Q: I'm a film buff. Just curious - are there any ecological implications to my addiction?
A: If you're in TIFF withdrawal, fear not, green cinephiles, Planet in Focus, Toronto's International Environmental Film & Video Festival, starts Wednesday (September 28) and should have lots of illuminating flicks (www.planetinfocus.org). But what are the eco ramifications of cinematic enjoyment? We all know theatres are famous for refrigerating moviegoers to the point of frostbite. Well, instead of handing out blankets, Famous Players installed a nifty cooling system calibrated to the number of seats sold (or bodies heating the room) which, combined with automated lighting, has resulted in serious energy savings at dozens of theatres across the country, including our Paramount and SilverCitys. No word from Cineplex on this front.
Are you really going to finish that 2-litre cup of Coke or that plastic-wrapped 100-pack of Twizzlers? Consider bringing your own healthy snacks, like carrot sticks and juice in reusable containers. (I know, I know, theatres don't really condone this, so keep it hush-hush.) Or lug a porto-mug with you and ask a popcorn peddler to fill it with your bevy of choice.
As for home viewing, it's all contingent on your medium of choice. VHS players, even the new ones, consume more energy than DVD players. And watching films on your computer uses less energy than on your TV, especially if it's a new- fangled big-screen one.
Wouldn't you know it? The bigger and sharper the image, the more juice your set needs to deliver it. A 32-inch liquid crystal high definition (LCD HDTV) model, for instance, sucks back nearly 400 kWh per year, double that of an older analog screen of the same size. And a 50-inch plasma HDTV drinks up well over three times as much as that analog one. It's certainly enough to make your hydro bills jump. Is it really worth seeing the pores on your favourite starlet's nose?
To be fair, newer plasmas are improving as manufacturers reduce active mode power consumption, and non-HDTV LCDs use the same amount of power as regular ones.
Still, Canadians bought almost 200,000 energy-hogging HDTVs in 2002, according to a market research report by Euromonitor. We're also buying cheapie no-name DVD players like they're going out of style. Trouble is, the crappy ones are basically disposable, and it's cheaper to buy a new one than have it fixed. Just cough it up and get your stuff repaired at Videophase on King East (416-498-1348). They even make house calls.
Energy Star electronics, be they VHS or DVD players, TVs or computers, consume up to 75 per cent less electricity than conventional products when they're turned off. But only when they're off. See, most electronics continue to suck power from the socket even when they're not in use, making them serious energy pigs. Energy Star goods are much better about this, but the seal of approval doesn't tell you anything about how efficient your set is when it's on. And even if it did, Energy Star's current test for gauging active mode power is so old, it's based on black-and-white televisions!
Still, it's all we've got, so do look for the Energy Star label when you're shopping (DVD players from $99.99 and VCR players from $74.99 at Future Shop, Bay Bloor Radio and Source by Circuit City). If you're in need of both a VHS and DVD player, better to get the two-in-one kind (JVC and Panasonic have a model from $169.99 at Bay Bloor and Future Shop).
Beyond the electronics that help you play your movies, what of the movies themselves? Both DVDs and VHS tapes can be brought to an Enviro Day (www.city.toronto.on.ca/environment_days), as can old TVs and DVD and VHS players (which get recycled). Whatever you do, don't landfill the stuff. (Cathode-ray-tube tellies, in particular, are bad, bad, bad if the tubes break and leak.)
If they're in good condition, bring old flicks to a second-hand media shop like CD Replay on Yonge, Lawrence or Bloor.
Downloading movies is perhaps the greenest way to view a flick, seeing as no DVD has to be pressed and shipped to stores, and computers use less energy than TVs. Renting is greener than buying your own copy, but only if you don't drive to the store.
As for movie-munching snacks, you can get certified organic, GMO-free popcorn at places like Noah's on Bloor, Yonge and Bathurst and Essence of Life on Kensington (from $2.99/3 pack). Stargazers and stalkerazzi can buy theirs at Whole Foods on Avenue.
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