Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Notes from the Green Living Show

If you missed the Green Living Show in Toronto, this blog is for you! Jane and I defied the TTC strike, mounted our bikes and cycled and cycled and cycled to get to the show at the Exhibition Grounds. Our determination paid off. In addition to our organic snack sampling, we encountered the following….

Home Energy

I picked up a little flyer on energy audits. To find out about getting an energy audit, visit http://www.ecoaction.gcca/. For information on financial incentives through the Ontario Home Energy Audit/Retrofit Programs, visit http://www.energy.gov.on.ca/. We would be getting an energy audit right now if it weren’t for the surprise rewiring job we just had done. Not to mention the roofing reno too (sigh).

Greener Solutions - My friend Jason Eano of Greener Solutions showed us around the little kiosk he helped build which housed green companies associated with his organization. We had an illuminating chat with Ron of Caledon Geothermal (a distributor of Next Energy Geothermal). Geothermal is best when you live near a lake or pond because installing the geothermal loop is a breeze. Unfortunately for urbanites like us, vertical loop installation is the only option and it’s the most expensive. You have to drill pretty deep – and it creates an absolute mess.

Insuladd This non-toxic paint additive acts as insulation. The claim is that it reduces utility bills by over 20%. Just sprinkle some of this in your paint and see if it makes a difference.

Insulation - There’s fabulous spray-in insulation that fills every nook and cranny, and doesn’t break down or settle. Retrofoam has a R-value of up to 23.7 at 2x6 studs. R-value is an indication of its insulating effectiveness. Its rating is very good for a product that contains no hazardous ingredients and prevents mold growth to boot.

Windows – Jane and I salivated at the Pella display. Nice windows. Not only are they state of the art in energy efficiency, the wood in the frame is from managed forests. Of course, they’re expensive but well worth the investment. We were told that to replace the five large front windows of our house would cost about $5,000.

Home D├ęcor

Rugs - Finally, an alternative to IKEA! Jane and I love rugs. W Studio Ltd., located at 146 Dupont Street in Toronto, sells attractive eco-friendly rugs (with vegetable dye to boot).

Cleaning

Cleaning products are often toxic and unnecessary. Jane and I have been using micro-fiber to clean our place. We picked up three fiber mitts called Enjo, created by an Austrian textile expert. The result? The product is ok. We much prefer our micro-fiber cloths that we picked up from the Carrot Common, our local eco-friendly store.

We were not impressed with President’s Choice for its ‘Green’ floor cleaning products. Check out this statement on the product label (the italics are mine): “This high performance cleaning putty will not release toxic chemicals into our rivers and lake. By using less environmentally harmful ingredients, we are helping to support a safer, cleaner environment.” No toxins or less environmentally harmful ingredients? Which one? Jane calls this double speak and I agree. How about no toxins period (including no harmful ingredients). We’ll stick to our micro-fiber.

Recycling

Irecycle – These guys encourage buildings and communities to connect and collectively arrange Irecycle to pick up unwanted computers, office equipment and cell phones. Don’t just recycle your e-waste, get others to do so too!

U Box It – Is your basement a thicket of forgotten whatnots piled in an unsightly heap? Ours is. Hence, it was with great love that I approached the representative at U Box It, a company that provides clients with a big yellow box to dispose their junk – and then finds homes for said junk. All your stuff is sorted and recycled. The price is $130 for removal.

Toronto’s new bin program may finance a program to pick up unwanted stuff for recycling for free. We are to keep posted on new developments.

Composting Toilets - Using fresh water to flush away human waste is a terrible use of this vulnerable resource. Sun-Mar was on hand to showcase its composting toilet. They use a BioDrum which eliminates the dreaded odor that people fear when it comes to water-less toilets. The toilets are ideal for cottages and remote areas of course. There could come a day when they are installed in urban homes.

Travel

Jane fell head over heels in love with the Smart Scooter. Her amour was fueled in large part by the fact we rode our bikes all over god’s creation to get to the show (#$%@ transit strike). Despite her rekindled love for the motor, there is a hitch…. The energy is only as green as its source. In Toronto one would power up the battery using coal and nuclear (green thumb’s down). The scooter also gets up to 35 kilometers per hour – too slow for cars and a frustration to cyclists since they both have to keep to the right. Upside: they’re awfully cute, come in an assortment of snappy colours and may be a serious alternative when fuel gets really expensive. Personally, I’m all about people power and am still a devotee of my bike.

Stuff

I am not a big fan of buying stuff for stuff’s sake. But if you must, why not go green? At work I use a promotional company called TPS (The Promotional Specialists) for our hats. TPS has embraced green in a big way: organic and bamboo hats, biodegradable pens, etc. Jane and I snafooed two biodegradable pens from their kiosk. I’ve attached the pen to my recycled note pad to jot down all my writer-thoughts.

In the News

European Commission Sues to Force Italy to Take Out the Garbage
Southern Italy doesn’t know what to do with its garbage.

Canadian schools sent brochures, DVDs from climate change skeptics
Climate change skeptics are alive and kicking and trying to get at your kids.

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