As an Alberta girl, I know mosquitoes.
I also spent five summers working in the boreal forest counting critters — and inadvertently feeding skeeters, no-see-ums and deer and horse flies.
Bug spray ingredients often don't break down. Some linger and can cause harm to plants and animals other than their targets. Avoid DEET and you'll never rinse it into our oceans, lakes or rivers.
Before you reach for a DEET bug repellent, try these non-toxic tips to make you and your home less attractive to mosquitoes:
- Remove standing water (mosquito breeding grounds). Refresh bird and bee baths daily.
- Fill, cover or remove backyard items that collect water — empty planters, kids' toys, wheelbarrows, etc.
- Keep gutters clean to help rainwater flow freely.
- Repair screens on doors and windows.
- Keep grass to about three inches. Trim shrubs.
- Attract mosquito-eating chickadees, house wrens, bluebirds, swallows and martins with birdhouses and bird baths.
This week City Manager Peter Wallace will release a report outlining potential new "revenue tools" that Toronto can use to pay for vital services such as public housing and transit. Among the most promising are a tax on alcoholic beverages and a levy on commercial parking lots. Detractors may attack these tools as cash-grabs, but before they dismiss them they should recognize these new measures could further a goal all of us support: making Toronto safer and healthier.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says a five per cent tax on alcohol sold at outlets such as the LCBO and the Beer Store could generate about $77 million annually. A levy paid by the owners of commercial — not residential — parking spaces would add at least $175 million a year. Combined, these initiatives would provide Toronto with over a quarter-billion dollars each budget cycle to fix community housing and help finance TTC operations.Continue reading »
First-time visitors to Australia are often drawn to the big city attractions of Sydney and Melbourne or the fabulous beaches of Queensland’s Gold Coast. I’ve always had a soft spot for Adelaide in South Australia, a city built more on a human scale, where downtown can be easily navigated on bike, foot or tram. For me, Adelaide’s greatest attraction is a huge market right in the city’s centre.Continue reading »
A recent audit found Health Canada isn't doing enough to protect Canadians from hazardous chemicals in everyday products.
This is not breaking news to you. And maybe it's the main reason you:
- Make home cleaners, like dish and laundry soap
- Make personal-care products, like deodorant and toothpaste
- Avoid cheap loot-bag goodies and children's jewelry
- Became a "fragrance" and "parfum" ingredient list detective
Federal environmental watchdog report findings:Continue reading »
In the early 1990s, Germany launched Energiewende, or "energy revolution," a program "to combat climate change, avoid nuclear risks, improve energy security, and guarantee competitiveness and growth." Renewable energy grew from four per cent in 1990 to more than 27 per cent in 2014, including a significant increase in citizen-owned power projects, according to energy think tank Agora Energiewende.Continue reading »
I became an environmental activist while working as a summer student at a zoo. As an animal lover, it seemed like a perfect job, and I felt lucky to get it. But I quit midway through my fourth summer, unable to stomach the despair and boredom that greeted me from behind the cage bars every day.
My zoo experiences led me to my first job at an environmental organization, Zoocheck, and onto my current work of over 15 years — advocating for wildlife habitat protection. I've pushed science-based protection measures for all sorts of species — from snapping turtles to right whales to monarch butterflies — but a big focus of my work has been boreal woodland caribou.Continue reading »
Canadians who love eating tuna may not be so thrilled when they learn how much of it is caught unsustainably. SeaChoice delved into tuna and other seafood in its Taking Stock report, the first comprehensive look at Canadian seafood imports and exports. The report finds that Canada exports more seafood than it imports, and more of the exports than imports are sustainable.Continue reading »