2016-03-30 Wed

Second Use For Everything (SUFE)

Chris Goodall in his book “How to live a low-carbon life” points out the conflict between “Climate Change” and “The low cost of Energy”.

He makes the point that walking a kilometre to the store for an item is seen as healthy. Don’t use the car for a half-mile errand – walk, Exercise, Metabolize away some of the fat.

Problem is, he says, that when you get home you are hungry and thirsty so you quaff a glass of milk.

The milk came from a store, from a store’s refrigerated and heated environment, by diesel truck from a bottling plant where the raw milk was pasteurized, sterilized and chilled. To the bottling plant by diesel truck from the farm. Where cows eat grass and belch methane.

Well, you get the idea. Do the sums right and the car seems like a better deal in terms of reducing gases and pollutants to the atmosphere.

Thin Plastic Grocery Bags, he says, are better than Paper Bags, because paper bogs rot down and emit methane from landfills, whereas plastic bags don’t rot down and so don’t emit Methane and other gases.

So there I was discussing plastic bags with a friend, especially the type of bag typically called “cloth bags”, but commonly made from plastic fibres. And just one year after a five-cent tax was imposed on thin plastic grocery bags, we all had up to a dozen “cloth” bags made of plastic, only one of which we used.

Many of the excess ecological bags ended up in the garbage, in the landfill.

Think about that.

Vast amounts of energy are spent in extracting petroleum materials from the ground so that vast amounts of energy can be spent transforming the raw materials into plastics so that vast amounts of energy can be spent transforming the plastics into bags so that vast amounts of energy can be spent trucking those plastic bags to a landfill site and hence back into the ground.


Today is such a day.

I like to collect the newspaper from Ryerson University around seven o’clock each morning. Twenty minutes out of my day.

There is a noon-time organ concert at Yorkminster Park Baptist. I want to attend that – a forty-minute walk north from where I live, up and back and a forty-minute concert. That’s two hours out of my day.

I want to get some high-speed WiFi and that suggests the Trinity Bell building fifteen minutes south of here, dropping off a leather belt to be repaired across the street and collecting a microwavable jug and a paint brush at the store ditto on the way. Also a bottle of wood-glue from Canadian Tire. I would like to do that trip this morning before heading north for two hours. I allow two and a half hours all up for this excursion.

At three o’clock there is a Toronto Reference Library “Special Collections” presentation. I would normally plan to attend that on my way home from the recital at Yorkminster.

Then tonight there is the Ryerson University “IID talk” in Eng103 from six-thirty to eight-thirty – two and a half hours out of my day.

I am contemplating over eight hours already, and I have not set aside to read the newspaper, write my journal, plan my vacation, or start work on revamping an application utility library “FileR” which, early this morning, announced that it needed a critical bit of maintenance.

I use a simple triage in these matters:-

(1) Anything that involves a face-to-face meeting with a friend or colleague takes priority. I have few enough friends as it is, so I ought never dismiss an opportunity to meet.

(2) Events fixed to external schedules – such as concerts, lectures and the like, take precedence over everything else.

(3) Time-independent activities such as shopping or using WiFi Internet or collecting books from the library are low on the totem-pole. We have twelve-hour shopping just five minutes walk from where I live. Truth is that I can pop across the street for wood-glue any time in each twenty-four hours, and there is a twenty-four hour supermarket if I run out of onions or flour.

(4) Activities such as vacuuming or laundry can be fitted in to times when I am at home and feel the need for activity. Dish-washing is done (on principle!) at least once a day, and preferably after supper and before going to bed so that I wake up to a clean kitchen.

The Result?

Today I will spend the morning at home. At around 11:30 I will walk up Yonge Street to Yorkminster and enjoy the organ concert. I will walk back as far as the Toronto Public Library where I will use the WiFi until it is time for the 1500 presentation. I will be home by five, in time to make a light supper and head off to the talk at Ryerson. The shopping can wait until tomorrow, and when I go to bed tonight I’ll tell myself “It’s been a GREAT day!”