getting around without fuel

October 31, 2008

Here is an area that I could really work on. I drive (in a fuel-efficient diesel) to work and back home which adds to about 16 km a day. I try to drive outside of Toronto’s rush hours whenever possible, and there are always at least two people in the car. However, I feel really guilty about not doing better, but I don’t want to can’t seem to shake this habit.

Here’s what I commit to do:

  • work from home more often starting now
  • start using bio-diesel next spring
  • bike to work in the summer (if I can get over my fear of sharing the road with cars)

I would be much more likely to bike if Toronto was more bike-friendly. Presently, there are no bike lanes on my route. To get many more people to bike we need bike lanes with curbs separating car traffic – people just don’t feel safe right now.

Wish me luck. This one’s going to be hard for me.

and why I changed my mind for 2009.

Earlier this year the big buzz was earth hour – everyone would collectively turn off their lights and appliances for one hour to raise awareness of the need to take action on climate change. It would be a representation of how little steps by many people can make a difference. I couldn’t pinpoint what bothered me about it, but I had a pretty extreme reaction – I was not going to participate. It’s not that I have a problem with doing things that reduce our impact – it’s normally just the opposite. So why did I skip it?

I have a problem with token behaviour with no substance or sustenance. A lot of the people who planned on turning their lights off didn’t do, or plan to do, much else for this earth – in fact they often openly scorned attempts at reduction. I was afraid that this token event would allow them to feel that they had done their “enviro-duties” for the year, and that they could now jump into their SUVs and shake their heads at all the people who missed the opportunity to go green. But it was more than that.

To be honest, it really irked me that people who had never taken a moment to consider the environment, were now momentarily evangelical about it – preaching to me and looking down on me, telling me about the things that I had continually told them about. The environment was now fashionable – and these people were clamouring to be the first to wear it. I should have been ecstatic that they were finally getting it, but sadly my ego was in the way.

Now I am trying really hard to put my ego aside and embrace any change in the right direction- no matter how small or temporary – because it normally contributes to the greater good. And as a side benefit, I get to work on my humility. That’s why on March 28th 2009 at 8:30 pm, I will be turning off my lights.

why I refuse bottled water

October 27, 2008

Drinking water should be free and everyone should have the right to clean potable water – this is not true in many parts of the world. I refuse bottled water even when given to me freely. Why? Because . . .

  • we already pay for clean municipal drinking water
  • bottled water costs a lot of money
  • I have no idea of what’s in the bottle since water quality regulations for bottled water are very loose
  • plastic for containers ends up costing us for production, waste disposal and recycling
  • chemicals in the plastic leach into the water
  • water is drained from far-away places with no chance of groundwater recharge there
  • it represents water ownership by a few multi-national corporations – this already affects many parts of the world where local fresh water no longer belongs to the people

Thankfully I live in a place that has clean drinking water flowing from my tap whenever I need it. I hope that I never take that for granted.

Water will be a hot topic for the foreseeable future as fresh water supplies around the world become contaminated or unusable. Water as a commodity? Water more expensive than oil? Who would have thought this 10 years ago? Many people a lot smarter than me. Here are links to films about water that I saw last week at the Planet in Focus film festival.

One Water; Blue Gold: World Water Wars