Tag Archives: Environment

To Ban or Not to Ban, that is the Question…

To Ban or Not to Ban, that is the Question….

Earth Day is Four Letter Word

Originally posted in  GirlGuidesCanBlog on April 20, 2012

It always seems so complicated –  you know, solving the big stuff like climate change, environmental issues, poverty, disease, war, the rapid decline of our resources. YIKES!

Usually, when there is a big problem, the following things happen; people talk, then debate, there are studies, governments get involved, money and resources get wasted, there is red tape, complacency, inaction, apathy, anger, alienation, all these things happen every day and always. And the solutions usually involve, some kind of political and/or financial agenda WOW that’s complicated!

This Sunday, April 22, people the world over will be hanging up posters, arming themselves with garbage bags and little trees, and taking positive action on Earth Day to make a difference. Children have been working on their projects for days or weeks for this important event.  It’s a beautiful thing but this tree hugger thinks it’s not the answer.

The answer is not in these actions. The solution to all the world’s woes is in our hearts, the answer is a four letter word.

LOVE

LOVE needs to come first and last and everywhere in the middle. Love fixes everything from scraped knees to broken hearts, to poverty and oppression. It is ONLY about love, about loving ourselves and every other living being on this planet in the realization that we are all one. Our actions in North America in the way we live, eat, shop and exist directly impacts others around the world.

People can debate all they want, but there is no question that the health and well being of the human race is directly interconnected to the health of this planet. While our planet would survive without us, the opposite could never occur.

So here is what I propose in honour of this Earth Day, and every day thereafter – whenever presented with some kind of decision, stop, breathe, connect to yourself (and the rest of the universe) and ask yourself what would love do? Whether you are grocery shopping or driving your car, or interacting with your family, colleagues or peers, ask that question, what would love do?

And now, right now, I ask you to take one moment to share with everyone reading this blog, one short sentence with an example of how putting love first can help to change the world.

I’ll start:

Example 1 – It’s morning household chaos, finishing homework, eating breakfast, packing lunches, preparing for after school programs, and it’s now 8:30am and the bell rings at 8:47 am, school is about a kilometre away. Daughter still has teeth and hair to brush but she’s almost ready to go, what would love do? I know: hey Ayla (that’s my daughter), “finish up teeth and hair and let’s walk this morning!” Hmm, no car, no emissions, appreciating the birds chirping, quality time with daughter, and hey healthy for people and planet, I am pretty sure that’s what love would do!

See simple, love is simple, love for our health and our well being almost always benefits our planet, but wait I have a second example that works the opposite way.

Example 2 – I’m at the store getting groceries and supplies for the week (this is where we can have the HUGEST impact on our health and environment). I need dishwashing soap for the counter and the dishwasher – do I grab the least expensive one on the shelf or the bottle with the fluorescent orange liquid that says made with natural fragrance? Nah! I stop and ask myself, what would love do? And you know what, love would read the labels to make sure that the products were 100% phosphate- and other-nasty-chemical-free and locally made (there are amazing brands made in Canada). Love wouldn’t mind paying a little more because keeping our local economy healthy and our water systems free of phosphates is healthy for us and our families and of course our environment.

Really this love thing is pretty amazing! Really amazing, it helps us now, and it helps us in the future, and it helps us the world over, OK, now it’s your turn: what do you do, or what can you do to change the world by choosing love? We’d LOVE to know!

Happy Earth Day!

The World is Thirsty Because We Are Hungry!

Girl Guides of Canada are taking action for a better world! So glad to have been their guest blogger on World Water Day! Girl Greatness starts here!

GirlGuidesCANBlog

“The World is Thirsty Because We Are Hungry!”

That’s a mouthful! Or maybe it isn’t. What does it mean? What does it have to do with today? Well, March 22 is World Water Day. Water is the most precious resource we have on Earth, it is essential to our survival, and we are essential to its well-being and its very existence.

I’ll save you hours of Google research and break down this year’s World Water Day campaign issues and goals into a few simple and bite-sized pieces. (Yes I am using food related puns here to keep you on your toes.) I’ll then empower you with knowledge and tips which you can easily feed into your life moving forward.  You can even help to change the world. You know like icing on a cake! How’s that for a four-course meal?

First take a moment to read the menu below that…

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Girl Guides and Breast Cancer (Cross Post)

Originally written for Girl Guides of Canada and published on January 25th, 2012

Girl Guides and Breast Cancer on National Wear It Pink Day

National Wear it pink day banner 2012National Wear it pink day banner 2012

For several years I walked in the Weekend to End Breast Cancer in Montreal. As a result, I was au courant with the research and of course the desperate need to find a cure. I saw stories of hope but also, on the flip side, I noticed that the incidence of breast cancer was on the rise.

I walked beside survivors, I held the hands of those undergoing treatment, and I also watched Evy, my dad’s partner, fight valiantly and lose her battle with the disease. The harsh reality is that 1 in 8 women will develop some form or breast cancer.

My daughter’s last Girl Guide Unit had 43 girls and four Guiders. According to statistics, six or more of them will get breast cancer. That is not okay with me – how about you? Are you a Guider, a Girl Guide or a parent? Are you okay with that number?

What can we do about it?

Well for starters today, as a sign of our awareness and our commitment we can Wear It Pink today, for starters, and only as a symbol, and then the actual work begins…..

Is there really a CURE for cancer? I personally don’t think so, and although much-needed research dollars make it to projects and programs developing better medications and supporting those undergoing treatment through pink ribbon campaigns, I don’t think the solution lies in buying more bread, batteries or gasoline with a pink ribbon on it. In fact, sad but true some products being sold with pretty pink ribbons on them are known to contain carcinogens.

NO. The real answer, the ONLY answer that empowers us is in prevention!

As Girl Guides “we take action for a better world!” PREVENTION, through education and action is our essential next step!

HELLO LADIES: Newsflash! Our breasts are next to our armpits, well for some of us maybe a little lower but that is not the point here.  This is not rocket science, nor am I a doctor, but why in the world should we, would we, put toxic, or known cancer causing chemicals next to our breasts?

You know in our arm pits?
Where we sweat (or rather, glow) to release toxins,
You know through our pores,
Those holes in our skin where stuff can go in and also come out,
Why would we put poison there?

But how do you know what’s safe?  That is a little tricky. Unfortunately, there are no standard regulations in place yet to protect us in this area. What we really need is legislation for safer cosmetics, better environmental regulations and we need to know the truth about what’s really inside our products.

There are amazing organizations advocating for our well-being. I am happy to share some of their great work with you here.

  • The Story of Cosmetics can save lives, watch this video as an investment in your health and share it with those you love. Guiders, depending on the age of your girls some info can be shared in your units, if not with your girls, their parents. This has a lot of great information.
  • Another phenomenal organization and one of the most successful in environmental advocacy in Canada is Environmental Defence. They work diligently to make a positive impact here in both environment issues and health issues in our country. Their new campaign, Just Beautiful, is all about how safe, or rather how unsafe, our cosmetics are. Their mission is “to challenge, and inspire change in government, business and people to ensure a greener, healthier and prosperous life for all.”  That sounds an awful lot like the Girl Guides’ mission.
  • A Quebec organization on a similar mission is Breast Cancer Action Montreal, and one of their projects to share important information is through Femme Toxic here is a link to the top 20 toxic ingredients we need to avoid. Breast Cancer Action Montreal can even do presentations and informative workshops on making healthier choices that can assist in cancer prevention.
  • Skin Deep through the Environmental Working Group does tons of research and provides you with data and safety information on hundreds of the most popular brands of skin care products. Look up your brand to get an idea of its safety.

National Wear It Pink Day is a day to raise your awareness, and START informing yourself on what is next. Cancer doesn’t look at the calendar to decide when is the best time to move in, EVERYDAY is a day for us to learn and act in our own best interests, commit yourself to learning something about cancer prevention today, and take action on prevention!

This post was written as the Guest blogger for Girl Guides of Canada

Other posts written for Girl Guides of Canada were: Green Camping and Green of Red, Orange, Yellow and Gold Leaves posts on GirlGuidesCANblog.

What is the big deal with Plastic Water Bottles?

So the other night I was at a meeting getting grilled. What in the world is the big deal with water bottles, I was asked?

Today I watched a woman empty the trash from her car into the trash can at the gas station. Among her disposables were 7, yes that’s right 7, plastic water bottles all with varying amounts of water still in them went INTO the trash can.

I am going to tell you what the big deal is and why I am saddened by what I saw:

1- There is no doubt that her health is or could be impacted by the water she drinks from these bottles. Endocrine disruption is a serious issue which can lead to infertility, and contribute to other illnesses that plague our society including learning disabilities, birth defects and cancers.

– Plastic bottles leach chemicals into the water. According to a study (CBC News), the longer water is stored in plastic bottles, the higher the concentration of a potentially harmful chemical.

2- If she has children, chances are they too are plastic bottle babies, and could suffer from fertility issues as a result of the endocrine disruption. It is difficult to find data on “infertility” but the trends are definitely in MORE people seeking help with fertility issues than ever before.

– Endocrine disruptors can leach out of plastics causing an increasing amount of infertility rates among other troubling gland and hormonal problems. (Natural Resources Defense Council)

3- The bottles that were trashed are one of the leading causes of our environment’s health issues. Those bottles don’t even have a chance to make a valuable contribution back to our society. And now the chemicals that leach into the water in the bottles are going to be leach into the ground or our oceans, impacting the health of wildlife too.

– It is interesting to note that National Geographic says for every six bottles we use; only one makes it to the recycling bin.

4- The bottles themselves were made because of our dependence on petroleum based fuels. Why in the world do we need to exploit a non-renewable natural resource like oil to put our tap water in so we can put it in our cars and bags?

– Approximately 1.5 million barrels of oil—enough to run 100,000 cars for a whole year—are used to make plastic water bottles, while transporting these bottles burns even more oil. (Tree Hugger.com)

5- Her pocketbook is being exploited too, seriously water is free and yet people are happy to pay more for tap water than they do to put gas in their cars.

– Tap water is often subject to more stringent regulation and testing than bottled water. It costs a fraction of the cost from the tap. It is cleaner, cheaper, and thus healthier. (Natural Resources Defense Council)

The solution to all this; to save you money, positively impact your health, and support the wellness of the environment is to take the plunge invest in a TOP quality bottle and help to encourage the cultural shift away from a use-and-toss mentality. Opt for a TOP quality stainless steel bottle such as a Klean Kanteen which is the safest alternative to plastic and should last you a lifetime! Receive a free neoprene bottle sleeve with a Klean Kanteen bottle purchase at eCause. We were thrilled to read a story that was recently released; Colleges moving away from Plastic Water Bottles. Also do enjoy this great video on the Water Bottle industry too! this was done by the Story of Stuff people with Annie Leonard.

Be a JUICE Box Hero

Do you know how much your child weighs? If he or she is about 30 kilograms, chances are that’s how much waste he or she is generating at lunch time in school throughout the year. In other words, a school of about 300 students generates almost 9,000 kilograms of lunch garbage!  And are they packing? Juice boxes I mean? Juice boxes are typically made up of six layers of paper, polyethylene, and aluminum foil, making most of them non-recyclable and allowing them to hang out in our landfills for approximately 300 years before beginning to decompose. You know what else they’re doing? They are costing you a small fortune every year! In fact, in an average school year  of 180 days, at an average cost of 0.50 each, (much more for the “real juice” and consuming about two per day), you are spending almost $200 over the school year.  In reality, by making a one-time purchase of a reusable stainless steel bottle that you can fill up with water, milk or juice, you have healthier options to give your kids for a lot less money. It’s a no-brainer! Kick the juice box habit and help the environment as well as your wallet!

Make your child a super-hero; enjoy this great little video about the environmental impact of juice boxes on the planet.  Whether you choose to watch this with family and friends, or share and show this video to your classroom we hope that it will help encourage you to take the initiative to pack greener lunches this school year!

Black and White on Green Please!

Originally posted on eCause Canada Site May 3, 2011

There is a huge responsibility that lies in the hands of our environmental agencies. They need to tell us the black and white truth about what is GREEN!

We can’t rely on the corporations to disclose everything in their closets. Our government hasn’t put legislation in place to protect us. The only way to find out the truth is to ask the question, and do the research. We rely on our environmental organizations for their expertise and knowledge. We need to know what lurks behind the labels of the products on our shelves.

This blog is in response to a discussion I was having with The David Suzuki Foundations’ Queen of Green. She was asked outright are Mr. Clean products safe? The response included Proctor and Gamble’s response which says:
-Formaldehyde is not and has never been an ingredient.
– Ingredients have been safely and commonly used for many years.
– Has not been and is not being banned from any stores.

Lindsay Coulter aka Queen of Green suggested to her readers that if they value transparency then buy products that list ingredients or make your own products. I think this is a GREAT suggestion, but I feel the original question was never really answered;

Are Mr. Clean products safe? The truth is NO and the should have been the answer to the question. Mr. Clean products are not safe for you or the environment! It says right on the label, and if you look up the WHIMIS sheets of the product it is recommended to NOT pour into our water systems.

We are already drowning in a sea of Greenwashing, please let’s make it clear and simple for those wanting to make a difference!

Making Fruits and Veggies Even Better For You

 

* This post originally appeared on the eCause Canada website in June 2011    

We’ve all heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, or does it? If the apple is laden with chemicals, pesticides, and wax, how good for us can it really be? Well you are not alone in wondering what to do with when produce is and permeated with pesticides. Eliminate fruits and vegetables from our diet? Not a good idea! Some are just too yummy to turn our back on, and don’t forget an essential part of a healthy diet! Buying organic produce is always a great option as it promotes a less toxic environment for all living things. Cost and availability of local organic goods can sometimes prevent us from doing this. What’s a person to do? Wash your produce thoroughly is number one solution! Washing with water alone is often not enough since most pesticides are water-resistant. Suggestion – use a fruit and veggie-safe detergent or to make your own, which is even better! Here is a quick, simple and inexpensive recipe which will help remove bacteria and break down the pesticide and wax residue: Fill up a spray bottle with three quarters water and one quarter white vinegar. Spray, soak, rinse and enjoy; healthier and cleaner fruits and veggies of the season.