Friday, March 25, 2011

No Earth Hour for Me!

I believe the Earth doesn't deserve one hour a year, I believe it deserves something more everyday.

The above is an excerpt from my blog posting from last year at this time.  I still believe it even after I moved from Aurora to Richmond Hill.
I watch intently from my new perch in Richmond Hill as single occupant gas guzzling cars and trucks sitting on Yonge Street going nowhere during rush hours and Saturdays.  I watch the traffic lights change and pedestrians are forced to walk around these car drivers who are so oblivious that the pedestrian is taking life into their own hands by just crossing the street. The car drivers sit there waiting for an opening in traffic to make their turn totally ignoring the pedestrian crossing the street. At any moment a pedestrian could be struck. The worst offenders are the ones making the right hand turns and inching out bit by bit so far that they start to obstruct the VIVA bus stop lanes.  Then these same drivers sit their dumbfounded why a sixty foot big blue bus comes roaring within inches of their front bumper into the lane they are beginning to obstruct.  Drivers are oblivious to this as they sit in their cars idling away and spewing exhaust from their tailpipes.  But the very next day, all of the above repeats itself.  The same care drivers are not just oblivious to pedestrians and large buses, but what their constant single occupant vehicle idling does to the environment.

These same drivers will probably participate in Earth Hour on Saturday by turning out the lights and unplugging their obnoxiously big televisions and dusting off a few board games that were last used at this time last year.  These same people will, once 9:30 P.M. comes around, put it all away until next year and fire up their lights and return to their obliviousness to pedestrians, buses and the effect their lifestyle has on the environment and fellow human beings.

A tree in San Juan, Puerto Rico
What these people fail to see is the environment needs them to rethink their lives on a daily basis.  Earth Hour is more a symbolism of what the Earth really needs at this point.  Adding to the travesty of Earth Hour is the Town of Aurora's promise for every pledge a resident makes to plant a single measely tree in their name.  One single measly tree and an hour without power.  The earth still needs more than this and needed it last year, this year and years into the future. The earth needs more than mere symbolism towards it.  The earth needs humans to change. 

I will not be lighting up candles or sitting in the dark on Saturday night this year again.  I will be living my life normally doing whatever I wish.  Possibly watching a movie on DVD with my wife or going for an evening walk to see all the houses darkened.  But I will not go out of my way to tip my hat towards Earth Hour.  Is it because I don't care about the environment?  Is it because I don't wish to inconvenience myself in the name of the environment? No, it is because I already do quite a bit for the environment. 

I concentrate on a daily basis as to how I can lower my impact on the environment.  After moving into my new home June 2010 I began to take a look of where I could make changes:
  • Where the budget and proper supplies of light bulbs exist, I've begun to change my light bulbs over from the GU10 halogen to the LED lighting.   I've tried first converting over to the GU10 to the Noma GU10 bulb but found these lacking.  These light bulbs are the perfect size to fit in the fixture and look nice aesthetically.  However, they take forever to warm up and don't provide the same brightness as even an GU10 halogen bulb.  I've tried converting over to the Philips LED equivalents but Home Depot can barely keep them in stock. So when quantities and the budget provide, I pick these up and hopefully by the end of this year I should have all of my GU10 sockets switched over. 
  • I turn power bar to my Nintendo WII, DVD player and television off when they are not required.  This helps to reduce the "phantom power" that the Nintendo Wii, the DVD player and the television have when not in use and, supposedly, turned off.  
  •  For heating I have the furnace on a programmable thermastat so it comes on before I come home and goes off when I leave for the day.  We also reprogrammed it during our vacation so that it went down to twelve degrees celcius  and held the temperature there indoors.  That was so the furnace didn't have to heat the house as much when no one was there and so the water pipes didn't freeze and burst.  As well we ensure the blinds are open during the day to catch the warm sun when needed and closed when not needed. During the summer we very rarely turn on our air conditioner and spend a lot of time in our cool furnished basement.  As well, I recently finished a project of insulating drafty electrical wall plugs and light switches in my house.  In the future I will be looking at adding insulation and weatherstripping wherever possible to further reduce the heating bill. The only down side of all this is the savings on my heating bill.  Enbridge keeps estimating the bill to high and every three months or so requires a phone call with an actual reading.  Since moving in we have had twice had a credit on our gas bill because Enbridge hasn't estimated the reading correctly.  The last one at the beginning of the month was Enbridge overestimating our consumption by 200 cubic metres over what we actually used.  Thus, the above methods have produced significant savings as well as the environment.
  • When going to the store I bring at least one of the cornicopia reusable canvas bags so I don't get a plastic bag.  If I happen to forget a canvas bag I ensure the plastic bag I do bring home is used as a trash can liner.   This also has translated into savings as my wallet as most stores now are charging five cents per shopping bag. 
  • As well we have increased our use of our recycling as well as were introduced to the Green Bin for compostables.  At our old apartment we didn't have recylcing or Green Bin available to us.  This has changed immensly and instead of one garbage bag per week going to the dump we have one garbage bag every two weeks along with a full blue box and a medium full Green Bin.  Although, there are some changes coming to the Green Bin that I don't necessarily agree with which will force me to re-evaluate using this in terms of a cost perspective.
Why do I continously look for ways to improve my house and my life in this manner?  Mainly because savings are gradually realized as well as:

I believe the Earth doesn't deserve one hour a year, I believe it deserves something more everyday.

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