I was talking with a client recently at worldSALON about how environmental issues seem to be falling off people’s radar. Alan explained that as an interior designer, most of his clients previously would start the discussion of designing their new spaces with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for their interiors. The LEED program “provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient and cost-saving green buildings”. Alan says now clients hardly bring it up. This situation got us wondering if the mindless evisceration of environmental protections south of the border, at the hands of the orange wonder, is seeping north and perhaps having a chilling effect globally?
Research into this matter led me to two inspiring nuggets. Firstly, even though draft dodger don sent notice to the United Nations on August 4, 2017 that the U.S. was exiting the Paris Agreement on Climate Change (the only country in the world to withdraw) the way the accord is structured, the earliest this will actually happen is the day after the next election, November 4, 2020 (according to the NRDC). Secondly, the Pacific Standard reports that “following the decision to back out of the Paris Agreement, a collection of governors, mayors, business leaders, and university presidents individually redoubled their commitments to the agreement on behalf of the states, cities, companies, and campuses they represent.” Former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg adds “cities, states, and corporations could achieve, or even surpass, the pledge of the administration of former President Barack Obama to reduce America’s planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions 26 percent by 2025, from their levels in 2005.”
Up here in the great white north, I am thrilled to be involved with Environmental Defence Canada (enviromentaldefence.ca), an organization that is fighting strong for the health of Canadians. ED’s four main planks are 1. Kicking out toxics 2) Clean climate and economy, 3) Creating livable communities and 4) Safeguarding Canada’s freshwater. The work that these dedicated individuals do every day has resulted in some major wins – “from the protection of the Greenbelt, to the banning of the toxic chemical BPA in baby bottles, to the founding of the Green Energy Act Alliance to our most recent effort to get rid of the toxic and useless microbeads that are fouling our lakes”. I was so honoured to receive the “Green Champion Award for Environmental Stewardship” at the 2015 ED Gala for “25 years of leadership in sustainable business practices and progressive work eliminating toxic chemicals”. This spring, Environmental Defence has a brand new climate change initiative that I am proud to be part of – sit tight for the launch!
In 2005, worldSALON installed solar thermal panels to help heat our hot water; this alone has offset 26,000 tons of greenhouse gases. We also partnered with Bullfrog Power in 2005, installed LED lighting for the salon in 2007, put in a a hot water on demand system in 2013 and in 2009 were one of the first salons to sign up with the inspiring Green Circle Salons, which has diverted almost 2,500,000 pounds of waste from landfill and waterways across North America. One of these days, I will have to do a full audit of how much all these endeavours have benefitted the environment.
To conclude, in this Earth Month, give to an organization like Environmental Defence that is doing great work to make our communities healthier. Try one thing in your home that could have an impact, like an energy audit or joining up with Bullfrog Power to support renewable energy initiatives. Most importantly, get on your bike or go for regular walks because a healthier world starts with you.