No. 85 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - July/Aug 1999
GREEN STEPS TO HARMONIZE WITH NATURE
Why must we, as a species, cannibalize
our own environment ? That's the over-riding question which must be on all
our minds as we approach the new millennium.
There have been signs of trouble
before. The Mesopotamians turned the Garden of Eden into the desert that now
covers most of Iraq. The Romans turned North Africa, once the fertile breadbasket
of Europe, into an arid wasteland. The Oklahoma farmers did the same in the
dustbowl tragedy of the 1930s.
For each of these foolishnesses,
however, there are opposite examples to be found - the farmers of China and
Indonesia who learnt the secrets of sustainable terracing and irrigation;
the foresters of Switzerland who banned clearcutting as long ago as the 16th
century; the native cultures which learnt to co-exist with their surroundings.
The evidence seems to show that
we are both an impulsive and a very intelligent species. We are happy to jump
in, and learn by trial and error. The problem is this - how costly must our
errors be before we call them an error and change our ways ? How much warmer
must Earth's atmosphere and oceans become ? How many more species must become
extinct ? How much more forest must we destroy ?
When the Swedish furnishing giant
IKEA embraced 'The Natural Step', a system of thinking designed to harmonize
a business with the laws of nature, their President, Anders Moberg, hosted
a two-day environmental seminar for top management. Their environmental task
force presented its conclusions :
"We discovered that we at
IKEA were environmental gangsters, that we were a threat to the environment.
We were violating the possibilities of having a sustainable society."
IKEA's decision to join The Natural
Step resulted from some bad publicity in Denmark and Germany, where their
furniture had been found to exceed the allowable quantities of formaldehyde
off-gassing, a known cancer agent. "THE KILLER BOOKSHELVES", ran
the German headlines, and IKEA knew they were in trouble - $6.5 million worth
of trouble to withdraw the bookshelves and correct the problem.
The error stemmed from carelessness
and ignorance, but as a result, IKEA began systematically to trace every transaction
between its products and the environment, on a lifecycle basis.
This meant reducing its use of
non-renewable energy, shifting its transportation to railways, publishing
its massive mail order catalog on unbleached paper, eliminating chlorine bleaches
and organic solvents, ensuring that every product can be recycled, moving
to purchase its cotton from organic sources and its timber from ecologically
certified forests - and so on, in a thousand 'small green steps'.
IKEA has been joined by Nike and
some other large companies, now that The Natural Step has arrived in North
America (see book review, inside). Even MacMillan Bloedel was showing an interest.
But therein lies the problem.
MacBlo is about to be taken over by the forest giant Weyerhauser, unless we
raise a big enough stink to stop it, and all of the progress that has been
made in awakening MacBlo to the merits of ecologically certified forests will
come to naught. The power of money has over-ruled the progress of wisdom.
So let's make no mistake : there
are two things which drive change : legislation, and consumer choices. There
will always be some saints in the world of business, but without a clear imperative
from governments and consumers, businesses will continue to cannibalize the
Earth. That innocent cup of non-organic coffee is destroying rainforests in
Brazil; that flashy sports utility vehicle is trashing the atmosphere (as
well as the wilderness its advertisers love to see it trampling through.)
We need binding legislation on
clearcutting, habitat loss and toxic emissions. Using Dutch software (Eco-it)
which traces the lifecycle cost of a wide range of materials, we could replace
the GST with an Ecological Sales Tax (EST), writing a product's ecological
cost into its bar-code and taxing it accordingly.
Or how about a 10-year 25% tax-break
for every business which signs onto a number of progressive measures including
worksharing, community shareholders, employee share ownership and participation
in an acknowledged environmental management program such as The Natural Step
Our ultimate goal must be to build
a totally green economy, ending the cannibalistic habits that are eating away
at the planet's life support systems. Harmonizing with nature must become
as natural as breathing, for every business and every government on the Earth.
- Guy Dauncey
note: the Green Diary has moved, click here to view.
Published as a monthly
service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature
and community, funded by your donations.
A big thankyou
to Susanna Solecki, Robin Grant, Randy Kaneen, Pamela Harbord, Roger Colwill,
Bernice Packford, Alastair Wilson, Virginia Neale, Sarah Gose, Serena van
Bakel, Richard Bocking, Jason LeSage, Ann Gower, David van Stolk & Ian
Gartshore. As you will see from the finances, the bank will be empty after
this issue, so your contributions are welcome.
* Donations can
be made to EcoNews, 395 Conway Road, Victoria V8X 3X1.
* To receive EcoNews call (250) 881-1304.
* For email - firstname.lastname@example.org
* If you don't want to receive EcoNews please let us know, to save the postage
* Help wanted :
Environmentally ill Fairfield woman needs unscented worker(s) who neither
use fabric softener nor share laundry facilities with other users. Duties
: housework, errands; laundry at worker's home ? Call 920-0036.
* The David Suzuki transcripts from his recent 6-part radio series are available
for $39.95 from CBC, Ideas Transcripts, Box 500, Station A, Toronto M5W 1E6.
* Voluntary directors sought. After 8 years, EcoNews is becoming a formal
non-profit society. Would you be willing to be a Director ? Meetings as often
or as little as we are inspired. Guy, 881-1304.
* Turn your stuff into green space ! The Land Conservancy of BC is holding
a Giant Garage Sale in September. If you have quality tools, books, CDs, etc.
or service donations for raffle prizes such as an hour's massage, carpentry
etc, call Katie Stewart, 386-4792.
* Native plant volunteers. The Royal BC Museum is looking for volunteers to
lead tours of the native plant garden. It requires an hour a week, and is
a great way to get to know our plants and hang out in the garden. Call John,
* Do you have my slides ? I have lent my solar energy slides to someone -
do you have them ? Call Guy, 881-1304.
* Calling all illustrators - I need illustrators for a new book that's being
published this fall. Call Guy, 881-1304.
Are there grey squirrels where you live ? Emily Gonzales (Univ of Guelph Zoology
Dept) is researching their progression since being introduced to Vancouver
Island in the 1950s or '60s. She would like to know of any sightings of the
grey and the native red or douglas squirrels. email@example.com
Mike Gidora died
very suddenly and unexpectedly during June, and will be greatly missed by
all those who knew him and worked with him. Martin Golder writes: Every now
and then someone comes into your life who changes you. Sometimes you don't
even notice that it is happening. Sometimes you don't even notice that special
person and influence until it is gone. One's parents are often like that.
They are the water that you swim in, unnoticed, often taken for granted. Suddenly
they are no longer there, and we begin to realize how much they have shaped
and affected us. A few years ago a man arrived in Victoria with his family
from 'The Peg' (Winnipeg) and started to make his influence felt where ever
he turned his attention. His influence was always turned to improving the
lives of those with whom he came into contact. He worked for the poorest of
the poor. He left Joy in his wake. He was a brains trust of information and
ideas and projects designed to make this world and his adopted community a
better place. Unconsciously I leaned on him because he was such a tower of
strength. And now his physical presence has been taken from us. I still can't
believe that you are gone Mike. I am sure that you are still close by. I am
sure that you will watch over us as we fumble to fulfill your plans. Why did
you have to go? Was it to show us what one person can do to make a difference
in such a short period of time? Mike Gidora was the financial comptroller
of The Victoria Cool Aid Society. But he was so much more than that. How many
times a week did people say 'I'll just give Mike a call, he'll know the answer'
or if he didn't know he would create. Nothing was impossible. Where there
is good intention, there can be action. Mike was involved with the Rising
Tide Foundation at Pacific Coast. He was involved in the Community Economic
Development Corporation. There is hardly a community betterment initiative
in Victoria that Mike was not involved in at some level. His creative genius
will be sorely missed. His Joyful presence will be always with us. He leaves
all who knew him richer for the experience. His example of a life well lived
is a beacon to us all. He left too soon. I haven't begun to miss him yet as
I am sure that I can still pick up the phone and 'Just call Mike'. From so
many people, such a big THANKYOU.
APPOINTS NEW TEAM
The Vancouver Island Vegetarian
Association was formed in 1980 as a focus for vegetarians and vegans. It has
recently operated without a board of directors, until a team of volunteers
came forward this year, proposing to give VIVA a fresh start. Any VIVA members
who did not receive their spring 1999 newsletter should call 386-2100, or
write to the new VIVA office at 1680 Kisber St., Victoria V8P 2W6. At a well
attended general meeting in June, (close to 30 people, including VIVA founder
Pat Bastone), a Vision Statement was adopted and a Volunteer Team appointed
to look into future options for managing the association. They will report
back in the Winter newsletter, and there will be a general meeting early next
year to vote on VIVA's future. www.islandnet.com/~viva
The new alternative
in Environmentally Responsible Investing:
Sustainable Development Fund
You are invited
to an evening with Dr. Blair Feltmate, Manager of the YMG Sustainable Development
Monday July 12th,
Coast Harbourside Hotel,
146 Kingston St, Victoria.
so book today.
Frank Arnold, AAI Financial Group
382-9993 or 1-888-813-7265.
THE MONEY ?
If you are involved in any kind
of non-profit society, you'll want to get your hands on this one. Andy Telfer
and Jim Crossley have put together 'Where the Money is in BC - A CWMA Guide
to Funding Sources for Environmental Non-Profits' from governments, foundations,
corporations and banks. It costs $20 to non-members (paper or electronic).
Send your cheque to 'Coast Waste Management Association', PO Box 85, Qualicum
Beach, BC V9K 1S7. 3-5 weeks for delivery.
SOMETHING RADICALLY OLD THIS SUMMER
Denman Island, Aug 23rd - 29th
A new experience for body, spirit and mind. Hands-in-earth work, communal
camp life, vegetarian food, talks, slides, lectures, quiet meditations, saunas.
Cob building is an ancient building
technique that uses clay, sand and straw. Without form work or machinery,
cob is shaped into walls, arches and chimneys.
Cost - $500-$400.
To register, call Elke Cole (250) 338-4660 or John Freeman (250) 882-4404
THIS FOR TRAFFIC CALMING ?
In car-crowded Britain, fifty
towns are planning to turn residential streets into 'home zones' where cars
are discouraged, and road markings are replaced with pitches for ball games
and benches for spectators. The radical scheme is meant to make Britain's
streets as safe as they were in the pre-war days, when children played in
the streets and cars were expected to make way for them. On roads selected
for the scheme, cars will be restricted to 35kph, with one-way systems, lane
restrictions and other features to deter traffic. In Brixton, south London,
roads will be laid out with games pitches, trees and benches (basketball is
favoured over soccer). 'Home zones' are well established in parts of Europe.
In Amsterdam, the 'Right of Way for Children Foundation' has been so successful
that many of Amsterdam's residential streets are virtually car-free. In Britain,
11,000 pedestrians were killed or seriously injured in 1997, 4,000 of whom
were under 16. Not everyone's happy, however. The head of policy at the Automobile
Association said "A lot of our members get very irritated about road
bumps. They may reduce accidents, but they also damage their exhausts."
(From an article by Lynn Eaton, Sunday Times.)
Sustainability begins by co-operating
and knowing each other in the streets, apartments and rural areas where we
Next training :
Saturday July 10th, 9 - 4pm
Red Cross, 909 Fairfield Rd.
Call (250) 881-1304
MEANS EARTHFEST !
Virginia Mackie writes : EarthFEST'99
is happening at the Courtenay Fairgrounds on August 14th & 15th. We have
a great line-up of workshops and demonstrations on everything from seed saving
and genetically engineered foods to passive solar design, eco-forestry and
watershed stewardship. EarthFEST showcases the most progressive methods for
sustainable living. The festival is a fun and informative family event with
workshops, roaming musicians and entertainers, a kid's eco-activity centre,
swimming in the river that runs through the forest and a family dance under
the stars on Saturday night. There is camping on site, so plan for a weekend
of inspiration, relaxation and fun. We have lined up 30 workshops including
The Politics of Food by Herb Barbolet; Eco-Forestry Methods with Merv Wilkinson;
Hands-on Alternative Power Systems with Andrew Pape; Passive Solar Design
with Elizabeth White; EcoVillages, Solar Roads and Syntropy with Guy Dauncey;
Cob Building and Designing People Friendly Homes with Elke Cole; Simple Living
with Bruce Elkin; Electric Vehicle Conversions with Randy Holmquist; Building
with Insulated Concrete Forms with Craig Seale; Genetically Engineered Foods
with Brewster Kneen (author of Farmageddon); Traditional Earth Relationships
with Kim Recalma-Clutesi, and much more. EathFEST'99 is no-waste, and all
food is certified organic. We are looking for volunteers in Victoria to set
up car-pooling and help with general promotion. For tickets, call (250) 334-8694
Bring this issue of EcoNews to
receive $1.50 off of the adult admission or $1.00 off children's admissions
for the entire family. (Limit 6 per family).
Don't forget that living here
in Victoria, we can grow up to 40 varieties of winter vegetable to put fresh
greens on your plate in February. Carolyn Herriot is giving a workshop on
'Winter Vegetable Gardening and Saving Your Own Seeds' on August 21st, and
offering a Winter Vegetable Bedding Plant Sale from her new home at 395 Conway
Rd (see Diary). If you want to sow, July is the time to do it. Otherwise,
you can buy bedding plants to plant in August of early September.
Ah, the lazy hammock days of
summer ! So here's a book which will make you wonder, and think. The Natural
Step for Business Wealth, Ecology and the Evolutionary Corporation by Brian
Nattrass and Mary Altomare (New Society Publishers) takes the age-old platitude
that business and corporations will always destroy the environment, and shows
what happens when four companies take a set of ideas from Sweden designed
to harmonize nature and business called 'The Natural Step' and apply them
to their own operations (see cover story). If these businesses can do it,
so can every business. Picture this, that every business will operate in harmony
with Nature's laws. Bring on the orchestra ! But first, read the book, to
get in on the ground floor. If you want to join with other businesses in Victoria
which are starting on 'The Natural Step', call Bill Robson at 361-9446, and
be sure to attend the gathering on 'Business and the Environment' at the Ocean
Pointe Resort on July 7th (see Green Diary)
OF THE MONTH :
OIL AND GAS MORATORIUM
Every once in a while
someone comes up with a really crazy idea. This time, it's a "Let's create
jobs" (ie "Let's make some money") call to lift the 25 year
old moratorium on oil and gas exploration off BC's beautiful coast, as if
the world was not already glutted with oil, and as if carbon emissions from
fossil fuels were not lifting global temperatures to dangerous levels. Hey
folks - which planet have you been on of late ? For a few month's oil supply,
you would risk the west coast's marine ecosystem ? In 1997 there were 351
oil spills around the world from oil tankers and exploratory drilling. The
Pacific Ocean within the 200-mile limit is so incredibly rich in marine life,
with several hundred species of fish, thousands of species of invertebrates,
26 species of marine mammals, a myriad species of seabirds, and the greatest
number of sea stars in the world. An oil spill could put all this at risk,
wipe out the recovering fish stocks and devastate ecotourism. All this, for
a substance which is so harmful to the planet's overall ecosystem ? The answer
is solar, wind, and other renewable energies not more oil.
Action : The BC Alliance for the
Preservation of the Offshore Oil and Gas Moratorium (including Greenpeace,
the Georgia Strait Alliance, the Living Oceans Society, Reach for Unbleached,
the Sierra Legal Defence Fund, the United Fishermen and Allied Workers Union
and others) is asking everyone to write to :
* Mr Jim Backhouse, Northern
Development Commissioner, #307, 209 Victoria St, Prince George, BC V2L 5B8
(888)-956-6784. Fax (250) 565-6357
* John Sanderson QC, Sanlaing
Communications, 1300 Park Place, 666 Burrard St, Vancouver V6C 3J8. Fax (604)
688-2703. (The consultant charged with collecting public submissions).
* David Anderson, MP, House of
Commons, Ottawa K1A 0A6.