Usually once a home is built, the builder hands the keys over to the new owner and unless there’s a problem, the builder moves on to the next project. However, in the case of a straw-bale built home in Peterborough, the home has been lived in for the past year and all water and energy consumed has been recorded. The goal was to see if, in fact, the home is Canada’s greenest home. You can read all about its features in the article I wrote last year. Chris Magwood, director of the Endeavour Centre, whose students built the home emphasizes that it’s not supposed to be a competition, it’s meant to demonstrate that building a green home is achievable using currently available technology that is locally available.
In the recent years, the idea of environmentally conscious society seems to captivate more and more people. There is more to the phrase “green” than just replacing your electric bulbs with an LED one or sorting your garbage. This is a way of thinking that impacts every aspect of your life. Then why not incorporate some sustainable practices in your gardening? Combine aesthetics and practicality, while preserving the environment.
I received a letter from a reader asking where he could find non-toxic kitchen cabinetry in Toronto. The question’s a bit more complex than it sounds. What does “non-toxic” mean? It could mean (which I think it probably does), something that doesn’t off-gas harmful chemicals, known as VOCs or volatile organic compounds. But just because something doesn’t off-gas doesn’t mean it’s non-toxic. There are lots of products out there with all kinds of poisonous chemicals in them that don’t off-gas, but you’d never want to drink them. To me, something that is truly non-toxic means that you could ingest it and it wouldn’t poison you.
So, here are my suggestions for cabinetmakers in the Toronto area whose products are low VOC. If you have any you’d like to add, please feel free to do so in the comments section.
Here in Canada we’ve finally begun addressing the issue of electronic waste. As new phones and electronics make last year’s gadgets look passé, we ditch the ones we had for the newer, better models. Even if we hang onto our phones and computers for as long as possible, the majority of them have an average lifespan of 4-5 years — and by then, let’s face it, they’re ancient!
The EPRA — electronics product recycling association — has branches set up across the country, in every province except New Brunswick. Their job is to get electronics out of landfill and back into the production stream. Perhaps one of the most heartening principles of the EPRA is that it will not ship unprocessed electronic waste off-shore; we are dealing with it right here in Canada. We’re not perfect, but e-waste recycling, an industry-based initiative, is increasing so that more and more valuable and toxic metals and plastics are being removed from the waste stream and put back into the production stream.
There are many ways green building materials can be defined, especially when it comes to taking account of their environmental impact and social results. There are quite a few materials being used today, such as engineered lumber, natural earthen materials, biomass building panels, paints with low or non-existent volatile organic compounds inside them, as well as a number of other products manufactured all around the world by companies who focus on protecting the environment and workers all around.
As the years have been going forward, a lot of manufacturers have been getting on the bandwagon concerning green building materials. There is hardly a product today that is not capable of being replaced by a type of environmentally safe and sound alternative, as well as a variety of green materials that only get better and better as time goes by.