These are local people following their passion and making a difference in the environment. They were featured in a series of Greener Days ads leading up to the ICLEI World Congress held here in Edmonton in 2009.
- Anna Talman
- Kendra Isaac
- Jessie Radies
- Masood Makarechian
- Conrad Norbert
- Bruce McCurdy
- Jennifer Babcock
Ten-year old Anna Talman teamed up with friends to create Eco-Air: Edmonton's Children's Organized Anti-Idling Recruiters, a group working to eliminate the wasteful habit of leaving vehicle engines running while parked, waiting in drive-through lines and other non-traffic situations. Eco-Air distributed motivational stickers to help teach parents not to idle their vehicles while waiting in school drop-off zones.
Anna also presented to Edmonton City Council to aruge for a bylaw that would curb idling throughout the city. Using skills honed through her community-oriented experiences in Riverdale, Anna is working to make Edmonton a greener place to live.
University of Alberta student Kendra Isaac is working on her Masters in Environmental Sociology. The focus of her thesis research is Climate Change in Rural Communities. She is thrilled with the support received from both faculty and administration for this year's Sustainability Awareness celebration on campus October 20-24.
Kendra sees this year's (2008) success as the culmination of Campus Sustainability Coalition efforts to advance sustainability at the University. "I've been involved in talking to people, being aware of what campus groups are doing and facilitating discussion between the student community, faculty and administration," says Kendra, an executive member of the Coalition. "The support has been amazing and has provided the Coalition and the University the opportunity to further raise awareness, recognize everyone's effort and celebrate success."
The Campus Sustainability Coalition is a group of faculty, students, University staff and community members that work to promote sustainability at the University of Alberta campus and in the greater community.
Restaurant owner Jessie Radies has a simple sales pitch for shoppers: think local. Studies have shown that buying from local farmers, artists or producers can triple the economic impact in a community, says Radies, owner of the Blue Pear restaurant and founder of Original Fare. Original Fare is an organization for local independent restaurants that is value driven. One of their values is supporting local cuisine and local producers. Keep Edmonton Original is an offshoot of Original Fare with the focus on the economic benefits of supporting locally owned businesses. Shopping locally refers to buying from independent businesses owned by people in your own community.
"It's better for our community," says Radies. "It has more positive economic impact and less environmental impact. This added economic impact generally means better local jobs, reduced rates of poverty and a more environmentally sustainable, equitable and prosperous community."
How can the average person make a difference? Radies offers the following advice. First, buy less, and when you buy, think about shopping local. Ask yourself if a store is locally owned or operated. Also, balance your trips to the mall or big-box centres with trips to smaller independent stores.
By starting a conversation a few years ago with his friends about gift giving, Masood Makarechian has re-shaped his world forever.
Now when Masood contemplates his holiday gift list, he thinks about how his presents could carry a message of environmental and community responsibility. In the last couple of years, he has started to think about giving gifts from his own experiences or from his own collections, hoping to make the gift more meaningful to the recipient, and perhaps changing the world one “pre-loved” gift at a time.
So, instead of flipping through flyers or catalogues, he’s sifting through his own belongings, looking for a special item that will having meaning for someone else. By trying to re-shape the way “re-gifting” is viewed, and after some persuading, his friends are starting to give in.
Masood is also “re-thinking” his own consumptive behaviour. He’s learning to look at the entire life-cycle of a thing before deciding to own it. Imagine if “things” didn’t really exist until we made the conscious decision to purchase them. Masood acknowledges that this seems odd, but suggests that it’s not very far from the truth.
Conrad Nobert is a passionate green leader who hates waste. In order to reduce the waste he and his family produce, Conrad no longer owns a car and is currently building Edmonton’s second net-zero energy house. He is sharing his construction experience on his website http://www.greenedmonton.ca/ with the hopes of encouraging readers to make their own sustainable lifestyle choices.
Conrad, an instructor at NAIT, also established the EcoNAIT committee which implements sustainability projects on campus and helps transform NAIT into a showcase of environmental performance.
He and his family enjoy a more relaxed pace of life thanks to their eco-friendly lifestyle.
Bruce McCurdy has seen the light – both good and bad. As an amateur astronomer, McCurdy has watched a fog of artificial light gradually degrade the night sky over the 22 years he has volunteered at Telus World of Science Edmonton’s Public Observatory.
“The environmental issue of light pollution is hidden in plain view,” he says. “We shouldn’t be trying to turn night into day.”
McCurdy is currently the local Chair of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s Light Pollution Abatement Committee.
“The key is just enough lighting – aim lights where they’re needed, shield them from where they are not, lower the wattage, equip them with timers/dimmers/motion sensors and simple on/off switches so usage can be controlled,” he explains.
He envisions a greener future where glare and ‘light trespass’ are eliminated, and the unavoidable glow of urban living is reduced to levels where we can enjoy a better quality of life.
“Light pollution affects issues as diverse as human health and safety, wildlife stewardship, energy conservation, even city and household budgets. It’s a win-win scenario.”
Ever the stargazer, McCurdy acknowledges that improved views of the night sky aren’t necessarily high on everyone’s priority list. “But that connection is vital to humanity as a whole. The view of the cosmos has for countless generations inspired not just our scientists, but our poets, painters, and philosophers, our lovers and our leaders. It’s our birthright.”
Jennifer Babcock enjoys a good treasure hunt. The treasures that Jennifer hunts for are lurking in the colour-coded racks in second hand stores, online classifieds and other places that re-sell used items. Whether it’s the perfect sweater, a beautiful curtain rod or a barely-used gas oven, Jennifer finds great satisfaction in tracking down these special items.
“I’m very conscious of the fact that by shopping at places like the Re-Use Centre or other second hand stores, I am, in my own small way, reducing the amount of stuff that goes to the landfill.” Jennifer also finds that she can be more creative with her purchases, especially since they usually come with a highly affordable price tag.