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Celebrate Environment Week at Pics in the Park

LINDA RIPLEY – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
The idea of Environment Week emerged in 1970 when former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker noted the “tremendous energy, enthusiasm and initiative” of young people concerned about pollution.
Diefenbaker approached the house of commons with the concept of setting one week a year aside to focus on environmental issues.
Environment week has been celebrated in Alberta since 1972. It is a great time for Albertans to host and attend events that include some learning, some fun and some action.
An event that will include some learning and fun is “Pics in the Park” on Thursday, June 9 in Lioness Park.
The Fort Macleod Environment Committee invites everyone to see “The Story of Stuff” and “The Trouble with Bottled Water.” It’s a BYOL (bring your own lawn chair) party that will commence at 9:30 p.m. Enjoy free popcorn and the pics.
Everyone can generate an improvement for our environment by making simple lifestyle changes.
Encourage your neighbours and friends to join you and involve your family. Together you will make an impact. Following are 10 actions that will help to shrink your family’s and your community’s ecological footprint
Reduce
North America is home to only five per cent of the world’s population, but is responsible for consuming one third of all of the Earth’s resources — 75 per cent of which ends up wasted. More and bigger is not always better.
We can easily reduce our footprint by avoiding unnecessary consumption. Do you boil enough water for six cups of tea when you want only one? Do you leave the TV, stereo or a light on when you leave the room? Do you throw things away unused?
Small acts like these seem insignificant, but collectively they add up and contribute to global warming.
Reuse
By extending the life cycle of products we create less waste.
Try to buy items that are reusable or come in reusable packaging and make sure you reuse them.
Refill your favourite go mug when you are on the move and need a java fix. Over its life span, a mug will be used about 3,000 times, resulting in 30 times less solid waste and 60 times less air pollution than using the equivalent number of cardboard cups.
Before throwing anything out ask if it can be reused by you or someone else. Can that wrapping paper be saved, that container refilled, that pair of shoes repaired, or that machine fixed?
Recycle
Recycling an aluminum can uses only five per cent of the energy required to make a new one, recycling glass uses 50 per cent of the energy, and every tonne of paper recycled saves 60 per cent of the energy, 17 trees, 28,000 litres of water and 27 kilograms of greenhouse gasses.
Visit the recycling trailer in the arena parking lot, follow directions on the signage to determine what items can be thrown in the recycle bins (No styrofoam please) and divert waste from the landfill.
Refuse plastic bags
Five hundred billion to one trillion plastic bags are now used worldwide every year.
Their use can typically be measured in minutes — the time it takes you to get home from the store — but the bags can last for hundreds of years.
Although most go into landfills — only 0.6 percent are recycled — an estimated 100-million are let loose in the wind. Those airborne bags, often called “urban tumbleweeds,” clog sewers, gutters, and waterways and entangle birds.
Take a reusable bag when you go shopping, and say no to plastic bags offered at shops and grocery stores.
Hoof it or get on your bike
Create a cleaner environment by getting in some of those 10,000 steps you need to take every day to stay fit.
Walk to local shops rather than taking the car to a distant shopping center.
Go for a hike rather than a drive in the country.
Half of all car trips are less than five kilometres — a distance research has shown can be covered just as quickly on a bike once traffic and parking are taken into account.
Cycling is eco-efficient and fun. Cycle to school, cycle to work, enjoy the fresh air and feel energized when you arrive.
Tray edible packaging and locally grown food
Ten times the amount of energy we get from eating our food is invested in transporting, packaging and processing it.
For eco-efficient and fully biodegradable food packaging, choose fresh fruits and vegetables. Their skins are more than adequate protection for transporting them from the store to your home and can be recycled as compost to feed your garden.
Raw fruits and vegetables, as well as legumes and nuts, also use less energy and water than refined and processed food. Eating more fruits and vegetables and unprocessed food is healthier, reducing the risk of obesity, allergies, heart disease, cancer, and other ailments.
So rediscover the pleasure of biting into a crunchy apple rather than a chocolate bar. You’ll feel and look better for it.
The average distance travelled by the food on our plates (from field to table) is 2,000 kilometres. Gardens and farmers markets provide an array of fresh, delicious locally grown food. Enjoy the goodness and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Make a clean sweep
The latest status symbol of the suburban gardener is the good, old-fashioned and eco efficient broom or rake.
Hosing the leaves off the driveway and front walk is out, since it can consume 50 gallons of water every five minutes
So is powering up a two-cycle gas engine to give the lawn a quick blow. Gas-powered leaf blowers and weed-whackers are not only a source of noise pollution, they also spew oily clouds of “debris dust” that are harmful when inhaled and can produce the same amount of air pollutants in an hour as driving a car from Lethbridge to Edmonton.
Use a little elbow grease. Pull out the trusty rake or broom to rake leaves or sweep off the driveway or patio.
Step up to the line
An electric clothes dryer generates about three kilograms of greenhouse gasses per load. A solar clothes dryer, better known as a clothesline, generates none.
Why pay for heat and wind in a box when you can get both just outside the backdoor free. Choose the natural solution whenever you can.
If it rains while clothes are hanging, consider it a softening rinse. For those times when you must use a dryer make sure your washing machine’s spin cycle removes as much excess water as possible, dry only full loads, and keep the dryer’s lint filter clean so it operates at maximum efficiency.
Stem the flow
Canadians use an average of 300 litres of fresh water each day. Nearly 25 per cent of the water used inside the average home is for showers.
A family of four, each taking a five-minute shower once a day, uses about 2,800 litres of water every week. You can cut that amount in half by using low-flow shower fittings that reduce the flow by 50 per cent or more while maintaining ample water pressure.
After a year of five-minute showers with a low-flow shower head that family of four will save up to 80,000 litres of water as well as the energy needed to heat that water. This in turn reduces greenhouse gas emissions by more than 136 kilograms. per year and lowers the family’s water and energy expenses.
Less is more
Every day we are bombarded by thousands of advertisements encouraging us to equate quality of life with consumption. You might think of it as retail therapy, but for the environment it is a serious affliction.
Every item you buy contains embodied energy — the water, fuel, and waste used in its production, packaging, transport, and disposal. Achieving a sustainable lifestyle means buying a bit less of everything.
Before you make any purchases, ask yourself if you really need it. In most cases, your life won’t be any less full or rich without it, and every dollar you save will reduce your ecological footprint.
Commit to one simple act to do your part to reduce waste, conserve water and reduce energy consumption. Be the change you want to see in the world.
Bring your lawn chair to Lioness Park at 9:30 p.m. June 9 to celebrate the environment, learn a little and enjoy some popcorn. Celebrating and taking action to reduce your ecological footprint are great ways to bring our community together towards a greener future.

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