Written by Denise Deby.

John McConnell's Earth Day flag by John McConnell (flag designer) NASA (Earth photograph) SiBr4 (flag image) via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Earth_Day_Flag.png

John McConnell’s Earth Day flag by John McConnell (flag designer) NASA (Earth photograph) SiBr4 (flag image) via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Earth_Day_Flag.png

April 22 is Earth Day. Of course, it’s just one day. Nonetheless, for 45 years now, the designation of a day for the earth has prompted people to reflect and act on how to live more sustainably. (The Earth Day Network says more than a billion people participate in Earth Day activities around the world.)

Here are a few ways to mark Earth Day 2015:

Take part in an event

How about a feast, a film and a thought-provoking discussion? The Indigenous Peoples Solidarity Movement Ottawa holds their annual celebration of the Defence of Mother Earth on Wednesday, Apr. 22 from 6-9:30 p.m. The film, Karistatsi Onienre: The Iron Snake, looks at Indigenous resistance to pipelines carrying tar sands oil. A panel with Jocelyn Iahtail (Cree mother, survivor and cultural teacher), Gabrielle Fayant (Metis and co-founder of the youth-led Assembly of Seven Generations) and Lynn Gehl (Algonquin learner-researcher, writer and rights advocate) will focus on Indigenous women. The event is a fundraiser for Shawnejeagamik, the 510 Rideau Indigenous Drop-In Centre. Check here for event details.

Want to talk trees? Tree Ottawa is holding a workshop with Master Gardener Ed Lawrence and other tree experts on Wednesday, Apr. 22 from 7-9:30 p.m. Details here.

Join the river cleanup

Interested in lending a hand for river health? The Ottawa Riverkeeper is organizing shoreline cleanups on Wednesday, Apr. 22 from 10 a.m.-noon at Parc Moussette and from 1-3 p.m. at Lemieux Island and Bate Island. Details and RSVP here. (See other upcoming shoreline cleanup events here or here.)

Green your transportation

Inspired to ride your bike, walk or take the bus more often? “Clean Your Commute” is Earth Day Canada’s theme for 2015, so check their website for green options. Earth Day Canada is also launching “Earth Day Every Day” on Earth Day this year. It’s a campaign to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprint by 20% by 2020. Check here for information. Why not sign up for Ottawa’s Bike to Work Month in May, too? Information and registration here.

For some background on Earth Day and additional suggestions of what you can do, from ordering CSA food shares to supporting renewable energy, see this previous post.

Written by Denise Deby.

Ottawa’s new tool library is taking shape!

The non-profit Ottawa Tool Library will be a place that people can go to borrow household, garden and kitchen tools, attend workshops, use the workspace and more.

It makes economic and environmental sense to borrow tools you only need once in a while, rather than buying.

The Ottawa Tool Library’s founders have been working hard over the last few months to get the word out about the library, gather tools, sign up volunteers, find a location for the library and all the things that go in to creating what promises to be a wonderful sharing space.

You can sign up for a membership, or support the Ottawa Tool Library’s Indiegogo campaign. The funds raised will help pay for operating costs and purchase of tools.

You can also donate tools to the library, or volunteer.

Check here for more information: http://ottawatoollibrary.com/

Written by Denise Deby.

Organic Green Spring Plant Seedlings in Natural Window Light by Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

Organic Green Spring Plant Seedlings in Natural Window Light by Pink Sherbet Photography on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic

If you’d like to hone your gardening skills, check out these spring opportunities.

The Community Gardening Network of Ottawa is holding workshops on several useful topics:

  • Beginner Organic Vegetable Gardening – no-pesticide gardening basics
  • Natural Pest Control – chemical-free ways to deal with what ails your garden
  • Square Foot Gardening – growing in a small space
  • Herbal Tips and Tricks – growing plants that heal

The CGN workshops take place between April 8 and May 12, 2015 at various community sites. See http://justfood.ca/blog/2015/03/18/spring2015_cgn_workshops/ for details and registration information.

Canadian Organic Growers Ottawa – St. Lawrence – Outaouais is holding its Urban Organic Gardening Seminars series from April 14 to May 5, 2015:

  • Basics of organic growing – Soil and Composting
  • Organic Seeds, Germination and Seed Saving
  • Organic Container Veggie Gardening
  • Organic Edible Ornamentals including Edible Flowers and Herbs
  • Organic In-ground Veggie Gardening
  • Designing an Urban Garden to support Pollinators, Pest Eaters and Pest Deterrents

With the COG-OSO seminars, which take place at City Hall, you can sign up for any of the sessions, or all seven as a package. See http://cog.ca/ottawa/urban-organic-gardening-seminars/ for details and how to register.

Master Gardeners of Ottawa-Carleton offers a few gardening workshops, as well as advice through their free help line.

Kinburn Farms (about half an hour from Ottawa) hosts hands-on workshops on seeds, basic gardening and more.

If you’re interested in learning about wild edible plants, check out The Wild Garden’s spring plant walks and classes on healing plants.

Some inspiration while we wait for spring!

Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Ottawa Bird Count for the information. (Post edited March 4: changes in italics.)

Poster Chirps Tweets Trills 2015 lowres

Spring means the return of birds and also the return of the Ottawa Bird Count‘s seven week course called “Chirps, tweets and trills 2015: Learn your local bird songs.”

Participants will learn to recognize the songs of the most common bird species in the Ottawa area. They’ll also find out “tips, tricks and technology” for learning bird sounds, and methods for monitoring bird activity in order to be able to participate in Ottawa Bird Count surveys.

People are welcome whether they’re new to bird identification or are experienced birders.

The course runs Saturday mornings from Apr. 11-May 30. It’s free, but you have to commit to doing all 14 hours of the course. There’ll be both indoor lessons and outdoor field work.

Click here for more information and to register.

The course was extremely popular last year, so check it out soon.

Ottawa Bird Count is an environmental and educational charity that runs a volunteer-based bird survey in Ottawa, with the intention of making our city more bird-aware and more biodiverse.

Written by Denise Deby.

Writersfest, Octopus and gift books - D. Deby

1. The Ottawa International Writers Festival brings more food for thought this month.

Environment and human rights advocate Sheila Watt-Cloutier talks about her book, The Right to Be Cold: One Woman’s Story of Protecting Her Culture, the Arctic and the Whole Planet on Tuesday, Mar. 31, 2015. In the book she connects her life story to the survival of Inuit culture and the need to address climate change.

Check the Writers Festival website for details on this and other upcoming sessions (including Close Encounters with the Natural World on Monday, Apr. 27 with Jennifer Kingsley and Deni Béchard).

2. Octopus Books’ event schedule includes Nothing to Lose But Our Fear: Resistance in Dangerous Times with Fiona Jeffries on Tuesday, Apr. 7, and The Big Swim: Coming Ashore in a World Adrift with Carrie Saxifrage on Monday, Apr. 13. In The Big Swim, Carrie Saxifrage uses her personal experiences and adventures to examine the environment and climate change from different angles.

Update: Carrie Saxifrage will also be at the West End Well Co-op on Sunday, Apr. 12 to talk about The Big Swim.

Any other literary events or environmental books you’d recommend? Let us know.



Posted by Denise Deby. Thanks to Susan Elsdon and St. Mark School Council for the information.

St. Mark eWaste Recycling Event Flyer

Not sure what to do with those old computers, cell phones and other electronic stuff?

St. Mark High School and Ontario Electronic Stewardship are hosting an Electronics Recycling Depot on Saturday, April 11, 2015.

You can bring used equipment (check here for a list of accepted items) to the school at 1040 Dozois Rd. between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Drop-off is free.

(If you can’t make the Depot, you can find other e-waste drop-off locations here.)

(Update: RecycleYourElectronics.ca has some tips here for recycling electronic devices.)

Written by Denise Deby.

Water footprint by Tom Magliery on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/mag3737/2844541743/in/photostream/

Water footprint by Tom Magliery on Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic https://www.flickr.com/photos/mag3737/2844541743/in/photostream/

Today is World Water Day, a reminder that water is central to life.

The choices we humans make—the water we drink, the food we eat, the products we consume, even the way we vote—all have consequences for water and the earth.

Here are some ways to make a difference, starting today:

1. Get to know the water around you. Visit one of the city’s rivers. (Did you know that the Ottawa River, the city’s main drinking water source and an important recreation site, is home to more than 300 bird and hundreds of other species?) Learn more about Ottawa’s water and sewage systems and how you can help reduce run-off and sewage overflows (at home, and through the Ottawa River Action Plan).

2. Use environmentally friendly household products.  (Did you know that you can make your own cleaning solutions using vinegar or baking soda?) Avoid household and personal care items that contain toxic components such as triclosan, found in some cosmetics and toothpastes, for example. Keep harmful substances from going down the drain and getting into the water system.

3. Check the “water footprint” of commonly-used household items with the help of Ecoholic Adria Vasil and journalist Stephen Leahy’s Your Water Footprint. (Did you know that it takes 400,000 litres of water to make a car, and more than 15,000 litres to produce 1 kg of beef?) Buy secondhand and recycle whenever possible.

4. Speak up about how water is managed, and how industry is allowed to use water:

5. Learn more about the right to water and how to ensure that everyone has access to safe water and sanitation.

(Here’s more about World Water Day and Canadian Water Week.)

300X250 CWW-URL_com


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