Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Reduce Reuse Plastic and Zero Emission Transportation

I hope that your water and fuel conservation is coming along nicely. Brad Fraser wrote to me with this tid bit on washing your clothes in cold water:

“Unless something is badly stained, most whites can be washed in cold as well. Also, a good alternative to hang drying is putting the dryer on low or tumble only settings.”

Thanks Dave!

Wonderful People Doing Fabulous Things
This article from the Toronto Star on Naser Faruqui caught my eye. Naser works in the world’s most parched countries to help them with their water needs. It’s an interesting article on urban poverty and the environment, and working with communities to find solutions that are appropriate for them.

Keeping the Lights On: Lessons from California
The ole nuclear brouhaha continues in Ontario. The Sierra Club has invited conservation experts from California to come on up and talk to the Ontario Minister of Energy, Donna Cansfield, about better energy solutions than nuclear. They will also speak publicly on Tuesday, March 21 from 6:30 to 9:30 at City Hall, Council Chambers. Click here for more information: I’m definitely going!

Thanks to Erin McMurtry for organizing a meeting with Energy Minister Donna Cansfield next Wednesday to discuss concerns about the Ontario Power Authority Report. I and a few others will join her. I’ll post my impression on the meeting on my blog.

In the 1980s, when society became aware of pressing environmental problems, the words ‘reduce/reuse/recycle’ were in vogue. At the time, recycling seemed to have more emphasis, at least to me. I didn’t realize that reduce/reuse/recycle are in order of priority. Reduce as much as you can, first and foremost. A difficult thing to do in our highly consumptive society. Think of all the things you bought on a whim that just sit there collecting dust.

Once you use something, can you reuse it? - Write your shopping list on the back of a used envelop or tissue box. Print on the other side of printed paper. Give away old clothing to Goodwill or Value Village, or turn them into rags. Etcetera. As I keep saying, most things created have a GHG price tag on them due to the fact that these days power is generated predominantly by fossil fuels. If a product is made of plastic, even more so. Plastic is a petroleum product.

Ah, plastic. It’s everywhere. In our computers, health devices, cars, packaging, clothing, bags, toys, containers. The list goes on and on and on. Plastic has certainly been a blessing, you could say a mainstay of our modern comfortable lifestyle. However, plastic is made from a non-renewable product that also contributes to global warming.

The Canadian Plastic Industry Association makes its case saying that plastic actually helps the environment. Have a boo if you have time. The renewable energy industry is reliant on plastic, after all – oh the irony. Plastic also helps reduce weight in cars, helping to reduce fuel consumption, and so on.

I’ll talk about plastic recycling a little later. Where I live, the city recycles margarine and yogurt tubs (#5), but it does not recycle plastic bags. I suggest we reduce our use of them….

TO Do This Week

Reducing that Mound of Plastic in your Life
Some of you like to use plastic grocery bags as garbage bags – a fine example of reusing. But at times do you feel completely overwhelmed by the accumulating plastic growing in your bottom drawer, or wherever else you put these bags? Why not reduce this plastic by investing in cloth bags? Or, take the accumulating plastic bags with you to the store. It may take awhile to remember them, as it did Jane and me, but you’ll get the hang of it.

This weekend when you shop – I encourage you to either buy cloth bags or reuse the plastic ones, if you don’t already.

Zero Emission Transportation
It’s called…walking. Strange but true. Not only does it get you from A to B without producing GHG emissions, it strengthens your heart and burns calories.

Now yes, if you need to get across the city or go to another town, you can’t be expected to walk there. But if you have to drop off a DVD or pick up some milk from around the corner, well then…. About 50% of car trips are made within 3km of home. Before driving, ask yourself, could I walk or bike to my destination? You will save on gas, reduce your GHG emissions and pollution, and get some exercise.

If you drive, this week try walking to a destination if it’s in reasonable walking distance.

Earth Easy


red jane said...

I got my environment Week flyer in the mail yesterday and they have days alla cross the city where we can drop off used batteries, call phones, plastic bags(!) and do a paint exchange; old tires, electronics and hazardous waste, so that's a great way to get rid of stuff conscientiously. I have a habit of picking up dead batteries I see lying on the street and adding them to my bag here that I'll take in to the Enviro day or over to Grassroots where they also recyle old cell phones. I think they take plastic bags as well to be re-used in their store.
Keep up the great work! I love the blog!

Janer said...

I was out today on my bike in the glorious sunshine, with my two canvas bags doing my shopping and I found florescent bulbs at Honest Ed's for $1.99/20W and $10.99 for four 13W. The brands are Landlite and Luminus respectively, but it seemed like a wicked deal for these kinds of bulbs.

Do you know where one can recycle regular bulbs instead of just throwing them out? Or is this even an option?

I, too, love the site and love getting the concise, well-written e-newsletter every couple of weeks. Thanks for making it easier Cheryl!

Cheryl McNamara said...

Thanks for your great comments and suggestions!

Jane - I phoned Grassroots to ask about recycling light bulbs. The gal I spoke to said that they don't and don't know of anybody who does. I know someone in the recycling business and will ask him.

Janer said...

Thanks for checking that out Cheryl. It just may not be something that's possible, but I'll hang onto the light bulbs until I hear from you.