Tuesday 27 November 2012

EcoSask News, November 27, 2012

Snowshoeing at Redberry Lake, Dec. 1 & 8
Bring your family out to the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve from 11 to 1 on December 1 and 8. Put on your snowshoes (also available at Redberry) and take a winter hike followed by hot chocolate and smokies. RSVP to communications@redberrylake.ca, 549-9311.

We Are Many AGM, Dec. 6 
We Are Many is holding their annual general meeting at 7 pm on December 6 in the Victoria School library.

Saskatoon Nature Society 
Membership in the Saskatoon Nature Society is a really good deal. For $20/person or $30/family, you get a newsletter, a chance to participate in a wide variety of field trips as well as monthly meetings with speakers. Plus, Nature Society members receive a discount at Don's Photo Shop, 1902 8th St. E., on photo-finishing and certain other items in the store as well as a 10% discount at Early's Farm and Garden Centre on all regularly priced wild bird feeding products, bird houses, books, etc. Memberships run from January to December, so now is the perfect time to take out or renew a membership.

Eden Flowers is Green
The owner of Eden Flowers Ltd. in University Heights says her flower shop is 98% green. All of the flowers are fair trade and most of them are sourced out of British Columbia. All the waste is recycled.

Trail Maintenance
If you notice a section of Saskatoon’s trail network that needs to be cleared or to report a problem, call the City of Saskatoon’s trail maintenance hotline at 975-2476.

Plastic Paving
Vancouver will be the first city to include recycled plastics in the asphalt used to pave and repair roads. The plastic, which is 1% of the asphalt mix, is more expensive but uses less fuel, so it will save money in the long run.

Vitamin G (Green)
Why We Need Cities in Tune with Nature lists the benefits and best practices concerning urban green spaces. A recent study found that a 20% increase in nearby green space was equivalent to another 5 years of life. A new hospital in Singapore may be the greenest in the world with window boxes and 140 fruit trees in the lobby and on the roof. The hospital is monitoring the number of birds and butterfly species as an indicator of success.

Edmonton’s Energy-Efficient Community
Oxford, a new community in northwest Edmonton, will require all homebuilders to meet energy conservation standards. All homes must achieve a minimum EnerGuide rating of 78 or be certified to Built Green Silver standards or equivalents. Grants will be available for homeowners who want to move beyond those standards. Funding is also available for secondary suites.

Fracking Gains Momentum 
Fracking is gaining momentum in the United States as a source of local and state tax revenue. Pennsylvania is considering drilling at 6 universities that are eager for new revenue sources. Money outweighs environmental concerns – will they regret it in the future?

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Friday 23 November 2012

Eco Chic: Shopping for Clothes that are Green and Local

As Kermit said, “It’s not easy being green.” I (Penny) went clothes shopping the other day, and I focussed entirely on style and price. I forgot to consider the environment, and my purchases didn’t benefit local businesses. Next time I’ll do better. Here are some ideas.

Did you know that growing cotton uses almost 25% of all the insecticides in the world and over 10% of all pesticides? It takes approximately one pound of cotton to make a t-shirt, and it will have been sprayed with one third of a pound of pesticides. Sheep that are being raised for wool in the US are treated with 14,000 pounds of pesticides a year.

Better Options: Look for organic cotton or linen, hemp, and bamboo. Linen is made from flax that grows well without pesticides or insecticides. An acre of land planted with hemp yields two to three times more fibre than cotton – without the chemicals. Bamboo is one of the fastest-growing plants; it can sprout from 1 to 4 feet per day and it naturally resists pests and many bacteria.

Shop Local: Luna + Hill sells clothing that is Canadian-made, organic, and sustainable. Ten Tree, a Regina-based company, wants to ensure that all their clothing is manufactured responsibly. They plant 10 trees for every piece of their clothing that is purchased.

Shoes & Accessories 
Leather may be a renewable resource, but tanning the hides uses a tremendous amount of water and toxic chemicals, creating dangerous effluent discharge. Some manufacturers in Italy and Mexico are using less toxic processes, but it will take a while before this practice becomes widespread.

Better Options: Look for shoes made from synthetic or recycled materials. Give your shoes a second life through programs such as Brainsport’s Free Shoe Day.

Shop Local: Escape Sports carries fair-trade certified SoleRebels footwear that is made in Ethiopia from recycled and organic materials. Pedestrian now sells shoes from Oliberté, an African company that is working hard to reduce its environmental impact.

The Better Good carries a wide variety of sustainable goods. The Ressac bag is durable and waterproof – like leather – but it’s made from punctured inner tubes.

Swap and Share
How many outfits do you have in your closet that you’ve worn once and may never wear again?

Better options: Buying less clothing is one of the most ecofriendly options. But it can be boring. Why not organize a clothing swap or shop at secondhand clothing stores?

Shop Local: Better Off Duds specializes in secondhand clothing, with a focus on retro attire and quality classics. The Princess Shop loans graduation dresses and accessories to female students in need.

Traditional dry cleaning involves submerging clothes in petroleum-based liquid chemicals. The most common chemical is perchloroethylene (PERC), a possible carcinogen and a hazardous pollutant.

Clothes dryers use a lot of energy, emitting almost 1500 pounds of CO2 annually.

Better Options: Look for a “wet” cleaner. This method uses water and non-toxic, biodegradable detergents. Or you may be able to find a dry cleaner that is using liquid CO2 or liquid silicone.

Wash clothes less frequently. Buy a clothing rack and air dry your laundry. Buy energy-efficient appliances.

Shop Local: We’re not aware of any environmentally-friendly dry cleaners in Saskatoon. If you know of one, please let us know.

The following books are available from the Saskatoon Public Library:
Green Chic: Saving the Earth in Style
Big Green Purse: Use your Spending Power to Create a Cleaner, Greener World
The Rough Guide to Shopping with a Conscience
Ethical Chic: The Inside Story of the Companies We Think We Love

David Suzuki’s Queen of Green blog offers green living tips and recipes.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

EcoSask News, November 20, 2012

Northern Hawk Owl

Radiance Cohousing, Nov. 28 
The Radiance Cohousing project is designed to offer a sustainable way of life that balances private home ownership with shared common space. They’re holding an information night from 7-8:30 pm on November 28. Radiance plans to use green, energy-efficient construction design and techniques.

Adopt an NCC Property
The Nature Conservancy of Canada - Saskatchewan is looking for individuals or volunteers who will “adopt” one of their properties and visit it as often as they wish to record wildlife, disturbances and the general condition of the land as well as perform some hands-on activities (e.g. weed pulling, sign installation, cleaning out bird boxes). NCC staff will provide initial training and ongoing support. For more information or to inquire about becoming part of the Property Watch Program, contact Kirsten Jensen at (306) 347-0447 ext 230 or kirsten.jensen@natureconservancy.ca.

Wild in the City 
Bird lovers gathered on the riverbank last week to watch a Northern Hawk Owl devour a pigeon. The owl was right beside the path and road, and iBird Pro iPad app confirmed that the owls “have little fear of humans” and “Eats mostly voles and other small mammals; also takes birds, especially in winter, active during the day.” (via Sustainable Adventure)

Thought-Provoking Articles 
Zero Waste 
Moving towards zero waste requires moving away from waste disposal; supporting comprehensive reuse, recycling and organics treatment programs; engaging communities; and designing for the future. And it can be done. Through incentives and public outreach, San Francisco has reduced its waste to landfill by 77% and is on track to reach 90% by 2020.

America’s Water Mirage
“Americans operate under an illusion of water abundance. That fiction makes the reality of water scarcity a particularly hard concept to get across. From California to Florida, freshwater aquifers are being pumped so much faster than they recharge that many parts of the country can no longer rely on groundwater to supply future populations.

“But we can't see dried-out aquifers the way we could see black Dust Bowl storms in the 1930s or water pollution in the early 1970s. So we still pump with abandon to do things like soak the turf grass that covers 63,240 square miles of the nation. We flush toilets with this same fresh, potable water, after treating it at great expense to meet government standards for drinking.

“We fill the fridge with beef, the shopping bags with cotton T's, the gas tank with corn-made ethanol — all with little inkling of how we're draining to extinction the Ogallala aquifer that irrigates a quarter of the nation's agricultural harvest.”

Life in the Cracks
“Have you ever thought about the grass that grows in sidewalk cracks? These hardy plants are generally written off as undesirable. They're routinely trampled, savaged by extreme summer heat, washed out by rainfall and buried by winter snow. To survive these conditions is a testament to the plants' resilience, but they rarely get much love or attention….

“Plant species that succeed in sidewalk cracks have similar qualities to ones that have adapted to inhabit crevices in exposed, rocky, windswept places….

“Ultimately we need to recognize that while humans continue to build urban landscapes, we share these spaces with others species. Nature surrounds us, from parks and backyards to streets and alleyways. Next time you go out for a walk, tread gently and remember that we are both inhabitants and stewards of nature in our neighbourhoods.”

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Tuesday 13 November 2012

EcoSask News, November 13, 2013

NE Swale Management Plan, Nov. 14
The North East Swale is wild and wonderful - and part of it is within City boundaries. Meewasin is holding an Open House on Wednesday, November 14, from 6-8 pm to present the proposed resource management plan - a great opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.

Permaculture Potluck, Nov. 15
The Permaculture Research Institute of Saskatchewan is holding its monthly potluck at 6pm on Thursday, November 15, at the Unitarian Congregation of Saskatoon (213 – 2nd Street East). Alana Krug-MacLeod will show a video about her recent trip to the Arctic with Students on Ice.

Astronomers without Borders, Nov. 19
Mike Simmons, founder and president of Astronomers without Borders, will be talking live via Skype at the Saskatoon Royal Astronomical Society’s meeting on November 19 from 7:30-9:30 pm in Room 175 of the Physics Building, University of Saskatchewan.

Energy Efficiency, Nov. 1-30
SaskPower is offering instant rebates on a variety of energy-efficient light bulbs at all Saskatchewan Home Depot stores during November.

You can pick up a free block heater timer from SaskPower at Peavey Mart, Saskatoon Co-op Home Centres, and Sears on November 24 and 25.

Public Pastures, Public Interests, Nov. 22 & 23
The Regina Public Interest Group is hosting two events to highlight the importance of the PFRA Community Pastures. On November 22 at 7 pm, Candace Savage, author of Prairie: A Natural History, will speak on Grasslands in Peril, emphasizing their importance to Saskatchewan.

There will be a public forum on the Privatization of Community Pasture Lands from 8:30-4:30 on November 23. An information session in the morning will be followed by a noon panel discussion featuring key stakeholders. The afternoon session will outline the First Nations Joint Venture Proposal, followed by a discussion of public policy and development of resolutions.

Winter Camping, Dec. 15
Contact the SK Outdoor and Environmental Education Association if you are interesting in winter camping at Craik on December 15.

Volunteer Opportunities
The Saskatchewan Eco Network is looking for volunteers. Email them at info@econet.sk.ca or call 306.652.1275 for more information.

A Geography of Blood
Congratulations to Candace Savage for winning the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction for A Geography of Blood: Unearthing Memory from a Prairie Landscape.

Restoring Prairie Ecosystems
Chris Helzer, ecologist and program director for The Nature Conservancy’s land in central and eastern Nebraska, recently posted an article on prairie restoration that may be relevant for Saskatchewan:

…prairie restoration projects should not be aimed at recreating something exactly as it existed long ago. Instead, effective prairie restoration should be like rebuilding a city after large portions of it are destroyed in a major disaster. When reconstructing a metropolitan area, replicating individual structures is much less important than restoring the processes the inhabitants of the city rely on. The people living and working in a city depend upon the restoration of power, transportation, communication, and other similar functions. Those people don’t care whether roads, power lines, or communication towers are put back exactly as they were before – they just want to be able to get the supplies and information they need, and to travel around so they can to do their jobs and survive. Restoration success is not measured by how much the rebuilt areas resemble the preexisting areas, but by whether or not the city and its citizens can survive and thrive again.

Solar Power at the U of S
The University of Saskatchewan has undertaken a solar energy pilot project at their horticultural facility on 14th Street. They hope that the 96 solar panels will produce up to 70% of the building’s energy needs.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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

Thursday 8 November 2012

Financial Support for SPIN Farming in Uganda

Earlier this month, EcoFriendly Sask received an email from Francis Baita, a student in a Master of Science Agro Ecology program. He had read about SPIN farming and wanted to start a project in his community. Francis owned a plot of land and planned to teach 10 primary school children the principles of SPIN farming. He was asking for an EcoFriendly Action Grant in order to buy drip irrigation kits.

 It sounded like a great project, but there was one drawback. Francis lives in Kasese, Uganda, Africa, and we had established EcoFriendly Action Grants in order to support local Saskatchewan projects.

However, every rule is meant to be broken. Andrew and I were both born in East Africa, and our parents had lived in Uganda for several years. We decided to give Francis $500.

We asked Francis for some additional information, which he immediately provided. He sent us a letter of reference from a local NGO and explained that he planned to purchase drip tapes and buckets for his irrigation system. He would select 10 orphans (ages 12 to 18) from two nearby primary schools and would ask the school administration to help him select the most disadvantaged students. The orphans would work in the garden after school and on weekends, and the produce – cabbages, carrots, kale, tomatoes, eggplants, watermelons, onions, green pepper, squash, and garlic – would supplement the students’ diet.

We wish Francis success in his SPIN farming project and look forward to receiving progress reports. Wally Satzewich, one of the co-founders of SPIN farming, lives and works in Saskatoon. It seems very appropriate that EcoFriendly Sask is helping to spread his ideas right around the globe.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

EcoSask News, November 6, 2012

Burrowing Owl Stewardship Project, Nov. 7
Joseph Kotlar, Nature Conservancy of Canada, will discuss the Burrowing Owl Stewardship Project at 12:10 pm on November 7 at the Royal Saskatchewan Museum auditorium in Regina. You can also watch the PCAP-SK presentation live at www.ustream.tv/channel/native-prairie-speaker-series.

Moose on the Prairies, Nov. 14 
Rob Tethers, SK Ministry of Environment, will be speaking in Saskatoon on November 14 about Moose Adapting to the Prairies. The talk begins at 12:10 pm in Room 232 of the Physical Activity Complex on campus.

Chilkoot Trail, Nov. 15
The Saskatoon Nature Society has invited Bill Waiser to their November 15 meeting to discuss the Chilkoot Trail. Meetings begin at 7:30 pm in Room 106 of the Biology Building on campus. The Chilkoot Trail was the gateway to the Klondike during the Gold Rush.

Public Art & Creating Great Places, Nov. 15
Cameron Cartiere, editor of The Practice of Public Art, will discuss how public art builds great city spaces and vibrant communities at 7 pm on November 15 at the Frances Morrison Library.

Climate Change & Other Depressing Topics, Nov. 16 & 17
The Sierra Youth Coalition and TruthFool Communications will be on campus November 16 and 17 for a two-day movement building program entitled Climate Change and other depressing topics nobody wants to talk about. There will be a Serious Issues Party on November 16 followed by a workshop on November 17 that is designed to help students unleash their creative spirits while remaining rooted in sound strategy.

Project Wild, Nov. 17 
A half-day Project Wild workshop is being offered at the University of Regina on November 17. Full details are available on the SOEEA website.

Young Professional Stewardship Grant
Young and aspiring conservationists between the ages of 18-30 who live and/or work in Alberta, Saskatchewan, or Manitoba are encouraged to submit proposals that will advance the engagement of people in conservation in Grassland and Parkland Natural Regions of the Prairie Provinces.

SK Carbon Offsets
The Meewasin Valley Authority is a member of the Association of Saskatchewan Urban Parks & Conservation Agencies (ASUPCA). ASUPCA offers a voluntary carbon offset program for individuals and organizations. The revenue is used to reforest and naturalize ASUPCA’s urban parks and conservation zones.

What’s New at the Zoo
Have you been out to the Saskatoon Zoo recently? If not, you may have missed some of the latest additions to the family. There are Bobcats, Helmeted Guineafowl, Muscovy Ducks, and even a Zebra Tarantula. Check out the photographs on the Saskatoon Zoo Society’s Facebook page.

New Meewasin CEO
Lloyd Isaak takes over as CEO of Meewasin Valley Authority effective January 1, 2013. Isaak, who is currently Meewasin’s manager of design and development, has 25 years’ experience as a landscape architect.

EcoSask News is a weekly round-up of local news and events. Email us if you have items you would like us to include. Additional upcoming events can be found on our Calendar.

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