Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Week 10: Turn Garbage Into Gold

Last week, hopefully you discovered something new about what your municipality offers for composting. A helpful subscriber sent us these handy apps for the Town of Blue Mountains waste management.
Simcoe County also has a Waste Management app you can download

This week, we’re going to focus on composting, to keep green material out of our landfills. If you have the space available in your yard, the best option is to make your own compost pile. It’s simple, and if you do it right, it isn’t smelly. All of your kitchen scraps, as well as your yard waste can go into your compost pile, and like magic, in a few weeks it turns into rich soil that your gardens will love. There are tons of guides available online to help you get started. 

You can also consider a vermiposter, which can go in your yard, or even in your kitchen. Again if you follow the instructions, it will not be smelly, and your garden will get the benefit of all those worms eating your kitchen scraps.

You can avoid a lot of your organic material going to a municipal facility, and that affects carbon in a few ways. Less hauling means less trucks, and less energy used to process the material. 

Still, there are a lot of things you simply can’t compost in your backyard, like meat and dairy products. You’ll still have to toss those in your municipal green bin.

Challenge 10: Beef up Your Composting Efforts.

  • If you do not compost now, start this week by getting a compost pail.
  • If you compost already, see if there is something you could be putting in (pet waste) that you do not compost right now.
  • If you have a large yard, create a compost pile or vermiculture to deal with food and yard waste.

Good luck, and let us know how you’re doing. Keeping things out of landfill and letting nature work for us does the planet good. See you next Wednesday!

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Week 8: Express Yourself

Now that you know where your levels of government stand, it’s time to take action. This week, we are going to contact our representatives and express what we want to see from them. I know it can be intimidating to directly address officials. But, if they don’t know what we want, how can we expect them to deliver?

Direct contact by individuals has been shown to have the greatest impact on government decision making. Our politicians are making progress but it is our individual support that helps them to make the big policy changes needed to scale up climate action.

If we want things to change, we have to consistently and repeatedly ask for what we want. Government is made up of human beings. When government is making big decisions, like it is right now regarding stimulus and economic recovery, we must make sure our voices are front and foremost. So, this week, get out your pen, and your phone, and let your expectations be known. 

Challenge 8: Communicate with one level of government with your hope for climate action.

Email (good), mail (better), and offices are now open, so you can set a meeting in person, or schedule a video conference (best).

For Collingwood residents, there is a current opportunity to give feedback at Engage Collingwood. There is a survey for public input into the official plan (opened in late May for several weeks).

Your Communication does not need to be confrontational or angry. It doesn’t have to be full of details and links, or scientific data. It can be as simple as “I am wondering if we will be getting electric buses. OR “ I would ride my bike downtown if there was a bike lane and a safe place to park it”. It’s your opinion. Your wishes. Your future. So express yourself.

I can speak from experience that responding via automated letter has much less impact than a letter outlining your own personal feelings and values. Automated letters send hundreds or thousands of the same letter to your representative. It provides a measurable scale, but personal letters about your own thoughts speak volumes. An in-person conversation has an even deeper impact.

Some tips:

  • You don’t need a stamp on your letter to an MP or the Prime Minister.
  • You don’t need a stamp on your letter to an MPP or the Premier.
  • Include your name, address and postal code so you can receive a response from the right person.

Here’s a great example of a positive contact (and perfect timing). 

The following email was sent in response to a news article:

I was dismayed to read that Alberta is using COVID-19 as an excuse for gutting environmental regulations around the oil and gas industry.  In particular the article mentions the elimination of much of the animal and bird monitoring and they are eliminating testing for methane leaks.

Two thoughts occurred to me.

Canada is a signatory to the International Migratory Bird Treaty. Can it be used in some way to encourage Alberta to continue wildlife monitoring around oil and gas operations.
Our government just gave Alberta a lot of money to reduce their Methane emissions.  If they are eliminating methane leak testing, surely they do not need the large sums of money earmarked for methane leak removal.  As a taxpayer I resent having to help pay to clean up others’ messes.

<Constituent Name>
<Constituent City>

PS: You’re doing a great job!

It’s a great letter because it’s short, to the point, and addresses a specific issue. It resulted in a question being posed by Paul Manly (GPC) in the House of Commons during Question Period on May 13th.

If you do want to write a longer letter here are some resources from organizations and individuals:

A Made in Canada Green Recovery, by Nick Clayton, Town of the Blue Mountains.
A Call to Action, by Sherri Jackson, Creemore ON.
Write2Know Campaign An older link, but provides sample letters, and form letters.

Here are links to contact information for all 3 levels of local government:

Clearview Council (scroll down to list of members)

Send us a copy of your letter, or let us know how your meeting went. We’ll post it on our blog site. If you don’t get a response, don’t be discouraged. It often takes weeks to hear back, but you should receive something. Remember that your government is working for you, so you should be certain they’re moving in the right direction. 

Yours in sustainability,
Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Week 7: Where Does Your Government Stand?

Over the past weeks, we’ve looked at our carbon footprint. We’ve gotten familiar with what climate change looks like, and hopefully we each have a clearer picture of how urgent the situation is, and where change is needed - both in our own lives, and in the greater community.

This week, we’re finding out what each level of government is doing (or not doing), and looking at strategies each level of government could be implementing to become part of the solution.

The reality is that nothing can substantially change if our governments are not on board, and actively working towards transforming our communities and our economies through serious and committed focus on sustainability. Many communities have declared “Climate Emergencies”. But what does that really mean, if it isn’t backed up with a strategy to address it? There isn’t any more time available for political lip service. We need to hold our governments accountable for the decisions they make, and for the promises they have made to us. A moving target of reduced emissions decades in the future does nothing to ensure a livable future for the next generation. And, in our CoVid recovery, we have an obligation as citizens to ensure we build back better, and expect more from our governments in the process. 

Challenge 7a: Get informed about your governments’ strategy for climate change

Local Municipal Governments

The following links will take you to the strategic plans for communities in Simcoe County. For those of you outside that region, you can follow the links on your own government’s website.

Collingwood is currently updating its strategic plan. See the latest here.

Provincial Government

Federal Government 

Challenge 7b: What can governments do

Now that you know what your governments propose they’ll do, take a look at what other governments have already implemented. The good news is, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are many examples of communities taking action, in ways that work best for them. It’s having positive effects on more than just the environment. Improved health, better public transit systems, and more community engagement. So, imagine the possibilities outlined in the links below, and brainstorm what could work for your own community. Jot down your ideas, concerns and hopes.

22 things cities (and smaller towns) can do: Look at the big picture on pages 12-13.

30 things regional and provincial governments can do: Look at the big picture on page 8.

The Exponential Roadmap: Scaling 36 Solutions To Halve Emissions By 2030Browse through pages 119-139 Cities and Climate Leadership.

Canadian Institute for Climate Choices: This think tank gets federal funding but no government representation on their board of directors.

Keep track of the good ideas you encounter, and thoughts on what could work for your own community. Because next week, we’re going to contact our government representatives, tell them our concerns and what matters to us, and let them know what we want to see in the stimulus packages, and in environmental policy as we move toward recovery.


Yours in sustainability,
Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood

Week 32: Flexitarians Unite!

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