Tag Archives: sustainability

2010 Olympics blowing too much smoke: athletes – Inside the 2010 Olympics, Jeff Lee

NOTE: Original content removed/expired. Shared here in full for posterity and public good. Accessed from Archive.org Wayback machine.

2010 Olympics blowing too much smoke: athletes – Inside the 2010 Olympics (old link) By Jeff Lee  02-05-2009


On the heels of its latest Sustainability report in which it outlined some of the reporting and tracking it is doing, the Vancouver Organizing Committee is getting a bit of a razz from Canadian athletes – including more than 70 top Olympic and national team athletes – who say it’s not doing enough.

On Thursday the athletes, through the David Suzuki Foundation, sent a letter to Vanoc CEO John Furlong saying the committee needs to stop studying and start acting on promises to make the 2010 Games totally carbon neutral.

What’s worth noting in this complicated story is that it turns out that for all its good efforts at being environmentally friendly, Vanoc is getting criticism for just how far it is willing – or actually not willing – to go.

The foundation did a report for Vanoc two years ago called “Meeting The Challenge” that showed the Games will produce 328,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, and that the cost of offsetting that is in the range of $5 million. The tonnage includes all the gases produced from air travel generated by spectators, officials and media, the so-called “indirect” costs. That’s what being truly “carbon neutral” means, they say.

It turns out that Vanoc says it will offset the “direct” costs of the Games, including all the carbon diozide created by its travel, including  sending executive team members to places like Europe and China. But it doesn’t intend to offset the indirect carbon generation created by spectators and the like.

It also says that its’ efforts go far beyond what other organizing committees have done in the past. Linda Coady, Vanoc’s vice-president of sustainability, said in an email last night that Vanoc is still working out a “carbon management program” and that details will be released at the World Conference on Sport and Environment in late March. That event is sponsored by the International Olympic Committee and the United Nations Environment Programme.

Coady says Vanoc put out an initial public forecast of indirect emissions but hasn’t begun formally reporting on them yet in their annual sustainability report. Here’s what Coady says in her email statement to me:

“The David Suzuki Foundation (DSF) has provided VANOC with advice on the carbon plan for the 2010 Games and their “Play it Cool” program and we value their input. We currently track and report our carbon footprint – both direct Games-based emissions and indirect emissions from air travel, based on advice provided by the DSF and other environmental organizations. VANOC’s commitment is to take responsibility for offsetting our direct emissions from the Games. We also agree that offsets used to neutralize the carbon footprint of the Games have to be highly credible. We plan to release further details on our carbon management program for the 2010 Games at the World Conference on Sport and Environment, March 29-31 in Vancouver. The IOC has convened this event in collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).”

Regardless, that seems not to be adequate for athletes like snowboarder Justin Lamoureux, right, who points out that if he and 500 NHL hockey players and soccer associations and others can offset their carbon footprints by buying gold-standard offsets at places like planetair.ca, so can Vanoc.

You can see Vanoc’s sustainability efforts here (and download the latest .pdf report here.)

The athletes’ letter is here. The David Suzuki Foundation’s Green Is The New Gold page is here.

The foundation has also linked a useful page on demystifying how to go carbon-neutral and just who in the sporting world is doing it. (And they’re clearly hoping to add Vanoc to that list, too.)

Going green together online – Happyfrog in North Shore News

oly coffee roasters in the sky grotto{Re-posted from North Shore News on Canada.com for educational and archival use.}

Going green together online – Happy Frog directory helps green businesses connect
by Rosalind Duane Special To North Shore News – Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dave Olson is declaring war on paper coffee cups.

“And this is coming from a guy who loves his coffee and hates remembering to take one of those travel mugs, hates remembering to rinse it out and hates remembering to clean it,” he says.

Olson notes that the switch is on to cloth shopping bags, and organic foods, but paper coffee cups and plastic water bottles still need to be done away with.

Five years ago, Olson, a North Vancouver resident, says he got funny looks when he used his own canvas bag for grocery shopping, but these days, options other than the ubiquitous and environmentally unfriendly plastic bags are popping up all over the place. Similarly, 10 years ago, it was difficult to find fair-trade, organic coffee, but that has also changed.

Along with consumers, businesses both big and small are also paying more attention to sustainable practices. It is getting easier (read cheaper) for companies to change their internal practices to include measures such as office recycling, and to offer incentives to employees to walk to work or carpool.

For the past 10 years, Olson has been working in online marketing and has noticed a definite shift in the way business is being done; even big-box stores are highlighting their “green” features.

“It shows that big companies are following the little companies, which is a real big paradigm shift really because 20 years ago, 10 years ago, that certainly wasn’t the case,” he says.

While working in the business world, Olson has also been taking pictures and writing blogs in support of his passion for the environment. About six months ago, he joined in the creation of an online green business directory called Happy Frog.

He says the opportunity to help develop what he calls a “green community” allowed him to put some structure around the grassroots journalism that he was doing.

“We’re really hosting the community conversation about these green and sustainability minded topics,” he says of the directory, which lists various environmental and sustainable-minded businesses from across the province. While the idea for Happy Frog started out as a directory, it has evolved to include reviews and tips from users, and piece by piece, more interactive elements have been added. Olson and his team have also gathered a group of non-professional writers and photographers to attend the upcoming Epic Sustainable Living Expo and report back to the site with photos, stories and podcasts. He says the website is the “social media partner” for the fair, and he wants to profile vendors that may not otherwise be featured in the mainstream media.

Olson notes that over the years as he has been attending and reporting on wellness fairs as a hobbyist, he has learned that by telling stories and letting people know each other’s points of view a lot of progress can be made.

Letting businesses in on the conversation is another aspect of the directory that Olson is excited about. Once listed in the directory, business owners can access their listing and add their own blog. Olson says beyond regular print ads, the online blogs allow business owners to be “authentic” and tell their story.

Each business chosen to be included on the website has to be B.C.-based and has to fit into one of the Happy Frog categories, which include Arts and Culture, Eco Travel, Food and Beverage, Fashion and Beauty and more. Olson and his team then look at what the company is selling and make sure that the company is at least making an effort toward sustainability practices.

“The other big requirement is that they are willing to say publicly, ‘We’re trying to get better. We’re trying to learn how to be sustainable,'” explains Olson.

He adds that the vendors listed may still have improvements to make, but just because the owners aren’t walking to work and wearing recycled burlap for clothes, the business can still be considered.

“We want to be inclusive and help people make those first couple of critical steps.”

Olson says although it’s easy to get cynical about the amount of change that still needs to occur, every little bit helps.

“The little changes beget bigger changes and really snowballs into all of a sudden you find yourself eating organic, shopping with bags, not taking that paper coffee cup, and if we reach a critical mass of people doing that all of a sudden real positive change happens. So it’s really a shift in thinking and habits that starts small and gets bigger,” he explains, adding that his hope for the website is to get people communicating in an authentic, honest manner about environmental issues.

For more information, visit the Happy Frog website at www.happyfrog.ca.

© North Shore News 2008

{NOTE: Re-posted from North Shore News on Canada.com for educational and archival use.}

{Note: Photo by DaveO added to article – did NOT appear in the NS news article}

happyfrog.ca on Urban Rush TV Programme

happyfrog.ca’s Christy and Dave appeared on the TV programme Urban Rush which airs on the Shaw local programming channel. They had some laughs with the hosts Fiona and Michael and talked about latex mattresses, gluten free beer, web community building and more green tips.

Green Biz Review contest

Happyfrog is BC eco directoryI’ve found myself a day job with BC eco-business and org directoryhappyfrog.ca.  To generate some reviews,  my colleagues and I fired up a contest to encourage you to share your ideas by submitting reviews of green businesses and organizations in Vancouver and throughout BC.

Deadline: Dec. 20th the clock stops and we draw a random winner for a $500 gift credit to use at any one happyfrog.ca listed business or organization.

Each qualifying review you leave (make them worthwhile eh, don’t spoil the pond) counts as another entry. This means the more you help others with your tips, the more chances to score the frogbucks for whatever reason you choose (well almost anyhow).

tub with view

I have a few ideas (buy a goat for an African village, massage gift certificates, donation to a non-profit group, or perhaps a weekend at a Sunshine Coast B&B), but we happyfroggers also want to hear where you like to shop and what you are buying with sustainability in mind.

More discourse at the frogblog: Review a happyfrog Listing and Win a Prize! on the pros and cons of festive purchases and how to get creative for whatever holiday you are celebrating (or not).

Washington Post discuss farmers’ quest to seperate hemp and pot

Not sure if there is much luck to be found with this strategy.  The powers that be know the difference, they just don’t find it in their economic interest to act with science and sense in mind.  Anyhow, good to see coverage in the mainstream media in a fairly decent article and a mention of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to make it even better (cross-posted here for education purposes via hemp ed).

From Washington Post: Farmers Ask Federal Court To Dissociate Hemp and Pot
By Peter Slevin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 12, 2007; Page A03

Wayne Hauge grows grains, chickpeas and some lentils on 2,000 acres in northern North Dakota. Business is up and down, as the farming trade tends to be, and he is always on the lookout for a new crop. He tried sunflowers and safflowers and black beans. Now he has set his sights on hemp.

Hemp, a strait-laced cousin of marijuana, is an ingredient in products from fabric and food to carpet backing and car door panels. Farmers in 30 countries grow it. But it is illegal to cultivate the plant in the United States without federal approval, to the frustration of Hauge and many boosters of North Dakota agriculture.

On Wednesday, Hauge and David C. Monson, a fellow aspiring hemp farmer, will ask a federal judge in Bismarck to force the Drug Enforcement Administration to yield to a state law that would license them to become hemp growers.

“I’m looking forward to the court battle,” said Hauge, a 49-year-old father of three. “I don’t know why the DEA is so afraid of this.”

The law is the law and it treats all varieties of Cannabis sativa L. the same, Bush administration lawyers argue in asking U.S. District Judge Daniel L. Hovland to throw out the case. The DEA says a review of the farmers’ applications is underway.

To clear up the popular confusion about the properties of what is sometimes called industrial hemp, the crop’s prospective purveyors explain that hemp and smokable marijuana share a genus and a species but are about as similar as rope and dope.

The active ingredient in marijuana is tetrahydrocannabinol, better known as THC. While hemp typically contains 0.3 percent THC, the leaves and flowers coveted by pot smokers have 5 percent or more, sometimes up to 30 percent.

“You could smoke a joint the size of a telephone pole,” Hague said of hemp, “and it’s not going to provide you with a high.”

Experts on the subject say a headache is far more likely than a buzz.

In the small town of Ray, N.D., Hauge said people — his friends, mostly — make cracks.

“Usually it’s something about whether or not the DEA is going to arrest me or if my phone is being tapped,” Hauge said. “It’s kind of difficult to provoke me. I’m also a CPA, and I have had a tax practice in Ray for 25 years. I was an EMT for 18 years. And I’m not a person who smokes. I don’t smoke anything. I exercise a lot and I’m pretty healthy.”

David Bronner is a vegan California businessman who uses hemp oil to make his Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap richer and smoother. He touts hemp milk as a challenger to soy and adds hemp seeds, full of Omega-3 fatty acids, to a snack bar called Alpsnack.

He says the hulled seeds look like sesame seeds and taste like pine nuts.

Bronner’s company spends about $100,000 a year importing 10,000 pounds of hemp oil and 10,000 pounds of seeds from Canada. To do so, he first had to win a federal court battle with the Justice Department, which tried to ban the imports. One of his arguments was the prevalence and popularity of the crop elsewhere.

“In Canada and Europe, where industrial hemp is grown, no one is trying to smoke it and the sky is not falling,” said Bronner, president of the Hemp Industries Association, a trade group. Likening hemp seeds to marijuana, he said, is like equating poppy seeds with opium.

Hauge is joined by Monson, a Republican state legislator who helped pass a law in 1999 that would permit hemp cultivation and establish limits to ease the federal government’s worries. They have the backing of Vote Hemp, an advocacy organization, and state Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson, who personally delivered paperwork to the DEA in February on the farmers’ behalf.

In a lengthy March 5 letter to DEA Administrator Karen P. Tandy, Johnson quoted a university professor’s conclusion that under “the most fundamental principles of pharmacology, it can be shown that it is absurd, in practical terms, to consider industrial hemp useful as a drug.”

That’s how Tim Purdon sees it. He is a Bismarck lawyer for Hauck and Monson.

“Some people call me up with the idea that my clients and myself are some sort of marijuana legalization effort,” Purdon said. “My clients are farmers. They are looking for a crop they can make money on in the tough business of being a family farmer.”

Hauge is feeling optimistic. He has signed up for a hemp cultivation seminar in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. It starts Friday.