Archive for the ‘Energy’ Category


Earth Hour is tonight from 8 to 9 p.m. wherever you live.

Think you’ll be bored in an hour without electricity? Here are some suggestions to keep you busy:

  1. Read
  2. Play board games
  3. Knit
  4. Talk to your significant other. Who know what that could lead to…
  5. Play with your kids
  6. Sing
  7. Play an instrument
  8. Draw
  9. Sleep
  10. Go for a walk
  11. Montreal Canadiens’ fans: listen to the game on a battery-powered radio
  12. Eat chocolates and peanut-butter sandwiches

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As I was breastfeeding my toddler for what felt like the umpteenth time yesterday, I started to try to think about the postive aspects of nursing forever and ever amen. This is what I am going to try to focus on instead of trying to figure out why this baby just does not want to be weaned. (Her favourite thing seems to be chanting “na na na na” while trying to jump onto my chest from the floor.)

Here are five reasons breastfeeding is good for the planet:

1. It produces no garbage.

2. It doesn’t have to be shipped from a factory, burning fossil fuels and creating greenhouse gases.

3. It doesn’t require the production of bottles, bottle liners, nipples, or formula containers.

4. Breast milk is a renewable resource.

5. It requires no energy (except for what the mother’s body uses to make all that milk, but hey all those calories burned by breastfeeding help that pregnancy weight come off!)

I feel like I’ve been nursing a baby forever — well, for a good part of the last eight years anyway. Since my first baby was born, I’ve noticed that more and more women breastfeed, and they do it publicly without having to drape themselves in sheets and blankets to hide what they’re doing. Although my hairdresser still tries to get me to go into a different room to nurse the baby if she wants a snack while I’m getting a haircut. It seems some of the older customers aren’t so into breastfeeding in public.

This week, a Montreal neighborhood began handing out stickers to local businesses that welcome breastfeeding mothers. I hope that means an end to places that expect women to nurse their babies in the bathroom. How gross is that?

You can read more about the new stickers — like the image you see above — in a story from La Presse here.

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People around the world are making plans to shut off their electricity for an hour on March 29 (that’s two weeks from tonight) in a global statement against global warming. More than 32,000 Canadians – including our family – have already pledged to turn off their lights between 8 and 9 p.m., local time.

Last year, more than 2 million people in Sydney, Australia, switched off. This year, the movement has gone global and Montreal is one of the cities that is taking part.

You can learn more about Earth Hour here. That blue dots on that globe above represent people who’ve pledged to join in Earth Hour. You can see an updated globe here.

Spread the word.

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There’s an interesting story in today’s Montreal Gazette about the impact of idling your car. Besides polluting and wasting fuel, it also damages the car engine because newer cars are designed in order not to have to be idled before you start driving, even in the winter.

Idle Threat

Bylaw rarely enforced. Only 106 out of 1.3 million tickets issued last year were for idling

Andy Riga, The Gazette

With some exceptions, it’s illegal to idle your car for more than three minutes in Montreal. But don’t worry too much about getting a ticket for the infraction.

In 2007 – the first year the bylaw was on the books in most boroughs – only 106 tickets were handed out for illegal idling. Of those, just two were in the downtown Ville Marie borough, the area with the heaviest traffic and most motorists needlessly idling.

They were among the 1.3 million tickets given for non-moving violations across the island.

Despite the low number of tickets, Alan DeSousa, the city executive committee member responsible for the environment, said he thinks the bylaw has reduced idling and raised awareness about its detrimental effects. The practice wastes fuel, causes pollution and creates greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

If Montrealers are ever going to break the idling habit, however, experts suggest the first steps will be to debunk persistent myths about car engines and to convince motorists they should forego the luxury of toasty cars.

The rest of the story is here.

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I’ve been reading a couple of interesting things recently about the oil sands projects in Alberta.

The first is this series, published earlier this year in the Globe and Mail. The eight-day series looks at the development of the oil sands, and the environmental and social cost of the projects, which are estimated to have a worth of $90 billion.

The second is the book Stupid to the Last Drop: How Alberta is Bringing Environmental Armageddon to Canada (And Doesn’t Seem to Care) by William Marsden, a colleague of mine at the Montreal Gazette. Marsden, who is an investigative reporter, spins a great yarn about the development of the oil sands, from a loony plan to blast the oil from the sand with a nuclear bomb to the boom/bust/boom experience of a Calgary oil man.

Reading the book left me with an impending sense of doom. The amount of fossil fuels left on the planet is finite, yet we seem not to care, building more roads, buying more cars, and ignoring the environmental costs of harvesting energy this way.

Reading about the oil sands has been making me think about what our family can do to conserve fuel and oil around our house.

We switched to an electric furnace a couple of years ago to reduce our fossil-fuel consumption. Now our biggest fossil-fuel user is our minivan, and I’ve been trying to use it less. It has been more challenging than I thought.  I’m hoping once the weather warms up and I can get my bicycle and kids’ trailer back out on the road I’ll truly be able to reduce the amount of time we use our van.

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Now that we’ve been thinking greener for a while, I thought it would be interesting to find out what kind of an impact our lifestyle has on the planet. Using a carbon footprint calculator, I plugged in all sorts of information about our family from the number of kilowatt hours of electricity we use every year to whether we own a motorcycle or if we’re vegetarians. The calculator figures out the impact of human activities on the planet by calculating the amount of greenhouse gases we produce in our daily lives. It measures the impact in tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2).

You can see how we did above: 11.5 tonnes, which I was very happy to see was below the Canadian average but still far above the ideal world average, which would be two tonnes. There is a lot we could do to reduce our footprint, such as turning down our thermostat, reducing our water temperature by a degree or two, eating less meat, and one I really want to look into — recycling our grey water.

I’m going to check back in at the end of the year and see if our footprint has shrunk.

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Want to leave a legacy your family will never, ever forget?

How about letting the funeral home that cremates your body use the heat from burning you up to heat the room where your funeral is being held? That’s what a funeral director in England is proposing to his customers.  “It is a generous gesture,” he says.

You can read all about it at mediamatinquebec, the newspaper being put out by locked-out journalists at the Journal de Québec, Quebec City’s daily tabloid. The labour dispute began last April but they have been putting together this newspaper every day.

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