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The CO2ube – filter for your tailpipe

24 Jul

As July’s theme is transportation at No Waste Wednesdays we wanted to share with you a neat idea we heard about recently from Ecoviate – The CO2ube…

“CO2ube filters out carbon dioxide from your tailpipe” by

Carbon dioxide emissions have been linked to all sorts of environmental ills. Improvements in car design are helping the issue, but the CO2ube Kickstarter project wants to take carbon dioxide filtration to any car on the road.co2ube_610x458
The CO2ube attaches onto the end of your tailpipe using hose clamps. A combination of algae and sodium hydroxide filters out the carbon dioxide as it exits from car.
A single CO2ube is going for a pledge price of $45. The company behind the product, Ecoviate, has created working prototypes and is looking to produce the device in quantity. 
Read more here


Check them out on Kickstarter if you’d like to contribute to their cause or track more news about Ecoviate on their blog.  
Leave us a comment!  Any thoughts on the CO2ube?  Do you believe more resources should go towards technologies like the CO2ube to decrease GHG emissions or towards programming/efforts to decrease dependence on technologies that emit GHGs?


The Tiffin Project

15 May

Happy Wednesday!  We came across an idea based out of Vancouver this week called the Tiffin Project and thought it deserved some attention.  What makes this project so noteworthy is its emphasis on reducing food packaging waste paired with its push to get locally owned restaurants to buy local food!

The project is gaining momentum and has had interest  outside of Vancouver from cities like Saskatoon, Calgary, Montreal and Bristol!  Read more about this project here.  If you like this idea be sure to mention it to your favourite locally owned restaurants and follow Hunter Moyes @TiffinProject on twitter.  OR perhaps this type of idea deserves a Carrot Mob campaign…

Disposable Fashion? Try Reusable Fashion

12 Feb

When I think of one thing that I unnecessarily consume of in excess amounts of it is clothing. As a girl I take pride in how I look and find joy in dressing well and challenging my creativity through my closet. I suppose this isn’t necessarily wrong, but since coming to college I have tried to explore different ways to keep my closet fresh without spending extra money or feeding consumer culture. The reality is that most people (especially women) get sick of their clothes before they grow out of them, or have worn them out. I mean, I have clothes in my closet still that I bought in grade 9 (so 7 years ago) that still fit me, but I always think I will want to wear again some day so I keep them.

I am going to suggest some ways to rotate your closet without spending lots of extra money Imageand consuming more! Also, there are other benefits with these options such as having fun, building community and blessing others.

One tradition we have adopted at the college I attend is doing a “Dorm Sale” every winter. This has been such a neat way to bring girls in our dorm together and to raise money for local organizations. The male dorm also participates, and we have students go through their closets and bring anything they no longer need or want to a designated area in our dorm. For about a month we have this set up and for $2 we can buy anything from the sale. It has been really freeing for me to see clothes I have neglected in my closet for a long time be worn proudly by other girls who make my “old” into something “new”. As we have done this event it has really challenged us to really take a look at the clothes we own and reevaluate if it is necessary to have as much as we do. At the end of the month the clothing that is not sold in dorm is donated to a local ministry in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan called the Bridge on 20th.

The Clothing Exchange in Australia is a clothing swap service that holds events where people Imagecome with up to 6 garments of clothing and leave with up to 6 garments of clothing in exchange. People buy tickets to these events and can attend to down size their closet and/or find some new items for free while getting rid or something old! Just like our dorm sale events, the left over clothing is donated to the Red Cross or another local charity.

The Clothing Exchange is building a sustainable fashion community, bringing like-minded people together and working positively towards the future of a greener world. The swaps are run by devoted little teams across Australia who host events with the intention to swap towards a greener future through the fun of swapping.

Another alternative to clothing exchange is bringing your clothes to your local Plato’s Closet. Here they will go through your clothing and take what they would like to sell and give you either money or store credit for what you have brought in. I have become somewhat ritualistic with bringing clothing, purses, jewelry and other accessories to Plato’s Closet on a regular basis that have been sitting around my house for too many years.

I cannot think of a better way to get rid of my clothes I do not appreciate as much anymore. This way someone else can appreciate what I don’t. Do you participate in any clothing swaps? Tell us what your look like and what your ideas for clothing exchanges are!

Plan a clothing exchange for your next get together with your friends. It’s like going shopping for free- you really can’t lose! (and you’re putting your foot down in the midst of our consumer culture) Go to it!

Event/Team Apparel

17 Oct

Have you ever attended an event, perhaps an exhibition or conference where you wound up with dozens of disposable promotional items?  Or been a part of a team who liked you to sport matching branded toques, pants, lanyards, and over-sized t-shirts?

It’s understandable that teams and companies want to give you items with their branding on it but they tend to be cheaply made goods with temporary use in mind.  Although this man appears quite happy in his branded vest, chances are it will end up at the bottom of a drawer or in a give away pile… And I’m sure this guy at the table is excited to get something for free but ultimately the free pen, sticker, pamphlet, or hand sanitizer will end up in the garbage as these items are typically made to carry the brand and not for their function.

So how can a company or team who is concerned with environmentally responsible apparel still encourage its members to carry its brand?  Here’s a simple list to start with:

  1. Use items that are already in use – although businesses should aim to go paperless, some retailers print messages on the back of their receipts, business cards, or magnets.
  2. Offer items that are recyclable instead of single-use materials – many companies nowadays offer more environmentally friendly alternatives (ex: paper pens instead of plastic).
  3. Gifts – why not give away a plant or a package of seeds as a participation gift instead of the usual ball cap.
  4. Web space – invite interested customers/clients to download a free banner to post on their websites, blog or social media profiles.
  5. Prizes – think gift basket but without the plastic packaging and including local foods or preserves.
  6. Function – notebooks, flash drives, or items that people can use in various settings.

There are also many event planning and creative branding companies that offer consultation services to help planners minimize their negative environmental impacts.  Check out ecoincentives!

Slow Cities

25 Jul

There are 120 towns within 16 countries in the world that have met the criteria to be named “Slow Cities” or “Cittaslow.” This idea of slow cities emerged out of the Slow Food movement in 1999 that began as an attempt to preserve Italian culture. Towns and cities must meet specific criteria to fit under the Cittaslow certification…

pedestrian walkways, no big box or chain stores, a population of less than 50 thousand.

Recently Cowichan Bay in British Columbia became the first North American town to be recognized as fitting this Slow City cultural identity and Naramata, British Columbia is soon to become Canada’s second Cittaslow. As well, Sonoma, California at the end of November will become the first Cittaslow in the United States. This idea of slowing down, and striving for a Slow City identity is spreading throughout North America.

Before Cowichan Bay in British Columbia was recognized, many thought it would be impossible for a North American town or city to be a Slow City. We are so accustomed to our cities and towns that are built upon foundations of business. Our cities are literally developed around this fast-paced lifestyle whether that be our streets, or the many fast food restaurants in our culture. Whether or not our Canadian cities have the ability to reach legitimate certification (also considering population must be under 50,000), we can still strive for slower paced lifestyles.

“My hope is that Cowichan Bay will emerge as a model. Not every location will choose to be a Slow City, but at least some of the philosophy could be adopted by more and more North American places. Cities, towns and neighbourhoods could benefit by understanding the positive effects of living more slowly.”

Since our North American cities were built around automobiles, we must approach this philosophy from a neighbourhood level in larger cities.

Hydra, one of the Greek Islands was built around a slow city mentality right from the start. It cannot even accommodate vehicles, so all forms of transportation aside from walking or donkey is prohibited. While prohibiting automobiles at all times would be much to challenging for our society, it is possible that our cities could adapt to vehicle prohibition in busy pedestrian areas on weekends.

So where do we start as individuals in communities built around fast-paced vehicle transportation? How do we become Slow City minded people?

Choose the slower mode of transportation for a change. Bike, or walk. Last summer I had the opportunity to spend some time in Amsterdam. I rented a bicycle to get around and was able to see so much more, and experienced a slower mindset as much of the city does choose bicycles as there means of transportation.

Take the train. In Canada while travelling from province to province we would normally drive a vehicle or take a plane. We often do not even think of the train as an option. I took the train from Saskatoon to Winnipeg this past March and although it took a bit longer than by car, I saw the prairies from an entirely new lens.

Skip the fast food. Make the time to cook at home or choose a local restaurant to sit down at for a change. Cowichan Bay, British Columbia has no fast food restaurants and takes pride in their local restaurants that line its streets.

What are you, your towns, or your cities doing to adopt a Slow City lifestyle? Let us know!

Car Shares

18 Jul

Today’s post comes from Grant who moved from Saskatoon to Vancouver a couple of years ago – thank you Grant!!

Before moving to Vancouver, Liz and I sold our car.  We haven’t replaced it since, and we are really enjoying a car-ownership-free lifestyle.  For the first year or so we got around exclusively by walking, biking, or public transit.  We’re only minutes from various bus stops, including the b-line (express bus) to UBC.

Over time, we found several activities to be a bit more annoying sans car.  The first challenge is shopping and grocery trips.  When we first moved, we needed to get a few ‘new apartment staples’ from Ikea (good ol’ Billy bookcases), but we didn’t want to spring for the delivery fee. So we lugged a number of large boxes and awkward shaped lamps with us on the bus and Skytrain. Wouldn’t want to do that regularly!  The same goes for grocery shopping.  Since we’re in the habit of shopping for a couple of weeks’ worth of groceries at a time, bringing home groceries via public transit can be frustrating.

Then we started seeing little blue and white Smart Fortwo’s around town marked with the logo “car2go”, and got curious about the service.

I had heard about Zipcar, and Modo car-shares before, and even looked into to getting a membership at one point, but I was turned off by what I saw as inconvenient features of their service.  I explored car2go and was pleasantly surprised by a few key differences between car2go and other car-shares:

  • Annual fee is only $2 and can be donated to a local charity
  • Pick up and end rentals in any residential parking spaces in central Vancouver
  • Handy smartphone app can be used to locate and book cars.
  • You can rent the car as long as you like ($0.35/minute, $12.99/hour, $65.99/day) without late-penalties.
  • Rate includes fuel, mileage, insurance, maintenance, cleaning, GPS navigation, 24/7 customer support services, and roadside assistance
  • One-way trips! The free floating concept means there is no return time or return location.
  • Parking.  Not only do car2go’s have permits for all areas, they also have reserved spots in high-traffic areas and downtown parkades.  Super easy when everyone is heading downtown for a concert or the game and the busses can’t keep up.

So it’s quite clear why we’re so fond of car2go. Car-sharing reduces urban congestion and smart cars are highly fuel efficient.
A couple months ago I had a true car-share moment.  I reserved a car on my phone and was walking toward the car.  As I approached the vehicle, a businessman sped up his pace and headed for the same car. He was bummed that I beat him there, but I kindly told him I’d reserved it.  We got talking, and turned out he was trying to get to a place that was on my way, so I told him he could hop in and ride me with me.  He gave me a toonie for my trouble, and we had a nice chat during our ride together.  It was definitely a sharp contrast to the bus; where most riders (myself include) prefer to wear headphones and to stare either at the floor, or a gadget.

I love what car-sharing stands for, but I still needs to be conscious about how I use it.  Just because I don’t own the car, doesn’t mean every trip is eco-friendly.

I have once again become accustom to using a car for things for which I don’t actually need a car.  For example, on a rainy day with hoards of UBC-ers queued for the express bus, I used to have no option but to wait.  Now I’m tempted by seeing this right next to the bus loop:

I think if there is one takeaway point, it’s this.  Since using a car-share, I think of driving more like a luxury than I did when I had a car of my own. This is probably because I’ve changed the way I pay for using a car.  I used to say to myself “I’ve already paid my insurance, and have a tank of gas in the car––may as well drive it”, but the big difference is that I now consider driving like I do any other out-of-pocket expense… “should I buy this, do I need it?”  As always, I’m pretty bad at answering that question, but hey, it’s a start.

Any other NWW-ers use car shares?  Leave us a comment about them and tell us what you like or don’t like..

ecoTECHNOLOGY for Vehicles: What Canada’s Doing

11 Jul

I’m sure we’ve all heard some buzz around Hybrid, Plug-In Hybrid Electric and Battery Electric Vehicles. What I was unaware of though was Transport Canada’s efforts to make more environmentally friendly vehicles and in an accessible way to Canadians. Along with the U.S our government has,

“committed to developing increasingly stringent greenhouse gas emissions regulations for passenger cars and trucks”

Over the next few years, Transport Canada is going to be working to further develop vehicle efficiency and how beneficial it can be to the entire country through electric vehicles.

Check out Transport Canada’s eTV Vehicle Program.
Transport Canada’s ecoTECHNOLOGY for Vehicles Program (eTV) conducts in-depth safety, environmental and performance testing on a range of new and emerging advanced vehicle technologies for passenger cars and heavy-duty trucks.

eTV puts out a newsletter called Green Wheels to keep Canadians up to date with the partnerships being shaped to develop increasingly environmentally friendly vehicle technologies for Canada.

eTV has also compiled a series of short videos  clean vehicle technology programming.

Let’s admit, riding our bicycles in some Canadian winter conditions is an incredibly difficult lifestyle to adapt to. Therefore our dependency on vehicle transportation is almost impossible to avoid. Driving our cars and trucks all winter though does not have to be detrimental to the environment, not forever anyways.

Most cars today use gasoline or diesel and produce about 12 per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions each year. These emissions also produce pollutants that can harm your health and the environment. So, we need to look for ways to make cars use less fuel and produce less pollution. Electric cars—all vehicles, including cars, trucks, motorcycles and scooter—are a step in the right direction. Unlike gasoline or diesel cars, they produce no emissions or pollutants when operating on electricity. And if people use electricity from clean sources like hydro or wind turbines to charge their car’s batteries, these cars can be even cleaner! On average electricity in Canada produces about 200 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour. This means that an electric car produces about 60 to 80 per cent less CO2 than one that runs on gasoline or diesel.

While Hybrid cars have been around since the 1990’s cost has often been a barrier in clean vehicles being accessible to Canadian’s. As Canada comes out with many more Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles and Battery Electric Vehicles in the next few years we can hope that environmentally friendly vehicle options will be affordable options to buy. Without a doubt with gas costs taken into account PEV’s and BEV’s will save money in the long run as fuel costs will be significantly less or non existent. Learn more about why electric vehicles are a clean direction for transportation to take.



Nature and Me

27 Jun

Noise- noise, busy-ness, skyscrapers, talking that never ends. I could go on an on about all of the things that consume us, consume our society on a daily basis and prevent us from knowing nature, from seeing nature, and experiencing nature. Knowing nature in its purest forms, noises and all. We need the restorative benefits of nature. It is very difficult to do, but to find a time to spend just you and nature in all its simplicity is restoring in all sorts. Image

Last year for an assignment for one of my second year college classes our professor asked us to go spend one hour in nature alone. Skeptical of this assignment, I ventured out into the outskirts of little old Hepburn, Saskatchewan. I couldn’t fathom how I would first of all spend an entire hour in silence, alone outside. What would I do? Would the silence make me feel claustrophobic? and second of all where could I possibly find a place where I wouldn’t be seen by anyone else for an entire hour, no humans or no cars. I drove my car down many gravel roads until I found a clearing a while outside of Hepburn. I sat on the hood of my car and I just sat and listened to what at first sounded like nothing at all- silence as I would have called it. But the longer I sat the more I realized I wasn’t encompassed by silence, but instead a whole new world of noises we in the city, in our noisy lives fail to hear. I heard bugs, grass swaying in the wind, trees rustling, and a clear mind. How refreshing it is when your mind isn’t drown out by the noises of everything that consumes our days.

ImageImageI tell you this story because I think it is something we all need to do- and not just once but often. I left that hour feeling refreshed, reenergized, more emotionally grounded, and more centred as I continued on with all that I had to do that day and week.

Some of my own ways for getting the most out of solo time in nature include…
1. Leave all technology at home or shut off in your vehicle if you drive somewhere.
2. Bring a journal, a canvas, markers, pencils, paints

There are many psychological benefits to spending alone time in nature we never think of.

This is my challenge to you this week. Drive, walk, bike to somewhere remote. Whether that be outside of the city or town you live in or just a quiet place down by the river or park. Spend an hour without technology, without communication with anyone else. Just sit, and as you do I promise you’ll discover an entirely new world of noise that distresses, relaxes and restores you.

Pea Pods vs. Plastic Packaging

23 May

In an ideal world we would have no packaging on food. We would eat right off the tree all year around and our earth would smile back at our perfectly environmental lifestyles. The reality is that we cannot completely escape food packaging. Although, one important thing to note when trying to cut back on food packaging is the benefits food packaging can have on our solid waste footprints. Often we try to live as green as possible with very good intentions. Although despite our good intentions sometimes there are other means of waste reduction when it comes to food packaging rather than just cutting out the packaging itself.

In underdeveloped countries often food packaging is incredibly limited or nonexistent altogether. It is also in these countries that food losses of 30-50 percent often occur. In the United States, where food packaging fills the grocery store shelves food losses are less than 3 percent.

Food packaging can decrease solid waste generation. Packaging protects our food from bacteria, oxygen, light and disease that can come form insects and other small creatures getting into food before it ends up on your dinner table.

Food packaging can reduce waste. For example, a pod of fresh peas is 62 percent inedible. In order to get a pound of fresh peas, about 2.6 pounds of peas and pods would have to be purchased, resulting in 1.6 pounds of discarded pods. However, buying 1 pound of frozen peas leaves the customer with only a 1-ounce plastic pouch to dispose of. The pods of the frozen peas remain at the food processor where they are turned into recyclable by-products such as animal feed. In New York City alone, consuming packaged vegetables annually eliminates the need to dispose of over 100,000 tons of fresh produce waste.

The U.s Chamber of Commerce developed an estimate:

On average, every pound of paper packaging eliminates 1.4 pounds of food waste. Plastic is even more efficient. One pound of plastic packaging reduces food wastes by 1.7 pounds.

Although food packaging can reduce solid waste that does not mean we are off the hook when it comes to reducing, reusing and recycling. Aluminum cans can be recycled an unlimited amount of times without their physical properties degrading. More than 60 percent of aluminum cans are recyclable so put in the extra effort to do so!

We can be encouraged that a lot of food manufacturers are trying to eliminate the size and weight of packaging and to use recyclable materials for packaging.

Aluminum cans are about 25 percent lighter than when first introduced.

Here are some simple ways you can reduce your food waste as well as reduce food packaging:

1. Buy fresh fruits and vegetables instead of that in cans, frozen boxes and bags.

2. Buy in bulk, using your own containers from home

3. Buy big boxes of cereal instead of individually packaged cereals.

4. Refrain from buying individual “snack-sized” boxes

5. Buy a large tub of yogurt instead of individual servings

6. Make your own popsicles using reusable molds.

Do you have any of your own tips to reduce food packaging? Share them with us!

Man Vs. Debt

11 Jan

Our theme this month is on collaboration – innovative ideas of people coming together to make the earth a better place, waste less or somehow challenge the overuse of resources.

Today we are exploring the radical life decision of Adam Baker, and the community surrounding him, who decided to sell everything he owned to pay off his family’s consumer debt and live a life where he can make decisions based on what he cares about.

We hear a lot of people say that they can’t afford to care for the environment, buy organic, shop fair-trade or spare time to compost/garden or ride their bikes.  However, it is sometimes difficult to look at our own lives, habits and priorities with an objective perspective to evaluate where we could actually make small, positive changes.  The temptation seems to be to buy cheaply made, one-time use items which are not necessarily in line with our ethics but are super convenient and affordable.

Yet more stuff in your life will not grant you happiness and ultimately often ends up overcrowding the local landfill.  Check out Adam’s Ted Talk on “Doing What You Love”…

Of course not everyone can take such drastic measures to change their lifestyle but each one of us is able to make a changes happen when we want to.  So gather a few friends, decide what you each could change in your lives to reduce your waste, increase your health or somehow make the earth a better place… and take action as a group!  Support and accountability can take us a long way.

Read more about Adam “man vs. debt” here.