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Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
CANADA V9E 2B9
Tel (250) 881-1304
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director of The Solutions Project

 

 ECONEWS


Newsletter No. 60 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - April 1997


LIFE BEYOND THE WASTELAND

In the 1450s, in Europe, we used to dump our garbage on the streets, and let the maggots and the crows take care of it. Then in the 1750s, when the streets began to get too smelly, we started collecting it in carts and dumping it outside the city walls.

Here on the west coast, the Salish and Nuu'Chah'Nulth peoples used to leave their winter villages at this time of year, and the birds and animals would come in and clean up.

As recently as the 1950s, in Victoria, we used to take our garbage down to the beach and let the high tide take care of it. Hmm.

But then 'progress' arrived ! We started digging landfills to bury the garbage out of sight. When the landfill was full, we dug up a 12,000 year old lake to make room for another 40 years worth of garbage. Is this progress, or what ? The average carpet (for instance) lasts 12 years, and then goes into the landfill - where it may remain for as long as 20,000 years. And that's just the visible corner of it.

'According to Robert Ayers, a leader in studying industrial metabolism, about 94% of the materials extracted for use in manufacturing durable products become waste before the product is even manufactured. More waste is generated in production, and most of that is lost unless the product is re-used or recycled. Overall, America's material and energy efficiency is no more than 1 or 2%.' (Paul Hawken, Mother Jones, April 1997). Is Canada any different ?

Globally, we are draining, mining and chainsawing Earth's natural capital to make the things we want, using them often only once, and spewing them into the environment as 'waste'. Economists call it 'growth', and insist that it's good for the economy. Governments crave it. It may be good for the economy, but it's certainly not good for the Earth.

Then in the 1990s, we began to realize how wasteful we were being, and started to recycle. Here in the CRD, we currently recycle 37% of the post-consumer waste-stream : the goal is 50% by the year 2000. (Keep composting, and keep putting those mixed papers and newspapers in the blue box !).

Recycling is just the beginning, however. We have to refashion our whole economy, from corner stores to mega-malls, along lines which minimize waste and use resources with more intelligence. 'The resource productivity revolution', Paul Hawken calls it. And we have to live with more quality, consuming less. That's called Voluntary Simplicity.

We're clearly making eco-progress of some kind, so let's jump to the year 2015, and see what might be happening then.

2015 When you walk into your neighbourhood store (or any store) you'll see that all the products are ecolabelled and bar-coded, indicating their cradle-to-grave eco-impact rating - and that they are taxed according to their rating. GST has gone, replaced by the Ecological Sales Tax (EST), which bills you for the product's manufacturing impacts, carbon dioxide emissions, other pollutants, and degrees of non-recyclability.

When the legislation came in, manufacturers responded quickly, keen for their products to have the lowest eco-impact rating. As a consumer, there's a further disincentive against buying wasteful products, since the landfill charges are $500 a tonne, which you pay by an electronic billing system built into the garbage truck.

That's not as bad as it seems, for under the Canadian Product Stewardship Act, manufacturers are legally responsible for the disposal of their own wastes, including packaging, so most packaging is designed for easy recycling. Non-recyclable packaging costs a lot, so there's not much of it around.

Down at City Hall, business permit applications must include an eco-management plan, which is tied to a good eco-impact rating. There has been a rapid growth in eco-industrial clusters, as businesses work together to make the most from their waste resources.

On the consumer end of things, the standard accounts program that people use to do their taxes has been integrated with the voluntary simplicity and the personal eco-impact programs, creating a single, unitary system of self-audit, which turns the annual tax round into more of a personal life review. This is the time, typically, when people make the decision to shift from a 4 to a 3-day week, trading income for time, or trading their car for membership in a car share co-operative. It all works out to lower taxes, fewer things, and less stress - while the shorter working week is helping to mop up unemployment.

On the grand level, what's happening is that the old curve of exponential economic growth is beginning to split in two, to decouple. The material dimension of growth is ceasing to grow, and is heading towards a steady state economy, while the quality/intelligence dimension is heading off to who knows where. Who does know where ? Wasn't that always the question ? Now that we're getting unhooked from the limited world of physical growth, we can see more clearly that the inner universe has no limits whatsoever. Now that's getting the economists really confused.

- Guy Dauncey


ECONEWS

Published as a monthly service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature and community, funded by your donations.

Feb March April
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Many thanks to Kathleen Gibson, Fay Mogensen, Francis van Loon, Marilyn Thaden Dexter, Tim Isaak, Reg dawe, Bernice Packford, Unlimited Possibilities, Mara Meshak, Ken & Andreé Scott, Fran Grady & Martha McMahon.

If you'd like to receive EcoNews by mail call 881-1304. By email, call guydauncey@earthfuture.com. To make a donation, send a cheque to EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1.


APRIL IN THE MAGAZINES

The April issue of Mother Jones has a superb feature spread by Paul Hawken on 'Natural Capitalism'. The new Common Ground has a mind-blowing article on how organic food contains essential minerals and trace elements that are missing in food raised on chemical fertilizers and pesticides; and the new WorldWatch Magazine has an important piece on the Global Spread of High-Risk Synthetic Chemicals. You can find them all at Yates News & Books, 736 Yates St.


'YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE'

Stressed out ? Working too hard ? Fed up with the insidious power of consumerism? The best-selling book 'Your Money or Your Life' by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez contains a simple nine-step plan that will transform the way you think about, earn and spend money. The whole-systems approach, based on simple record keeping and your own life situation, works for anyone who earns or spends money, whether rich or poor. Art Charlton (592-1188) is starting a new 6 session group starting Mon April 21st. To learn how the last session went, call one of the graduates : Bill Okell 479-8453; Hal Shand 744-2675.

Also, Jackie Robson, City Coordinator for the NorthWest Earth Institute, has places in her ongoing Study Groups on Voluntary Simplicity and Deep Ecology. Call her at 361-9446.


TAHSIS SMELLS SMELLY

Frank Hovenden writes : Having worked in Nootka Sound for the last 18 years I have a far different perspective than the one presented by Julie Johnston (EcoNews 58 'Tahsis Smells Real'). Tahsis is a company town, totally dependent upon Pacific Forest Products Limited which operates two sawmills there. It suffered huge layoffs (many hundreds of jobs) during the 80's and up to the present due to mechanization.

The Company chooses to blame the downturn on recent environmental initiatives. These mills are entirely dependent upon liquidating the old-growth forests of Nootka Sound. The Timber Supply Analysis for the Strathcona Timber Supply area showed that this area was greatly overcut and this resulted in a 16% reduction in the AAC last year with more cuts to come. The environmental sensitivity of Wayne Haw (mill manager) was shown following the torrential rains of January 1996, when he expressed concern in the local press on how the weather was affecting his log supply. He failed to mentioned that the same storm caused landslides that have many people calling Nootka Island "Nuked Island"!

With a couple of notable exceptions, the Nootka Resource Board is a group of company sycophants dedicated to protecting the interests of Pacific Forest Products. Many of the board members were formerly members of the local 'Share' group, including their paid secretary. The majority are either employees, spouses of employees or contractors for Pacific Forest Products. They have consistently opposed any progressive action which would impact the timber supply for Pacific Forest Products. Although supposedly open to the public they meet during the workday and are virtually inaccessible to the working person. Although supposed to give representation to all sectors, the board has ignored the environmental and fisheries sectors. The Friends of Nootka Sound, a locally based environmental group, has been repeatedly ignored or snubbed by the Board.


BRITISH TRAFFIC MAKES U-TURN

Unbelievably, the British Road Traffic Reduction Bill has become law, and will require local governments to draw up reports on traffic levels in their areas, along with desirable targets for reductions in local traffic levels. The Secretary of State for Transport will consider these reports when making funding available for traffic reduction schemes. Friends of the Earth, who worked with the Green Party, Plaid Cymru (the Welsh nationalists) and many other organizations for the Act, said: "This is wonderful news and a momentous occasion in transport history: for the first time ever a law has been passed that will tackle traffic growth rather than trying to accommodate it." In the original bill, specific goals were set (5% by 2005, 10% by 2010). After the May 1st election, the groups will campaign to get the target reductions onto the statute books. Friends of the Earth, London)


ECO-IMPACT SOFTWARE

Dutch consultants PRé Consultants have just released 'Eco-it', a simple user-friendly program which allows a company to assess the ecological impact of its products including the production, consumer and disposal phases (see cover story). The program works with a database of over 100 eco-indicators which were developed as part of a Dutch government project, and enable a product developer to carry out an environmental analysis of any product in a matter of minutes. It costs $200US, and a demo can be downloaded from their website at www.pre.nl/eco-it.html.


NO, NO, NANOOSE

For 13 years, the Nanoose Conversion Campaign has been assembling a winning case against US submarines using Georgia Strait as a weapons test-range. During the last 10 months, they have released a professional economic assessment of the range called 'Damn the Torpedoes' by UVic economist Dr Jack Ruitenberg, which reveals hidden subsidies that cost Canadian taxpayers $18 million a year; filed in the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of nuclear submarines dumping toxic debris into salmon habitat; upheld the World Court ruling that nuclear threats are illegal under International Law by blocking access to the base five times in November; and earned across the board support for a Full Public Review of the base. The Campaign feels that it is close to success, and urgently needs money to drive its advantages home. Contact : NCC #2, 85 Commercial St, Nanaimo V9R 5G3 (250) 741-1662 convert@nanaimo.ark.com  www.nanaimo.ark.com/~convert/


THE FUTURE OF BANKING

Listen up, you banks, with all your big time profits and attitudes ! At the Vermont National Bank, the Socially Responsible Banking Fund gives depositors with any type of account, no matter how small, a say in how their money will be used. The fund uses that money to provide commercial loans to Vermont residents involved in agriculture, education, the environment, affordable housing or small business. The key to every loan is that the borrower must be benefiting the community in some way. Started seven years ago, the idea has proved extremely popular. More than 11,000 depositors - almost all of them new customers - have joined the Socially Responsible Banking Fund since it started in 1989. Their accounts total more than $111 million, nearly a tenth of the bank's billion dollars in assets. Most depositors are from Vermont, but 42 states and 16 foreign countries are also represented. The village of Townshend borrowed money for a revolving loan fund aimed at creating jobs and strengthening the local economy. A farm used a loan to buy a greenhouse, potting soil and seeds. A day care center received a mortgage for a classroom building. Adapted from article by Paul Bush in American News Service info@americannews.com


SLOCAN VALLEY VISIONS

Phil Larstone writes : There is a beautiful vision manifesting in the Slocan Valley, and a group of valley people are visiting Victoria to share it ! Called 'This is Our Chance : The World is Watching' (Green Diary, April 18th), it's about building an economy founded on human energy rather than corporate monopoly, applying creativity and inspiration in a community setting to optimize the economic returns from local resources .... maximizing meaningful employment while minimizing ecological impacts.

The forestry sector uses ecosystem-based planning, while value-added production is used to create more jobs from less timber. Rapidly growing economic sectors such as organic farming, healing arts and retreat centres, music, outdoor recreation, eco-tourism, education and so on become the mainstay of the local economy.

In the Slocan Valley, these endeavours are blossoming, and in addition to supporting human needs, it is restoring important community values as people empower themselves to use their heartfelt creativity and talents to meet their needs, rather than being dependent on employment from large corporations. The group is in Victoria to meet with Cabinet Ministers. See you on April 18th !


EMERGING TRENDS IN ECO-TRANSPORTATION

The cycling city of Groningen, Holland, is experimenting with a new approach to slowing traffic - herds of sheep which are allowed to roam on designated roadways (with warning signs). The traffic will be forced to slow down, while the sheep will feed on the rights of way, reducing maintenance costs. Baaa-aa !


IT'S EARTHWEEK!

Slocan Valley Visions, Camas Day, Sooke Celebrations, Northern Passage's 'Caretakers of the Earth' Art Show, EarthWalk, much more. See full program in Monday Magazine, April 17th.


THIS ONE'S FOR YOU, ROGER

As many of you know, Roger Colwill, famous watercolor painter, encourager of EcoNews, and organizer of a hundred great projects, was struck by a stroke during March and is now recovering in bed. (In bed, we said ! Put that phone down !). Messages of love can be sent by email to rcolwill@pinc.com


COMPOST vs the BUGS

Tests at Exeter University (UK) have shown that compost is very efficient at preventing numerous plant diseases. When tested in plots of soil inoculated with specific disease organisms, crops grown in compost suffered 60% - 80% less disease than those grown without. Some diseases, such as club root on cabbages, were completely prevented. Compost contains so many million micro-organisms - it's the best pesticide around. (Organic Gardening, March 1997)


THE FARM ON MASON ST

The Farm is open for visits noon-dusk, 7 days a week - call 920-0257. Eggs free - 6/person/week. Extra produce free as available. Quality humus/topsoil available by donation - call to order. Thank you all!


ORGANIC PRODUCE SHOULDN'T COST THE EARTH

At Share Organics, buying food together makes it more affordable. Call Susan 595-6742 for details


ECO-ED YOUTH TEAM

The BC Ministry of Environment is looking for organizations to sponsor young people aged 16-24 on projects that will benefit the environment. Air quality, green transportation, eco-stewardship, recycling, outdoor education. Most positions are for 12 weeks, and pay $10/hour for a 35 hour week. The deadline for start dates between June 1st - Dec 1st is April 30th. For details, call Jody at (250)387-0709. And CRD Community Clean-Up Funding is available to non-profit groups. Up to $1,000 for out-of-pocket expenses for cleaning public lands or waterways in your neighbourhood. First come, first serve. Call 360-3030.


B.C. ENVIRONMENT NETWORK

The BCEN links together environmental groups across BC, using its members' strength to develop new policies, lobby for change and keep the environmental profile high. Their annual conference is at UVic Fri May 2nd - Sun 4th, when there'll be speakers, hot-tub parties, caucus meetings, a 'Hot Spot' session, and Des Kennedy's environmental comedy. The fee will be around $60. For more information, or to join BCEN, call Anne-Marie Sleeman at (604) 879-2279.



ACTION OF THE MONTH : AYUM CREEK

The Victoria Natural History Society's Habitat Acquisition Trust (HAT) has launched a campaign to raise $625,000 to buy the 5.2 hectare salmon-spawning Ayum Creek estuary from a lumber company by Dec 1st 1997, and protect it in perpetuity. The creek is the southern most part of the Sea-to-Sea Greenbelt proposal, reaching from Saanich Inlet to Sooke Basin. HAT is expecting to raise 1/3rd of the money through individual donations. They have to find $5,000 every 2 months to keep their option to purchase

You can help by pledging your financial support. You will be given 30 days notice that HAT needs to collect on the pledge, and charitable receipts are available. Any amount will help, from $10 to $10,000. Pledge forms are available at the Field Naturalist, Swan Lake Nature Centre and most Municipal Halls, or by calling Colleen O'Brien at 995-2428. There are also various Ayum Creek activities in April - see Green Diary.


NOTICE

EcoNews provides this electronic version of the newsletter free of charge even though it costs time and money to produce. Please feel free to repost. You can help by making a donation, whether $5 or $100, to:

EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria, B.C. V8X 3X1, Canada. Thanks !


Click here for previous issues of EcoNews.


EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Available free by mail or email

Author of 'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)

EcoNews is printed on Tree-Free paper from Ecosource