Hey, you like the environment, right? Sure, everybody does.
Well, here are a few tips, resources & bits of information for newcomers and residents on how to help save the planet from imminent destruction.
A handy guide by Richard Kelly.
Check out the Newfoundland section in the liquor store for Auk Island and Rodrigues Wineries—both produce wines from local berries. I like the Strawberry Rhubarb wine. There are three microbreweries in St. John’s: Quidi Vidi, Storm (a bit harder to find, but worth the effort) and Yellowbelly (available only at the pub of the same name at 288 Water Street.)
Biking on the city’s hills isn’t as tough as people say, and you could use some more muscles anyways. The city’s new 20 year cycling plan promises bike lanes, signs, and bike racks on Metrobuses within the year. Don’t have a bike? If you’re a MUN student or employee, you might be able to score a bike from MUN BikeShare www.munbikeshare.wordpress.com. Once you have your bike you can ride around with friends at the Critical Mass—Last Friday of every month, Colonial building on Military Road. 6pm.
ompost with worms
Even if you don’t have a back yard you can compost your food scraps by vermicomposting. Worms are fun to keep, they eat your garbage, and they don’t smell (I swear). Sometimes they escape, but that’s just a useful sign that they’re unhappy. You can get Red Wrigglers from Trouter’s Special Worm Farm in Bay Bulls (334-3531), or a friend with a worm bin can share them with you. MUN Botanical Garden has lots of information: www.tinyurl.com/me5myb
Want to see what happens to your plastic shopping bags? Take a walk on the East Coast Trail Sugar Loaf Path starting from Quidi Vidi Village and see the plastic forest. It’s an eye-opener. http://thescope.ca/nooks/the-plastic-forest/
lectricity is expensive and dirty
Up to 25% of our electricity in a given year is produced by burning oil (with the rest coming from hydro-electric and some from two new wind farms). So unplug your appliances when you’re not using them (they keep drawing power), change your light bulbs, and buy LED christmas lights.
Looking for a wheel barrow? Want to give away some old VHS movies? Need furniture? St. John’s Freecycle is a community of over 3000 people who don’t like to see anything go to the landfill, so they offer it up for free. Sign up to see what’s up for grabs at groups.yahoo.com/group/stjohnsfreecycle
rowing your own food rules
We produce less than 10 per cent of our food in Newfoundland. Anything you grow yourself hasn’t had to travel thousands of kilometres, and so it’s better for the environment. There’s still plenty of time to grown some greens in a container outside this fall, or if you want to start a farm in your living room, call Jonathon at Grow Crazy for hydroponic supplies at 726-GROW, or online at growcrazy.ca. (They’re moving from 55 Stamps Lane to 140 Campbell Avenue by September 15.) Also visit the Root Cellars Rock blog to share knowledge about local food: www.rootcellarsrock.ca.
arvest wild eats
We’re in the middle of mushroom season, so why not get out and search for some chanterelles in Pippy Park? But, uh, make sure you know what you’re looking for. A great resource is a book called Common Mushrooms of Newfoundland and Labrador by Andrus Voitk. Walk around Mundy Pond or Signal Hill for blueberries, blackberries and saskatoon berries, to name a few.
nsulate your home
If you’re living in downtown St. John’s, be prepared to be freakin’ cold this winter! Pick up a blow-dry-on plastic window insulation kit and, if you have a furnace, get a programmable thermostat.
ava (fair trade)
See www.tinyurl.com/ftstjohns for a map to fair trade coffee in NL put together by MUN Engineers Without Borders. If enough people demand fair trade, it’ll be the only way for coffee companies to go.
lean without harsh chemicals
Save money and the environment by making your own non-toxic cleaners and detergents. tinyurl.com/yodpym
ocal is better
The average food travels 1500 to 2000 km, much of that by CO2-spewing truck, so buying things from closer to home just makes sense. Visit the Farmers’ Market for local veggies, meat, treats, and crafts. Celebrate Eat Atlantic Day (www.eatatlantic.ca) on September 4 by pledging to eat only foods produced in Atlantic Canada for that day. Keep food over the winter by bottling and freezing. www.foodsafety.psu.edu/canningguide.html
eat is not helping you with your environmental footprint at all
Eat less meat—maybe even go vegetarian. You might get funny looks at a family dinner, but meat takes way more water, land, and energy than other sources of protein. Try going two meals a day without meat.
The NL Environment Network is a non-advocacy organization that serves over 40 member groups across the province. They put out a weekly electrionic newsletter that will keep you up to date on local environmental issues: www.nlen.ca
Get outside. Not only does it feel good, but it also makes you think about the fragility of the place we’re living. The East Coast Trail starts in St. John’s in two directions. The Grand Concourse walking trail extends through St. John’s, Mount Pearl and Paradise. In the winter, Pippy Park even rents out snowshoes and cross country skis for its trails.
Good on you for reading this online. For a complete how-to guide on how to kick the paper habit, check out Lifehacker’s Complete Guide to Going Paperless at www.tinyurl.com/nopcg9
uit chucking dangerous stuff in the regular garbage
Batteries and CFLs contain mercury and shouldn’t go into the regular landfill. The city accepts hazardous waste every Saturday at Robin Hood bay from 8am to 4pm. Check the city website at www.stjohns.ca for a list of accepted items. Cell phones can finally be recycled too—find local drop off locations at www.recyclemycell.ca
Um, well, there isn’t any in St. John’s. At least until next year, when recyclable containers and paper will start being collected. It’ll take one more year for them to start collecting organics. No joke. In the meantime, Atlantic Blue Recycling will pick up #1-#7 plastics, paper, glass and tin twice a month for about 20 bucks (726-2583 / www.atlanticbluerecycling.com)
MUN students and staff can use MUN Rideshare to schedule daily carpooling or one time cross-island trips (www.mun.ca/projectgreen/rideshare). If you’re not at MUN, try your office bulletin board or set up your own carpool Facebook group. If you’re going out of town, use buses and bay taxis (Check out our Bay-Taxi Quick Reference guide on page 11.)
hink about our impact and what we can do
Read Climate Wars by Newfoundlander Gwynne Dyer and get scared to death of climate change (or listen to the podcast at www.gwynnedyer.com), then read Heat: How To Stop The World From Burning by George Monbiot and learn what we do to stop it.
se stuff again
Stop taking grocery bags. Turn worthless junk mail and receipts into one-side-good notebooks. If you must buy, buy used… Value Village, Salvation Army, Previously Loved, and Sandy’s are the old favourites. Sure, a big spider did crawl out of a pair of chords I was holding at a thrift store once, but that could happen anywhere. Trendy people sell to each other with websites like www.kijiji.ca or www.thescope.ca/classifieds.
Help clean up the shoreline with the fabulous folks at Ocean Net (www.oceannet.ca), build and repair the East Coast Trail (www.eastcoasttrail.com), lend a hand at a local community garden through the Community Garden Alliance (firstname.lastname@example.org). There are plenty of organizations who need your help, just start looking.
hat’s your water footprint?
Not only is your carbon footprint important, people are realizing that water is also important. And a lot of it is used to produce goods: Visit www.tinyurl.com/ml75no and find out how much water your salad took to make. Conservation tip: catch extra water with buckets in the shower, then water you garden or flush the toilet with the grey water.
Vote in the municipal election this September
City politics may seem boring, but it shouldn’t be. When you spot a campaigning politician, ask ‘em about a green issue: Should we have water meters? Do they support community gardens? What kind of (sub)urban development should we have? The list of candidates will be posted on September 1st, and check the next issue of The Scope for more information. In St. John’s, make sure you’re on the voter’s list at www.stjohns.ca.
ell at your government officials
Tell your representatives to do something to help the environment. Newfoundland and Labrador is way behind the times, so maybe raising your voice this time is a good idea.
ero time left
Tick, tock. www.kyotoplus.ca