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Local enviromentalists encourage small steps for green evolution

by Archives October 9, 2007

One can be environmentally-friendly just by slightly modifying your lifestyle, concluded a discussion group at La Co-op la Maison Verte in an event organized by the University on the Streets Cafe last Wednesday in collaboration with CBC Radio.
Veronique Vendette, works for SOS Planete, an environmental non-profit organization dedicated to awareness and action-based projects in the West Island.
She believes that although one does not have to make huge immediate changes, the clock is ticking.
“It has been one or two years that the government wants to turn green. It’s a slow process and we need to take action now.”
According to Vendette, a good first step is to ask ourselves whether we really need something before we buy it.
“Grow food instead of grass at home, buy used clothes, [and] use a menstrual cup,” said Vendette, who points out that the above examples are both environmentally-sustainable and cheaper.
Nutritionist Jae Steel also believes that being environmentally-friendly is good for your pockets.
“I suggest [buying] organic [foods]. Expensive products are cheese and meats, [but] foods like beans and lentils are good and cheap.”
Tim Murphy, Green Projects Coordinator for Santropol’s Meals on Wheels Program, goes a step further.
“We are producing some of our food in our rooftop garden. We also compost leftover food to close the food cycle,” he said.
Meals on Wheels breaks social isolation by providing food to people with limited mobility, and they trying to deliver this service in a sustainable manner.
“We are buying more organic food. We also changed small things, like putting towels in the washroom instead of paper towels” he said.
Fashion designer, Danny Lourenco, also decided to incorporate environmental sustainability into his business plan.
His boutique, Rien a Cacher, makes only ‘sweatshop free’ articles with environmentally-friendly materials like organic cotton.
“Regular cotton production uses 25 per cent of the world’s pesticides, which seep into the water and food supply and kill 20,000 workers per year,” he said, citing a study by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF).
According to the EJF, “an estimated 1 million to 5 million cases of pesticide poisoning occur every year and at least 1 million requiring hospitalization.”
Lorenco’s decision not to use regular cotton has even impacted other businesses.
“We told a company that, because they were using only new materials we would not buy from them. Their next collection was made with bamboo fibres,” he said.
The green mania seems to be contagious in Montreal; new arrivals in the city are also getting into the environmentally-friendly attitude.
Tana Paddock is originally from Baltimore and became environmentally friendly after arriving to Montreal.
“The first decision I made was to get rid of the car. That was a big step but after that I took a lot of little steps,” she said.
Now Paddock shuns air conditioning to save energy, she refuses to fly, since planes produce large amounts of green house gases, and she has turned vegan.
“It is difficult to make some of these decisions. Being vegan has affected my interactions since, if I go somewhere and they give me meat I will not eat,” she said.
Geeta Nadkami, weather columnist on CBC’s News at Six, said that to be sustainable all you need to do is plan.
“We are used to [having] everything available. Plan, consume less, work less and live more.”
For example, cooking yourself lunch and bringing it to work: it will save you money and it comes without packaging.
Although some people are skeptical that small actions make a difference, these environmentalists do.
“All we need to live is clean water, nourishment. Only a healthy environment can give it to us. Small actions do make a difference,” said Vendette.
“Being green is like a new religion, and I am a Jehovah’s Witness, said Nadkami.

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