Newsletter #216 - September 2011
Promoting the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island
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Contact EcoNews

Guy Dauncey, Editor
13561 Barney Road, Ladysmith, BC
Tel (250) 924-1445

Executive director
The Solutions Project



In Belgium, the small city of Ghent, with its cyclists, winding canals and towering spires, has declared every Thursday a day free of meat, fish, and shellfish – “Donderdag – Veggie Dag”, as they say in Flemish, making it the first community in the world to do so.

Each Thursday, every restaurant and canteen will offer at least one vegetarian dish, and some will go fully vegetarian. Starting in September, the city's schools will make a meat-free meal the default option on Thursdays, unless parents insist on their children having meat, and at least one hospital wants to join in.

And while many of Ghent’s burghers will doubtless still enjoy their burgers, the city is encouraging people to embrace the change by distributing 90,000 maps listing the best places to eat a meat-free diet, along with recipe booklets and food samples.

In America, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore is spearheading a "meatless Mondays" campaign with 28 other public health schools, running outreach programs to promote a meat-free start to the week. In England, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Richard Branson, Bryan Adams, Sheryl Crow, and other celebrities have just launched a campaign for Meat-Free Mondays.

Might this be the beginning of a critical mass in public awareness about how harmful the meat industry is to the global environment? We are all familiar with how we should be walking, cycling and taking the bus instead of driving, and rightly so, since transport produces 14% of the world’s greenhouse gases.

The world’s livestock industry, however, produces 18% of the emissions – more than all the world’s transport. It does so because of the constant burping of methane by cows, the nitrous oxide emissions from fertilizers and manure, the natural gas that is needed to make the fertilizers, and the destruction of tropical rainforests to raise cattle and grow soybeans to feed them.

If the animals are raised locally, organically, and are grass-fed on pasture instead of being fed grain in an intensive feedlot, the impact is significantly less – and the health disadvantages fewer - so there is a way out for meat-lovers.

What, me burping?

In addition to its climate impact, raising meat – and beef in particular – uses vast quantities of water. David Pimentel of Cornell University has calculated that each kilogram of beef requires an incredible 100,000 litres, or 714 bathtubs full of water. Ponder that, the next time you save water while showering or brushing your teeth.

And yet at most environmental gatherings, if there’s meat on the menu, most people still chow down on it.

You might have thought that the horrible cruelty of factory farming would persuade people to stop eating meat – but not so. In the US, meat consumption has risen from 63 kg per person a year in the 1950s to 126 kg per person today. In Canada it’s 97 kg per person, per year – requiring 69,000 bathtubs full of water to raise it.

There are also the health arguments. William Castelli, MD, Medical Director at the Framingham Cardiovascular Institute, says that a low fat plant-based diet would lower the heart-attack rate by some 85%, and the cancer rate by 60%.

The China Study, which found 8,000 links between diet and disease, found that those who ate the most plant-based food were the healthiest, while those who ate the most animal-based food got the most chronic diseases. The greatest benefits came to those who ate the greatest variety of plant food, with the least heating, salting and processing. 

Eating meat is also associated with obesity, probably because it increases insulin levels, which may cause a hormonal response that increases body growth - meat-eaters have three times the obesity rate of vegetarians, and nine times that of vegans. It is very rare to see a vegetarian with a pot belly.

Turning the data about the benefits of vegetarian and vegan food into public policy has always been a challenge, however – until Ghent showed the way forward. Which city will be the first in North America to follow?

The larger food agenda is slowly making its way into policy. Copenhagen is pursuing the goal that by 2015, 20% of the food consumed in the city will be organic – 80% in municipal institutions.

The Swedish city of Växjö, which reduced its carbon footprint by 32% between 1993 and 2007 and is chasing 50% by 2010 and 70% by 2025, en-route to being a fossil-fuel-free city, is increasing the purchase of ecological foodstuffs for municipal institutions to 25% in 2010. They have also set a goal that 30% of the surrounding farmland should be managed ecologically by 2015.

In North America, Berkeley has included a goal in its Climate Action Plan that by 2050, “the majority of food consumed in the city is produced locally – i.e. within a few hundred miles”, and it has matched this with 20 actions, including public education about the merits of vegetarian and vegan food.

We can no longer ignore the impact that meat has on our planet and our health. Will one of BC’s municipalities  - or perhaps the Legislative Assembly itself – lead the way, and start serving only vegetarian food one day a week? 

- Guy Dauncey
The Eco-Personals

$1.00 a word. Max 5 lines; non-profits, low-income free. 1" box ad $50

Wanted: volunteer to update and print EcoNews address labels each month. Computer needs MS Access, parallel port. Printer provided. Guy 881-1304

Charming guest room, $30/night. Cook St Village, ocean. 250-361-3102

Short term rental, prime Fairfield location $30/night. 250-382-3810

Eco-minded health professional seeks clean dry suite or cottage, private, bright, garden for edible landscaping. NS, no pets. July 15/Aug 1, Central Saanich.  250-744-0141

Calling all shutterbugs and ocean lovers! Georgia Strait Alliance  ‘Show us your Strait Shot' 2009 photo contest. Closes Aug 31. 250.753.3459

Green Bites


We have three runners-up, and we have a winner, chosen in a close vote by the green-fingered organic gardening students at The Garden Path. And the winner is - Rick Juliusson, who farms near Duncan. Many thanks to you all!


fleshy, rich moistness
crumbled through my trembling hands
farmer is lover

- Rick Juliusson, Cowichan Valley



Green Drinks Victoria logo

What can be better than a gathering of green-inspired people from all walks of life, where all you have do is talk and drink? This is the successful formula behind Green Drinks. Within every conversation there may be a spark that leads to a new project, a green home reno, or a green romance. On Tuesday July 14th, 6-8pm, Victoria goes over the top with Green Drinks at Royal Roads on the Hatley Castle terrace (my dear), where we will enjoy displays, food, and probably a teeny bit of speechifying. Try to get there as greenly as you can! The Galloping Goose runs right by Royal Roads, as do buses 39, 51 & 61. See or email Chris:


Twittering with a muzzy brain
as summer wakes beside me:
I could miss the longest day

- Brian Mason, Fernwood



Many thanks to everyone who made a kind donation for my 10k sponsored run to raise funds for Prevent Cancer Now, which works to stop cancer before it starts by educating and working to get the toxins removed from our total life-stream. Together, you gave $2,463 towards my personal goal of $4,000, and with our other fundraising events across Canada, we have raised $44,000 towards our goal of $60,000. Many thanks!

If you would like to sponsor me for the run that I have now completed (it went great!), the link is here, or you can mail a cheque made out to Women's Healthy Environments Network, marked "for Prevent Cancer Now/Guy Dauncey run" and mail it to me at 395 Conway Road, Victoria V9E 2B9. That way, you will get a charitable receipt.



Our goal in Victoria is to recycle 60% of our wastes, but we are nowhere near it, and our annual rate is falling. San Francisco’s goal is simple: Zero Waste by 2020. They have already achieved 72%, and their goal for 2010 is 75%.

They divide their wastes into three bins – blue for all recyclables, green for food and yard waste, which is composted, and black for the rest. They have banned the use of plastic bags and styrofoam food containers, and businesses pay by weight for the garbage they throw out.

To move things along, the city’s recycling department is staffed with social activists, rather than engineers. When the garbage collectors see recyclables in someone’s trash, they leave them a tag to gently remind them so. Of the waste that San Francisco still sends to the landfill, 36% is compostable and 31% recyclable, so the city is now requiring everyone to separate their compostables, with a potential $100 fine for not doing so. If all recyclables and compostables were diverted, the city’s recycling rate would jump to 90%. Personal freedom? Yes – but we happily part with the freedom to drive on the wrong side of the road because of the harm it does to others.
Zero waste matters. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has found that when it comes to the greenhouse gases that fuel global warming, eliminating the waste sent to landfills and incinerators in the US would be like closing 21% of America’s coal-fired power plants.



We drive – my, how we drive! And so unnecessarily, much of the time. That’s all changing if you live on Denman, Hornby, or in the Comox Valley.

Thanks to a grant from Eco-Action Canada, Renewable Energy Denman Island has created an easy-to-use website for lifts offered, lifts wanted, and help with small errands such as returning a video. People sharing rides negotiate their own requirements as to stops, etiquette, and cost-sharing.

Every litre of gas we burn releases 2.4 kg of CO2 to the atmosphere – and 20% of it will remain there for millennia.

Island Rideshare logo



Ever wondered why streetlights are left burning all night? A few years ago, people in the small village of Dörentrup, 100 km from Hanover in Germany, asked the same question and came up with an answer called Dial4Light, for which they now have the patent.

The streetlights go off at 9pm, and if you need them on you dial a central number and provide a six-digit code for the area wanted, which are posted on the lamp posts and the Dial-4-Light website.

Within seconds, the lights switch on, last for 10-15 minutes, and then shut off. It may not work in large cities, but it can in smaller communities, and the local council will save tens of thousands of Euros a year.

For the Canadian license, email Dark nights and starlight – here we come! See



Awake! There’s trouble on the land. The beautiful Madrona Farm, a 27-acre ecological and agricultural treasure in Victoria’s Blenkinsop Valley, is in danger of being lost.

The young farmers, David and Natalie Chambers, have only until the end of July to raise $300,000 towards the reduced cost of $1.7 million to pay David’s two uncles who own the farm with his father, who need to sell.

Preserve local food supplies for future generations

The land is zoned Agricultural Land Reserve, but that carries no requirement that it will remain in food production. Once sold, it could easily become a hobby farm or gentleman’s estate.

David and Natalie are true eco-farmers, who – as well as providing fresh produce for 3,500 homes in the Greater Victoria region (over 100 varieties of vegetable, 12 months a year) and training young people in sustainable farming methods – have gone out of their way to integrate farming with the natural environment, protecting Douglas fir and Garry oak ecosystems, and a wooded wildlife corridor to Mount Douglas Park.

When the land is bought, The Land Conservancy will own and protect it in public trust for all future generations.

Do you know a large-hearted person who might help create a gift that could last a thousand years? And might you help Madrona with a donation yourself? See and



The Land Conservancy (TLC) is a wonderful organization that has inspired thousands of people to believe in the dream of preserving valuable green space and heritage buildings and farms around British Columbia, and to dip into our pockets and bank accounts to pull off what none of us could have achieved on our own. Amid it all, it has been Bill Turner, surrounded by a choir of very determined angels, who have turned the dreams into reality. 

Coping with “we must raise three million by the end of the month to save this incredible property” on a regular basis can be very stressful, especially when the surrounding economy does a nosedive. In January, this stress led the Board to implement a sudden and unexpected change in TLC’s leadership which resulted in Bill Turner leaving his job as Executive Director.

Nothing like this happens without a response, however, and there are many who want to see Bill Turner back in his job. As a result of member pressure, the Board of TLC has agreed to stand down, and there will be an Extraordinary General Meeting at 1pm on Saturday August 8th, at the Bob Wright Centre, Science Building 150, at UVic, when there will be an election to appoint a new Board of Directors.

For the purpose of voting, a member must be in good standing (annual membership paid in full, or an active monthly membership with up-to-date payments) as of July 8th - so if you have strong feelings, and want to vote, you need to become a member of TLC by Wednesday, July 8th.  Membership starts at $3 a month. The following people have put their names forward to become members of the board, as candidates for  “Save TLC”:

  • Magnus Bein (Vernon), Manager of the Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program – a collaboration of about 30 agencies in the North Okanagan
  • Cheryl Bryce (Victoria), Land manager for the Songhees First Nation
  • Al Craighead (Victoria), Local activist and previously Victoria City Councilor
  • Barry Glickman (Victoria/Cortes Island) Professor of Biology, University of Victoria
  • David Merner (Victoria), Lawyer, Director Dispute Resolution office, Attorney General’s Department
  • Elspeth McVeigh (Vancouver), Conservationist, Business woman (in BC and Scotland)
  • Ken Millard (Galiano Island), Chair of the Galiano Conservancy Association
  • Briony Penn (Salt Spring Island), One of the founders of TLC, journalist, teacher and so much more
  • Carol Pickup (Victoria), Retired Saanich Councilor
  • Fran Pugh (Brentwood Bay), Farmer and President of the Saanich Inlet Protection Society
  • Todd Wong (Vancouver), Librarian, founder of Gung Haggis Fat Choy, member of the Friends of Joy Kogawa House

If you are a member, please support the Save TLC candidates in the election.  TLC’s future is in your hands. It could die, its promise lost to future generations, or it could flourish again under the leadership of these inspirational people and Bill Turner.



Last September, EcoNews reported on the plight of the Yasuni people in the Ecuador rainforest, one of the most bio-diverse places on the planet, which has the misfortune to sit on top of hundreds of millions of barrels of oil, worth some $6 billion, which the big multinational oil companies are trying to prise open.

The government of Ecuador said that if the international community would pay it $350 million a year for ten years to create a legacy fund for sustainable development and renewable energy, they would leave the oil underground forever.
The deadlines came and went, and things seemed hopeless, but now the governments of Germany and Norway have shown interest, along with the European Parliament, and there is a new July 2009 deadline. Germany has pledged the first contribution to a yet-to-be-created international fund. Oh, that Canada should be there too, if we were not ruled by Big Oil itself. See
Greenpeace Germany’s Forest Campaign has calculated that $48 billion could secure the future of all rainforests, worldwide – something that is urgently needed both for the nature within them and to protect the immense amounts of carbon they store. 20% of the world’s CO2 emissions come from the world’s forests, as they are burnt or cut down. Shared by the world’s 1 billion not-so-poor people, that’s $48 each, or $1 a week if we paid it all in one year. What will it take, to wake us from our sleep?


Why cut the branch we
are standing on together?
Why not let it grow?

- Margaret Hantiuk, Fernwood



Hopenhagen is a new PR initiative designed to create a global wave of pressure in the run-up to the most important conference – the UN Climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December 2009. It is then that the world’s nations must sign a new global treaty to protect our climate against global warming.

All around the world, people are organizing. On October 24th there will be an International Day of Climate Action when over 1,000 groups of people in 56 countries will act to promote public pressure in advance of Copenhagen around the number 350 - because 350 parts per million is considered a “safe” level of CO2 in the atmosphere, in contrast to the current 388ppm, which is rising inexorably by 2ppm a year as we continue to burn fossil fuels, eat meat, and destroy rainforests. Every second of every day, we release 1,000 new tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

 100,000 on the Hill
In Ottawa, students are organizing  “100,000 on the Hill” to demand strong and effective climate action on October 24th, inspired by David Suzuki’s interview on The Hour in which he recalled the words of a former prime minister that the way to achieve legislative change is to get 100,000 students on Parliament Hill.

Copenhagen: Seal the Deal

The United Nations is organizing a “Seal the Deal” Climate Week from September 20th-26th, designed to galvanize public support in 100 cities around the world. They have created a global petition we can all sign which will be presented to global leaders - see

In Vancouver, Bridge to a Cool Planet will be a major event on Sunday September 27th on the Burrard Street Bridge, with activities and festivities of every kind to demonstrate public support for bold leadership by Canada at Copenhagen, and celebrate what we can do individually and collectively to reduce our emissions and energy use at work, home and in our neighbourhoods. (Call Kevin Washbrook 778-848-8278

Pedal for the Planet

Locally in Victoria, Nadia Nowak, a student from Pender Island, is setting off on Friday July 3rd as part of Pedal for the Planet, which will see cyclists from all across Canada converge on Ottawa on September 20th. You can support her on the Legislature Lawn at 10am. See


Dry sand, bright clear skies
Sip smoothly, breathe silver sighs
Glow hot life-giver.

- Norma Alison, Victoria

The Wonderful World of Web
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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
Tel (250) 881-1304

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