Contributing Writers

Green Jeeps? Polluting hybrids? What?

Posted by TheGreen on 03/13 at 04:39 PM

Just when you start to figure things out, something comes along and messes it all up. Like the environment, for example.

Like most folks, I have equated gas milage with how eco-friendly a vehicle is. It’s a simple approach, where a hybrid car is better for the planet than say, a gas-guzzling SUV.

Wrong. Or so they are now saying.

According to US-based CNW Research, those high-tech, high fuel milage cars and trucks are in fact worse for the environment than their low tech cousins, if you stand back and look at the big picture. That’s what they did, looking at some 300 vehicles as they go from the drawing board to the assembly line to life on the road and off into oblivion. Or from “dust to dust,” as they said.

CNW did the kind of mind-numbing research that would drive most sane people crazy, looking at over 4,000 variables in the life cycles of each vehicle. There’s a lot of energy used to design, build, sell and operate a vehicle, and at the end you have to dispose of it.They really got into the details: The US made Honda Accord is built by folks who drive to work, at an average cost of $1.92 per day. Meanwhile their Japanese colleagues building the same car take public take public transit, at a cost of 18 cents per day.

There are other considerations: How much of the car is made from recycled materials? Where is it made? How far does it have to go to get to the consumer? How specialized are all the doohickeys and thingamajigs? How expensive is the energy used to build it?
The bad news is that the hybrid vehicles cost a lot more, consuming up to ten times more energy over their lifespans. It starts with a lot of energy going into designing the things, and those costs (easily over a billion dollars per model) haven’t been absorbed yet by the number of vehicles made. The result: Development energy costs for a Toyota Prius are about $29,000, compared to $2,600 for a Toyota Corolla, because the Corolla has been around for about 40 years or so.
To make it understandable, CNW calculated it out in cost-per-mile. The damage: A Toyota Prius costs an average of $2.62 per mile, while the Corolla costs 72 cents a mile. A Mercedes-Benz Maybach costs $15.84 per mile.

On the low end, the Jeep Wrangler, in all of its boxy, clunky glory, costs 71 cents per mile, the cheapest available in Canada. Because it’s been pretty much the same for the last 60 years little energy is spent on design, and almost all of its parts can be recycled.

Others on the top ten list include the Toyota Corolla and Echo, the Chevy Aveo, Hyundai Elantra and Accent, Kia Spectra Ford Focus and the Honda Fit, which comes in at number ten, at 91 cents per mile driven. Other than the Wrangler these are all small, cars that sip fuel. And none of them on the list waste a lot of time and effort on high tech doodads.

I’m still not sure what to make of all of this, except to say that appearances can be deceiving. That and the fact that while the car dealers are trying to play the green card on their customers, I think I’d be better off stretching a little more life out of the car I have until I figure this out.
For a look at the report go to:

About the author: TheGreen

Blogging the frogs

Posted by TheGreen on 02/07 at 05:04 PM

When it comes to the environment, frogs are the closest thing we’ve got to nature’s barometer. And now frogs are disappearing at an alarming rate. What’s it all about? Scientists estimate that frogs are disappearing at an alarming rate. From one-third to one-half of amphibian species are in danger of extinction. The global conservation organizations have designated this year as Year of the Frog—and as you probably already know, this year is a leap year! To help raise awareness, many zoos and aquariums will be holding events on leap day, Feb. 29.

Find more about Year of the Frog here.

About the author: TheGreen

Food Freedom Day

Posted by TheGreen on 02/06 at 03:35 PM

We often hear people complaining about the price of food. But the fact of the matter is food only takes up a tiny portion of our annual income. That’s why Food Freedom Day is February 6.

If you took all of your income earned so far this year, you could, in theory, feed your family for a year. Not bad for that most basic of necessities.
In an era of high cost housing, $1.15 a litre gas and other skyrocketing expenses, farm incomes continue to dwindle. Meanwhile our store shelves are stocked with fruits and vegetables from far-off lands, transported by ship, truck or train, each of which belches greenhouse gases into the air.
So the next time you’re at the grocery store, think about where that tomato is coming from. By buying local you’re not only helping the planet, you’re also helping local farmers maintain a way of life that will, ultimately, benefit us all. And I’m sure you could scratch up the few extra pennies from what you earn the other 11 months of the year.

About the author: TheGreen

Water reduction starts at home

Posted by TheGreen on 12/21 at 04:35 AM

This Christmas we decided to do something a little different. As part of becoming a little bit greener, we decided to get rid of our two 13 litre flush toilets and install new TOTO Aquia Dual Flush Toilet CST414M. The cost to purchase the toilets was a little high ($350 Canadian), but we feel the water savings were more important. Since we had to replace the floors in the two bathrooms, it was an ideal time to upgrade.

For those that are not familiar with the dual flush toilets, our research shows there are two main brands that people talk about the most. The Toto 6l / 3.2l flush (1.6G / .9G), and the Caroma 6l / 3l flush (1.6G / .8G). There are a lot of positive and a lot of negatives reviews on both of these toilets, so I think it comes down to what you the consumer wants. Note the Caroma uses a smidgen less water than the Caroma Dual flush toilet.

If like us, you are not sure where to begin, here are the two main sites we used to help make a decision. The Terry Love website has a great forum that has a lot of reviews and straight up talk about the pros and cons of both the Toto and Caroma toilets, and about Dual flush toilets in general. You can find a lot of consumer reviews at the Toto that we bought, keeping in mind that it is a Toto specialist site. At you will find a lot of reviews on the Toto toilets, but again, nothing on the Caroma. It is worth taking the time to read through the bulk of the reviews to get a good grasp on the issues people had.

Most of the sites have reviews that rate the installation of the Toto Aquia Dual Flush Toilet as being quite difficult. Our experience though was one of ease. Yes, you need to drill 6 extra holes in the floor to install all the mounting hardware, but with the right tools, this was quite simple. As the reviews state, you will need a 5/16” carbide tip drill if you are mounting the toilet on a tile floor. The 1/4” drill will not suffice. The only real difficulty we experienced was getting the water supply line installed on the toilet after we had the toilet installed. Although it was possible to get the supply line installed, if I had to do it again, I would install the supply line onto the toilet before sliding the toilet onto the base PVC flange. Then hook the supply line to the supply feed. Note that you will possibly require a longer supply line due to where the hookup on the toilet is. Apart from that we are set.

Another complaint from people about the Dual Flush toilets in general is that it gets dirty very quickly. One of the ways these toilets use so little water is how little water they keep in the bowl. As a result, number two can easily mark up the sides of the toilet. Well, so be it. Just keep your toilet cleaning arsenal handy, oh, and the fan turned on!

In the summer time we often have four five kids using the main toilet throughout the day. This can result in 15 or more flushes a day, which was about 195 litres of water used each day just on flushing the pee away. The new Toto Dual Flush will use only 45 litres, or save us 140 litres a day, on those higher use days. That alone is great to see.

Bottom line, the Dual Flush toilets are not for everyone, but if we are redoing your bathroom, it is well worth considering getting a toilet that has a small water footprint.

If you found this article useful, or if you have questions, feel free to post some comments. I will do my best to answer the questions that I can.

About the author: TheGreen

Can the warnings get any more serious??

Posted by TheGreen on 12/12 at 04:53 PM
Global WarmingPermalink

If you’re reading this, chances are you are concerned about the environment. So this is a bit like preaching to the choir. But if anyone you know questions what’s happening to this planet of ours, have them read this:

Humanity faces oblivion if it fails to reach agreement on global warming, Ban Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General, said yesterday as the US and the European Union continued to scuffle over a successor to the ten-year-old Kyoto treaty on climate change.

The worlds scientists have spoken with one voice: the situation is grim and urgent action is needed, Mr Ban said at a gathering of 190 countries on the Indonesian island of Bali. The situation is so desperately serious that any delay could push us past the tipping point, beyond which the ecological, financial and human costs would increase dramatically. We are at a crossroads: one path leads to a comprehensive climate change agreement, the other one to oblivion.

Click on the link and read on.

About the author: TheGreen

The greatest environmental crime in history

Posted by TheGreen on 12/11 at 03:32 PM

I hadn’t given much thought to Alberta’s oil sands projects, other than that yes, they produce more oil and that adds to the problems facing the world. But getting the oil out of there in the first place has some pretty horrific effects on the environment - before it ever makes its way to your car. Check out this story from The Independent about BP’s decision to get in on the oil sands game. Think about it the next time you buy a car, crank on your oil furnace or think of moving to Alberta for one of those high-paying jobs.

About the author: TheGreen

Fewer speed bumps, better city planning, please

Posted by TheGreen on 11/01 at 03:07 PM

Speed bumps - a Band-Aid solution for bad street planning - not only fuel drivers’ tempers and create noise pollution, they add greenhouse gases to the air we breathe, says a new federal housing agency report.

About the author: TheGreen

Google looking into alternative energies

Posted by TheGreen on 10/30 at 02:57 PM
Global WarmingPermalink

Google is participating in a number of initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Included are a 1.6 megawatt solar installation at its corporate headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. With solar panels on building roofs, Google has also constructed a car port with solar panels on the roof. Employees are encouraged to charge up plug-in hybrids. “Google’s solar carports are just the beginning,” a company spokesperson says. A very interesting read for all those interested in what the big corporations are doing to help curb global warming.

About the author: TheGreen

Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home

Posted by TheGreen on 10/29 at 07:36 PM

Filmmaker Employs Unique Social Marketing Campaign to Distribute New Feature Length Documentary that Literally Brings Home the Threat to Our Environment

(TORONTO, ON, Monday, October 29, 2007) - On November 19, 2007 independent filmmaker and concerned father Andrew Nisker invites audiences everywhere to be a part of the World premiere of the documentary Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home and to help launch a global grassroots movement to combat the heavy toll household waste is exacting on the environment.  Nisker is challenging the public to start a global garbage revolution!

Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home, the new feature length documentary by filmmaker Andrew Nisker candidly portrays the threat to our environment as the Mcdonald family of Toronto tracks their waste output for three months. As they discover where their garbage goes and at what cost to the environment, the Mcdonald household engages the audience with an ‘open-door reality-check.’ Meticulous tracking of consumption and waste, right down to the children’s lunchboxes result in not only candid comments, but also some rather enlightening and even humorous moments.

“Household waste is a huge factor in the degradation of our environment. There is an unspoken and ongoing acceptance of extraneous packaging, for instance, mostly in the name of branding, resulting in tons and tons of garbage that we really can do without and this is visually portrayed in the film,” Nisker points out.

Nisker’s distribution model is tied into creating a movement for social change, starting at the local level and taking it global through the online community at where viewers are asked to share videos, pictures and blogs of their own advice,  ideas, solutions and initiatives to make eco-friendly living a reality in every home.

“Society is tired of waiting for slow moving politicians and corporations to implement change, but the truth is we don’t need to wait. From the bottom up, the time has come to change our own worlds starting at home and to send a message to the polluters that we have all chosen a green path. Viewing Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home empowers audiences to make those changes, now, by making simple lifestyle choices,” says Nisker.

More than a viral marketing campaign, the unique distribution model acts as a global call to action, utilizing social media to build and foster a sense of community in an effort to effect positive social change one-family-at-a-time.  By hosting a screening of the film, discussing solutions and sharing their own initiatives viewers can be part of a larger movement to change the way household garbage is produced, reduced and disposed of.

Already families and communities around the world have confirmed their plans to screen Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home on November 19th in places such as in Calgary, New York, Los Angeles, London, Tel Aviv, Copenhagen, Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt and Chicago, with the list growing daily. In Toronto, the World Premiere is set for November 19th at 9pm at Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Ave Toronto (University Of Toronto).

The documentary has already inspired a movement in North America to stop buying bottled water. Tappening which will be launched next month by best selling author and President of Ericho Communications, Eric Yaverbaum ( in partnership with Mark DiMassimo, Chairman and Founder of highly acclaimed advertising agency DIGO (  Their combined 50 years of experience will not only support Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home with social marketing initiatives, but a portion of profits from sales of their water bottles will also go toward fostering the Garbage! Revolution.

In Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home, filmmaker Andrew Nisker succinctly puts a vast amount of about past, current and ongoing environmental damage and the growing catastrophe we are all contributing to into one remarkably enjoyable film.  Nisker skillfully shifts focus from melting glaciers and oil slicks to ‘any neighborhood,’ ‘any town;’ and essentially, right into your own home, so that citizens can connect the dots between their actions and the environment and be inspired to change their polluting ways.

Garbage! The Revolution Starts at Home is for sale on DVD at Any individual, family, business or corporation can host a screening of the film. Those interested are asked to purchase a film, download a screening package - complete with action items - and are encouraged to record their reactions and thoughts. This feedback can then be shared with a global online community at


For more information, to arrange an interview or request a screener, please contact:

Nadia Sandhu                         Lowell Hall
Executive Account Manager       Director Operations
LH Metropolis Communications   LH Metropolis Communications   
(P) 416-519-9045                     (P) 416-519-9045
(C) 416-839-8508                     (C) 416-887-1636

Fern Marcya Edison
Ericho Communications
(P) 845-679-631

About the author: TheGreen

green trucks

Posted by TheGreen on 10/16 at 06:13 PM

We often think of transport trucks and their tendency to belch black smoke. But according to this article from The Gazette, that vision may one day soon be a thing of the past. Now if we can just get the government to help the transport industry out to get the Enviro Truck on the road…

About the author: TheGreen

Turning the suns rays into gold

Posted by TheGreen on 10/01 at 02:43 PM
Global WarmingPermalink

According to this article in the Toronto Star, we may be on the verge of large-scale solar power generation, using large expanses of the world’s deserts as energy-producing hubs. Not a bad accomplishment for a Canadian cameraman. Have a good read and follow it up with some positive thinking. With ideas like this, we may just get ourselves out of this mess yet…

About the author: TheGreen

Environmental Fair kicks off with an Antarctic Mission

Posted by TheGreen on 09/19 at 05:47 PM

Jean Lemire presents ANTARCTIC MISSION on climate change

A presentation rich in images organized by the Project Ecosphere Environmental Fair

FRELIGHSBURG, September 4, 2007 Project Ecosphere is proud to open its second annual Environmental Fair with ANTARCTIC MISSION[MC1], a lecture by charismatic explorer Jean Lemire. To tell this extraordinary adventure story and show the effects of climate change Lemire, leader of the Sedna IV expedition, uses hundreds of captivating high-resolution images from across the frozen continent. An explorer and gifted communicator, Lemire will be making a stop in Brome-Missisquoi in the Eastern Townships on Friday, September 28, at 7:30 p.m. (doors open at 6:30), at the MASSEY VANIER auditorium in Cowansville. Biologist, photographer and renowned filmmaker, Jean Lemire is the honorary president of the 2007 edition of the Environmental and Green Building Fair taking place on the weekend of September 29 and 30 at the picturesque Brome Fairgrounds.

A respected navigator-ecologist-scientist-filmmaker, Jean Lemire covers every angle. Recipient of numerous prizes, in 2006 he was voted the Personality of the Year by La Presse/Radio Canada in the human sciences, pure sciences and technology category. He has had an extraordinary media and educational impact, contributing to raising public awareness to global environmental challenges. Sometimes in the spotlight, sometimes behind the camera, this passionate advocate of science, preoccupied by the future of our planet, has an undeniable talent for showing the beauty and fragility of our world.

Aboard his 51-metre goddess of the sea the Sedna IV, Jean Lemire set out on his biggest adventure ever in the fall of 2005. Joined by a team of sailors, filmmakers and scientists, he headed for the Antarctic, the last unspoiled continent on the planet, with its millions of birds, whales and seals. Antarctic Mission became one of the greatest expeditions in modern history. A 430-day voyage of navigation, isolation and extreme adventures in the harsh climate, Antarctic Mission was much more than a mere exploration of the ends of the earth to witness and record the effects of climate change on the icy continent. Within the human drama is found a deep reflection on the great challenges facing our society. From the sad realization of the rapid melting of the South Pole to the pure beauty of the baby seals of Weddell, Jean Lemire invites you to share in an adventure filled with images and emotion.

Tickets are available at book stores in Cowansville and Knowlton, at the Cafetier de Sutton, at the Rumeur affame in Dunham, or by credit card by calling the Ecosphere office at 450-298-1214, through Admission at 1-800-361-4595 or 514-790-1245 or online at The cost is $27 for adults, $23 for five to 12-year-olds, students and seniors.

Afterwards the Environmental Fair continues throughout the weekend of September 29 and 30 at the picturesque Brome Fairgrounds, not far from Cowansville, Sutton, Brome Lake (Knowlton) and Granby. Known for her involvement in protecting the environment, Quebec actress Pascale Bussires is pleased to be the events spokeswoman once again. Last year, despite a very full schedule, I took part in the Fair for the two days. I am planning to do the same again this year. This event is really interesting and inspirational! I also have the great pleasure of presenting Jean Lemire at his lecture on September 28, said Pascale Bussires.
With 150 exhibitors, 50 lecturers, workshops, movies and documentaries, this country celebration of the environment is a stimulating source of inspiration. At a time when our planet is fighting for its life, Project Ecosphere offers concrete solutions to make greener choices in our daily lives, stated Pascale Bussires.

Project Ecosphere is the Environmental Fair created by Groupe cosphre, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of the environment and sustainable development. By bringing together the main actors in the domain, this multidisciplinary event aims to inform and raise the awareness of the general public of the efforts to improve our wellbeing and environment. Project Ecospheres main partners are Desjardins, Nature Conservancy, the MRC and CLD of Brome-Missisquoi, La Presse, La Maison du 21e sicle, the towns of Bromont, Brome Lake and Sutton, UNESCO, Sani-co, Mont Sutton, RCI Environnement and the Rgie intermunicipale de rcupration des dchets solides de Brome-Missisquoi.

See our Internet site for a full list of exhibitors, lecturers, workshops and films, which is growing every week, at Information and registration: 450-298-1214.

About the author: TheGreen

A taste of the traditional

Posted by TheGreen on 09/12 at 05:25 PM

Hello readers! If you’re looking at kinder, gentler and more traditional ways of living, you might want to check out this upcoming event in Vermont:

Subject: Animal Power Field Days promotional reminder….please distribute widely!

Northeast Animal-Power Field Days Trade Fair & Conference
Saturday and Sunday, September 29-30, 2007, Fair Grounds, Tunbridge, VT

Gates Open 8:30 am, Activities Begin by 9:00 am Both Days

Admission: $10/day, $15/both days

This two-day trade fair and conference will present resources for farmers, loggers, and forest landowners pursuing the use of draft animals as part of their land-based livelihoods. By encouraging diversified farming, low-impact logging, and the use of draft animals, small acreage can be effectively managed for valuable farm and forest products, expanding opportunities for families to enjoy good livelihoods where they live.

The Weekend Activities will include:

Event Welcoming, Saturday 1 PM;  Secretary Roger Albee, Vermont Agency of Agriculture.

Saturday Keynote, 1:15 PM;  Lynn Miller, Horse-farmer & Editor of Small Farmers Journal.
Sunday Keynote, 12:00 Noon;  Jason Rutledge of Healing Harvest Forest Foundation.
Teamster Round Table; Saturday 5-7pm;

Equipment Auction; Sunday 3-5pm;

Other weekend activities will include presentations, panel discussions, vendor exhibits, working animal presentations, and field demonstrations of animal-powered farming and logging equipment. Workshop topics will include grazing management, composting, carbon farming, CSA/Market Gardening, and working with draft animals on the farm and in the woods. Local food vendors (including NOFA-VTs Pizza Mobile and Howling Wolf Barbeque), a farmers market, kids activities, music and art will also be present. Camping is available at the fair grounds! Come for a weekend of fun!

For information on sponsoring, exhibiting or reserving a camp-site ($20 per night)
Contact: Carl Russell or Lisa McCrory, Phone: 802-234-5524, Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Interested in Volunteering?
Contact: Kristen Gage, Phone: 802-431-1029, Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Visit our Website: for our brochure, event schedule, speaker and workshop descriptions, directions & lodging information and more.

About the author: TheGreen

Recycling in the country side

Posted by TheGreen on 07/05 at 08:14 PM

Out here in the country our recycling is picked up every 2 weeks, and by that time our 320 litre bin is full. It doesn’t have to be.

A generation ago you went to the butcher and got a piece of steak and it was wrapped in brown paper. Today that same steak would have a styrofoam backing and one, if not two layers of clear plastic wrapping.

Then there is the sheer amount of packaging that comes with almost any consumer goods these days. Anyone with kids knows the joys of spending Christmas day trying to extricate toys from layers of plastic and carboard, cutting wire ties, plastic tie wraps and rearranging the skin on your fingers in the process.

We all feel better when we throw stuff into the recycle bin. But that’s still stuff being used for no good purpose. Consumers have to start demanding less packaging. Less packaging means less use, less energy used, and a real benefit to the environment. Stop it at the source.

About the author: TheGreen