REUSE and RECYCLE. The Recycle part is last on the list because it is always greener to reduce the amount we consume and the waste we produce. Reusing is environmentally sustainable and easy.

If you are thinking of making a purchase this weekend try and see if you can buy it second hand. Craigslist is one place I use all the time. Our family has bought numerous items off of CL and continue to use it as an excellent resource for finding many items for a great price!

Smart consumerism dictates that we make purchases with the environment in mind. Buying second hand will help keep valuable items out of the landfill and more money in your pocket. Everyone wins!


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

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

Ethical Consumerism?

Your garbage for one year

Your garbage for one year

DSCN0986 I am volunteering again this year at EPIC the sustainable living expo that runs every year at the Vancouver Convention Centre. I have written about it each year I have been there (this is year four of the event and my involvement).

What is EPIC ? – the acronym stands for Ethical Progressive Intelligent Consumer. This is a trade fare after all, we are all still buying things, we need to eat and sleep,  and buy coffee , chocolate, clothing and transport ourselves around.

EPIC is a showcase for all consumables that are fairly traded, ethically produced, local and sustainable; for companies that plan events and sell solar panels, for fashion designers and chefs. There are speakers and representatives from all over Canada and the U.S. who believe, like I do; that our choices matter and we can talk with our dollars.

The fact is that we are all consumers of this earth, and we don’t just take, in return we create mountains of garbage like the one above.

Can we sustain this way of life? No, we need to enter a new paradigm where each purchase is considered in it’s entirety. Where was the product made / grown? What will happen to that packaging it comes in? Do I really need another (fill in the blank) ?

The fact is that we will not stop consuming, we have needs, but what they are and how much is enough is another question.

If you are looking for a way to spend a rainy afternoon, check out EPIC; you may just find out that you too are EPIC and you can make choices that help the earth.

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