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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

It's Easy To Go Green

Many people agree with the goals of the environmental movement; however, many more admit to only recycling when it comes to following up on these goals. Things such as a busy lifestyle and lack of guidance regarding their role for solutions that are needed today compound into making a greener life difficult for them.

Some people are afraid of the activism angle of going green or being an environmentalist. Adopting better habits and a more conscientious way of doing things does not have to mean overhauling your entire life. If we can remove some of the myths about being more environmentally aware people would be more ready to adapt to a few changes that are equally good for them and for their surroundings.

Your efforts to tread more lightly on this earth are not alone. Every conscious decision you make and every action you take over many days and copied by many people will have a profound effect on the environment even if you can not see what changes are occurring.

We all share in the responsibility of sustaining the health of our environment. There are simple tips to reduce our footprint on the environment. Some of these include:

• At work you can make two-sided copies to save paper.
• Put your printer, copier, fax machines on sleep mode when not in use
• Lights in rooms that are not occupied should be turned off
• In your home, fix all water leaks
• Take shorter showers
• Turn water off when you are brushing your teeth
• Use vinegar and baking soda as cleaners in your home
• Buy local for both groceries and any other retail product.
• Support your local farmer’s markets

There are lots of ways to support a cleaner greener environment these are just some of the simple ones that anyone should be able to accomplish without to much fuss. Then there is the old adage, “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”. Three simple words to help you get started on a greener lifestyle.


To achieve a sustainable food supply and protect our food supply, our farmers must succeed in protecting their farm land, biodiversity, topsoil, water supply and livestock health. Good local land is a gift, but the soil can only be sustained by the farmers who know how to sustain and enrich it.

One topic that has come up regarding our farmland is the use of biosolids. Biosolids are made from the solid waste that remains in human sewage also called the sludge. Our farmland soil is a unique and valuable resource that is maintained by our local farmers. So the question is – Does it make sense to build a multi-million dollar sewage treatment plant, which will remove pollutants from the sewage only to have the pollutant by-products (sludge) spread on the land?

Protecting our farmland as a valuable and viable resource requires avoiding potential harm and degradation of the land. If the land were to become contaminated with possible pollutants from the biosolids, the damage could persist for decades.

Think of the possible contaminants in sewer sludge. Think of everyday hospital waste for example. There would be a cocktail of feces, urine, cleaners, blood, personal care products, drugs, heavy metals and other more industrial wastes. Now I understand that the left over sludge is treated before being turned into a biosolid which is then applied to the land to act as a fertilizer. But is that enough??

Proponents of the use of biosolids say yes. They insist that the biosolids are tested and meet all present regulations surrounding the treatment of wastewater products. They feel that the spread of this product is completely safe on agriculture land.

In a message written by Fred Blois of the Nova Scotia Environmental Network and the NDP Environmental Committee, It is important to consider that current waste water treatment plant technology was not designed to remove many of the nutrients, estrogenic compounds, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products present in waste water. Therefore, current technologies may be creating risks of unknown magnitude for public health.

There is a tremendous amount of new knowledge about what substances exist in biosolids and how they behave which has come to light in recent years. Contrary to claims made by proponents of biosolids, soil scientists specializing in sewage sludges have determined that contaminants can leech into groundwater sources or enter other water courses via field run-off.

The Nova Scotia Environmental Network is asking Nova Scotians to collect signatures on a petition to the provincial government to declare an immediate moratorium on the use of sewage sludge (biosolids) on Nova Scotia lands and to adopt with minimum delay safe options for sewage sludge disposal or destruction. You can find more information at their website:

Monday, May 17, 2010

Food Security

There is an old saying, “you are what you eat.”

To achieve a sustainable food supply and protect our food supply, our farmers must succeed in protecting their farm land, biodiversity, topsoil, water supply and livestock health. Good local land is a gift, but the soil can only be sustained by the farmers who know how to sustain and enrich it.

As a community we need to support our local farmers in the development of sustainable farming practices and support the development of food access programs such as community gardens, community kitchens, farmers’ markets and produce stands.
As consumers we should seek out local farmers markets and/or buy locally grown seasonal food in order to cut down on the environmental costs associated with transporting produce to our community from a great distance. Some products, coming from the United States and Ontario, have commuted an average of 1500 miles. More calories of energy go into packing, storing and carting the food than exist in the food itself.

Having our food come from some place else is a trend that can threaten the safety and security of our food supply. Other countries, that import food to our area, do not have the same food safety requirements that we have here in Canada and therefore outbreaks of E. coli and other contaminants can and have happened.

There is no sure way to ensure the quality and safety if imported foods that come from areas where standards are less stringent. The global supply chain is unsustainable and irresponsible from the perspective of combating climate change, protecting the health of citizens, and avoiding the potential for widespread food insecurity due to changes in political and economic conditions.

Food security also includes being able to make a living by growing and producing food in ways that protect and support both the land, sea and the food producers, and that ensures that there will be healthy food for our children’s children. The way that we now produce and process food cannot support a sustainable food system. We need to encourage a way of producing food that will last into the future and ensure that our children’s children have all the food they need.

If you are interested in becoming part of the Amherst Community Garden Project please feel free to contact me so I can arrange for you to have a garden plot to grow your own food.

Lisa Emery, B.A. is currently living in Amherst. Lisa invites comments to her column. You can contact Lisa at: Follow her on Twitter at:, or view her blog at

Thursday, May 6, 2010

An Environmental Mother's Day 2010

When people discuss the state of the planet they sometimes refer to “Mother Earth”, which makes sense as our human mothers are very important people in our lives. Mothers give us life and tend to work for our benefit for many years. Mother Nature, another term that has been coined to refer to the world around us, has been considered a female for thousands of years. She – Mother Nature gives us life and sustenance, food and water to live on.

Consider getting your mom a gift of “green” this year for Mother’s Day. You’ll impress her with your environmental awareness and will be doing Mother Nature a favour. One gift that people like to do for Mother’s Day is to give her breakfast in bed. How about making sure that you have local food and ingredients? We have local eggs, meats, milk, maple syrup and other breakfast items. Buying local foods saves on the transportation, energy, and packaging it takes to bring produce from faraway while also supporting our local farmers.

You can spend some time alone with your mother for Mother’s Day. All of the April showers have brought us May flowers. Instead of a bouquet how about a walk in a park or perhaps the bird sanctuary (if it is not still raining of course).

There are lots of possible “green” gifts for Mother’s Day. How about a donation in her name for a tree planting or another conservation project. Mabey a trip to our newly openned health spa on Church Street.

If you want to take a little side trip, the Fossil Centre in Joggins has a brunch menue with two seatings available for Mother’s Day. There will also be an exhibit of hooked rugs and a guided walking tour. You need to call them at 257-2727 to book your table for the brunch seating at either 10:00 or 11:00.

Or, you can cook for your mother or wife using local ingredients. There should be asparagus, sprouts and fiddleheads available at your local grocery store or farmers market. A purchase of fresh food will support our local farmers and help preserve local open spaces.

Lisa Emery, B.A. is currently living in Amherst. Lisa invites comments to her column. You can contact Lisa at: Follow her on Twitter at:, or view her blog at