The ultimate guide to a green revolution in eight easy moves
You fret about greening your world, but let’s face it, by “world” you mostly mean your home, your body and whatever’s 10 feet from your face. All this greening stuff can be so “me, me, me.” Time to take our navels right out of the equation and ratchet up our place in the public arena, engage our communities and stand up for real change. (Hey, Obama stole that from us.)
But this doesn’t have to be all picket signs and tree chainings. Get creative. Use the skills Gaia gave you to sketch, sing, streak your homegrown brand of protest. While you dream those up, here’s a personal primer on how to harness your inner eco rebel – from baby steps to hardcore leaps.
1. Peeved about landfill-clogging packaging?
SOFTCORE: Don’t keep it bottled up. Talk to your local grocery manager and fave takeout joint about bringing in biodegradable packaging (shoot, you can even point them to Greenshift.ca for products), and don’t forget to bring your own reusable food containers to the bulk section, food court and fast food joints.
HARDCORE: Just like people do with corn husks in Chinatown, dump your packaging at the store it came from (like that hard, clear, unopenable crap around razors or the styrofoam that comes with electronics). And be sure to tell the store manager why you’re doing it . You can also mail it to the provincial or federal enviro minister (telling them both you want regs that push producers to take responsibility for this stuff for a change) using Sierra Club’s stickers (http://ontario.sierraclub.ca).
2. Choked up about the fact that the government won’t cough up real action on greenhouse gases?
SOFTCORE: So cars and light trucks spew 10 per cent of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions. We have till March 15 (when public comment period ends) to tell the PM to embrace California emissions standards , so call the PMO’s office and leave a snippet of Joni Mitchell’s California on his answering machine (613-941-6901).
HARDCORE: God, even Imperial Oil thinks it’s time for a moratorium on tar sands development. Organize a call-in to Alberta premier Ed Stelmach (780-427 2251) of family, friends and co-workers; tell him, “It’s time for a time out on the tar sands.” For more ideas, see www.tarsandstimeout.ca.
3. Tired of waiting for bike lanes that never show?
SOFTCORE: Send a message to the city and drivers by hogging a whole car lane when you ride. This works especially well when there’s more than one of you. And if you hang our Honk If You Love Bike Lanes sign (see online) on your fender, you can give the thumbs-up to anyone who blares the horn at you.
HARDCORE: Why wait for the city? Next time the streets are clear and dry, paint your own bike lane, like the Other Urban Repair Squad did last fall (www.urbanrepairs.blogspot.com). Or sign up for the group’s next guerrilla bike lane session.
4. Tripped out over toxins leaching from your water bottle and mystery carcinogens lurking in, well, nearly everything?
SOFTCORE: Stop the chemical bath! Mail that #7 water bottle, squishy PVC toy or non-stick muffin tin to Enviro Minister John Baird and tell him if he doesn’t ban persistent toxins like bisphenol A, phthalates and PFOA, he can stick the ducky where the sun don’t shine. And remember, postage to an MP is free!
HARDCORE: If the province won’t implement Community Right to Know labelling laws, as it came oh-so-close to doing in 07 (laws on California’s books since the 80s), just walk into your local drugstore or hardware store and slap your own warnings on dodgy products like hair dye, Teflon pans, baby bottles and nail polishes (that don’t say they’re toluene-free). Just print our nifty “Warning: this product contains a carcinogen and/or hormone disrupter” labels (available oline) on sticker paper and go to town!
5. Idling driving you crazy?
SOFTCORE: Okay, so our idling bylaw doesn’t apply on really cold days, but when it warms up a little, knock on car windows and, with a smile (so you don’t get socked), hand the offending motorist a friendly educational flyer (in fact, we’ve designed one for you, available online).
HARDCORE: Snap photos of idling government and corporate vehicles in action and send your pics, along with a letter of complaint, to the drivers’ bosses, telling them they need to green their idling policies. Trust us, this gets results.
6. Baffled by the boreal being flushed down the toilet?
SOFTCORE: Mail your Sears catalogue back to head office and tell them until they stop printing on old-growth paper, you’ll never buy a thing from them again.
HARDCORE: I’d tell you to toilet-paper Queen’s Park, but that would just be wasteful. Instead grab a brave pal, plus a friend with a ladder and do a little QP tree-sitting à la Julia Butterfly Hill. A toilet-paper-strewn banner that reads “Stop flushing the boreal down the toilet, Minister Cansfield” should make your point. Oh and be sure to call the press once you’re sky high.
7. Worried about polluters in your ’hood?
SOFTCORE: Take snapshots of suspicious sites and help build Toronto Environmental Alliance’s secret toxins map at Secrecyistoxic.ca.
HARDCORE: Start a green neighbourhood watch (check out our window decals online). If we’re going to look out for our kids’ safety, we should also protect their right to clean air, water and more. A green neighbourhood watch could encourage locals to note illegal tree cutting, retail and industrial pollution, idling cars, etc. Scared to confront your neighbours face to face? Leave a helpful info-filled leaflet in the offender’s mailbox.
8. Nervous about the province’s $40 billion nuclear expansion?
SOFTCORE: If McGuinty really wants more nukes, make him stand by his radioactive legacy – help get the Darlington reactor renamed after the premier! It’s easy, just sign the petition at ILoveNukes.ca and pass it on.
HARDCORE: Take inspiration from the kings of demo theatrics, Greenpeace, who dumped a barrel of mock nuke waste on the preem, and do your own radioactive drama. Or grab a few friends and march to QP wearing twirly propeller hats and signs that say “Go wind or go home” and “Grow the green grid.”