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Wild Pacific salmon face an upstream battle for survival

Science Matters | September 22, 2016 | Leave a comment
Photo: Wild Pacific salmon face an upstream battle for survival

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation senior communications specialist Theresa Beer.

Salmon have been swimming in Pacific Northwest waters for at least seven million years, as indicated by fossils of large saber-tooth salmon found in the area. During that time, they've been a key species in intricate, interconnected coastal ecosystems, bringing nitrogen and other nutrients from the ocean and up streams and rivers to spawning grounds, feeding whales, bears and eagles and fertilizing the magnificent coastal rainforests along the way. For as long as people have lived in the area, salmon have been an important food source and have helped shape cultural identities.

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Avoid colourful home cleaners

Queen of Green | September 21, 2016 | Leave a comment
Photo: Avoid colourful home cleaners

Colourful cleaners don't work any better. (Credit: Michael Porter via Flickr)

Unfortunately, in Canada, there is no legal requirement for manufacturers to disclose all ingredients and hazards in household cleaning products. What's a person to do?

Avoid dyes. (Or, make your own cleaners.)

Manufacturers add dyes to cleaners for two reasons (as far as I can tell):

  1. For looks (marketing and branding at work!)
  2. To see where you've sprayed

And, they're inexpensive. But they are unnecessary to the cleaning function of the product.

Dyes are found in most types of home cleaners. But they are often derived from petrochemicals, and may be contaminated with trace amounts of heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium and lead.

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Toronto's "solar schools" inspire climate optimism

Photo: Toronto's

(Credit: BlackRockSolar)

By Gideon Forman, climate change policy analyst

In spring 2014, the Toronto District School Board — Canada's largest — embarked on a program of putting photovoltaic panels on more than 300 of its school buildings. When complete, it will create enough power to meet the annual needs of about 4,250 homes. But Richard Christie, senior manager of the board's sustainability office, says the program generates far more than electricity.

The Solar Schools Project had its genesis in a pilot, launched in 2010, for which small (one- to 46-kilowatt) solar arrays were placed on 12 schools. Income produced through sales of this power helped establish the board's Environmental Legacy Fund, which gives teachers $400 toward the cost of a $650 course in ecological education. "These courses will have a big impact on the [school] system," Christie explains. "Ten years from now we'll see a lot more principals who have environmental education as a priority because they took these courses when they were teachers."

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Take an MP on your commute

Climate & Clean Energy | September 19, 2016


Use a headset or hands-free — This will give you both hands to take notes about what was said.

Think about what you will say — Consider how better transit will make a difference in your life or that of your family members. Some examples include minimized congestion, shorter commuting times, more comfortable rides, more affordable service, better quality of life, helping to fight climate change, better air quality, etc. Even if you think your transit commute is pretty good, there is always room for improvement, and increased transit funding will help more people get out of their cars.

Look at your calendar — Be ready to schedule a date and time with your MP the week of October 10 to 16 or November 7 to 13. Be open to other times the MP's staff may suggest.

Be polite — MPs are our elected representatives. They will likely be happy to hear from engaged constituents. Most MPs will be very receptive to investment in transit, so we want to ensure we are encouraging them to support further investment, rather than being confrontational.

Be direct — Political staff can be skilled at avoiding making commitments. After you've explained what you are calling for, ask them directly whether the MP can join you on your commute or when to expect an answer.

How to make lip balm

Queen of Green | September 17, 2016 | 2 comments
Photo: How to make lip balm

Make lip balm with shea butter, beeswax, avocado oil and then store in compostable paper tubes! (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

Pucker up!

Make your own lip balm—something many of us use daily. This simple, effective recipe contains no toxic chemicals, so it's healthy for your skin AND the planet.

Lip balm recipe

Time needed: ten minutes
Shelf life: approximately six months

5 ml (1 tsp) organic, fair trade shea butter or cocoa butter
15 ml (1 Tbsp) avocado oil
15 ml (1 Tbsp) local beeswax (grated or pastilles) or soy wax
Optional: 5 drops essential oil (e.g., peppermint, lime or grapefruit) and/or 1 drop Vitamin E oil.

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How Camp Suzuki: Howe Sound 2016 helped Vision Youth grow

Notes from the Panther Lounge | September 15, 2016 | 2 comments
Photo: How Camp Suzuki: Howe Sound 2016 helped Vision Youth grow

By Winnie Hwo, Senior Public Engagement Specialist

Roughly six months ago, I planted a seed. I met a group of conscientious parents, their teenage children and the co-founder of Vision Youth, Eric Li, in Markham, Ontario.

I presented to them what Camp Suzuki: Howe Sound 2015 did and what Camp Suzuki: Howe Sound 2016 will do for their fast-growing teenagers.

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Airline emissions are flying too high

Science Matters | September 15, 2016 | 2 comments
Photo: Airline emissions are flying too high

(Credit: Farhan Amoor via Flickr)

By David Suzuki with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Senior Editor Ian Hanington.

In July, Solar Impulse 2 became the first airplane to fly around the world without using fuel. At the same time, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration has been working on electric planes. These developments mean air travel and transport could become more environmentally friendly, with less pollution and fewer greenhouse gas emissions, and planes would be quieter.

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