Tool libraries lend out tools, just as conventional libraries lend out books. Tool libraries have been set up in Toronto, Hamilton, Halifax and Calgary. Most charge an annual membership fee for the opportunity to borrow tools from the inventory.
Tool libraries are a great example of the sharing economy, minimizing the amount of “stuff” people have to buy, and pooling community resources for items that most people need only once in a while.
In Ottawa, the tool library is a non-profit initiative intended to provide people with affordable access to tools. It will open at Arts Court in the new year.Update: The Ottawa Tool Library opened in August at MakerSpace North, 250 City Centre. Check them out here!
In the meantime, the Ottawa Tool Library is holding a tool drive to help them get up and running. You can donate used or new hand tools, power tools and kitchen equipment. Check your cupboards, basement or garage for underused items you might have, clear the clutter and share with others! There are several drop off locations; check the website for details. They’ll be accepting donations again in January, and can use volunteers, too.
Stay tuned for more news about the Ottawa Tool Library!
In North America, much of this waste happens during processing, transportation, retail sales and in people’s homes. A Toronto study indicated that one in four household food purchases ended up in the garbage, while other stats suggest that over 30 per cent of fruits and vegetables in North America don’t even get to grocery store shelves because they’re considered too unattractive.
The Canada Agriculture and Food Museum is hosting Face the Wasteon Friday, Sept. 19. Katrina Siks and Jason Garlough will talk about how their initiative, Hidden Harvest Ottawa, collects fruit and nuts from urban food trees that would otherwise go to waste. There’ll also be a screening of Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story (2014), a documentary by Jen Rustemeyer and Grant Baldwin about their six-month adventure living off of food that would have been discarded and what they discovered about food waste.
On Sept. 20-21, the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum continues its Harvest Festival with interactive demonstrations on how to reduce food waste. Learn how to turn vegetables into soup, check out worm composting, catch Just Eat It!: A Food Waste Story, and more. See the website for the schedule.
Just Food operates a farm site right in the city. They’re inviting people to come visit, check out the farm businesses that grow food there and learn about farming programs run by community groups for new Canadians and youth. It’s from 1:00-2:30 p.m. at 2389 Pepin Court near Innes and Tauvette Streets in Blackburn Hamlet. (See their website for further details on the event and how to get there.)
If you’re interested in organic farming yourself, Just Food accepts new applicants for their Start-Up Farm Program every year. This year applications for 2015 are due September 30, 2014. There’s more information at http://justfood.ca/start-up-farm-program/.
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Feast of Fields Sunday, Sept. 21 and Organic Week Sept. 20-28
Feast of Fields is an annual celebration of local food organized by the Canadian Organic Growers. This year, Canadian Organic Growers–Ottawa St Lawrence Outaouais (COG OSO) is hosting Feast of Fields at the Moulin Wakefield Mill, from 12:30-3:30 p.m.
You’ll be able to sample creations by local chefs using organic ingredients from Ontario and Quebec farmers. There’ll also be organic beer and wine. You can take a walk through Gatineau Park or listen to live music, too.
Even better, Feast of Fields will raise funds for two great COG OSO programs: Growing up Organic, which helps schools set up organic gardens and runs education programs, and Senior Organic Gardeners, which supports gardening programs for seniors. Tickets are available in advance on Eventbrite.
Feast of Fields also kicks off Organic Week, a celebration of organic food and farming that takes place Sept. 20-28 across Canada.
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Transition Ottawa Film and Panel Discussion on The Healing Power of Plants Wednesday, Sept. 24
Transition Ottawa is hosting a screening of Numen: The Healing Power of Plants, a documentary on medicinal plants and traditional knowledge. The film invites viewers to “deepen our relationship with the natural world and reminds us of the healing made possible by re-embracing our place in the wider web of life.” After the film, local herbalists Amber Westfall of The Wild Garden and Corrie Rabbe of Radical Homestead will speak. 7-9 p.m. at the Jack Purcell Community Centre.
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The Myths of Safe Pesticides Book Launch at West End Well, Thursday, Sept. 25
Back to school, back to work, new activities, changing weather—this time of year is often a time of transition.
Here, we savoured the last day of the August long weekend with a bike ride along the Ottawa River and a picnic at Britannia Beach. New routines start today, but I’m hoping we can continue to relive the good parts of summer as we head into a new month.
Some ideas for extending the green of summer:
As summer holidays wind down, getting outdoors can be challenging. Spending time in nature has great physical and mental health benefits, though. Walk or bike to work or school. Balance screen and structured activity time with outdoor pursuits. Go for a walk, fly a kite, stop at the park or by the river.
For lunches, single-serving packaged foods can seem convenient, but they produce a lot of garbage. Buy in bulk, prepare portions at home and use reusable containers–many stores carry stainless steel and cloth options. Use a reusable mug for coffee or tea. When it comes to clothing, shop vintage or used when possible, or organize a clothing swap. This time of year is a great time to (re)discover drying laundry on a clothesline–another way to get outdoors.
For most of us, living more sustainably is a work in progress. If the new year has inspired you to think about making eco-friendly lifestyle changes, or you’re seeking encouragement to continue and deepen what you’re already doing, here are a few ideas:
5. Support clean energy. Contribute to green energy through Bullfrog Power—when you use electricity or natural gas, they’ll replace it with energy from clean sources. Invest in solar and renewable energy systems through the Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op. Reduce the energy you do use.
9. Reduce the plastic in your life. Plastics are made with non-renewable resources, and they get into our landfills, waterways and oceans. To reduce your dependence on plastic, get inspiration from Beth Terry at “My Plastic-Free Life”—she has a good list of practical suggestions on her website.
11. Consume less and still get what you need by contributing to the collaborative economy. If you have a library card, you’re already participating; we get books from the common pool so we don’t all need to buy and own the same books. Curb your buying and expand your sharing with services such as Ottawa Freecycle or Swapsity. Join a bikeshare or carshare. Organize tool-sharing or a clothing exchange with neighbours and friends.
12. Take responsibility for the land we inhabit and the water we share by taking some time to find out what Idle No More is all about. Check out the local initiative Niigaan In Conversation, which is bringing people together to try to build a positive relationship between Indigenous peoples and non-native Canadians, in order “to create a future that is just and peaceful and beneficial to everyone living on this land.”
14. Make your voice heard. Write letters to decision-makers, sign petitions, take a stand on things that are important to you. Vote. Positive change happens when people take action themselves and when they demand action from their leaders and representatives.
Feel free to give one or more of these ideas a try, and please share other suggestions you have.
This is a lovely time of year to slow down, enjoy being with family and friends, and give meaningful gifts. Too often, though, it’s a time when many people find themselves buying too much, trying to accomplish too much and feeling like they can’t cope.
Here are a few suggestions for giving sustainably while giving back:
1. Consider buying your loved one a food-bearing tree (or a gift card for one) from Hidden Harvest Ottawa. Alternatively, you can donate a tree to a community group, such as Ottawa Community Housing, in someone’s name.
3. Offer to teach someone something, or give them the gift of learning. Many art, music and other places offer gift certificates. Check out the Westboro Brainery, a community initiative that has short (around 2 hour) courses on a wide variety of subjects, including vegan cooking, solar power for the home, beginner salsa dancing and indoor plant care, for starters.
7. Search Swapsity for a gift that you can obtain by swapping something you no longer need—you’ll save cash and keep things out of the landfill.
8. Give a gift of seeds, trees or clean water for someone who can use it through USC Canada. UNICEF Canada, Kiva and many other organizations offer global gifts as well.
9. For the person who wants to live more sustainably, EnviroCentre’s enviroBoutique may have something, like a Fireplace Package with Eco-Logs or a Water Wise kit with a low-flow showerhead and aerators.
11. Buy local and send a gift to someone in Ottawa or elsewhere in Canada through SMAKK, which stands for “Share Meaningful Acts of Kindness and Karma.” You browse their website for what’s on offer from participating shops and services, choose a gift and they’ll send a gift card to your family member or friend. Offerings include yoga from PranaShanti Yoga Centre, jewellry from TUBEDJewelry made out of old bike inner tubes and Bôhten’s designer eyeglasses made from recycled materials.
12. Shop locally through Givopoly: you choose a gift from their website—like soap from Purple Urchin or local foodie gift boxes—and they’ll deliver it the next day.
13. Look for a merchant that pays as much attention to the environment and the community as to profits. The Ottawa-based Centre for Innovative Social Enterprise Development (CISED) has a holiday gift guide to buying from socially and environmentally-conscious companies, such as Camino which makes fair trade, organic chocolate, or Cycle Salvation where you can find used, reconditioned bikes and parts.
14. If you know a local food aficionado, you may find something appropriate at a local food producer or retailer who’s a Savour Ottawa member. You’ll find more suggestions on the Earthward blog. Don’t forget that the Ottawa Farmers’ Market is holding its Christmas Market on Saturday, December 21 and Sunday, December 22, 2013, and the Ottawa Specialty Food Association has a Flavours of Ottawa Stocking Stuffer Specialty Food Fair on Saturday, December 21, 2013.
From wild spaces to innovative green technologies to events that bring people together, Ottawa has a lot going on these days. Here are a few things to check out:
One of my favourite natural places in Ottawa is Mud Lake, near Britannia. It has walking trails, water and wildlife, with an impressive range of species. You can discover the area AND contribute to cataloguing its biodiversity at Nature Canada’s BioBlitz on Friday, Sept. 13 and Saturday, Sept. 14. Everyone is welcome to join the nature walks led by local naturalists to look for birds, insects, amphibians and reptiles. Check the schedule for details.
If you want to see some cool sustainability initiatives in the city, take in the Ottawa Sustainability Tour on Saturday, Sept. 14. It’s self-guided and encompasses several environmentally-significant sites, including the Richelieu Park forest, Fletcher Wildlife Garden, the Children’s Garden, Major’s Hill Park, the playground at Brewer Park, the University of Ottawa’s FSS building (with North America’s tallest “green wall”), Algonquin College’s Centre for Construction Excellence, Mooney’s Bay, the Corktown footbridge and terra20. There’ll be information and resource people at each location, and you can download or pick up a guide to the sites. The tour is organized by The Ottawa Biosphere Eco-City Council, Tucker House and The Otesha Project with other collaborating partners.
At 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14, you can also take part in Capital Vélo Fest’s fun bicycle rally from 8 Locks’ Flat by the Corktown Bridge.
Tucker House is holding its fifth annual Green Gala on Saturday, Sept. 14. It’s a fundraiser for Tucker House’s environmental education, retreat and leadership programs. The masquerade ball includes live music, locally-sourced refreshments, an “eco-auction” and tours of the organization’s historic building. Tucker House is in Rockland, but there’s a free return shuttle leaving from Ottawa. See the website for details, and the Tucker House website for more information on its programs.
Jessica Sheridan at EnviroCentre sent us word of this Saturday’s Enviro Day and E-waste event at the Preston Farmers’ Market. It’s on Saturday, August 10, 2013 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Il Postino parking lot (corner of Preston and Louisa Streets):
Bring back your household electronics to have them recycled locally, safely, and in a sustainable manner.
Shop for delicious local foods and get rid of your old electronics, all in one convenient location!