Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Week 2: Start Tracking Your Carbon

What is a carbon footprint anyway? It’s how much carbon is released into the atmosphere by producing and delivering the things each of us consumes and uses. Everyone’s carbon footprint is different, and each of us impacts our own footprint by what we choose to consume and purchase. This short video explains it:

Challenge 2:

Download the North -Your Climate Journey app (available for both android and apple) and get familiar with it so you can track your carbon starting on May 1st. This app is being improved all the time, so as our year progresses, you’ll have more options. Track your carbon footprint for a week (Good), a month (Better), a year (Best).

It’s simple to use, but here are some tips to help you begin.


  • Enter your household electricity by month. Use the total kWh from the most current month’s bill. Since it’s likely your April bill will not have arrived by May 1st, use your March bill. You can go back and update the entry when the next actual bill arrives.
  • If natural gas cannot be entered as an item, you can enter it as heat  as a gas boiler. Just like your electricity bill, enter the most recent month’s bill and update it when the new bill arrives.
  • Enter things you do regularly as recurring events to save time. For example, your daily commute by car can be entered to recur 5 days a week. Meals can also be put in as recurring events.
  • Enter meals by meal type rather than ingredient.
  • Purchases may not show up when you search for an item, but you can enter them under spending in the closest category. Make sure to change the currency (bottom right) before entering the amount you spent.

The app shows you in real time how each choice increases your carbon footprint, by illustrating carbon as “bubbles” that accumulate. With every entry, you’ll get a clearer picture on what your footprint looks like. Bigger carbon emitters are depicted as bigger bubbles. Small ones as smaller bubbles. So, you can really “see” what impact your choices are having. The more you use it, the more intuitive it becomes.

The results can be quite eye-opening, so be curious, and see where the North - your climate journey app takes you! Happy tracking!

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Week 1: Getting to Know Yourself

Today is the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. This year's theme is Climate Action.

For the first challenge, you’ll see how much you know about climate change, and some of the daily choices you make.

The four biggest contributors to greenhouse gases (GHGs) are travel, home, food, and consumption. We’ll focus on these areas over the next year. The 2 Degrees Institute developed these symbols, and we’ll use them too, so you can see right away what your weekly challenge addresses.

Challenge 1:

a)    Try some of these quizzes, and note your results. They’ll help you discover what you already know, and how your current decisions impact emissions. Then have a look around the Earthday site.

b)    Next, read the following articles. Begin thinking about a ten year plan. What could your goals be as individuals (good) as a family (better) as a community/office/school (best)?

This article was originally published in 2008 reprinted in 2018. It addresses 2 of the 4 main GHG contributors. It does not include food or consumption, but the idea of change over time is still relevant:

We’re currently dealing with an unprecedented crisis with the pandemic. The correlations between climate action and COVID-19 are many. Here’s a way to address coronavirus as well as climate change with kids. It’s a great analogy, even if you don’t have kids:

And finally, here’s how the coronavirus is having a positive, albeit temporary impact on pollution, and is there something we can learn from self-isolation that we can carry forward into our daily lives:

Good luck! Keep us updated on your progress over the year. See you next Wednesday! Happy Earth Day.

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

Transformation Begins Now

Any delusion that human beings are in charge of this planet has been shattered by COVID-19. Mother Nature is not amused; and she is demonstrating precisely who is in control. With one highly contagious novel virus, our way of life, and the lives of billions of people have ground to a screeching halt within a matter of weeks. The Pandemic has impacted every one of us. It is devastating, frightening, and overwhelming.

We find ourselves in an unprecedented situation, where suddenly humanity has a common goal: to ensure survival, “flatten the curve” and protect the most vulnerable among us. We have abruptly recognized what is really important. Where previously we could not visualize what serious, pinpointed action to avoid catastrophe looks like, we now are clear on how efficiently we can respond to a crisis. We are coming together; caring for each other. This is the unexpected opportunity that COVID-19 has provided.

We have been shaken back to reality in many ways. It’s not the stock market, or the wealthy one per cent who keep our society functioning: it’s everyday people. Frontline health care workers. Farmers. Store clerks. Janitors and cleaners. PSWs. Truckers. Factory workers. Teachers and support staff. Moms and dads. We are quickly recognizing their importance, which often goes unrecognized and underappreciated. Our community is pulling together to ensure each of us is safe, healthy and supported. Everyone is doing what they can; big or small. This is where humanity shines.

The earth is getting a welcome reprieve from pollutants due to a massive reduction in travel and industrial production worldwide. In China, which produces 30% of the world’s emissions, GHGs are down by 25%. In Italy, Spain and even Toronto, they’re down 50%. Pictures flood the internet of wildlife reclaiming public spaces, demonstrating how resilient nature is. However, without a shift in how we think and do things, it will be short-lived.

On Earth Day, April 22nd, we’ll launch the 52 Weeks of Climate Action Challenge. You’ll get a weekly tip on how to implement simple changes to help you live more sustainably. We’ll also post a weekly blog with background and more details on how to tackle each challenge, here on this site.

Like any good mother, Nature has given us a time-out to sit on the step, and think about what we’ve done. And I hope we take it. We have the opportunity now, as billions of dollars in emergency funding are released, to consider where we want to invest, and what is in our best interests going forward. What could we shift? What could we leave behind? Instead of following rote patterns of behaviour which no longer serve us, maybe we could use this slowing down as a way to transform things for the better. That starts with us: telling government what we want, and taking this gift of time to connect with each other, connect with the earth, and make new choices with a new clarity of perspective. Nature is doing a reset. We should follow her lead.

Tuesday, 7 April 2020

Tread More Softly with Your Carbon Footprint

by Sherri Jackson

On April 22, Earth Day turns 50. It’s disturbing that when it comes to our environment, we are in worse shape than we were in 1970. Instead of taking decisive action to reduce our carbon emissions, we ramped up, and now are facing unprecedented situations that affect our everyday lives. Floods, fires and now pandemics are no longer the stuff of movies. They are realities that are shaking us awake, and calling on us to respond. 
Earth Day’s theme this year is Climate Action. Predictions are that 50% of climate action must happen from the top down - that’s government, legislators and corporations. But, the other 50% can happen from the bottom up - grassroots movements, and people working together. That’s where we all come in.
“52 Weeks” is an initiative my friend Laurel Hood and I conceived one afternoon. We talk a lot about what we've read, interesting things going on around the planet, and most often, what we can do to make a difference. We came up with an idea to inspire people into taking action, and to grow a movement that gets people feeling hopeful, empowered and positive about how they can be the change. We’ve all had an overwhelming amount of bad news lately. And that leaves many of us anxious, confused and pessimistic about the future. We wanted to turn that around. To give people practical ideas to reduce their own carbon footprints, in a positive and supportive way, and hopefully have fun doing it.
Carbon is tricky to imagine, because you can’t see it. It’s hard to see your progress in the mirror, or in your recycling box. But, there are ways to calculate your own footprint. We’ll help you do that, so you know where you’re starting from. And we’ll give you tools to track it as the weeks go on, so you can see the impact your actions are having.
It’s pretty simple. We came up with 52 concrete ways to reduce your carbon footprint. You subscribe to the challenge here. Starting the week of April 19th, you’ll be emailed a tip that gives you a challenge, activity, or something to think about for that week. Check here weekly for a blog post that gives you more information on each week's challenge, and what else you can do to get involved.
Many of the challenges are rated “good”, “better”, “best” so you can choose the option that fits your lifestyle. We’re hoping to build awareness and give people viable options for changing habits and behaviours, but we don’t want it to be intimidating or complicated. This is supposed to be inspiring, not daunting. 
So many people want to do something, but they just don’t know where to start. We’re providing tools and a process to get you in motion, and hopefully momentum will build from there. So, sign up today. Better yet, sign up as a family, or get a group together at work. We’d love to see groups challenging each other to become the ultimate climate champion in our region. And, send us your progress. We’d love to hear how the challenge is working for you.
There are things we can all do that have little effect on our quality of life, but big impact on emissions. Starting right now, we can all take steps toward reducing our own carbon footprints, and set ourselves on a path toward healing our planet.
Yours in Sustainability,
Sherri & Laurel

Week 32: Flexitarians Unite!

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