Saturday, July 07, 2007

Environment day

We live in the most western part of Toronto, a burb called Etobicoke. Etobicoke is known as one of the most environmentally-conscious parts of the city, although different areas within the city are more so than others. And it's catching on to the rest of Toronto as well.

Toronto, or the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) as it is known in these parts, consists of many so-called little neighbourhoods. Each neighbourhood used to be a town (I don't know how accurate my historical analysis is, so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong), and a revitalization of town-functions and town-living has occurred in many of these neighbourhoods.

I noticed for example that city people eat more organic, and better food in general, than most people who live in the suburbs. I also notice that city people walk. Suburban people seem to prefer the car, probably most likely because many suburbs in these areas have nothing to walk to. I also notice that when I'm at my most frustrated because of my small house with my lack of
storage or closest space, I inevitably bump into another person living in the neighbourhood who has come across similar problems and overcame their challenges through some creative renovating or rearranging. And in general, we city folks seem to want to live with less, not more.

In my neighbourood, I can honestly say that if I had no car, I could survive quite well. I may not be able to frequent big box stores or malls as often (although they are accessible by transit from where I live), but then I don't frequent them that much anyway. I much prefer the little delis, butchers, mom-and-pop shops anyway, which are all within walking distance from my house.

Having said that, I do NOT in any way discredit my access to the car. In fact, I am often glad I can count my fortune to be able to say at a moment's notice: "let's go here", pack up the toddler and/or dog, and then go there.

But I digress.

While living in Etobicoke, first as renters and then as home owners, we have participated in all environmentally proactive functions that we could. We had a compost bin in our little backyard well before they introduced the green bin, a city composting service where they pick up not only food waste, but also diapers and dog poop! We grew veggies and herbs, we re-use water from the salad spinner to water the plants, and we recycle. Despite of our limited storage capacity in our little home, we have a designated spot for dead batteries which we keep until the community environment days occur during the summer. Then we make the effort to dispose of them in an environmentally effective manner.

This year we took our 2-year old child to our local Environment Day Community Event.

  • The child who knows the difference between the garbage in our house, and the compost bin.
  • The child who knows the difference between which compost bin the diapers go into (the city one), and which bin the potato peels go into (the one in the backyard).
  • The child who points out dog poop on the sidewalk and says "people should pick up dog poop".
  • The child who has learned to point at graffity and say "that's not nice".

He got to carry the batteries in a baggie and give them to the guy at the Hazardous Waste Zone.
He watches us deposit several bags and boxes of stuff we no longer use to the Goodwill Truck.
He helped us exchange the broken compost and recycling bins with new ones.
He helped us carry empty paint cans to the Hazardous Waste Zone.
He carried a remote while I carried the old VCR to the Electronics Section.

This Environment Day in our area was the most visited, best organized one I have seen since living in the area.

This makes me happy.

And encourages me to continue recycling and composting.

Less is more!

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