Archive for the ‘Being Green’ Category

This election was a resounding victory for climate action. Americans were presented with the clearest choice yet on global warming, and they chose the presidential candidate who confronted the climate threat, not the one who turned it into a punch line. Voters made the same choice in Congressional races across the country. They overwhelmingly favored leaders who called for more clean energy and other climate solutions.

Let’s be clear here. The issue of climate change appeared throughout this election.  President Obama talked about it on the campaign trail, in his convention speech, and in his victory speech. And every time he discussed clean energy and energy efficiency, he was addressing climate change, because the way we power our economy will decide the fate of our climate.

Energy played a central role in this year’s campaigns. Candidates mentioned it frequently on the stump and it was among the top three topics discussed in ads. President Obama took these opportunities to talk about energy efficiency, renewable power, clean cars, and other low-carbon solutions that will defuse climate change and lead our country forward. Governor Romney simply offered more oil and gas drilling and coal-fired power.

Voters chose the clean energy future over the dirty past.

That makes big polluters the biggest losers of this election. Oil, gas, and coal companies and their allies spent more than $270 million on campaign ads in just the last two months and yet they have almost nothing to show for it. Most of the polluters’ preferred candidates lost up and down the ticket. Karl Rove and his Super PACs spent an additional $300 million pushing a pro-polluter, anti-safeguard agenda, but the majority of his candidates failed to win.

As President Obama said on Tuesday night, “Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests.” Voters stood up to some of the wealthiest, most polluting industries in the world, and they won. The issue of clean energy has been decided: Americans want more of it and they favor leaders who will deliver it.

This support for clean energy and climate action reaches across the country. Just look at last night’s electoral map. President Obama won every truly swing state (pending Florida), and clean energy supporters won Senate races in Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, and Florida. Clean energy is not just popular on the coast, but in the Midwest and the Rockies, the North and the South.

Many of these places have already felt the sting of climate change, and residents want to protect their communities from even more intense drought, wildfires, storms, or other extreme weather events.

When climate change begins to make its presence know, people mobilize. The destruction wrought by Hurricane Sandy—a taste of things to come—prompted Mayor Michael Bloomberg to endorse President Obama based on his climate leadership and inspired Governor Chris Christie to praise the president’s response to the crisis. Extreme storms like Sandy don’t distinguish between Republican and Democratic victims. Everyone is in harm’s way and everyone can band together.

Now is the time for America to come together and fight climate change. Poll after poll has shown the strong bipartisan support for clean energy solutions. Last month, Hart Research Associates found that nine out of 10 Americans say developing renewable energy should be a priority for the president and Congress, and that includes 85 percent of Republicans and 89 percent of Independents. And two thirds of Americans want to extend tax incentives for clean energy.

The broad backing of clean energy—in the polls and in Tuesday’s results—gives our elected officials the freedom to lead on climate change. Congress should extend clean energy incentives, but even if gridlock continues, President Obama has the authority to clean up our air right now.

He has already used that authority to cut carbon pollution from cars in half—a move that will save consumers $1.7 trillion at the pump—and propose the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from new power plants. Now he must use that same authority to clean up existing power plants. The American people just gave him permission, and indeed the mandate, to move forward.

The tide is turning. Voters just rejected the most well funded attempt to hand over our government to polluters and their allies. Voters took the country’s future back into their own hands, rather than letting polluters run the country. They—we—put faith in clean energy and climate champions instead. Now it is time for our leaders to act on that resolve.

Source: Peter Lehner’s Blog


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Americans alone use and throw out 2.5 million plastic bottles every hour or over sixty million every single day. Six to ten million tons of plastic end up in our oceans every year, choking the life out of sea creatures. Millions of seabirds are dying from ingesting this plastic. In the Pacific Ocean, the great Pacific garbage gyre is now a permanent whirlpool of plastic garbage bigger than Texas leaking toxins into the food chain. The unnecessary use of disposable plastic also adds to greenhouse gasses. There are many efforts going on to reduce plastic garbage.

One man has a simple idea that he thinks might make a big difference—a simple pledge that he hopes millions of people will take to refuse to use three things: Plastic water bottles, plastic straws and plastic shopping bags.

The idea came to John Izzo, a business advisor and author, while writing his sixth book, Stepping Up: How Taking Responsibility Changes Everything. He interviewed scores of people who had stepped up to create change including three women who tackled female poverty in Uganda to a group of ecologists and journalists who confronted the Russian whaling fleet leading to a ban on commercial whaling. “Here I was interviewing all these people who had stepped up to create change which got me thinking about what I could do about this plastic issue.”

But the tipping point came when Izzo watched the trailer for the forthcoming documentary, Midway Journey, a Chris Jordan film about thousands of albatross dying from ingesting plastic on Midway Island several thousand miles from any continent. “I was horrified as I watched the devastation. As I watched these newborn birds dying from eating plastic garbage I kept thinking there must be a simple way that the average person can do something and get engaged on this issue.”

Though Izzo admired people like Beth Terry, founder of www.myplasticfreelife.com whom he had written about in Stepping Up, he felt that going totally plastic free would be too much for most people as a starting point. “That is when I thought of the idea of this three part pledge, these three items that we use on a daily basis in the developed world that could easily be eliminated. First, I took the pledge myself and found that with a few metal water bottles, some cloth bags kept in my car and deciding not to use straws, I could easily make this change.”

Izzo funded the development of www.noplasticpledge.com which tracks the number of people who have taken the pledge, educates people about the issue of plastic garbage, and links people to other organizations that are tackling the issue. The site was launched on March 5th and he has already been joined by organizations like the Plastic Pollution Coalition, Beth Terry and the makers of the Midway film in promoting the pledge.

“In my book I try to counter the idea that one person can’t make a difference. One reason we think that one person doesn’t matter is because we forget the power of aggregate influence, which is what happens when one times many take a small action thereby making a huge difference,” Izzo says.

Izzo’s goal is ambitious—to get one million to take the pledge in 2012 and one hundred million by the end of 2013. “The hope is that entire schools, families and workplaces will choose to take the simple pledge. Even if people aren’t 100% pure, even if they reduce their use of these three products by 90% we can eliminate 170 billion pieces of plastic garbage every single year!”

We would love your support to help raise awareness and encourage others to take the pledge by blogging about this issue. www.myplasticfreelife.com  and the Plastic Pollution Coalition have joined us, but we can’t do it alone. Check out the www.noplasticpledge.com for information. And watch the Midway trailer (http://bit.ly/AdpkbG)  and visit their site http://www.midwayjourney.com to find out more about the documentary.

To interview Dr. John Izzo about the pledge, contact Linda Parsons at 778.737.4991

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Metro Vancouver just launched a free new iPhone app to help people keep resources out of their trash.  Check out weRecycle on iTunes:


With weRecycle all you have to do is enter a material and hit search.  You’ll get a list of the closest donation and recycling facilities and a Google map that uses your iPhone’s current location.  Or you can enter another location like your home address.

I’m hoping you agree that weRecycle will help the region’s residents find convenient locations to donate and recycle unwanted materials, and that you’ll be kind enough to tell your social networks about it.

It’s fast, it’s free, it’ll move us closer to zero waste and we think it’s pretty awesome.

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    1. Check the air pressure in your tires. Cooler temperatures lower tire pressure and that, in turn, lowers fuel efficiency. So check your tires and make sure that they are properly inflated.
    2. Clean and test the furnace. Did you know that your furnace needs cleaning? Yep … it collects all kinds of dust and debris which not only affects it’s performance but could cause a fire. Before you really need the heat, get out your owner’s manual for instructions on how to clean it. No manual? Check here or call a furnace maintenance company. If you have a gas furnace, have it professionally inspected once a year.
    3. Move furniture or any obstructions from vents, baseboard heaters, registers on the floor or radiators so that air moves freely. This is also a good time to vacuum these areas to remove any dust or debris. And here’s a tip if you have a radiator … place a reflecting panel behind it … you can purchase one at a home center or make one yourself with a plywood panel and aluminum foil.
    4. Remove window air conditioners for the winter. If they can’t be removed, seal them with caulking or tape and cover them with an airtight, insulated jacket.
    5. Vacuum the refrigerator coils to keep the compressor running efficiently. It’s also a good time to check that the refrigerator is level … the door should automatically swing shut instead of staying open. Check the seal on the door … try closing it on a dollar bill. If you can pull the bill out easily, it’s time to replace the gaskets. Here’s another tip for running the refrigerator efficiently … don’t over fill it. Allowing room for cool air to circulate will keep everything at the right temperature.
    6. Clean the ducts and area behind the dryer. And don’t forget, clean the filter after every use and every once in awhile, give it a good wash.
    7. Check windows for proper caulking. If you have single-pane windows, add storm windows. Even a plastic film over windows will reduce heat loss.
    8. Check doors for weather stripping and replace as necessary. If drafts sneak in under exterior doors, replace the threshold or block the drafts with a rolled-up towel or blanket.
    9. Check your roof for any missing or damaged tiles or shingles.
    10. Clean the roof gutters and make sure downspouts are pointed away from the house. Now would also be a good time to install a rain barrel … rather than allow water to drain into one spot, a rain barrel would allow you to direct the water to where it’s most needed.
    11. Electrical outlets, especially on outside walls, and light fixtures are prime places for cold air to leak into your home. Add foam gaskets behind covers and switch plates, and use safety plugs in unused outlets. Be sure to shut off the power at the fuse box or circuit panel before doing this.
    12. Install foam covers over outside water spigots to prevent freezing.
    13. Check for water leaks both inside and outside.
    14. Wrap the water heater in an insulating blanket.
    15. If you have a ceiling fan, reverse the direction … the fan should be run in a clockwise direction (stand under the fan and if you feel a breeze, reverse the direction so that air is being drawn upwards). This pushes the air up against the ceiling and down the walls, to gently re-circulate the warm air without creating a cooling “wind chill effect.”
    16. Do you have a fireplace? This is a good time to have the chimney cleaned and get vent systems checked.
    17. If your home has no sidewall insulation, place heavy furniture like bookshelves, armoires and sofas along exterior walls, and use decorative quilts as wall hangings. This will help block cold air.
    18. Bring in any houseplants that have spent the summer outdoors. They’ll help clean the air.
    19. As the autumn leaves begin to fall, consider raking them up rather than using a “blower”. Once raked up, use them as mulch to protect plants throughout the winter or add them to a compost pile.
    20. Before packing away those summer clothes, go through them and determine which items to keep, which items to repurpose into something else (cleaning rags, craft projects, etc.) and which to donate.

A little effort in the fall will ensure that the chilly months ahead are warm and “green”.


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This rocks and every city should be offering a program like this!

The EGP maintains food gardens on a variety of public and private spaces. As their programs grows, they will be looking for additional garden space. If you have garden space that you do not use, the EGP may want to come and cultivate a food garden.

Check out: The Edible Garden Projects Website for more info.

The Edible Garden Project (EGP) is working to address urban environmental and social issues by creating a network that grows and shares local food and by promoting sustainable regional agriculture.

WThey are working to reduce the reliance on foods imported from afar by empowering residents to grow (and share) their own. The EGP is the result of an extensive community consultation process where food security was identified as a key priority area from both a community and environmental perspective. Adequate access to fresh fruit and vegetables is a cornerstone to good health, but is beyond the reach of many low income community members, and current industrial agricultural practises can be highly detrimental to the environment.

The project aims to bring people together to grow and distribute locally produced food to low-income individuals and families on the North Shore. The EGP is bringing together homeowners with gardens who want to donate a portion of their harvest, people who have under or un-used garden space and would like to cultivate this land for growing food, and volunteers who want to contribute to growing, sharing and learning about locally produced food. They provide information and education in the community to build knowledge and skills around ecological food gardening and urban agriculture.

They also like urban farms…

Their Mission

  • Increase land used for fruit and vegetable production on the North Shore.
  • Increase knowledge and skills  relating to food gardening, thereby increasing community capacity to grow and share locally grown fruits and vegetables.
  • Increase access to fruits and vegetables and to garden space for those most in need on the North Shore.
  • Advise on and support policy development around urban agriculture.

Providing opportunities for low-income individuals and families is a priority.


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New Westminster’s fabulous market is back at Tipperary Park at 4th and Royal. It runs every Thursday from 3-7pm.

The Royal City Farmers Market Association is a non-profit association dedicated to making a Farmers Market in New Westminster a success.

Their mission is to connect with our heritage of having a vibrant city market, the Royal City Farmers Market Association brings locally grown and produced food to the community, thereby contributing to environmentally sustainable food production, local economic development, healthy eating, and food security.

The market features farm-fresh produce, plants, quality crafts from local artists and artisans, gourmet prepared foods, community information, live entertainment, and more.

For more information please visit their website at: http://rcfm.ca/



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It’s that time of year again when seasonal allergies take off. Sneezing, itchy watery eyes, runny nose, blocked-up sensation are just a few of the symptoms.

Seasonal allergies are typically caused by pollen and mould spores in the air. If you have an allergy, your body sees the pollen as a foreign substance and sets off the immune system to defend itself.

Allergies vary by season. This time of year, it is the trees that are causing the symptoms, such as alder, birch, oak, maple elm and poplar. In May, the grasses get allergic folks into trouble and July starts the ragweed season.

Pollen can be spread by the wind, more so when it is dry. Typically, the further north you go, the later the pollinating season starts. But in warmer places, the pollination can happen year-round.

There is a direct relationship between the weather and the allergy season. When the weather is wet and cool, allergies are not as bad. In those weather conditions, the pollen does not move around as much. But as the weather gets warmer and drier, you can be sure that the pollen counts go  up as they travel far more easily.

In some parts of the country, the allergy season has already started and the prediction is that this year will be among the worse we have seen in a while. That prediction is based on the fact that all the rain we have had has encouraged a lot of growth in our allergy-causing trees and grasses. As the weather gets warmer, the pollen counts are predicted to soar.

Our weather in most parts of Canada has been pretty cool — not such a great spring unless you are an allergy sufferer! The cool weather has meant the pollen counts have been lower — but warm weather is just around the corner and experts are warning that with that warmer weather — the allergy season will be a bad one.

If you suffer from  mould allergies, you are likely already in trouble. As the American Academy of Asthma Allergy and Immunology points out, moulds are tiny fungi related to mushrooms but without stems, roots or leaves. Their spores float in the air like pollen. Outdoor mould spores begin to increase as temperatures rise in the spring and reach their peak in July in warmer areas and October in the colder areas. They can be found year-round in the U.S. South and on the West Coast. Moulds can be found almost anywhere, including soil, plants and rotting wood.

The other problem is that with the change in weather, it seems that our allergy season is actually getting longer. Studies have found that ragweed now has a longer flowering season that extends further north than it did years ago. Saskatoon’s season, for example, is now 27 days longer than it was 15 years ago. That’s about a full month more of sneezing, wheezing and watery eyes.

It is helpful to know what the pollen count is in your area. It can help to arm you with information that will tell you if this is an indoor air condition kind of day! I have an app on my Blackberry that I downloaded (for free) sponsored by the makers of a popular antihistamine that allows me to plug in any city and find out what the pollen count is. The iPad has similar kinds of downloads for free sponsored by other manufacturers of antihistamines. One of my favorites is sponsored by the Weather Network.

Treatments range from over-the-counter antihistamines to prescription nasal and eye drops. In some cases, allergy shots or immunotherapy can be used. For individuals with asthma and allergies, a variety of inhalers and oral medications are available to maximize control.

Suggestions from the AAAAI (American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology) for control include:

  • Keep your windows closed at night
  • Use air conditioning, which cleans, cools and dries the air.
  • Stay indoors when the pollen or mould levels are reported to be high
  • Don’t mow lawns or rake leaves because it stirs up pollen and moulds


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