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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day

How are you celebrating Earth Day 2010?

I decided to end my illicit affair with Roll Up the Rim coffee cups and started the day with my new ReThink re-usable mug. I also made a point to get out for a walk at lunchtime, taking in the sweet spring air and did a little bit of geocaching as well.

Tonight, I will be out walking the dog and thinking about what is next in my plans to lower my own footprint in the coming weeks! Stay tuned!

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Friday, April 9, 2010

Building a Bat House

Have you got bats in your belfry? Do you want some?

It's hard to believe that mosquito season is nearly upon us. This year, I plan to combat the pesky varmints in a natural way: by attracting bats!

Everything you need to know is at the website for Bat Conservation International. I'll report on my progress when I get to building my first bat house, but here's what attracted me to the project:

  • Bat Houses work best when built from recycled wood... well weathered old barn wood is best
  • Bats are natural insect killers. This makes camping time more enjoyable with less reliance on bug spray and insecticide.
  • Habitat for bats is under pressure by human activity. Building them a bat house helps them too!
If you're not interested in building your own bat house, you can purchase one online or from a local craftsman. Kits and completed house are available in a lot of garden stores. Check yours!

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Recycling Your Stuff

Stuff is all around us and it's often this time of year - spring cleaning and the end of the school year - that we begin to notice just how quickly it accumulates. I thought I'd share three ideas for getting rid of your excess in a simple and environmentally-friendly way.

  • Books just taking up space? Try Book Crossing to find them a new home or send them on an adventure! Simple print a label and find a good place to stash the book.
  • Everything else? If it is something you no longer need but is still in good working order, help it find a new home through Freecycle. Find a local group and be sure to follow the rules. (Warning! Freecycle can generate a lot of incoming e-mail - you've been warned!)
  • Are you in Halifax? Check out the Dump and Run at the beginning of May. It's Halifax's largest community yard sale!
 Do you have a unique or novel way of recycling your precious but unwanted items? Drop us a comment below!

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Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Energy Savings Tips by Dal Students

I wanted to post a link to this article in the Dal News, not because it contains any really new information for Lower Footprint readers, but because this class was one of my first opportunities to learn and act in a green way.

Unlike these students who are able to spread their message through the vast internet, my project was presented in class to Dr. Martin Willison circa 1995. Our project, titled, "So You Wanna Compost?", highlighted the benefits of a backyard composter for a city that wouldn't see green bins for another few years. We distributed our little brown brochures at the local grocery store.

I'm glad to see that students are still getting to do this kind of project in their Nature Conservation course!

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Canadian Feds End Home Energy Retrofit Program

Unfortunately, this wasn't PM Harper's idea of an April Fool's day joke: On Thursday it was announced that the Federal Home Energy Retrofit program has been suspended. Over the last three years, home owners who submitted to an energy audit and completed the necessary changes could earn up to $5000 in rebates and credits. Reports suggest that this is a money saving move as the program was three times more popular than initially expected. This suspension means the program ended about a year earlier than scheduled.

I could be the first to cry sour grapes as I did the initial audit but failed to complete the work in my 18-month window nor did I know I could have applied for an extension, but I still think the program was valuable enough to motivate a lot of people to move to a greener position. I fear though that people who would have counted on this rebate or could only afford to do upgrades when the rebates were available, will now be forced to wait or simply not do the upgrades. This results in wasted energy, higher costs, higher GHG emissions and more waste.

Bottomline: Bone head move. This program was an economic stimulus targeted specifically at smart, green renovations.

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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Pants Harmful to the Environment

Those Scots had it right all along! In a report published today in the Journal of Climate Change, scientists found that climate change is dramatically slowed in the remote areas of Scotland where the kilt is still worn regularly instead of trousers.

"Accounting for all of the differences in terrain, prevailing weather patterns, and historic fossil fuel usage," reported lead climatologist, Dr. Clarence McLeod, "the only causal factor that remained was the lack of pants worn in the region." The scientists compared 42 different regions that shared many similar characteristics like latitude, altitude, and population density and found that the kilt-wearing areas (of which there were 2 in the study) had the lowest change in historic temperature in the last 200 years and the lowest production of GHG (green house gases).

Clearly, it was more than the wearer's loins that were being cooled in these areas. Further modelling will be done with this study's massive data set. Scientists hope to be able to determine whether kilt-wearing is powerful enough to reverse the effects of climate change. The potential for the mass adoption of the pleated garment in areas most at risk is being considered.

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