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Letter: Making environmenal choices, personally and municipally

Today, in the environmental world the first R is refuse. As in, do I really need this?

Making environmenal choices, personally and municipally

Thank you for your April 21 editorial on the three ‘R’s.

I have learned from wiser folks than I, that the up to date number of ‘R’s in groups working on the environment is seven.

I believe the best way of looking at the ‘R’s was coined by the activist/singer Pete Seeger when he suggested, “If it can’t be reduced, reused, repaired, rebuilt, refurbished, resold, recycled or composted, then it should be restricted, redesigned or removed from production.”

Today, in the environmental world the first R is refuse. As in, do I really need this?

Also repurpose, which is something to keep in mind for items that can’t currently be recycled or if you really need something and can’t find one to reuse, can you repurpose it down the road? Can you take something you own and repurpose it for your own use, or someone else’s?

Many of Pete’s ‘R’s can only be accomplished, in a global economy, with consensus, agreement and action taken at a global level.

However, we can influence a decision in that direction by sometimes refusing, and choosing only products that we really need and that fit those other ‘R’s. The old adage, think globally, act locally becomes more critical every day.

Speaking of locally, “silly” season is upon us early this year.

This is what the lead-up few months to a municipal election is colloquially termed. Mostly by locally elected or wishful folks.

As the chair of the Municipality of North Cowichan’s Environmental Advisory Committee, I have had the pleasure of learning from experts on staff and the volunteer committee. Sometimes the reasons to move away from fossil fuels are greater than the emissions amount, and sometimes the small emissions disappearing have a greater savings, more broad than at first glance, and that certainly that would increase over time. There are other very good reasons to go electric.

The example I will put forward is the electric Zamboni which replaced the aged out Fuller Lake fossil fuel Zamboni a number of years ago. I am sure you will hear about it, outside of the entire context for the decision.

It is accurate that in the larger scheme of things the emissions from that Zamboni were not big, however, the cost of not running it, (just look at the current price at the pumps) has the new electric saving money every day it smooths the ice, and the lack of fossil fuel emissions in a building saves the health of the children, youth and adults, including the staff and spectators, who are spending time in that building while breathing.

We learned during COVID’s worst that the particulate, including PM 2.5, created more and more severe disease. Indeed, even before COVID-19, particulate from the burning of fossil fuels was responsible for 18 per cent, just under one in five, global deaths in 2018 according to Harvard University.

Something to consider when purchasing any equipment that is available in an electric form. Happy spring to neighbours in one of the best places to live — the Cowichan.

Kate Marsh

North Cowichan councillor

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