A Money Coach in Canada

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It was October 2003 and I was vacationing in Brighton, England.  Thirsty, I popped into the nearest shop and grabbed a bottle of water.   It wasn’t until I’d drunk the bottle of water that I noticed the water was from Richmond, B.C. (a suburb of Vancouver, my home).   I had a good laugh at the time:   Across the world, and here I was paying for water that came out of the tap at home.

Up here in Yellowknife, I’ve been drinking bottled water instead of tap water.  The tap water is heavy on the chlorine and also infused with flouride.  Yuck.  So, I’ve been going to the local co-op and filling up large jugs with Aquel Spring Water.

After seeing the documentary BlueGold I’m joining a revolution and banishing  bottled water from my lifestyle.

Here are some things to think about:

  • The bottle I drink from is plastic created (out of oil and gas) just for my drink.  Just. For. My. Drink.
  • The bottle can’t biodegrade.  It can’t even be reduced to its original substances.  When it’s recycled, it’s still in the planet as plastic – increasingly used in carpeting (how do you feel about flooring made not out of wool or wood or bamboo, but out of petroleum product?)
  • The water that I drink comes from someplace else, disrupting their ecosystem.  In my case, I’ve been drinking water produced by the Cott Corporation.  The water comes from WaterValley in Alberta – this gorgeous place:

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Photo Credit: Rami Levi

That water I drink is no longer contributing to Alberta’s natural ecosystems .

The water isn’t evaporating and returning as rain.

It’s no longer supporting the rich vegetation.

It’s depleting the water table.

This in turn will ultimately degrade the soil.

I have no clue when Cott intends to stop draining this  body of water to sell to me (and the corporate responsibility page on their site is woefully vague) but if you, like me, are tempted to dismiss the threat to the ecosystem (I mean, it looks so plentiful, doesn’t it?), consider this:

The photo below was once the 4th largest sea in the world called the Aral Sea. Located in Kazakhstan, and it was rich source of fish.  Its water sources were diverted to grow cotton.  It will never recover.

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Photo Credit: Gilardr

In short, our choices matter.   They matter this much.

And if that’s not enough, did you know (I didn’t) that the caps can’t be recycled at all?  And that most of them end up in the ocean?  And that in the DEEP ocean, 1/3 of the fish have swallowed plastic, primarily from bottled drinks?

So, I’m banishing bottled water from my lifestyle.   Readers:  do any of you use those Brita Filters that you attach to your faucet?  My gadgetry skills are woeful.  Is it complicated to install?  And does it work?

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He who dies rich, dies shamed.

Andrew Carnegie

READERS:  Agree, or disagree?

Photo Credit: Cliff1066

There are so many ways to “go green” that also benefit your wallet.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:   If you’re canadian and comfortable with online banking, and you want  an alternative to the Big Banks, www.citizensbank.ca is for you.   Here’s why:

  • Carbon Neutral (for real.  When I worked there, there were many incentives for staff to commute to work, and we were nearly paperless among other things)
  • Free chequing, high interest savings
  • Owned by a co-op.  You get to nominate and vote on who (which NGOs) get the profits
  • If you get a visa with them, fees are the same as the others, points are comparable, and every time you use it, the bank donates 10¢ to Amnesty/Oxfam
  • And I used to work there!  And can testify that the vast majority of the time you will receive service that beats the pants of other banks (possibly excepted by TD, which I hear also gives great service most of the time)

for readers who popped by and commented – I’ve deleted yesterday’s post (but thanks for popping by!)

I deleted it because clearly I wasn’t strong enough on the TONGUE IN CHEEK element and it implicated another party in a way that was unfair (due to my lack of clarity on the Tongue In Cheek)

It’s the first time I’ve ever deleted a post, and I’m sure you will all understand why I did so in this instance.

Guest Post: Stephen Rees

There’s a deeply cynical opinion piece in today’s Province that looks at the choice between the NDP and the governing BC Liberals in the current BC provincial election. It does not mention the third choice, which is going to be available (we hope) in every electoral district. The Green Party has yet to secure a seat in the legislature but is now polling at around 12% of decided voters.

As Jon Ferry says “little to choose between the tweedledum Liberals and the tweedledee NDP”. But he does not look at any of the Green policies – which cover the whole range of issues, not just the environment. You can read the whole policy book at the Green Party web site.

For me the environment continues to be my main concern. I have seen a number of economic cycles since I have been in Canada – just over twenty years now. I think that eventually we will indeed pull out of the current reccession. Which really worries me. If we continue with “business as usual” humanity does not really have much of a future on this planet. The earth will survive – by shucking of the nasty viral infection called humanity. We seem to be the only intelligent species that is not intelligent enough to stop destroying the very system that keeps it alive. The economy is a subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around. We cannot keep going the way we are as we currently need three planets to support our consumption of natural resources. And we do not have another habitable planet we can get to before this one runs out.

The reason I decided to run for Green Party is that it is now the only one that opposes the dreadful Gateway program. Carol James and the NDP switched from opposing it to supporting it last year. About the same time she decided to attack the Carbon Tax (she refers to in inaccurately as “the gas tax”) and for exactly the same reason: it was the popular choice. While the carbon tax is not nearly enough to change people’s choices, it is a start – and will slowly get a bit better. Obviously we need to do more – but the building freeways and expansion of ports will more than negate any reduction in greenhouse gas emissions due to the carbon tax.

The thing about transportation is that it is not a single issue on its own. It dramatically alters the landscape – and everything around it. If you build freeways and more roads you get highway oriented development – low density housing, outlet malls, power centres – all the rest. The very thing that we have been trying to avoid. You do not get livable, walkable human scale places until you design your transportation system to be optimised for people, not cars. There will be no transit oriented development until there is some transit!

I have been banging on about this issue on my blog“>my blog for years now. Nancy has very kindly offered me this space to spread the word to others. If you live in BC, please take the time to look at the Green alternative before you vote. If what I am saying has resonance with you please also consider a donation. The NDP has the unions funding them, the Liberals big business. The Green party is funded only by its supporters. And it is really important that this time we get the message out that there is an alternative to the two main parties.

Like most Green Party candidates, my campaign in Richmond East is running on a shoe string. If you would like to make a donation to my campaign specifically, please make your cheque payable to Campaign to Elect Stephen Rees and send it to me at #6 – 10251 Steveston Highway, Richmond BC V7A 1N2. And I will send you a tax receipt. I am sure Nancy will tell you that political donations are an even better way of getting a tax refund than donating to charity.

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