Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Voting, Burma and Made in…Just Around the Corner

I’m drowning in emails! List serves are bombarding me with news on everything from Burma’s uprising to mounting awareness on global warming (and voting for Mixed Member Proportion (MMP) if you live in Ontario).

And here I am all prepared to write about my shopping adventures over the weekend. In light of the big picture, this seems frivolous. Although, I did accomplished the near impossible.

Ontario Election
But first things first. For you Ontarians, please do vote on October 10th. For some crazy reason religion and public education dominated the election talk despite more pressing issues including the province’s energy future. There is a strong case made for conservation and renewable energy which the Grits and Tories are not buying into. Industry wants nuclear and the expectation is for the public to pay for it. Blah! Please take time to look at the issue by checking out where the parties stand on the environment.

Please also consider voting for a fairer voting system. MMP has been proven in other countries and will enable voices such as the Green Party to be heard in Parliament. Ever feel that your vote doesn’t count? MMP will change that.

And now Burma. While the uprising is not an eco-story it is an important one that demands action now. Let’s show the people of Burma that their incredible bravery has not been exercised in vain. Through Avaaz, let’s pressure the world to pressure China to pressure Burma to end the crackdown. Through advertisements in major global and Asian papers, Avaaz wants to show China, now sensitive with the upcoming Games in Beijing, that the world is watching.

While we are horrified that China supports the heinous regimes of Burma and the Sudan, keep in mind that we in the west support China by purchasing its cheap goods.

Here’s where my weekend shopping spree may not seem so frivolous after all….

Made in Where?
Recently my mother was in the Bay where some shirts caught her attention. On the shirts were the words ‘Made in Canada’. Unconvinced, she took a look at the tag. “Made in China.”

Have we come to a new level in false advertising?

Next time you are at a typical clothing store, check out where the items are made. You will see that they come from many places, all in the so-called developing world. As you hold that shirt or pair of pants or jeans, think about the person who made it. What do they look like? Were they reasonably paid? Are their working conditions similar to yours? Are the rivers clean in the town where they work? If you could calculate the carbon emissions connected to that piece of clothing what would it amount to?

Clothing is cheap because of cheap labour and non-existent environmental laws. This is cheap’s dark shadow and it has a heavy price tag. Cheap sometimes comes from places with terrible human rights abuses. Is this something that you want to support?

Made Right Here
Challenge: try finding clothing or any goods that are made in your own country.

Believe it our not, it is actually possible. Jane and I had a fabulous time at the Clothing Show in Toronto last Saturday which featured vintage clothing and local designers, many of whom make their swanky fun clothes right here in town. Not only made in Canada, but made in town. Now how’s that for local!

I am now a fan of Shernett Swaby and Precocious – environmental coutour. The later redesigns used sweaters into funky little outfits. Several exhibiters sold organic and fair trade clothing as well. Jane and I bought fetching fair trade hats from the Fairies Pajamas.

Interested in locating local designers in your town? If you are in Toronto, the Clothing Show is a great introduction. Check out their upcoming winter and spring shows. Not in Toronto? Contact designer schools in your town to inquire about local designers.

Advantages to buying local:
  • You get to wear good karma clothes
  • You reduce travel miles and carbon emissions
  • You support your local economy
  • You get quality-made and stylish threads that are built to last
  • You get service. Local designers are often more than happy to make alterations for you.
  • You also get to meet the people who designed and sometimes made your outfit.

In the News

Climate change top issue, CEOs declare
Once Canada’s biggest climate change sceptics, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives is changing its tune.

Environment Canada budget cuts threaten wildlife programs
Even the celebrated The Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Network (EMAN) is at serious risk. This is incredibly shortsighted. Focusing on global warming should not entail cutting environmental monitoring. If the Ministry of the Environment needs more money, increase its budget. Find the money. Hello!?

Sea Ice in Retreat
This summer saw a record-breaking loss of Arctic sea ice. Drag the slider to see how much the ice has retreated in the past few years.

Town dumps plastic bags
See what the efforts of one person will do. Thanks Margot for the story!

Local cuisine
For those in Toronto recuperating from the election, treat yourself to an evening of local cuisine.

Other News

BBC – The Greenroom

Ecoshock Radio

Green Bloggers

Grist Magazine


My Green Element

New York Times – Environment

Tree Hugger

Zerofootprint Blog

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