Category Archives: Sustainability

When Your Product Sells Itself

Our consummately professional and constantly bantering Toyota saleswoman contacted us to wish us a happy new year and let us know that she’d love to discuss new-car-smell options with us 🙂.

We have a RAV4 Hybrid, and it’s been a solid vehicle with a combo of AWD, phenomenal pep, super gas mileage particularly in town where the electric drive gets the most use, and perfect reliability.

Just out of curiosity we asked about the RAV4 Prime, a plug-in hybrid version that can run on electricity only for about 70km before the hybrid gas/electric system kicks in.

She laughed and said, “you can give me a deposit on a RAV4 Prime today, and you can expect delivery in two to three years.” She wasn’t kidding. . .

Apparently they can’t get enough of them and have long waiting lists.

Enviro-Friendly Car Wash for New Year

Started out the New Year with an environmentally friendly car wash.

We wash our car about three or four times a year, usually at a commercial wash that recycles/filters water.

Today I just backed it out of the garage into the drizzle, wetted it down, used a wetted soft cloth to gently wipe away dirt, and used two gallons of our emergency water to rinse off.

No soap, zero environmental impact. All drains lead to habitat!

And refreshed water in some of our emergency stock. . .

Emulate Your Grandmom’s Generation For a Few Weeks, Eh?

In these tough Covid times, let’s remember that our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents went through wars, destitution, starvation, and starting new lives literally living in holes in the ground in what is now western Canada.

Too many of us have no clue about the sacrifices made by so many to get us to where we are today.

There was no telephone, for most no radio, no TV, of course no Internet, no cell phones. . .

And no grocery stores or supermarkets. So what are we all bitching about?

How soft and entitled have we gotten in a few generations?
Can we not all collectively sit on our asses for a couple of weeks, wear masks in public, and get this done?

Spawner Patrol Orientation on Byrne Creek in Burnaby

Byrne Creek Streamkeepers had a spawner patrol orientation today in SE #Burnaby, BC, to show some new volunteers the area that we patrol.

Due to human intervention and ongoing development, the area in which salmon spawn on Byrne Creek is limited. It can be covered on foot in about an hour.

Salmon usually start returning to spawn on Byrne Creek around mid-October, and we weren’t disappointed, spotting three in the sediment pond, all likely coho.

There’s nothing like seeing these majestic fish in an urban area to get volunteers inspired and reinvigorated. This is my favourite time of the year, as I try to get out on on the creek as many times as I can, sometimes three or four times as week, as work and other commitments allow.

Volunteer streamkeepers have training from the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation, and permission from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the City of Burnaby, to patrol the creek and enumerate spawners.

Please, if you see salmon, maintain a respectful distance, do not walk in the creek, and keep dogs leashed. The eggs the fish lay in the creek won’t hatch until spring, so it’s important to stay out of the creek.

Refinishing Stair Handrails – Covid Project #33b

Three rounds of stripping and scraping using an environmentally benign gel, and several hours of sanding over the course of a few days and the handrails from our stairs are finally denuded of what seemed like about 10 coats of paint. Whew!

Was pleased at the decent quality of the wood underneath all those layers. Will likely go with a mild stain/varnish and sealer.

It was a lot work, but I hate wasting good wood, and had some time on my hands. . .

stripping sanding handrails

UPDATE (June 28): The boss chose Varathane in Golden Oak. Looking good! I’ll do another coat later today, let them sit overnight, and install tomorrow.

staining handrails

Spectacular Aomori Sea of Japan Coast Marred by Plastics

One of my “nieces” (cousin’s daughter) is starting a project documenting all the plastics used in her life. That got me thinking about our trip to Japan last year when one day we went to the Sea of Japan coast in Aomori Prefecture.

The views were spectacular, but once you got up close, there were piles of plastic garbage strewn all over the beach. Much of the crap was not Japanese, but had floated in from other countries across the sea.

It occurred to me that I’d never posted these photos to my blog, so here they are. Shot in April 2019.

sea of japan aomori coast plastics

And then this. . .

Two Thumbs Up for The Global Forest

I just finished the delectable and moving collection of essays called The Global Forest: 40 Ways Trees Can Save Us by Diana Beresford-Kroeger.

Written some ten years ago. the book is prophetic, and the last few paragraphs resonate deeply today. A few snippets:

“. . .the children of this generation will want to help the planet and nature in a collective way. . . They will alter their parents’ ways. . . ”

“The media is filled with stories of nature’s abuse. . . There seems to be no end to greed. . .”

“But the children exist. . . the consumerism of their lives bores holes of unbearable solitude. They are already reaching for something else, something elusive, something that is color-blind to race. It is called dignity, the dignity of life, all life.”

A wonderful book for those who love and nurture nature, and who can lose themselves in gorgeous writing. I often found myself rereading paragraphs and even entire essays.

We’re Driving 10% of What We Used To

A thread on FB about less driving these days made me curious about our situation.

I figured out our mileage since the beginning of March at about 6km/day (~3.7 miles).

It would have been even less, but when Yumi’s office in downtown Vancouver was shutting down we had to drive there twice to retrieve a computer, monitor, and key files.

If this average kept up for a year, that would make for a total of ~2,200km/year!

In previous years we’d drive between 15,000 to 22,000 km/year depending on how often we got out of town.

So at this point, we’re driving roughly 10% of what we used to.

Quit Buying Soulless Crap, Support Your Local Economy

I reflexively shared a post about boycotting goods from China on FB. Not due to Covid, but a pile of other reasons such as undercutting local manufacturing, terrible environmental damage, horrid working conditions, etc.

I deleted my share, because the post was overly inflammatory.

Yet, if the average Canadian had a clue about how much of what we buy is shoddily made in China under horrid conditions. . . . Sheesh.

I had a gig stocking at a retail outlet for awhile not too long ago. I would think way over half of the knickknacks came from China. Often as not, as we opened boxes upon boxes stacked on pallets, nauseous chemical smells would waft through receiving.

Anything made from plastic stank. Even supposed wood products stank of preservatives or perhaps fungicides or pesticides.

I shudder to think of the people in the factories producing this shit.

Each shift entailed filling multiple huge garbage bags with packing materials ranging from Styrofoam to plastic to bubble wrap. . . . All to be “recycled,” eh?

No more cheap baubles. They’re like sugar that may give you a short-term lift, but long-term soulless emptiness.

Let’s make better choices. Let’s buy local. Let’s buy handcrafted. Let’s buy art not kitsch. Let’s buy quality that lasts. Let’s not throw things away.

Starting My Victory Garden

Another home project: got 60 liters of soil and a bag of seed potatoes.

We don’t have garden space to speak of aside from our townhouse balcony, but we do have a wood half-barrel that we can move to a sunny spot beside the garage.

The barrel is in pretty sad shape, with the hoops fallen like old socks, but the wood is still pretty solid so I think with some TLC I can revive it.

Haven’t grown potatoes in over 40 years, but this should be fun.

potato barrel
Moving the old barrel into place and fixing it up a bit

Adding soil and seed potatoes

Finished. Plenty of room to add soil as plants grow. . .

Yumi is the green thumb in our little family, but she says I’m on my own for this one .

Total cost was $6.50 for the soil, some of which Yumi will use for potted plants and flowers to help support our balcony mason bee box. Add a buck or two for the seed potatoes, and if my foray into farming is not very successful, it’s not like we’ll be out a big investment!