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Friday, February 26, 2010

The Amherst Citizen: News | Rising tide

The Amherst Citizen: News | Rising tide

Even though Mr. Casey is ambivelant about Global Warming and Climate Change being the cause of the waters rising. He still heralds a warning of what we can expect in the future if we do not adapt and fix the dykes.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Sustainable Olympics

When the Games were held in Beijing, China made a pledge to the International Olympic Committee to achieve the World Health Organization standards for urban air quality in time for their 2008 Summer Olympic Games.

This year, the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics committee is also under enormous pressure to present a “green face” to the world. Along with sport and culture, the environment was one of the three pillars of the Olympic movement this year; and part of its campaign was to encourage the Vancouver Olympic organizers (VANOC) to make the 2010 games carbon neutral.

Vancouver is hosting the world's biggest winter event with many types of winter venues, from skiing to skating to hockey and several sports which look death defying. Let us not forget the “green zamboni” which keeps breaking down and putting a hold on the indoor ice sports. In retrospect, the Vancouver Olympic Committee has tried to make things as sustainable as possible with the unpredictable weather and equipment failures.

In 2011, Nova Scotia will be hosting the Jeux Canada Winter Games. Most of the events will be held in Halifax; however, the skiing will be at Wentworth and Martock. I wonder if the organizers of this event will put effort into a more sustainable carbon neutral Games.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Non Toxic Cleaning Supplies for Food Bank

Members of the Poverty Action Committee will be at the Food Bank in Amherst on February 10th and the 17th to begin a new program regarding more affordable and environmentally friendly cleaning supplies.

Many of the products used to clean homes include ingredients that are harmful to people and the environment. Choosing less toxic cleaners does not have to be expensive. Using ingredients that are in most people’s homes already can be a safe, inexpensive and effective way to clean all areas of the home; and they can be easily made.

Safe Cleaning Ingredients

• Baking soda – Is an odor absorber and a mild abrasive. Can also be sprinkled on carpets just before vacuuming to remove odors.
• Lemons or lemon juice found in most kitchens, the strong citrus scent is great at removing odors.
• Vinegar – Will remove grease, soap scum and mineral deposits and also acts as a deodorizer. Can be used effectively on windows and mirrors. Be sure to use white, distilled vinegar.

An All Purpose Cleaner

Mix ingredients in a spray bottle to clean counter tops, floors, walls or carpet.
• ½ cup of vinegar and 1 cup to 1 quart of warm water. A Litre of vinegar only costs $1.99.
• Dissolve 4 Tablespoons of baking soda in one quart of warm water.

Instead of fabric softener, use ½ cup of baking soda in the rinse cycle. Or one to two cups of vinegar in the rinse cycle will also soften and deodorize fabrics. You can use a piece of aluminum foil in the dryer to help remove static cling. Equal Parts vinegar and water can be used to remove tough stains such as grass, perspiration, rust, coffee, wine, beer or pet stains among others.

Anyone wishing to donate these safer cleaning products can deliver them to Maggie’s Place.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Bird watchers coast to coast are invited to take part in the 13th annual Great Backyard Bird Count, Friday, February 12, through Monday, February 15, 2010. Last year, participants turned in more than 93,600 checklists online, creating the continent's largest instantaneous snapshot of bird populations ever recorded.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on any one of the four days, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds.

Participants count birds anywhere for as little or as long as they wish during the four-day period. They tally the highest number of birds of each species seen together at any one time. To report their counts, they fill out an online checklist at the website,

Scientists and bird enthusiasts can learn a lot by knowing where the birds are. Bird populations are dynamic; they are constantly in flux. No single scientist or team of scientists could hope to document the complex distribution and movements of so many species in such a short time.

“Taking part in the Great Backyard Bird Count is a great way to get outside with family and friends, have fun, and help birds—all at the same time," said Audubon Education Vice President, Judy Braus during an interview regarding Birdcount 2010. "Even if you can only identify a few species you can provide important information that enables scientists to learn more about how the environment is changing and how that affects our conservation priorities.”

Scientists can learn from the patterns of migration of birds as well as developing trends that can be used to study the birds that may be affected by factors such as global climate change and disease.

“The GBBC is a perfect first step towards the sort of intensive monitoring needed to discover how birds are responding to environmental change,” said Janis Dickinson, the director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab. “Winter is such a vulnerable period for birds, so winter bird distributions are likely to be very sensitive to change. There is only one way—citizen science—to gather data on private lands where people live and GBBC has been doing this across the continent for many years. GBBC has enormous potential both as an early warning system and in capturing and engaging people in more intensive sampling of birds across the landscape.”

For more information about the GBBC, visit the website at Or contact Bird Studies Canada at 1- (888)- 448-2473 ext. 134 or If you do not have a computer to record your statistics please call Lisa Emery at 667-1424 and I will send in your statistics for you.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What Does Going Green Really Mean?

The phrase "going green" has grown to mean adapting your lifestyle so as to do less damage to the environment and our earth. It can also refer to many different approaches on how to make this earth a better place. The larger goal, of course, is to be less of a burden on the environment and our local communities. And with energy costs on a steep curve upward, it helps to reduce costs too.

The movement is really quite quiet, with little steps here and there - on the people’s side items such as fewer lights on, mugs not paper cups, car-pooling, double sided printing, less printing, making notes on scrap paper (of which there is lots), shutting monitors and desk lighting off at the office. These are all small steps. They are also steps in the right direction. Nothing to drastic, or to costly, but steps that can be sustainable. This is not like a diet, but merely a lifestyle change.

The truth is that everything single thing we do every day has an impact on the planet -- good or bad. The good news is that as an individual you have the power to control most of your choices and, therefore, the impact you create: from where you live to what you buy, eat, and use to light your home to where and how you vacation, to how you shop or vote, you can have global impact.

Are you green? This is an innocent yet powerful question to ask yourself. In the marketing of products for the global economy (which is bad to begin with), you may have discovered that the desire to “go green” far outweighs the need or commitment to do so. With regard to premiums and giveaways, most marketing professionals jump at a new eco-friendly item only to sit down when the price tag comes out. On the other side of the coin, the companies making these products are only doing so for the eco selling point. This means that the percent of the product that is “green” is only what the law says it needs to be…usually just 51% of the material. The question then remains: Are these really eco products and do they even offer any benefit besides the “green” branding they come with? This is one problem that enticed a reader of the Globe and Mail to send a letter to the editor stating, “ if one more corporation declares itself green or going green I am going to start burning tires in my backyard”. I understand his anger and confusion.

Going green needs to be cheaper or at least more cost effective. There are simple tips to help each of us be a little greener without spending a lot of money to “go green”. You can do simple things around the house such as turning off appliances while not in use and turning of lights when you leave a room.

You can also avoid buying unnecessary or overly packaged goods. Some of the things we bought at Christmas would have been in plastic packaging. Did you find yourself hunting through the house looking for a machete to open it? Then what – you throw out the packaging which is extremely harmful to the environment. You can also refuse to take any extra pieces of paper when you are shopping or the things that fast food places put in your take away bag. These are all simple things to help make your life a little greener.