Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Reducing your diet-related carbon footprint

by: Candice Keast

Diet and lifestyle changes are on the minds of many Canadians, especially since the release of the new Canada Food Guide and the EAT Lancet Commission's summary report on a "planetary diet." With resources like these cleaning our proverbial house before taking on the world is essential.

According to research conducted by the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (ECO). The average Ontarian consumes roughly two kilograms of food and drink per day, equivalent to spending $3,400 per year.

Source: Centers for Disease Control
The greenhouse gas emissions generated by the food production chain are significant - and growing. A major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is from farming. Methane from livestock agriculture is a more potent GHG than carbon dioxide (CO2), which means that your carbon footprint will be much higher if you consume a lot of red meat (e.g. beef, pork and lamb). In addition to GHGs produced from farming, emissions from the transportation of our food - often referred to as food miles - and from food waste also contribute to the bigger GHG emissions picture.

Find out what can you do to reduce your diet-related emissions after the jump.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: Air Travel and Climate Change

by: Byron Lee

Editor's note: We continue our Reducing Your Carbon Footprint series, inspired and informed by a report from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. In our previous post, we discussed how you could reduce the carbon footprint of your daily travel choices.

Whether boarding an airplane for your dream vacation, a business trip, or for visiting your friends and family, these marvelously fast metal tubes soaring through the sky may be great for speedy travel, but are detrimental to our climate. Air travel is responsible for approximately 2% of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions – if it were a country, it would be among the top 10 emitters in the world. Not to mention air travel is one of the fastest growing sources of GHG emissions with an annual growth rate far higher than population or GDP growth, according to the Environmental Commission of Ontario's (ECO) report.

Find out more, including how to mitigate your emissions from air travel, after the jump.

Friday, 27 September 2019

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: Your Daily Commute & Climate Change

by: Byron Lee

The data is in, the reports are out, and it's clear that the rapid reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is absolutely necessary to reach the goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as part of the Paris Agreement. GHGs from vehicles are one of the key contributors to climate change. In fact, according to the City's latest inventory, in Toronto, transportation accounts for almost 40% of our greenhouse gas emissions. Cars and trucks are also a source of harmful traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) that can cause health problems. The concentrations of these pollutants are often higher in areas close to big and busy roads.

All of that probably sounds a bit scary and it may be easy to believe that you everyday actions do little to help the state of the environment. But collective action can actually play a significant part in Toronto's GHG emission equation. Not using your car regularly is sometimes not an option for many of us, but considering carpooling, or walking to the store for a quick errand can go a long way if we all do it together.

Now, what can YOU do about it?

There is a whole suite of actions individuals can take to mitigate their contribution to traffic related emissions. The report from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario identifies three levels of individual actions that have varying degrees of potential impact.

1. Small steps: These actions include choosing a vehicle with reflective paint, driving vehicles with little excess weight, parking your vehicle in the shade during hot weather seasons, and not idling. Although small, the collective action taken by many individuals will compound the benefits of making these changes.
2. Medium steps: These include slightly more significant changes to daily life such as choosing high fuel & energy efficient vehicles to drive and travel in, inflating tires fully, and reducing the use of air conditioners in motor vehicles.
3. Large actions: These steps have the most impact on reducing emissions, but they also require more lifestyle changes. They include: carpooling to work instead of driving by yourself; taking other forms of transportation such as transit, cycling, or walking; and/or moving closer to work to reduce travel distance, time and emissions that can be produced during travel.

What is the City of Toronto doing?

Find out, after the jump...

Friday, 6 September 2019

Guest post: 30 Days of Our Earth

by: Jenn Forgie

On the morning after the July fireworks in The Beaches, where I live, I set out to walk dog walk. What I saw when I arrived was heartbreaking. An overwhelming site of discarded and disregarded garbage filled the beach. Everything from diapers to plastic straws, cigarette butts, to-go food and drink containers, liquor bottles and more.

I am a visual storyteller, a writer and an artist and been creating a "30 Days of" social media project for some time. They are always inspired by something I’ve witnessed or experienced relating to a darkness in the world. They are my way of bringing light and awareness through art and story.

As I stood on the beach that morning amidst the scattered waste, I knew I needed to do something. I decided to commit to picking up beach garbage every day for 30 days and share the visual stories online. That was Day 1 of 30 Days of Our Earth, and that morning I filled and refilled seven bags before I forced myself to move on.

I wanted these daily posts to be inspiring and positive. With a focus on garbage and a hard look at the evidence of the disrespect for our land, how could I draw people in rather than shut them out?

I brought a small figurine into my photos and crowned her Earth Warrior. Her tiny body posed with the garbage showed a perspective of the seemingly insurmountable size of the project and its subject, and at the same time she perfectly illustrated the belief that one “small” person doing their part each day does matter.

I hoped my project would elicit a look at our individual responsibility for our earth, locally and globally, while inviting people to offer ideas on how we can raise awareness while also inspiring action.

30 Days of Our Earth connected many people to each other though Instagram, Facebook and word of mouth. People shared that they were now inspired to carry a bag and pick up garbage on their walks. Yes, some responded to my posts with blame and anger and, while I understood their frustration, I was committed to focusing on the good that could come.

This was a challenging project. By Day 3, the weight of the beach garbage left me questioning how I could possibly positively sustain these 30 days. Yet I did. I thought of the city workers and that this as their job, day in and day out and wondered how they stay positive. I thought about the people who left their garbage and how disconnected they must be from themselves to act in such a way.

So, how can we come together? How can we wake up and take care of our earth, including our one small beach? How can we move from blame to inspiration and action as a community? I live with these questions and I remain hopeful, engaging in conversation with others, continuing to pick up what I can, and seeing others also picking up garbage.

On the 30th and final day of my project, a neighbour contacted me about her friend’s daughter who was having her 8th birthday party and was going to celebrate by cleaning up the garbage on Woodbine Beach with her friends. It seemed only right then that I pass my little figurine on to this young girl, a true member of our growing Earth Warriors community.


Jenn Forgie is an artist, writer, playwright and actor. She is passionate about creativity, community and belonging. She creates her 30 Days of ___ social media projects to inspire awareness and positive connection with others, near and far.

You can follow her on social media:
Instagram @jennforgie
Email jennforgie [@]

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Palm oil and the environment; a complicated relationship

Editor's note: We received a request from a follower to provide some insight into palm oil - timely, given that it August 19 marked International Orangutan Day. Here is the TL;DR version: It's a complicated issue. The oil palm is the most efficient producer of vegetable oil in the world, but its agriculture has significant environmental impacts - including deforestation and terrible impacts on endangered species like orangutans. One of the surest ways of reducing the impact of palm oil agriculture is to purchase products that use sustainable oil palm agriculture. Read on for more. /ms

Article by: Tyler Linwood

What is palm oil?

You may or may not be familiar with the name, but chances are that you're more familiar with this versatile product than you know. Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil that comes from the fruit of the oil palm tree. In fact, it is the most commonly produced vegetable oil in the world. The reasons for this include:

  • It is a relatively healthy form of fat to use in processed foods
  • It is relatively cheap to produce
  • The oil palm tree is highly productive compared to other oil producing plants. 

Oil palm trees are native to Africa but were brought to southeastern Asia in the 19th century. Now, Indonesia and Malaysia are the two largest producers of palm oil, and together account for 85% of the world's palm oil supply.

What products commonly contain palm oil?

Read more, including what you can do, after the jump.