The Power of Local Initiatives, Green T

For many in our society, the Green shift is still something that we recognize only through TV programs by David Suzuki or presentations by Al Gore in his program “An Inconvenient Truth”. Of course, most of us are also beginning to see many of the practical sides of being Green. After all, if we can change a light bulb and get the same light with a compact florescent, get the same heat with high efficiency furnace or the same distance with a hybrid car, save money and the planet at the same time, why not?

Although there is definitely a movement is in place to change the way the world works, most people don’t take a very serious plunge into environmental action unless there are financial rewards for doing so which, at very least, match the effort required to make that change.

It is worth recognizing the many people and corporations that are already involved in the sustainability movement at some level and, at the same time, without discrediting any of these efforts, take a closer look at the entire situation. It’s not hard to see that that most of our behaviors, even if we are acutely aware of the environmental and social challenges we face, are still based on old habits. For example, we know that in order to be sustainable, we actually do need to be 100% carbon neutral and we need to use only products that can be recycled and replenished at the same rate we use them. We also know that we have to learn and develop new technologies for dealing with water and food issues (e.g. vertical farming) which will be impacted by an ever growing world population and a warming environment. And even here, in the peace and calm which Canada provides us, we are beginning to be impacted by issues of inequity, injustice and lack of proper education that injure our brothers and sisters of all races everywhere in the world. The worsening situation between the Tamils and the Sri Lanka government is just one example. As people begin to have a voice in the world through media and technologies, these issues will increasingly come to the forefront of our lives. But do we act as though we need to address these problem urgently? Well, not entirely.

If we are to create a new culture, in our work places, our homes and our communities, we need to raise the level of awareness and we need to attract people to that new culture. So one of my personal goals is to promote to local community and business efforts which are focused on doing good in the world and the people who make them happen. It is through these sustainability efforts that people become informed and learn to take action. And I take this on in the hope of mobilizing even more people and letting everyone know something that they may not realize before they have embarked on their Sustainability journey.

What you will quickly learn when you start getting involved the Green movement or any active movement that promotes Social Justice, Equity or Education is that there is a built in reward for your effort. You suddenly start feeling very good about yourself as a human being. In a world with so many depressed people and so much inward focus, it turns out that being an activist who is focused on solutions, not just the problems, is actually a lot of fun and makes you feel happy because it feeds the inherent nobility of your soul! So if you’re feeling a little down in your life, just find yourself a good positive group, embarked on the cause of sustainability, or start your own, and trust that others will follow. You’ll start feeling good soon as long as you keep focused on the solutions!

And this article is about just that, a group that was started by a few concerned individuals in Caledon Ontario and which is continuing to grow, I suspect, largely based on that phenomena.

Green T, is a local group of environmentally active people in Caledon Ontario. At their recent meeting, the hall was packed with over 100 participants. My first time to the meeting.

Green T organizes local meetings and speakers on a variety of environmentally related topics. Their meeting began with a little entertainment from a local Musician Michelle Woodhouse. The night’s speakers included our Town’s Environmental Officer, Sara Peckford, (See my other blog entry) who updated participants on the Town’s environmental initiatives, Noreen Knight, also from the Town, describing the new Provincial laws against the use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals for keeping our yards beautiful and Sandra Dolson who announced the 2009 Farmers Market for Bolton.

We then heard from Kate Agosta on the topic, Lawn Good-bye, ideas for alternatives to the traditional grass lawn by replace lawns altogether with no or low maintenance gardens. Paddy Running-Horan’s talk was on, Healthy Lawns Healthy People, alternatives to pesticide use.

Carrole Blakeman, of Harmony Market, spoke on natural cosmetics and the many harmful chemicals used in many commercial cosmetics and personal grooming products. And while I can’t say I know much about the cosmetics industry personally, she sounded very well informed. She indicated that there are many chemicals used in personal and beauty products that have yet to be tested safe for human use. Even though I’m not a big consumer in this area, no doubt, the better informed we are, the better buying decisions we can make. Consumer demand ultimately determines the products that are produced.

There was also a petition passed for allowing the use of low speed electric cars. Currently they not allowed on most Canadian roadways and, ironically, we have a low speed electric car manufacturer (ZENN), based right here in Canada and it has no choice but to export it’s product.

Following a short presentation on Cooperative farming initiatives in the area we had an opportunity to meet like minded individuals and merchants who were promoting some of their green, organic and fair trade products. I met one individual involved in a local Bio-Diesel cooperative as well as others who were looking for ways to help the environment.

When I offered to speak at their event on the subject of Sustainability in Business in the local community, they told me their speaker roster was full until November. So I offered to speak in November. I have yet to confirm that billing with them.

Green T is an excellent example of the power of a few individuals with an idea that blossomed. But what’s next for the group? From what I can see, they need a new hall if they want to keep growing. Or, alternatively, they may be wiser to break into similar smaller neighborhood initiatives. Although it was fun getting together with everyone in Palgrave Ontario, I have to wonder how much gas was burned by people coming from other parts of our very widely distributed Town. I’m convinced that we will all need to get more neighborhood oriented as part of our greening process.

Each of us, whether in business communities or as citizens, can take an active role in creating a better world just by being a little more active. The folks at Green T have made a great start.

For information on Green T, contact, Patti Foley (905) 951-0625

Garth Schmalenberg

Comments are closed.