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



When you hear the word “sustainability” being used on the bus, you know something’s happening.

It’s a long word, and some would say its meaning has been hopelessly compromised by greenwashing and PR games designed to fool us such as “sustainable oil sands production”.

I feel a deeper shift, however - a cultural groundswell that has the potential to change the way we live in a truly fundamental way similar to the Renaissance or the Reformation, five hundred years ago.

But first, what does it mean? The original 1987 Brundtland Commission definition says it is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

The intention is good, but the words are too loose - they read as if “there ain’t nobody here but us humans”. My preferred definition is more elaborate:

“Sustainability is a condition of existence that enables the present generation of humans and other species to enjoy social well-being, a vibrant economy, and a healthy environment, without compromising the ability of future generations to enjoy the same.”

Alternatively, it is simply “living in harmony with Nature”, using the capital “N” to give Nature the same respect we give to nations, cities, and ourselves.

If we do not find a way to live in harmony with Nature, we’re in terrible trouble. Business-as-usual, with its unsustainable consumption of fossil fuels, farmland, forests, fish and almost everything else, is pushing our civilization straight for the cliff - and that’s got many people unable to sleep at night, wrestling with the urgent question “What can I do?”

It is out of this distress that the vision of sustainability is arising, offering both a dream and a global movement. When we look at the history of civilizations, it is easy to see that they do collapse when they fail to respond to challenges. They can also change, however, and become something new.

The Renaissance metaphor is useful in that it implies an upsurge of hope and vitality. But rather than placing Man at the centre of things, pushing aside the oppression of the medieval church, the vision of sustainability invites us to step back from our dominance and make room for Nature, in respectful and flourishing co-existence. 

Renaissance paintingThe Reformation metaphor is useful in that it lets us compare today’s big banks and corporations to the Catholic church of 16th century Rome.

Five hundred years ago, priests sold indulgences to ordinary people to buy their way out of hell. Yesterday, banks and finance houses sold sub-prime mortgages to low-income people to buy their way out of poverty. The same lubricity and trickery stemmed from the same unfortunate sense of power and self-importance.

In 16th century Europe, it led to a rejection of Catholicism, and the birth through Protestant beliefs of a new relationship with God, direct and unmediated by priests or rituals.

In the 21st century, it can lead to the rejection of free market capitalism and consumerism, and the birth of a new relationship with Nature, unmediated by distant banks, corporations and superstores.

In today’s business-as-usual world, it is considered normal to buy chemically grown food and clearcut timber, and to invest your savings in fossil fuels through innocent sounding investment funds. With every economic transaction we make, Nature is destroyed a little.

In the emerging sustainable world, it will be normal to know that every economic transaction helps to restore Nature, not destroy it. During the transition, it will be normal to see green labels and certifications on food, timber, houses, investments, energy, businesses, banks, and everything else, telling us that the production, transport and activities have been “greened”, with a view to being 100% sustainable by a certain year. The energy will all be renewable, the food organic, the operations zero waste, their actions all ecologically restorative.

In late 14th century Europe, many people believed that the world was about to end. They were right - but not as they thought it. The old world did end, and a new world was born.

Today, many people who have read the forecasts of environmental collapse believe things are hopeless, and perhaps we’d be better off without civilization and all its ills. Leave it to the bugs and bacteria, they argue.

If people had thought this way in the 15th century, there would have been no Renaissance, no Reformation.

So how does it happen? If you work in a business, form a Green Team. If you work in a hopelessly brown job, quit it and find something greener. If you want change, join one of the many groups that exist in your community, or form a new one. And above all, believe that it is possible.

- Guy Dauncey

The Eco-Personals

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

Lovely room to rent, close to ocean, downtown, $30/night, 250-382-3810.

Mature female pet/house sitter seeks room in Victoria for when not sitting, with use or share of stove, fridge, washer, dryer. Pay per day or barter when present. 250-383-5144

Mayne Island Rental 250-539-3195

Sustainable Movies! Community building with guests and discussion every Monday night 6:30pm at Eric Martin Pavilion theatre, 1900 Block of Fort St. Past movies Mad City Chickens, Sombrio, Strong Coffee, King Corn, One Man, One Cow, One Planet, Garbage Warrior, China Blue can be borrowed from Yo Video 592-5678.

For rent: large 1 BR suite in super quiet house on huge forest acreage. Deep Cove, $850. Long
term, NS. 250-656-1312.

Farm-share: looking for people to share working organic hobby farm, North Cowichan, 37 acres. Lynn 250-597-7300

Kildara Farms in North Saanich Deep Cove needs apple pickers. 250-655-3093.

Saanich - Volunteers are needed for several Advisory Committees - Bicycle and Pedestrian Mobility; Environmental; Parks, Trails and Recreation; Significant Trees; Planning Transportation and Economic Development. Apply by Friday October 22nd. See or call 250-475-1775

EcoNews needs envelopes! Do you have clean regular letter-sized envelopes that you can’t use because of an address change? Call Guy 250-881-1304.

Follow @GuyDauncey on Twitter for links to important news stories.

Green Bites


Work party

Where are we at on global action against climate change? It’s a big depressing mess when it comes to global treaty making. The next UN conference is in Cancun, Mexico, this December, but no-one is raising much hope. Every single republican candidate standing for election to Congress in November is a climate denier. To balance this, there is an incredible upsurge of grassroots action.

On Sunday October 10th, has called for a Global Work Party to reduce our carbon emissions - and 5,127 events have been registered in 127 countries. (See Here in Victoria, there’s a work party to plant 350 fruit and nut trees at Woodwynn Farm, the therapeutic community for homeless people. We need a LOT of volunteers to plant 350 trees! We also need $50 per tree to pay for the trees and their transport. Can you sponsor a tree? See or call Christine Lintott at 250-384-1969.

The Sierra Club is also organizing an eelgrass restoration work party on Oct 10th - see Green Diary.


Delicious, Nutritious & Educational!


Regional & Seasonal Cuisine, $40 + HST

Every Friday from Oct 15th 7-9.30 pm
Nourish Bistro, Glendale Gardens, Quayle Road, Saanich
Reservations 250-588-2405



The Green Party in Germany was formed 30 years ago, and has been gradually moving towards mainstream acceptance. Across the country, they are polling at 22% support, and in Berlin and Baden-Wurttemberg they are polling close to 30% - the same as the Liberal Party of Canada. Elected under Germany’s proportional voting system, they have 68 seats in the Bundestag (out of 622), 160 seats in regional parliaments, and 14 seats in the European Parliament. They are now in a position to envision a Green being appointed head of a state government, and are preparing to become a ruling party.

Germany’s current goal is to have 100% renewable electricity by 2050: the Greens want it by 2030, while also closing down the nuclear power plants. For transport, they are committed to creating interconnected mobility, including rail, transit, car-sharing, not just a shift to electric cars. They insist on gender balance in all their senior positions, and have more than 50% women in all their elected posts.
It is frustrating in Canada to have a culture that is much more European than American, and yet to be locked into traditional “first past the post” voting that excludes this current of thought from political representation.
In Britain, which shares the same frustrating reality, Caroline Lucas has just become the first Green Party MP (Brighton and Hove) ever elected to Parliament under “first past the post”. This shows it is possible - and raises the hope that Elizabeth May, who is running for Saanich-Gulf Islands, can achieve the same. To help her campaign, go to



Hot on the heels of Carolyn Herriot’s best-selling book The Zero Mile Diet comes the Two Block Diet in East Vancouver where two years ago, two women wanted to grow food, but rather than just digging in, they first decided to invite their neighbours on East 23rd and 24th to join them.

They circulated a flyer, and 13 people showed up to a meeting. Working together, they started a sprouting station to grow tomatoes from seed, built a greenhouse to protect the seeds, and did weekend work-parties in each other’s yards. Chickens and bees soon followed. As a neighbourhood, they share tools, and order seeds, compost and rentals together to lower the price, celebrating with an annual block party.

Kate Sutherland has written a two-sided sheet on how they did it, emphasizing shared leadership. (

She writes, “We’ve all been blown away by how simple, effective and fulfilling this has been. We can’t imagine going back to the way things were before our mini garden revolution. Funny that talking to your neighbours has become an act of rebellion.” Who’s up next? Let me know, and I’ll do a story in EcoNews.



It’s a long word, but my, it’s a good one! The Capital Regional District (CRD) has created an amazing website that tells you about anything and everything you might want to reduce, reuse or recycle, and where to take items that can’t go in the Blue Box.

Batteries? Milk cartons? Compact fluorescent light bulbs? They’re all there, along with the environmental story for every item.

For some things, such as asphalt shingles, the sad news is “nothing possible yet”, but for everything else, it’s an amazing resource, supportedp by the CRD Hotline at 250-360-3030 in case you’re really stumped. See
So you’ve recycled it - but where does it go? That’s something many people wonder. For the Blue Box items, here’s the low-down, straight from the CRD:
Cardboard goes to Norampac Paper in Burnaby and the Port Townsend Paper Corp, for conversion into new cardboard, cereal boxes, and medium paper rolls. Some is also shipped to China through the company America Chung Nam. I don’t know how much goes where.
Newspaper goes to the 100% employee owned and managed Blue Heron facility in Oregon City, where it is turned into newsprint, packaging, cellulose insulation and gyproc paper.
Mixed Paper goes to the Norampac Paper facility in Burnaby and to America Chung Nam for export to China. It is converted into boxboard, duroid shingles, pressed packing material and corrugated cardboard liners.
Aluminum Cans go to Pacific Metals in Vancouver; Steel Cans go to Steel Pacific Recycling in Victoria. They are smelted down to make new cans.
Glass goes to Lehigh Northwest Materials on Bay St, Victoria, to become road aggregate and concrete products.
Plastic containers go to Merlin Plastics, in Delta, where they are sorted and converted into pellets or flakes for sale to other manufacturers. Plastics #2 are made into detergent, shampoo and oil bottles, shipping pallets and grocery bags; plastics #1 to #7 are made into “super wood” plastic lumber.
 Soft Plastics via Pacific Mobile Depot go to West Coast Plastic Recycling in Richmond, where it is processed and 95% exported to China, where it is turned back into plastic film. So there you have it!



Shark caught in netIt is the absolutely appropriate word. As a result of the world’s uncontrolled and unrestrained fisheries practices, since 1950, our industrial fishing has reduced the populations of large predatory fish such as tuna, marlin, swordfish and cod by 90% or more. We have reduced the world’s shark populations by 99% or more.

And it’s still going on, with industrial fishing ships clearcutting what’s left of the ocean and the ocean floor with no oversight, no policing, and almost no-one complaining when their predatory, holocaustic cargoes are delivered to the dainty fish-markets and sushi restaurants people love to patronize.

For every fish caught, so many other fish and marine creatures are killed and discarded as “bycatch”. The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that globally, 27 million tonnes of by-catch are discarded each year, compared to 77 million tonnes of landed catch. In the Gulf of Mexico, US commercial fisheries discard up to 9 million tonnes of by-catch every year - twice the commercial and recreational catch.
Along the way, the fishing boats kill untold numbers of birds, turtles and other marine animals, and rip up the ocean floor, destroying corals and sponges and leveling whole ecosystems.
So what’s the solution? On a personal level, you can stop eating fish - a good vegetarian or vegan diet will give you all the nutrition and calories you need, with incredible taste and deliciousness. If you want to keep eating fish, at least use Canada’s Seafood Guide, prepared by SeaChoice, endorsed by the Sierra Club, CPAWS, Living Oceans and the David Suzuki Foundation, also available as a wallet-sized folder and an iPhone App that you can access right there in the restaurant. See
But what’s the real solution? There’s a United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement, and there are global efforts to control overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, but it seems as if this is trying to put patches on a hugely leaky regime. 

The real solution comes in two words - Marine Reserves. When an area of ocean is set aside for permanent protection from all extractive and destructive uses, including fishing, marine life bounces back remarkably quickly - or at least it has so far in the handful of reserves that have been created.

Globally, Greenpeace has integrated a mass of data, mapping the oceans into small cells, and come to the conclusion that to sustain ocean species and ecological processes in perpetuity, between 20% and 50% of the seas must be protected. In Roadmap to Recovery, a Global Network of Marine Reserves, they call for the protection of 40% of all habitats and biogeographic zones in the oceans (see Less than 1% of the world’s oceans are protected at present.
Time is short, however, and Greenpeace is insistent, asking the United Nations to take urgent action to establish such a network.
For Canada, Marine Reserve #2 (North Atlantic) includes most of the waters outside our exclusive zone from Newfoundland to Europe; Reserve #23 (Gulf of Alaska) includes waters off Vancouver Island and Haida Gwaii; and there’s also need for an Arctic Marine Reserve. But is the Canadian government listening? Only six Marine Protected Areas have been established in Canada, covering only 2,536 sq. kilometres - 0.0005% of the 5 million sq. km of marine environment under Canadian jurisdiction.

Action of the Month


On its website, Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans says that it recognizes the threat that overfishing and IUU fishing pose to global food security, and acknowledges that the ocean fishery resources are under incredible pressure. Canada is working to try to stop IUU fishing, but if we are to save the world’s fisheries, we need to aim for the only goal that can achieve this - a global network of Marine Reserves.

Action: Write to the Minister of Fisheries & Oceans. Invite her to read the Greenpeace Roadmap report, bring it to the UN’s attention, and urge action.

The Hon. Gail Shea, 259 West Block, House of Commons, Ottawa K1A 0A6

The Wonderful World of Web
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