Monday, September 20, 2010

Zero Emissions Day, Sept 21st

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 is the third annual Zero Emissions Day or “ZeDay”. This global initiative has Nova Scotian roots which makes it kind of neat. Consider a visit the links below

I've quoted the best bits.

"This year’s theme is “Buddy-Up.” Rather than try to do this by yourself find a friend or friends who want to do it too.

The Guidelines are simple:
1. Don’t use or burn oil or gas or coal.
2. Minimize (or eliminate) your use of electricity generated by fossil fuels.
3. Don’t put anyone in harm’s way: All essential and emergency services operate normally.
4. Do your best, have fun, enjoy the day!"

Another interesting link is:

We've had challenging discussions in this home on how to respond. Steve, with his teaching first year Sustainability at Dalhousie had started a discussion topic for the students on their on-line forum. The first response to the question on what the class could do to respond was "Hold the class outside!"

At first this seemed almost logical. No electric lights, the computers tuned off, the videoing of the lecturers not done but then we began to think; where will 350 chairs come from; who moves them out; who moves them in; how will the lecturers be heard; if computers are turned off, what will students write on; do we need to supply writing materials for those who are unprepared. How much of a footprint will be incurred to change the method of delivering the lecture? Getting all those chairs moved around campus would likely equal or exceed the amount of electricity in staying put.

This raised an interesting point, does a change necessarily mean an improvement? Other suggestions were raised by the students and there has been a weeklong discussion, even with the question being raised on "just how valid are these special days when people are asked to change their behaviour for one day and then it is over?"

That question irked me a bit. I remember a CBC special 3 years ago on "The 100 mile Diet" which crystallized for Steve and I things we were trying to do on our own but were going about changes randomly. By listening to the authors of the 100 day Diet, we focused our own habits, realized what could be changed easily and what would take a lot of work. we have since moved far beyond our diet to the point that when we considered what we would do as individuals towards saving energy for one day we realized:

1. We no longer own a normal car, we don't drive to and from work, only use the Volkswagon once a week, and walk everywhere,
2. We buy our food in such a way that although we use a freezer for out of season foods, we eat only what we can preserve ourselves from local farmers, reducing our carbon foot print at the grocery store hugely,
3. We have lights off in the house nearly all day, work by daylight whenever possible, use task lighting instead of general lighting, hardly use the dryer and have two energy efficient appliances that save a ton on emissions (stove and fridge after they died at the ripe old age of 30 years)
4. We were a bit stumped on what more we could do.

Steve is going to take 15 minutes out of lecture and have a class discussion on the topic of reducing emissions, turn his office lights off for as much time as daylight allows, and turn his computer off by 4:00 p.m.

I am going to take a sponge bath instead of a hot shower, wash the laundry for that day by hand, not turn on the computer or the music all day, call my sister for her birthday instead of emailing (meaning I might miss her due to the large time difference), and in the evening, instead of TV or listening to music, we are going to haul out the banjo and recorder and work on some duets (should sound terrible in my opinion, I haven't heard any really good versions of banjo and recorder but there is always a first time).

The bigger question, as posed by that grumpy student, is what do we all do tomorrow? How do we sustain our attempts at sustainability. If you undertake to make a change, the biggest difference will likely be in how your time is used up. Your comfort might be disturbed. Your habits might take a bit of shake and it might be hard to remember to keep to the change. When people ask me about this sort of thing, I always suggest start with something early in the day, something that is simple to do. Take a small step and once that is a normal routine, take another small step.

Our attempts at pickling after not doing it for 15 years. We made chili and dilly beans. That's another story, amusing if you've had a beer or two.

My first step was oatmeal. 3 years ago I changed from boxed cereal to Quaker 3-5 minute oatmeal. I added some raisins and local maple syrup. I was so crabby those first months. I like to read at the breakfast table and preparing oatmeal takes away about 5 minutes of reading. In exchange for losing the reading time, I realized I wasn't as hungry by noon time and I had a better lunch because I wasn't as frantic to eat anything. Now, I'm crabby if I don't get my oatmeal during the summer when it's too hot to cook. (you could say I am an early morning crabby person, but I'm not. Put peanut butter on toast in front of me and I'm right cheerful but in this case, I'll sacrifice my good mood for the greater good)

"Consider how you might contribute to the effort to cut fossil fuel burning for a day. Figuring out how we are going to “break the habit” may well be the first step towards a sustainable energy future for all of us."

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