Greener Pictures

March 22nd, 2007

For those of you who haven’t yet made the switch to digital cameras or are debating whether to make the move away from your trusty SLR, here are a few things that may help make that decision easier.

Digital cameras have the eco-advantage over traditional cameras by the very fact that they do not use film, which need to be manufacuured and then developed to produce photographs. Film development can be a very toxic process using chemicals (including silver) to process the film and then print the images onto paper stock. Digital cameras eliminate that step. And digital cameras allow you to delete any photos you don’t like right at the source, rather than getting them developed just to throw away photos you don’t like (or having them collect dust in a shoe box for years and years….)

As well, digital cameras allow you to share your favourite pix and experiences with friends and family online, wherever they are, whenever they have time. You don’t have to print multiple copies and mail them off or wait until you see someone to pass along the paper version.

One other advantage: if you use rechargeable batteries with your digital camera, you’re also reducing the number of batteries ending up leaching toxic chemicals into landfills.

Green byte: In Sweden where 90% of the cameras sold are now digital, tests have shown that silver levels (used by photo labs in processing) in the waters of the Stockholm archipelago have dropped by more than half in five years.

Sustainable Tourism

March 16th, 2007

Considering a trip to far-flung lands? Or perhaps closer to home? One thing to consider is the ecological footprint that your trip will have on the environment in the country or city you visit.

We just found a new resource for anyone who is interested in finding out more about options when it comes to eco-tourism or sustainable tourism. Sustaining Tourism has a wealth of information on how different hotel chains rate on the ‘green’ scale, resources on choosing the most eco-friendly travel resources (some examples: hotels, tour companies, carbon offsetting, award-winning green tourism suppliers). There are also tips on how to support more green travel practices, at home and abroad.

Green byte: Over 800 million people travel internationally every year and tourism is a principal export for developing countries as the most significant source of foreign exchange after petroleum

A Greener Mani/Pedi

March 15th, 2007

Spring is in the air - you can feel it. Which means sandal season. Like many women (and a growing number of men) - you may look at your toes, realize that they are about to see sunlight for the first time in months, and rush to schedule a pedicure.

Before you decide which colour of polish to choose, there a few things you may want to know. Many nail polishes and removers have a number of harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde (a known carcinogen), and phalates and tuolene (both potentially toxic chemicals). There are a couple of steps you can take:

  • Do your research by finding out which nail polishes have the best ratings in terms of health concerns
  • Look for nail polishes and polish removers that are formaldehyde or phalate free (Revlon, Sally Hansen and OPI have products if you look for them)
  • Take your own nail polish to the salon when you get your pedicure and/or manicure to ensure that you are using polishes with the lowest health concern (and you also get the colour of your choice this way)
  • Ask your salon/spa about their environmental practices

A pedicure is a wonderful thing - why not add to the enjoyment by making sure you are avoiding harmful chemicals?

Green byte: Consumers use as many as 25 different cosmetics products in a day and up to 70% of what is applied to the skin is believed to be absorbed into the body.

Cycling: 2 wheels vs. 4

March 14th, 2007

We will admit that we admire from afar those hardy souls who cycle year-round, particularly in the depths of winter. But they are onto something: not only are they exercising and staying healthy, but they are also reducing the number of carbon-emitting vehicles on the road and acting as positive role models for the rest of us. Now that the weather is improving, now is the time to pull that bike out, get it tuned up and on the road.

Cycling to work may not be practical for you but it is something to consider if you live close to work, if your office has showers and better yet, bike lockers, or your gym is nearby. And if you are a recreational cyclist, consider jumping on your bike next time you go to meet friends for coffee or window-shopping (just think…you’ll also save on parking).

Toronto has an excellent cycling map that you can download with lanes, routes, safety tips and resources for both recreational and commuter cyclists. Most other major urban centres, such Vancouver, Calgary and Ottawa, also provide cycling maps.

And remember to always wear your helmet. It is not the law in some cities but it just makes good sense.

Green byte: Per capita, Canadians use their bikes twice as much as Americans — impressive when you consider our climate…