Archive for April 22nd, 2010

By Joel Petts

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Happy 40th Earth Day!

In recognition of the day, here are 10 ways to be green. Ten was an arbitrary number. There are many more ways to practise low-impact living. Join in! The planet needs your help.

1. Drink Shade-grown Coffee! There’s no easier way to help save rainforest. See Shade the Coffee, Shelter the Birds for more information.

2. Garden Organically. Whether you grow your own food or prefer flowers, or just plain grass, avoid using pesticides in your yard. Sprays that kill insects and weeds become part of your backyard environment and are bad for other wildlife as well (not to mention you!). If possible, plant a variety of native species to provide food and shelter for birds and bugs.

3. Make Every Cat an Indoor Cat. When it comes to birds, cats are killers. Birds face enough challenges without having domestic pets to contend with. Read more at Natural Born Killers.

4. Choose Seafood Wisely. The days when the bounty of the ocean was limitless are gone. Many fish species are threatened by overfishing. See The End of the Line for more information.

5. Buy Locally-grown Produce. Buying local produce supports local farmers, helps to maintain greenspace, and provides local jobs. Imported foods are transported thousands of miles, contributing to carbon emissions and pollution. Fruits and vegetables from other countries may have been sprayed with pesticides banned in North America or harvested by an exploited workforce. Choose organic food when possible. For more information, see Organic Food is For the Birds.

6. Avoid Bottled Water. All those bottles waste resources and add to landfills. Although recyclable, most water bottles are thrown in the garbage. Bottled water is no safer than tap water in the Toronto area. Sometimes it is tap water. Visit The Polaris Institute for more information about water issues.

7. Eat Less Meat. It takes about 2500 gallons of water and 16 pounds of grain to produce one pound of beef. Over 60% of U.S. grain is fed to livestock. Meat is an inefficient source of protein. “Factory farming” practices that crowd many animals into a small space promote the use of hormones and antibiotics that make their way into the food chain. A vegetarian or near-vegetarian diet is associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

8. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Take your own reusable shopping bags or bins with you when you go grocery shopping. The first defense against garbage and waste is not to accept unnecessary articles in the first place. Reduce your use of single-use items such as lighters, razors and other disposable items. Choose reusable items and look for recyclable materials. Recycle your newspapers and other items accepted by community recycling programs.

9. Buy Certified Forest Products. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international non-profit organization that supports the environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world’s forests. Forests are certified against a strict set of environmental and social standards. Producers and manufacturers along the supply chain are certified to ensure that the final product bearing the FSC logo actually originated from a certified forest. For more information, see www.fsccanada.org.

10. Get involved. Become informed about environmental issues. There are many great organizations, from large ones like the World Wildlife Fund to grassroots local causes in your own community. Donate funds to your favorites. Volunteer. Change won’t happen without you.

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