Monthly Archives: September 2006

Speaking at Friends of Durika Conference

This Sunday I’ll be speaking at the Friends of Durika Educational Conference and Reunion.

The Friends of Durika (FOD) is a non profit organization that supports “‘Durika,”Â’ an intentional community in Costa Rica which serves as an international model for sustainable living. People visit this community from around the world in order to learn how to live more lightly on the planet. The goal of FOD is to provide financial support and encouragement for community initiatives and to help educate people everywhere about the importance of making earth-friendly lifestyle decisions. For more information on FOD, visit Information about Durika can be found at

I’ll be attempting to apply some of the lessons of Durika to a Canadian context, with specific reference to what governments can do to enable and empower individuals and communities. A focus of the conference is on the synthesis of ecological health and social justice.

Date: Sunday, September 24th, 2006
Location: Hart House, University of Toronto (map)
Cost: $15
11:30-12 Registration, meet and greet, browsing booths
12-1 Durika (ecovillage) presentation
1-1:30 Durika Documentary
1:30-1:45 AGM
1:45-2:15 Speaker: Chris Tindal
2:30-3 Reunion, browsing booths

In The News Again

Well, the student news. ;-)

Ryerson graduate Chris Tindal was 24 when he ran as a Green Party candidate in last January’Â’s election. Tindal says the challenges of running in an election are the same regardless of age: finding time and money.”You have no personal life for the duration of the campaign.” During his campaign, Tindal said some days that began at 7:30 a.m. and ended at 1:30 a.m.

When Tindal ran in the federal election, he wanted to relate with voters, especially the youth. He says people respected him and listened to what he had to say in spite of his age. Out of the thousands of doors he knocked on, he only encountered one woman who made a rude comment about his age.

“She sort of laughed and said ‘‘Do you shave?’Â’ But she took the flier anyway. I think she was trying to be funny.”

In other news (how’s that for a transition?), today is International Car Free Day. Do you know where your councillor is?

Insert “Garbage” Pun Here

A company with a chronic deficit solves nothing by taking out a loan. Likewise, Toronto did not solve her garbage problem yesterday. Toronto’s purchase of the deceptively-named Green Lane Environmental Ltd. (say, didn’t we used to call those things garbage dumps?) is the purchase of a little more time, nothing else.

How much time? About twenty years. How much time has it taken us to find this dump? About twenty years. And the next one will take even longer.

We’re the only species on this planet that makes true waste — as in, something that doesn’t go on to become food for something else. Looking at it that way, waste is economic inefficiency. Waste is lost profit. The only true solution to our waste problem is to eliminate waste altogether.

I know, sounds crazy, right? It’s not. In the past three years alone, Toronto has reduced the number of trucks we send to Michigan from 143 a day to 80. (And no, we didn’t just get bigger trucks.) We’ve done that by diverting recyclables and organics, and that’s just the tip of the (melting) iceberg. The real magic happens when you start using materials in continuous cycles.

Take the beer store, for example. They get back and reuse 96% of the bottles they sell! Ontario’s announcement that they’ll start doing this with LCBO products as well is a huge step in the right direction. Just think, if hungover people have the wherewithal to return bottles, how much more could we do with the packaging of non-intoxicating products?!

The bottom line is that we need to stop subsidizing waste, and start making manufacturers responsible for their own products. Author Paul Hawken often writes about having three categories of waste:

  1. Consumables. Anything that can biodegrade completely and harmlessly. That includes clothes (assuming we stop putting other weird stuff in them) and food (assuming we stop spraying them with toxic pesticides).
  2. Products of service, like cars, TVs and refrigerators would be “leased” to the customer, ultimately to be returned to the manufacturer who would be responsible for the product’s recycling or reuse.
  3. Unmarkatables. This is the nasty stuff, like radioactive isotopes, toxins, and chemicals that bioaccumulate (build-up) in your body. Manufacturers really shouldn’t be producing these things at all, but if they do, they’ll pay to have them stored in “parking lots” until they can figure out how to neutralize them.

So, you can either make products that are 100% biodegradable, figure out how to reuse the parts, or pay the government to store your waste for you.

Anyone who thinks waste reduction, and ultimately elimination, isn’t realistic, should ask themselves one question. How realistic is the idea that we can just keep finding new dumps forever? (To say nothing of all the virgin materials we keep extracting unnecessarily.)

We need to start now, so that by the time this dump is full we won’t have to go looking for another one. Let’s not waste the next twenty years. (Ah ha! There’s the pun I was looking for.)

ps. By the way, this new dump is located in some of Ontario’s (and therefore, Toronto’s) prime agricultural land. As our garbage starts to break down it will leach into the earth that grows our food. The phrase “don’t shit where you eat” comes to mind.

Run for the Cure

I just got this email from my brother. I knew the friend Alex mentions below. He was one of those genuinely nice and fun guys who no one could ever dislike. Anyway, I wanted to share it with you.

i’m participating in a fundraiser for breast cancer on october 1st where i will be running 5k, imagining that i’m stomping on cancer with each stride. you might already know that i lost a really amazing friend last month to cancer, and while it wasn’t breast cancer, a number of his friends are running together as a team called, ‘the palligators’ to support the canadian breast cancer foundation. it should also be noted that he is not the first person this group of friends has lost to cancer.the point of this run is to raise money to research treatment, early detection and prevention in addition to supporting communities and families affected by breast cancer. so, having said that, i need your help reaching my personal fundraising goal of $500, and my team’s fundraising goal of $3000. i’ve included a link in this e-mail which will take you to my donations page. you can do it online with your credit card and it’s super quick and easy. you even get a tax receipt for your charitable donation. plus, i’ll be eternally grateful.

Click here.

even if you can only donate $10, it will put me that much closer to my goal.

thanks in advance.