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Use Your Brain, Wash Your Spoon 8

An e-mail forward on plastic cutlery has been floating around for a while – so I thought I would revise it slightly and post it here: It’s pretty amazing that our society has reached a point where the effort necessary to extract oil from the ground, ship it to a refinery, turn it into plastic, ...

Second-Hand Secret to Sustainability? 2

Photo “Harlem Trash” by loan Sameli / Flickr The Urban Country explores whether purchasing second-hand products can help save ourselves, our society, and the world as we know it. In a speech yesterday to a special summit on climate change at the United Nations, President Obama claimed that fighting climate change is more difficult during ...

The Environmental Cost of Tickets 1

(Photo “Return Ticket to Hell” by aslakr / Flickr ) A friend and fellow contributor to The Urban Country made an interesting comment the other day. Nariman feels that anything that requires a ticket is outrageous. Be it driving, airplanes, concerts, sports, musicals, cruises, opera, etc. This may seem an extreme stance, but the idea ...

Operation Imani – Ideas for Sustainable African Development

Between 2005 and 2007, Greg John had a life changing experience. He lived in Tanzania while working on a CIDA internship to help the impoverished African country develop its infrastructure. Coming from a cushy life in Canada, living in one of the top 10 poorest countries in the world was an eye opener for the ...

Rolling Up Sustainable Energy 2

All photos by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country  Imagine sitting on a dock on a beautiful lake with a laptop, performing your everyday job functions. You don’t ever have to worry about commuting to work and the only factor that can deter you from staying outside is the weather. This is my dream ...

Wolfe Island Sustainable Energy Haven

Photo courtesy of Julep67 / Flickr  On June 26th, 2009, 86 high capacity wind turbines began operation on Wolfe Island near Kingston, Ontario. Each turbine is capable of 2,300 kilowatts and the expected capacity is more than 593,500 megawatt-hours of clean, renewable energy each year. I first stumbled across Canada’s second largest wind farm on ...

Mountain Equipment Co-op Takes Home Gold 3

Mountain Equipment Co-op is known for its commitment to sustainability, but its new Burlington, Ontario store sets the bar high for retail store energy-efficiency. For a company that diverts 92% of its waste generated at its stores and offices by recycling, composting and donating, it’s difficult to raise the bar even higher. But MEC – ...

BIXI: Montreal’s Bicycle Sharing System 13

What do you get when you combine ‘bicycle’ with ‘taxi’? In Montreal they call it ‘BIXI’ and aside from a few technical glitches, the program has been a smashing success since it launched on May 12th, 2009. I arrived in Montreal on Wednesday after paddling for 11 days from Toronto. I spent the next 4 ...

Living Off the Grid

Image ‘Wired-II’ courtesy of Buck Lewis on Flickr  What do a solar backpack, a wind up lantern, a pedal-pump generator, and a rollable water-proof solar panel have in common? Firstly, they all provide sustainable energy “off the grid”, and secondly, they can all be purchased from a really neat website called Modern Outpost that I ...

NASCAR’s Environment 4

Photo by James Schwartz / The Urban Country – Jeff Gordon’s long-lost brother If rush-hour traffic levels are an indicator of economic prosperity, then Detroit is in very poor shape. I traveled through the Motor City on Friday at 5:30PM expecting a flood of cars leaving the city at the end of the work day ...