Let's find ways to Flourish!
Jim and Jamie Dutcher take us into one of the most intimate living-alongside experiments with wolves ever undertaken. Through their constructed wolf pack of orphaned and captive wolves who are released into a large study area, we have the opportunity to see the interactions of wolves much more closely than in the wild.
While I whole-heartedly believe that wild animals must remain in the wild, this scenario seemed like a humane and justifiable program to allow a more wild existence for previously captive animals and also allow for the long-term close observation.
A Deeply Intimate Glimpse
The result is the most tender and intimate look at a group of animals, where we get daily accounts of their interactions, movement, and behaviour. The result is an understanding of these wild animals and how clearly they express emotions, forge relationships with one another and face the ups and downs of pack life, aging and social interactions.
From their work, the Dutchers have helped to identify...
It’s no secret that North American cities have some serious urban planning issues which jeopardize the environmental sustainability and overall livability of urban areas. For example, urban sprawl, the rapid expansion of development on the peripheries of cities, is extremely common. This is an issue, as this new development is usually characterized by low density residential housing and single-use zoning, therefore increasing reliance on private automobiles for transportation. With suburban sprawl, we often see inner cities deteriorate as social inequality increases.
So, how do we remedy these issues? With land use and development practices that work to reduce urban sprawl and promote healthy, liveable, and enjoyable cities. Smart Growth is a term which is used to describe this type of sustainable development. As urban populations continue to increase, we need to plan our communities in a way that is environmentally, socially, and economically conscious. In other words, in a...
It’s funny, yes, we want to be independent as teens and young adults. That is what we strive for, and that is what older adults want to retain, right? And there certainly is value in independence, but are we forgetting that there is value in doing things together? We have evolved to form social groups for a reason...because collaboration and connection make our lives better and easier!
When we consider the aspects of independence that relate to owning things - like our space, but more importantly stuff, there are aspects of this trend that are deeply unsustainable. As we are collectively seeking to lower our footprint on the earth by living lighter, sharing material goods can be a great part of the solution!
Just think about all the unused power tools that sit in our garages and all the books we’ve purchased but probably aren’t going to read again. When you think about it, it really doesn’t make sense for every individual household within a community to own...
People are starting to realize that sharing might be the best solution to society’s overconsumption habit. That’s why we are seeing things like tool lending libraries, car sharing companies, clothing swaps, and carpool apps gaining popularity. You might actually be surprised at all the different items people are sharing nowadays.
For example, did you know that toy libraries are a thing? Just like a regular library with books, toy libraries allow you to check out and borrow toys to bring home. The toys in a toy library are carefully selected, ensuring that there are plenty to choose from for all ages and abilities! Whether you are looking for play mats for a baby or Lego blocks for an older child, toy libraries are likely to have it all.
And of course, the toys are cleaned and kept in good condition so that they offer each new child a fun and safe play experience.
How toy libraries work
Many toy libraries will charge a small annual or monthly fee that allows you to...
Braiding Sweetgrass is lyrical and full of fascinating botanical information. But most importantly, it calls us back to find reciprocity in our relationship with the earth.
Many people had recommended this book to me before I actually got around to it, but I am so glad that I did. It is a gorgeous account of the natural world and our place in it. It is in deep contrast with so many other environmental books that speak only of the grim and dire circumstances that we are in, which certainly we are, but it paints a picture of the natural relationship of reciprocity between humans and the natural world.
Robin Wall Kimmerer describes herself as "a mother, scientist, decorated professor, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation." Her book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants is time well spent.
This is no fast read, in fact, I highly recommend taking your sweet time with it. I began the read in July listening as I picked...
Do you care about protecting and preserving your lakes? If so, this blog post is for you! Did you know that there are many different products that can negatively impact the health of lakes near you? Actually, it's not only the products themselves that can be an issue, but also their packaging as well.
While it’s true that lakes can sometimes be out of sight, out of mind. When you’re not visiting your cabin, camping, ice fishing, or partaking in any other fun lakeside activities, the health of your favourite lake might not be on your mind. But that doesn’t mean that your actions don’t have negative consequences.
The products we use, especially cleaning products such as soaps, detergents, and shampoos, have the ability to enter our sewage systems when they are rinsed down the drain and become wastewater. Now, sewage plants are supposed to treat wastewater and make it safe for reuse when possible. However, it is sometimes possible that wastewater can flow...
So what exactly happens to the human waste that is flushed down our toilets every day? Well, for most of us, it goes to a wastewater treatment plant (unless you live in a city that still dumps human waste directly into the ocean - let’s hope not!)
These Wastewater treatment plants tend to be very large, very smelly buildings (yes, I have toured them with my students). Where garbage is removed, solids are settled out and oil is skimmed off and microbes get to work at breaking down the organics and nutrients until the liquid is clean enough to be sent back into a nearby river or lake or the ocean.
However, there are viable alternatives that actually mimic nature and do the same job - while also creating other benefits.
Water of Life
Water is one of our most valuable natural resources. In fact, a person can live for up to one month without food but only about one week without water. However, freshwater is not always easily accessible. While nearly 70 percent of the world is...
What comes to mind when you think of environmental and wildlife protection? Do you think about conservation efforts such as rewilding and shoreline restoration? What about amazing organizations that save the big cats in Africa or create all-women anti-poaching units?
These efforts are so important when it comes to preserving all life on earth, whether it be our beloved wildlife or old-growth forests. However, environmental preservation means expanding our efforts to marine life and habitats as well!
Seafood certification initiatives are certainly a part of protecting our waters, as they help eco-conscious consumers determine which seafood products have been caught or raised in a sustainable manner. But what more can be done to conserve life under water?
The answer is marine protected areas! Marine protected areas are areas of seas, oceans, estuaries, or inland waters such as the Great Lakes that have been set aside for long-term conservation aims.
Marine Protected Area...
Is it possible that cold hard cash could be the solution to our environmental problems? More specifically, could it help speed the transition to greener and cleaner energy solutions? While many environmental solutions come about through community involvement, technology, Indigenous knowledge, and above all, teamwork, certain environmental problems just might need a different approach.
The benefits of carbon pricing
So, how can money discourage the use of carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels? By simply putting a price on carbon emissions! Carbon pricing is a promising approach to reducing carbon emissions that contribute to climate change and environmental destruction. Put simply, this approach passes the cost of emitting on to emitters.
Instead of paying only for the resource and the cost of extraction, which is heavily subsidized, carbon pricing ensures that consumers are paying for the external costs of carbon emissions as well. These external costs include both the direct and...
Every meal is an opportunity to live sustainably. This is a topic we’ve explored before – the food we eat has a significant impact on the environment. Some negative consequences of our food choices include excess carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, synthetic chemical use, animal welfare problems, unfair labour, wasteful packaging, and environmental pollution.
In short - food is one of our most direct connections to the natural world, and we can really make a difference to our wellbeing and that of the planet with our food choices.
However, being environmentally conscious when it comes to our food choices isn’t just about the food itself, but also about the way we package our meals when we’re on the go.
We can elevate our food choices by looking at the big...