Friday, June 28, 2019

A Shopping Moratorium

Tomatoes and Herbs on the Deck
Yesterday, I heard something I hadn’t heard for a long time. It was the sound of raindrops pattering down on the roof.

For the last six weeks, we have had no rain. We have been experiencing a drought. The grass outside is yellow and crunchy. The arbutus trees have been dropping their leaves. When I walk along the parched trails, I kick leaves underfoot as if it were autumn.

We live in a coastal rain forest, not the desert. So the rainfall was very welcome.

As a consequence of the drought, our area has water use restrictions. We can only water our yards and gardens for a few hours every second day. (Vegetable gardens are exempted.) We are asked not to use water to wash cars or to hose off driveways.

We have installed soaker hoses to water the shrubs. We don’t water the grass or use a sprinkler. We’ve used lawn clippings to mulch the gardens.

This is the third consecutive summer of drought in this area. Although I haven’t lived on Vancouver Island long, local people tell me that this weather pattern is atypical. The fire risk as at a high level and it is still only June.

The recent hot dry summers in this area are most likely a consequence of climate change. A recently released report on the changing climate said that Canada, especially the more northerly parts, can expect more degrees of warming than the world average, due to the climate crisis. One reason is that as the glacial ice and snow in the arctic and on the mountain tops melts and is not replenished, light from the sun will be absorbed rather than being reflected by the white snow. That will warm the land and air, causing the remaining glaciers to melt even faster.

The more I educate myself about climate change, the more worried I become. The consequences of rapid warming for human civilization, animals, and plants are dire.

But there are positive changes taking place too.

People are now talking about climate change. It is a topic in the media now, whereas for so many years the topic seemed to be avoided. Now our national broadcaster, CBC, regularly reports on climate related issues as well as solutions that individuals, communities, and various levels of government are implementing. Cities, and regional districts like mine, are developing policies and plans to reduce their carbon footprint and take action to mitigate climate change. For example, my regional district has been very proactive in developing a solid waste management approach that diverts waste from landfills. Each household recycles, sorting their household waste into compost (food and yard waste), paper products, recyclable plastics and metals, and garbage (for the landfill).

Since I last wrote about this topic, I have continued to look for additional ways to do my part to reduced my carbon footprint. Here is a list of new I initiatives I have taken in the last two months.

1. I met with my financial advisor and divested my retirement portfolio of fossil fuels. I replaced those mutual funds with funds that are investing in green technology.

2. Reduced beef/lamb in my diet to once a week.

3. Now do most of my grocery shopping at the nearest store (3 km.) to reduce driving, and if I am in the nearby city anyways, I mostly shop at a locally owned independent grocer that offers local produce, meat, and dairy products.

4. To reduce our water usage, we bought and installed more soaker hoses, we mulched the gardens, and we don’t flush the toilet overnight (ewwww).

5. I convinced my service club to offer a vegetarian alternative at the next community pancake breakfast. Now instead of pancakes and sausage, people can choose to have pancakes and fruit instead.

6. When I put away my winter clothes a few weeks ago and brought out my summer clothes, I realized I have way too many clothes. So I have implemented a shopping moratorium for myself. I will not buy any clothing, footwear, ore jewelry for myself until 2020.

I believe that as individuals make personal changes changes, we will make a difference and also inspire ourselves to change policies and practices at a broader social level.

On a totally different topic, I am heading off on an adventure with my daughter. In my next post, I’ll tell you all about it!


19 comments:

  1. Hi, Jude - These are excellent reminders of doable actions that we can take to help protect our earth. Safe travels on your upcoming adventures. I look forward to reading about them!

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    1. Hello Donna! Are you back home now? I’m sorry for taking so long to reply to your comment. I’m in the Mediterranean and have had almost no access to the Internet ever since I posted this article. I also haven’t been able to read blogs so I’m way behind on hearing about your trip.

      Jude

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  2. Hi Jude - Good for you for taking specific actions to reduce your carbon footprint. Have a safe and fun adventure with your daughter. I look forward to reading about them. P.S. I recently moved from Blogger to WordPress.

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    1. Hi Natalie! I’d been very interested in hearing how you feel about Wordpress now that you’ve switched, and whether it was difficult. I know quite a few bloggers recommend it over Blogger, but I’ve actually been quite happy with the simplicity of Blogger.

      Jude

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  3. Hi Jude! Wow! I didn't know you were having a drought! As you know we are headed your way next month and never realized that you haven't had normal rainfall. But before we head to your island we will be visiting Sequim, WA (just a ferry ride away!)
    and have been watching their weather. According to our weather app...it's been raining very continuously. Global weirding for sure. And it seems you are continuing to ramp up your actions to help things. Thanks for that AND for sharing different options for us all. ~Kathy

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    1. Hi Kathy! Well, in speaking with Rob back home, he mentioned that some wet weather was predicted for this week. I hope so ! The Island needs it. I am far, far away from Vancouver Island right now. But I plan to be back home before your visit.

      Jude

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  4. These all sound like sensible measures. I don’t get the climate change deniers, nor why they won’t even consider taking such measures just in case they’re wrong …

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    1. Hi Anabel! Strangely enough, I do kind of get the climate change deniers. We all wish it wasn’t happening, and that human behaviours weren’t the cause of it. The consequences of global warming that we are now beginning to experience (rapid extinction of plant and animal species, wildfires, floods, etc.) are so horrible and upsetting that it can be tempting to just not want to think about it and to try to go on with everyday life. Unfortunately, the only way we can reduce the impact of what we’ve set in motion is if everyone gets on board with changing our destructive ways. Sometimes I wish I didn’t know about it either. But ignorance is not bliss, and in any case, I think most people *do* know. They just don’t want to admit it because it’s hard to be wrong about something as serious as this.

      Jude

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  5. Yikes - your area of the world is one in which I wouldn't have expected to hear about drought. That is frightening and it alarms me that there are those who continue to dig in their heels and deny the reality of climate change calling it a propaganda ploy 'by the left'.

    We each need to do our part, no matter how small, and you are clearly leading the pack.

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    1. Hi Joanne. Thanks for your kind words. In fact, I don’t feel as if I am doing nearly enough. I feel guilty and ashamed for not doing enough. How could I get on an airplane which burns jet fuel? Why am I still driving a gasoline powered car, or driving at all, for that matter? Why haven’t I run for public office or joined an environmental committee to help effect broader change. Obviously, it’s not something that one person can fix. But I could do more.

      Jude

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  6. Hi Jude, I like rain and appreciate it, too. We have had brown grass for many summers:) I am also concerned about the fire risk. Interesting information on how light from the sun is not reflected by the snow due to climate change. Melting glaciers are very scary. A great post on how individuals can make a difference. Awareness and Education is a step in the right direction. I look forward to hearing about the adventure with your daughter:)

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    1. Hi Erica. I think for many people in BC, the increase in the number and severity of wildfires each summer has been a big wake up call about the consequences of global warming on our climate. Yes, forest fires have been a concern in the summer months for all the years I can remember, but in the last decade we have had many huge fires that have raged out of control, threatening communities and filling the air with choking smoke all summer long. I agree with you that awareness and education are important steps in the right direction.

      Jude

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  7. I do some of the things you list here. One additional thing I do is that I do not have a grass lawn, my large yard is covered in wood chip mulch, it looks pretty and no grass means no pollution from mowing the lawn, no watering of grass, no use of chemical fertilizer, etc. I have lots of trees and bushes that don't need much water.

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    1. Hi Terra. Thanks for commenting. Yes, grass lawns are not the most sensible choice, especially if people feel they have to water them constantly in hot weather to keep them green, or use chemicals to kill weeds on their lawn. The house we bought two years ago has lawns, but we just let them go yellow in the summer and don’t use weed killer.

      Jude

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  8. Hi Jude!

    Wow, I had no idea Vancouver Island had a drought again this summer. All we’ve been experiencing on our cross country road trip is rain, bulging rivers, and flooding. Crazy weather, due to climate change. It is all very scary. I’m glad to read that you are taking more measurements to fight the problem. Hopefully, more people will follow.

    I think I have too many clothes as well, but we rarely buy anything “new” anyway, and only at thrift stores. As you know, our water usage is very small regardless. I’m thinking about what we can do better, but am at a loss. Recycling is sometimes a problem on the road. I carry glass with me for ages and sometimes - aaargh - have to throw it in a garbage can! We try to walk and bike as much as possible and buy groceries along the way.

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    1. Hi Liesbet. Of all the people that I know, you are one who does NOT have too many clothes! With your minimalist lifestyle, you are living in a very sustainable way. Probably your two biggest contributions of CO2 are burning fuel in Zesty, and flying places (burning jet fuel). But compared to other North Americans, your carbon footprint is minimal.

      Interestingly, when I flew on KLM recently, I watched their video about how they are trying to reduce the carbon footprint of their airline. They say they have reduced weight in their components (which means they have to burn less fuel), they sort and recycle their waste from meals, they are using less water for washing planes, and they are exploring using biofuel for transatlantic flights.

      Droughts and fires in some places and floods in other places. Neither is new, but the frequency and intensity is greater. Scary.

      Jude

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    2. Good to know about KLM and their efforts to reduce their carbon footprint. One of the things that annoys me most about flying is all the packaging and plastic garbage that is being used and created. I've asked several times why they don't recycle materials and the answer is something to the extend of cross contamination over state and country borders... So, I wonder whether they are working on solutions for this or they meant food scraps with "waste from meals"...

      No flights in 2019 for us! :-)

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    3. Yes, with respect to the KLM video, it is hard to know how much is real change and how much is marketing and promotion. It’s like all the products on store shelves that are labelled “green.” Buyer beware. But I guess the good thing is that there is an attitudinal change happening such that “green” is now seen as good and something to aspire to, rather than as bizarre or extremist, which is how media portrayed it for decades.

      Jude

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