Tuesday, 21 March 2017

EcoSask News, March 21, 2017

Goldeneye taking off

Upcoming Events
Ecosystem Services Provided by Native Prairie, Mar. 24 (webinar)
Sue Michalsky, Ranchers Stewardship Alliance, will discuss ways of valuing ecosystem services in a Mar. 24 webinar (SK-PCAP Native Prairie Speaker series).

Carbonless Concert, Mar. 25 (Saskatoon)
The fifth Carbonless Concert with solar-powered audio is being held from 6:30-9 pm, Mar. 25, at d’Lish by Tish Café.

Sustainability Slam & Carbonless Concert, Mar. 29 (Saskatoon)
The U of S Graduate Students’ Association is holding a Sustainability Slam & Carbonless Concert from 6-9:30 pm, Mar. 29.

Sage Grouse & Cropland Conversion, Mar. 29 (webinar)
Joe Smith, University of Montana, is offering a webinar on greater sage grouse and cropland conversion at noon, Mar. 29 (SK-PCAP Native Prairie Speaker series).

WUQWATR AGM, Mar. 30 (Lumsden)
Wascana Upper Qu’Appelle Watershed Association Taking Responsibility (WUQWATR) is holding its AGM from 6:30-8 pm, Mar. 30, in Lumsden.


Bicycle Mechanic Workshops, Mar/Apr (Saskatoon)
Bridge City Bicycle Co-op is offering weekly workshops from Mar. 30 to Apr. 27 on how to repair parts of your bike.

World Water Day Movie, Apr. 3 (Prince Albert)
Council of Canadians – Prince Albert Chapter is hosting a showing of the movie Above All Else at 7 pm, Apr. 3.

Nature Regina Field Trips
Mar. 25, 10 am - noon - NATUREWALK in Wascana
Apr. 8, 9 am – 4:30 pm – Early Arrivals & Winter Birds at Echo Lake & Fort Qu’Appelle
Check Nature Regina’s website for full details and updated information.

Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Young Naturalists
Apr. 18 – Crocus Hike
Space is limited; register early to avoid disappointment.

Golden Eagles
Apr. 6, 8 am – Bluebirds in Merrill Hills Area
Apr. 13, 8 am – Crocuses and Bluebirds
Retirees and partners who are interested in birds and the natural world are invited to participate in Golden Eagle field trips.

Other Saskatoon Nature Society Field Trips
Apr. 1, 9 am – 2 pm – Bluebird Trip to Pike Lake
Apr. 5, 7-10 pm – Saw-whet Owling near Pike Lake
Apr. 12, 6:30-8 pm – Gull Identification
Check the Saskatoon Nature Society’s website for full details and updated information.


Looking Ahead
SK Living Green Expo, Apr. 7-9 (Saskatoon)
The Saskatchewan Living Green Expo, Apr. 7-9, includes presentations on solar energy, socially responsible investing, and reducing chemicals in the home. There will be bats and snakes in the Kidsphere, and DIY workshops on choosing a green builder, green heating options, and eco retrofits. Frank Wolf, long-distance wilderness canoeist, will talk about his 1800 km, 44-day expedition from La Ronge to Baker Lake.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

In the News
Buy a rain barrel and support the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Saskatchewan’s efforts to help injured and orphaned wildlife. Rain barrels are $70 each and must be pre-ordered online.

The Council of Canadians Prince Albert chapter has won their city council executive committee's support for the human right to water and publicly financed, owned, and operated water and wastewater services.

JNS Yoga, Saskatoon, is committed to zero waste. First step - switching from paper to cloth towels.

3 easy step to take to protect wild bees.

15 ways to stop microfiber pollution now.

A New Zealand river is the first in the world to be given legal human status and is quickly followed by the Ganges and Yamuna rivers in India.

The burial industry is starting to offer greener end-of-life options.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Made to Last

Keep? Throw away? Our grandparents bought durable products and repaired them when they broke down. That hasn't always been the case for our generation. But times are changing and people are becoming more aware of the cost to the environment of our disposable consumer culture. They’re reinventing ways to repair, reuse or reduce, and reestablishing and strengthening the power of the consumer.

When something breaks, our tendency is to replace it; we’ve lost the knowledge that past generations had. But there are other options.

Repair Cafés 
Grassroots groups are organizing repair cafés where neighbours help neighbours to repair items. It reduces waste, saves money, and offers people a chance to socialize. Toronto Repair Café and Brighton Repair Café (photo) are two examples of a global movement.

Fix It 
iFixit is a wiki-based site that teaches people how to fix almost anything and empowers individuals to share their technical expertise. For example, they’ll show you how to replace the Home button on your iPhone and you can order all the necessary parts and equipment through their website.

Spareka, a French website, believes that the majority of broken appliances can be repaired. The website helps you identify the problem, buy the necessary repair parts, and carry out the repairs. If you want to repair your dishwasher, Spareka explains how it works, provides an overview of all the component parts, tips on how to maintain it in good condition, a checklist to diagnose the problem, and videos on how to repair specific problems, such as replacing the pump or the door closure. Technicians are on hand if you can’t find the solution to your problem online.

Regen Box 
Where there’s a will there’s a way, and one determined individual has set up Regen Box, an open-source regenerator for non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. The goal is to establish a community of beta testers to try it out with all the different types of batteries currently on the market.

Create Café
3D Printing Technology creates opportunities as well as roadblocks. Digital saws, laser cutting tools, and 3-D printing provide new options for repairing or creating. Create Cafe 3D Printing is a Saskatoon-based 3-D printing and coffee shop. They favour 3-D printing due to the low waste produced, cost benefits, and dynamic abilities.

Equipment and materials don’t have to end up in the landfill. Here are a few alternatives.

If you’re doing home renovations, why not donate old fixtures and appliances to Habitat for Humanity? ReStore resells quality new and gently used building materials and home furnishings.

PSI Technologies Inc. crushes and recycles up to 2,500 tonnes of material a day using concrete collected from demolished commercial and industrial buildings in and around Saskatoon. During demolition,

Innovation Place salvages as much material as possible so that doors, ceilings, light fixtures, and other items can be reused. If there is surplus material, it is donated. (photo: Marks & Spencer, UK)

Reconditioned Appliances and Electronics 
Back Market bills itself as a supermarket for reconditioned electronics (from cameras and smart phones to coffee makers and toasters). NEU Appliances of Austin, Texas, cleans, tests, warranties, and sells used appliances.

Recycled Jeans 
REMADE in France uses old jeans to make new ones. Their goal is to save water and reduce pesticide contamination as growing cotton requires immense amounts of water and uses 24% of the world supply of pesticides.

Magasin pour Rien 
Magasin pour Rien in Mulhouse, France, accepts items that people no longer want and then gives them away. People are invited to visit once a week and pick out 1-3 free items, including children’s clothing and toys, dishes, and small electrical appliances. Social service agencies now direct their clients to the store.

Ads encourage us to buy, buy, buy while manufacturers control availability and information. Reestablishing and strengthening the power of the consumer is happening in various different ways.

In 2014, France passed a law to enhance the rights of consumers. Manufacturers are expected to provide a 2-year warranty (in place of 6 months) and to list the availability of replacement parts.

Sweden has introduced tax breaks for repairs in a bid to cut waste.

Putting an End to Planned Obsolescence 
HOP: Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée, a French advocacy group, has 3 principal objectives: inform and speak out against planned obsolescence, bring people (from citizens to academics to manufacturers) together to take action, and put forward research papers and proposals to support a different economic model.

The most effective means of valuing natural resources and preventing waste is by reducing consumption.

Made to Last
Individuals and companies are encouraging consumers to buy less stuff by buying good-quality, durable products.

Made to Last, a UK website, profiles products that have been hand selected for the quality of their workmanship and designed to stand the test of time. Products must have a clear guarantee and a high utility value.

BuyMeOnce “finds and promotes products that don't break the bank, don't break the planet ... that don't break at all!” They challenge manufacturers to build stuff that really lasts.

Sustainable Fashion
The fashion industry, with its seasonal trends and cheap, badly made clothes, is responsible for a great deal of waste. A few companies are breaking with that pattern with clothes made with recycled or organic materials. Patagonia is leading the trend with a mission statement to “build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”

Fairphone “is a Dutch social enterprise that makes smartphones with easily replaceable components, encourages the recycling of e-waste, uses materials that support local economies, and advocates fairness among its partners.”

Say No to Greenwashing 
In a joint position paper on Bioplastics in a Circular Economy, Friends of the Earth Europe stress the need to focus on waste reduction and prevention to avoid false solutions. “Our overconsuming, throwaway culture is tied to a linear buy-use-dispose economy, and will not be solved by relying on technological solutions. Instead, we need behavioural and production change and for government priorities to be on prevention and reuse.”

Values Reset 
In most parts of the world, the focus is on continuous economic growth sustained by the non-stop acquisition of goods and materials as measured by the Gross Domestic Product. Some countries and regions have chosen to follow a different path.

Kerala, in southern India, follows a model of equitable growth, emphasizing land reforms, poverty reduction, access to education, and child welfare rather than a high GDP.

Bhutan champions “a new approach to development, which measures prosperity through formal principles of gross national happiness (GNH) and the spiritual, physical, social and environmental health of its citizens and natural environment.”

Each of us as individuals chooses how to define success and prosperity. By making changes in our personal lives and advocating for society-wide changes, we can make a difference.

See Also
Landfills, Organic Waste, and Recycling

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

EcoSask News, March 14, 2017

frost and ice

Upcoming Events
Northern Owling Overnight Trip, Mar. 18/19 (Saskatoon)
The Saskatoon Nature Society is planning a northern owling overnight trip on Mar. 18/19. Check their website for more detailed information.

Saskatoon Zoo Society AGM, Mar. 19 (Saskatoon) 
Find out about the programs offered by the Saskatoon Zoo Society at their annual general meeting, 1:30-3 pm, Mar. 19.

SK Breeding Bird Atlas, Mar. 20 (Regina) 
Dr. Keil Drake will present the Saskatchewan Breeding Bird Atlas project at the Mar. 20 meeting of Nature Regina.

Healthy Yards for Prairie Gardeners, Mar. 21 (Saskatoon) 
Find out about home composting, water conservation, native plants, pesticide reduction, and more at 7 pm, Mar. 21, at the Frances Morrison Library as part of the Sustainable Speaker Series.

GHG Reductions through Electrification, Mar. 21 (Regina/Saskatoon) 
Alan Fogwill, Canadian Energy Research Institute, will speak on greenhouse gas emissions reductions in Canada through electrification of energy services from 10:30-noon, Mar. 21. The Johnson Shoyama Graduate School public lecture can be heard in either Regina or Saskatoon.

sun on floating ice

Zoodles, Mar. 22-Apr. 27 (Saskatoon) 
Ryan Schmidt’s portraits of animals living at the Saskatoon Forestry Farm & Zoo will be on display in the Gallery at Frances Morrison Library from Mar. 22-Apr. 27.

Seed Bombs, Mar. 24 (Regina) 
Teens are invited to a talk about native plants and creating green spaces in the community from 7-8:30 pm, Mar. 22, at the Prince of Wales Branch, Regina Public Library.

SK Wildlife Society AGM, Mar. 25 (Regina) 
Todd Whiklo will talk about Alberta’s Sage Grouse Recovery Program during The Wildlife Society – Saskatchewan chapter’s AGM from 4-5:30, Mar. 25.

Public Pastures Public Interest AGM, Mar. 25 (Regina) 
Public Pastures Public Interest will be holding their annual general meeting from 1-5 pm, Mar. 25.

Burrowing Owls, Mar. 25 (Regina) 
Meet a burrowing owl at 1:30 pm, Mar. 25, at Cabela’s in Regina as part of SK-PCAP's Native Prairie Speaker series.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

frost and ice

In the News
Usask Worms hopes to kick-start a vermicomposting revolution at the U of S

An on-campus solar array at the U of S will provide students with hands-on experience in renewable energy technologies

Saskatoon groups are proposing an electric car-share pilot program

Bokashi balls can clean polluted waterways. For more information, talk to Saskatoon’s Bokashi Ninja 

The City of Regina's Landfill Gas to Energy Project generates one megawatt of power — enough to power 1,000 homes

 Illegal farmland drainage is a huge problem in Saskatchewan (article and column)

Nature Conservancy of Canada has unveiled a new conservation area next to Grasslands National Park

An Ontario city is temporarily closing a road to protect endangered salamanders

Useful tips on how to protect existing trees on building sites

Reliance on hazardous pesticides is a short-term solution that undermines the right to adequate food and health for present and future generations” (United Nations)

Inhabit: a documentary film looking at permaculture people and practices in over 20 rural, suburban, and urban environments

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Thursday, 9 March 2017

EcoFriendly Action Grant Ideas for Gardeners and Teachers


Gardens are fabulous: fresh air, exercise, healthy food, and colourful flowers. And children learn so much better when they’re out of doors, experiencing the real world, not just reading about it in a textbook.

We’re delighted that so many people are planting community gardens or planning outdoor classrooms. Unfortunately, when people come to EcoFriendly Sask for financial assistance, their proposals don’t always meet our grant criteria.

EcoFriendly Action Grants are intended to prevent, reduce, or repair damage to the environment. That may not be one of your top priorities when you are planning a community garden or an outdoor classroom, but it can certainly be one of the positive outcomes of your project if you think it through from that angle.

Here are a few ideas (in no particular order) to get you started - and they are all activities that EcoFriendly Sask would consider supporting financially.

Build and erect birdhouses and/or bat boxes

Construct insect hotels

Plant butterfly-friendly plants or a pollinator garden

Plan a pesticide-free garden

Set up a compost bin

Collect rainwater

Save and use your own seeds (get help from groups like the Saskatoon Seed Library and Prince Albert Permaculture Guild)

Host a community demonstration project (Saskatoon’s Garden Patch has installed a solar panel, a rainwater catchment system, and a green roof)

Organize community workshops (e.g., bird identification, co-existing with coyotes, beneficial insects, native plants)

bee on flowers

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

EcoSask News, March 7, 2017


Upcoming Events
Preserving Saskatchewan’s Environment, Mar. 9 (Regina)
Join the Saskatchewan Environmental Society and environmental student groups at the University of Regina from 7-10 pm, Mar. 9, for a discussion of environmental issues in and around Regina.

SK Raptors: Hawks, Mar. 10 (Moose Jaw)
Dave Stymeist will present Raptors of Saskatchewan: Hawks at the Mar. 10 meeting of Nature Moose Jaw (7 pm, MJDS cardroom, Eaton building).

Jane’s Walk Regina, Mar. 12 (Regina)
Find out how you can lead a Jane’s Walk in Regina from 2-3:30 pm, Mar. 12, at the Central Library, Regina.

Our Ancient Prairie Land, Mar. 12 (podcast)
Join Jared Clarke at 11 am, Mar. 12, for a podcast entitled Our Ancient Prairie Land (PCAP-SK Ecological Goods and Services Week).

Education Responds to the Sustainability Agenda, Mar. 13 (Saskatoon)
Dr. Stephen Sterling will speak on How Far is Higher Education Responding to the Sustainability Agenda? Policy, Practice, and Change at 12:30 pm, Mar. 13, at the University of Saskatchewan (Sustainability Research Education Institute).

Escape into Nature, Mar. 14-16 (Regina)
Nature Conservancy of Canada is showcasing its properties and habitats for species at risk at the Art Gallery of Regina from Mar. 14-16.

Astronomy Night, Mar. 15 (Moose Jaw)
Youth are invited to attend an astronomy night as part of Moose Jaw Public Library’s Maker Series.

Saskatoon Nature Society AGM, Mar. 16 (Saskatoon)
The Saskatoon Nature Society is holding its annual general meeting on Mar. 16 at 7:30 pm in Room 106, Biology Building, University of Saskatchewan.

Valuing Ecosystem Services Provided by Native Prairie, Mar. 16 (Swift Current)
Sue Michalsky will discuss the importance of valuing the ecosystem services provided by native prairie at 7 pm, Mar. 16, in Swift Current (PCAP-SK Ecological Goods and Services Week).

Introduction to Biodynamic Beekeeping, Mar. 16 (webinar)
The Biodynamic Association is offering an introduction to biodynamic beekeeping webinar from 7:30-9 pm EST, Mar. 16.


Looking Ahead
Circular Economy Lab, May 17 (Saskatoon)
On May 17, The Natural Step will guide a discussion about a system where materials are not simply discarded but reused or recycled into new products in a pre-conference workshop for ReForum 2017.

A full list of upcoming events can be found on the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar 

Grant Opportunities
The City of Saskatoon is offering $25,000 worth of grants to community groups and agencies for new winter program or design initiatives. The application deadline is April 21.

The Regina Horticultural Society offers grants for projects that “promote the engagement of Regina citizens in gardening through education for the enhancement of their local environment and their quality of life.”

In the News 
"in these times of government cost-cutting and a view that oil companies should self-police rather [than] the Environment Ministry because that’s best for the economy, we are losing sight of the fact that we are talking about clean water. This has to be about more than ensuring an oil company pays all its bills for the damages it caused after the fact. . . . Why does commerce take precedence over regulation enforcement?"

A massive LED lighting retrofit is underway at the University of Saskatchewan and is changing the university's energy profile.

Edmonton’s Resilience Festival aims to inspire participants to help create a sustainable and promising future. Last year's workshops included Creating a Backyard Food Forest, Tiny Homes, Wildcrafting, Water, Pesticides, and Sustainable Living. Could we do this in Saskatoon? 

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. 

You can follow EcoFriendly Sask by liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, or by email (top right corner).

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Step Into Spring: Upcoming Nature-Friendly Events

Swainson's hawk

The EcoFriendly Sask Calendar is filling up quickly with interesting activities all around the province. Here are just a few – head on over to the EcoFriendly Sask Calendar to see what else might be of interest. 

Hawks, Mar. 10, Moose Jaw
Learn to identify some of Saskatchewan’s birds with help from Dave Stymeist who will be introducing the hawks of Saskatchewan at the Nature Moose Jaw meeting at 7 pm, Mar. 10, in the MJDS cardroom, Eaton building.

ForestART, July 3-7, Ness Creek
ForestArt, July 3-7, is an opportunity to spend 4 days in the boreal forest. Paint out of doors; use design and colour to translate your experience into lines on paper; try your hand at blacksmithing; using ancient encaustic techniques, create works inspired by your forest surroundings; or practise design and composition techniques that will enhance your landscape photographs. In addition to making art, there will be morning yoga, guided nature walks, and boreal forest-sourced appetizers.

Beekeeping, April, Prince Albert
A member of the Prince Albert Parkland Permaculture Guild has offered to host a beekeeping weekend in April.

In the meantime, you might be interested in a Mar. 10 introductory webinar on Biodynamic Beekeeping.

momma and ducklings

Escape into Nature, Mar. 14-16, Regina
Nature Conservancy of Canada is transforming the Art Gallery of Regina from Mar. 14-16 with displays, videos, interactive maps, and virtual reality showcasing their properties and habitats for species at risk.

We Are Water, May 23-28, Saskatoon
NatureCity Festival is asking for your help in showing off the wild side of the City of Saskatoon. Highlight the work you and your organization are doing while introducing your neighbours to the wild creatures and native plants that are all around us.

The theme of this year’s NatureCity Festival is We Are Water: Explore our Prairie Waterscape.

EcoFriendly Sask informs, encourages, and supports Saskatchewan environmental initiatives. Our EcoFriendly Action Grants are designed to prevent or reduce damage to the natural environment.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

All-Season Outdoor Recreation: Waskawîhew Trails, Buffalo Narrows

The Buffalo Narrows Ski Club received a $500 EcoFriendly Action Grant in 2016. They reported back on their project. 

The Buffalo Narrows Ski Club maintains a 13km network of trails on the outskirts of town named the Waskawîhew Trails (Waskawîhew means to move oneself with his or her own body in Cree). The trails are used daily throughout winter for recreational, club, and school skiers. In the summer they are used for running, cycling, and hiking.

There was a short wetland crossing with a small amount of flow that couldn’t be avoided during the construction of the trails. This crossing posed a barrier for people accessing the trails beyond that point (beyond the hardiest individuals who didn’t mind getting a bit wet). With the generous support of EcoFriendly Sask the club built a culvert bridge crossing, which was pre-approved by SERM.

This new crossing has significantly improved the trail experience and opened up many more areas for spring through fall use. Indeed, we have seen at least double the number of pedestrians making use of the trails this fall.

As a result of this trail improvement, the Club was also able to host the first ever cross-country running race on the Waskawîhew Trails and the first in Buffalo Narrows in over a decade. Over 130 elementary and high school students competed in distances ranging from 2km to 6km in early October. This was a stepping stone towards possibly hosting the regional championships next year prior to provincials. Our community is very grateful for your support!

EcoFriendly Action Grants support local projects that will reduce or prevent damage to the environment.