Trying to Do My Part to Save the Environment


For many reasons I’ve decided that it’s time to take more seriously the concept of reducing single use plastic and start taking some baby steps in that direction. I’ve made a few changes like switching to shampoo bars, and laundry detergent strips, and dryer balls, and mesh produce bags. They all work great. The biggest challenge is how to enjoy the take-out cold drinks without using one of the single use plastic cups.

In the summer, we always enjoy the frothy cold coffee and fruity concoctions at Tim Horton’s, but they all need to be made in the  “sterile” plastic cups because they’re mixed by a sterile machine, or so I was told. So I gave up my Cappuccinos for Iced Coffee and started taking my own reusable cup with me. The coffee is poured into my cup, a squirt of flavor is added, followed by a scoop of ice cubes. No cross contamination right? Well, a few service people tried to say they couldn’t do it because their hand stirrer could not go into my cup. Then someone told them, just use a plastic straw to stir it. That was fine until I got stainless steel straws and began taking one with me. “Don’t worry about stirring it,” I’d say. “I’ll do it myself.” Everyone was happy.

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Then we ventured away from the franchises that had become familiar with me. Too often, even though the service person would agree to make my coffee in my own cup, I’d catch them making it in their plastic one and then pouring it into mine. I again explained why that was unacceptable and how it could be remedied. Obviously they had no concept of why I was doing this and some got quite defensive with me.

One time, I went onto the Tim Horton’s website and sent a message of complaint, about that policy, and their need to reduce their garbage better recycling. The next day I got a lovely boilerplate reply telling me how they are reducing waste with their recycling bins.

Things were going smoothly until a week or so later. We were at a Tim Horton’s in the Brookdale Plaza in Peterborough. I asked for an iced coffee to be made in my cup and, “don’t worry about stirring it. I’ll do it myself with my own straw.”

Her reply? “I can’t make it in your cup, but I can pour it into there once it’s made.”

I tried to explain nicely to her that it can be done without violating any health codes, but she wouldn’t even listen.

“I’m not allowed to do that! I’ve been working here for four years and I’ve never done that!”

Jim asked to speak to the manager. She claimed she was busy serving the drive-through. “You can call the owners if you want,” she yelled from the other end of the counter. “Or you can call Head Office. They’ll tell you it’s not allowed. Peterborough Health Unit won’t allow it.”

Again I tried to explain that there would be no cross contamination, that it wouldn’t be any different than refilling a hot coffee mug. But she would have none of it. She even said something about she couldn’t touch my cup.

I eventually got Jim to walk away and we went to MacDonald’s, where, after I explained what I wanted and how to do it, the manager said, “I can do that.”

The next time we were in our own local Tim Horton’s and the owner/manager cheerfully accepted my cup for refill, I told him about my Peterborough experience. He was surprised. He told me that he’d worked for the Head Office for several years, setting up franchises across the country, before deciding to become an owner, and that that woman was totally wrong. He said several people now take in their own cups or mugs just as I do.

Have you taken steps to try to reduce your footprint on the environment? If so, what has been your experience?

 

 

Something New is Coming and It Could Change Our World for the Better -The Green New Deal


Have you heard?  No, I’m not campaigning for the Green Party.  They did not initiate this!

A growing number of people are becoming aware of, and fearful, of the rapidly progressing climate crisis. Calls have gone out in the US and Canada for an initiative called the Green New Deal, defined as a comprehensive shift in our economy and government policy to simultaneously address the climate crisis, economic inequality, and the sweeping economic changes that come with automation and Artificial Intelligence. It’s also a call for inclusiveness. It’s been recognized that the only way we’re going to get through this crisis is together, as in non-partisan.

I heard about this a few weeks ago and, being one of those people who understand that there is a real crisis, I signed up to become involved. Last evening Jim and I drove to a small community a half hour south of us, to the first of several Town Hall Meetings being held throughout our area. As I mentioned, it was held in a small rural town, in a small town hall so I didn’t know what to expect. Would very many people show up? We were a little late arriving, but so were others. By the time the meeting got started, there were forty-five people filling all of the available tables and chairs!

There were some politicians there – the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of the Township; the Green Party Candidate for our federal riding,  Jeff  Wheeldon; and the Liberal Candidate for our riding, Kim Ludd (also our current MP) – but none of them were there to campaign. They all were interested in the same thing, to find ways to solve these crises together.

After a Welcome and introductions from the two women who organized it, we were all given a challenge to write down as many things we’d like to see happen to save our country’s environment and general well-being, and create another list of things that we wouldn’t want to see happen as a result of some of the possible efforts. After discussion among us, grouped by table, one person from each group presented a summary of what we agreed were the most important points. It was amazing to hear all of the suggestions. Many had similar ideas, but there were others who had really done a lot of thinking. In fact there were representatives from a chapter of another movement that I hadn’t heard about before, The Blue Dot Movement, who came up with some excellent and in- depth necessities to fight this crisis.

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Summary from Lists (in no particular order) 

  • Reduce/eventually ban single-use plastics (did you know that most dark coloured plastic bottles, such as those used for laundry detergents and rinses are not often recyclable?)
  • Development of more efficient electric vehicles, and wider provision of charging stations for them
  • Banning all dangerous chemicals used in pesticides and weed killers, such as Round-up
  • Encourage composting by providing municipal pick-up
  • EDUCATE about the need for changes and how to make them, through schools, adult workshops, etc.
  • Work toward the end of fossil fuel use, and replace with sustainable energy sources
  • Retraining for those workers whose jobs would be eliminated
  • Reforestation – bring back annual tree-planting days in schools
  • Create more (electric) public transportation
  • Fight for the Carbon Pricing and Tap and Trade legislation to remain in place
  • Fight for clean-energy strategies
  • Stop the continued decline of our natural plant species
  • Create community gardens, and buy locally

On the other list it was agreed that any of these changes needs to be accomplished without causing personal hardships to the public because of job layoffs or unaffordability.

Two Best Quotes of the Night 

  • There is no limit to what we can accomplish (together) if we don’t care about being the “winner”
  • You can’t have a good economy without a good environment

What I Came Away With 

  • It’s time that we started focusing on the first of the Three R’s, REDUCE. Recycling hasn’t been enough for a very long time, but it was the easiest.
  • There are plenty of like-minded people out there with many options for making reducing less stressful
  • We need to talk about the issue; we need to listen to others; we absolutely need to LEARN.
  • If we work together to accomplish these goals, we will All be WINNERS!

Let’s get involved to save our planet for our children and grandchildren! Let me know what you think is important and how you plan to make changes.