Thursday, April 17, 2008

Earth Day and Cuba Notes

Earth Day! – April 22
Mark on your calendars. Click here to find an interesting Earth Day event near you!

One simple action is to help Doug Hart in his campaign to get Canadian Tire to sell recycled Toilet Paper. Here’s his message:

“According to Greenpeace, if each household in Canada replaced 1 roll of toilet paper cut from ancient forests with 1 roll of recycled toilet paper, we could save 47,962 trees in a year.

I noticed Canadian Tire sells wall high piles of toilet paper, none of it recycled. After more than a month of emails to them, asking “why do you not sell re-cycled toilet paper,” I have no real reply, only policy gobble de gook, how they have green policies, and care about their customers feedback, and thank you for my email.

I thought perhaps some of your good readers might also send them an email, with this simple question to asking, “Why do you not sell recycled toilet paper?” Maybe if enough of us do it, they will respond.”

Let’s bombard Canadian Tire with “Why do you not sell recycled toilet paper?” messages and see how they respond.

Cuba Notes
Jane surprised me with a vacation to Cuba for my birthday. While the purpose of the trip was to collapse on a beach, which we did wholeheartedly, I was curious to know how Cubans were doing on the sustainability front.

Cuba is of interest to anyone who wants sustainable practices. With the collapse of its major trade partner - the Soviet Union - in the early 1990s, Cuba had to also contend with (and still does) a tightened trade embargo from the U.S. With limited fossil fuel and food, Cuba went from industrial agriculture to organic farming in about four years flat.

With a little help from Venezuela in recent years, Cuba has some cars back on the road but it continues to produce most of its own food - something it didn’t do during the heyday of the so called ‘green’ revolution. During that time, monocultural state farms dominated Cuban agriculture. The crops, such as sugar, were traded to places like the USSR. Cuban received most of their food from abroad.

To be blunt, aside from a trip to Havana and information from the tour guide, I did very little probing on the organic front – given that I spent most of my time on a beach and had trouble even communicating the word ‘vegetarian’ to the wait staff (the so-called vegetarian corner in the buffet was laced with beef and bacon).

So my observations are of an eco-conscious western tourist confined to an all-inclusive resort. You can only imagine the dichotomies with which I was faced, which in a nutshell was: all-out food and booze fest in a land of rations and conservation.

At the resort, conservation measures were folded into every day life in this strange community of rapacious Canadians. Key cards were used to turn on lights, forcing people to turn them off before they left. All lights were compact fluorescents (however outdoor lights were left on). All toilets were dual flush (while beach showers were left running). Electrical cars buzzed up and down the extensive grounds (carrying bloated guests from the buffet to the beach). The food was for the most part local (with great quantities of it left on plates to be tossed). I often wondered what the Cubans, who survive on $15 Canadian a month, thought of us.

As for the flight (the night flight revealed only a few lights, hardly defining the towns below), Jane and I will offset our carbon output through Planetair’s carbon trading scheme. Our money will go towards investments in renewable energy. We will continue to eat all our food on our plates, not stuff ourselves, turn off lights, and walk whenever we can.

In the News

Pressure mounts on farming powers amid food crisis
This is a highly serious matter that calls to question biofuels and shines a light on the population crisis.

A Drought in Australia, a Global Shortage of Rice
And then there’s the effect of global warming on food production.

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