Saturday, 26 March 2011

Earth Hour 2011

Of course I don't have to explain you what that is. And of course you will turn off the lights from 8:30 - 9:30 tonight and be part of a global movement that is part of the solution - not the problem. And hey, if you live in Thunder Bay, you may even have decided to throw an Earth Hour party or event (and maybe qualify for one of the prizes awarded by City of Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay Hydro, EarthWise and EcoSuperior).
Good on you! 

So here's a question. After 9:30 and your lights are back on again, ask yourself: now was that such a big deal? Should I do this only once a year - or maybe more often..?
Ask yourself, what else can I do to conserve my energy consumption and limit my carbon footprint (and my power bill)?

To inspire you and maybe even nudge you to be part of this great initiative, here's a great little Earth Day commercial all the way from Australia. So is this a global movement or what?
(okay, I'll admit I'm a sucker for that Ozzie accent)

Monday, 21 March 2011


I learned a new word today, an effective new word: greengouching. It's what happens to you, your wallet and possibly your health if you fall for the "green claims" touted by countless "green" products that are flooding the (super)market these days. Green shampoos, green clothing, green detergents, green wines, green cosmetics, green you-name-it-they've-got-it.

"Peeling back misleading green labels" (CBC's Marketplace)
 A solid 95% of those "green" claims are (gasp): "vague, irrelevant, unproven or just patently false" according to CBC's "Marketplace". In other words: almost all of the green hype is hogwash and lies. Greenwash.

The article points out that just about every manufacturer especially of cosmetics, skin care and baby products now has a seperate (and more expensive) line of "green" products on the shelves. It goes on to say that these products no longer are limited to a niche market but have gone main stream, making oodles of money for their manufacturers. (I guess it also explains why the accompanying picture shows 2 puzzled women: men don't clean the house, don't look after children and are of course never puzzled.)
I recommend reading the article, if only for a good chuckle on how creative some of those lies - sorry: claims can be.

What bothered me about the article, though, was the sole conclusion it came to: the reason for this problem is the lack of any regulating body. We need more rules.

Now don't get me wrong: civilized societies need rules. The free market is not necesarily always a good idea and regulation can prevent excesses (just look at the unregulated US banking system and what happened there). I just don't think regulation can solve the underlying problem.

The underlying problem is the assumption we need all these products. As long as we think we need toxic products in order to clean the house, suppress body odours and have movie star hair, the problem won't go away. The real problem is not just false advertising, the real problem is us buying wholesale into the illusion we need these products.

Thank goodness there are saner alternatives. There are cleaning products that are actually natural, like baking soda or soap nuts.
There are small scale local manufacturers who make great cosmetic and skin care products manufactured with respect for our environment and (get this): actually do your skin good. A good place to start here in Thunder Bay is Bare Organics, we're so lucky to have them here.
And if you're still using those yuckie deodorant sticks or sprays, consider using Deodorant Crystals: effective, safe to use, non-polluting to manufacture and much cheaper in the long run.

Okay, so these alternatives may be a little bit harder to find. You can't blame them for it, they don't have the glossy million-dollar advertising campaigns. But once you look for them you'll quickly find they are everywhere. Oh, and did I mention you'll meet the wonderful people who make and use them? Try that with a Johnson & Johnson shampoo!

Stop the greenwash, refuse to get greengouched and set your own course to a healthier and saner, truly greener lifestyle.