The Inconvenience of Saving our Planet

Tim The Tool Man Taylor's MowerNow I will be the first to admit that I’m no saint when it comes to my own environmental issues. I do own a snow blower and drive 6 KM to work; I also suffer from a bad back and like to smell nice for my clients and colleagues.

That said Schultzter’s recent post about the “Safety of Gas Engines” just killed the David Suzuki in me. The reality is that power tools don’t need to meet any government emissions test after their date of sale. Once you buy you Honda mower, you never have to take it to the dealer to get it serviced… ever. So that mower that takes 18 pulls to start, the same one you leave idling when you change the bag would certainly fail any standard California emissions test. There is a clever TV commercial that points out that a badly tuned mower pollutes more that a Montreal bridge load of idling cars. So why are you still using it? Because the alternative just isn’t convenient. The hassle of an electric mower’s cord or effort of a push mower is just too much for some compared to the impact of their 2-stroke on the city’s smog level.

But it’s not just mowers, composting has the same draw backs. I often had to stop myself short of putting half eaten broccoli in the trash until I got a kitchen composter. I very simple little bucket with a handle and a lid to prevent the rotting odours from escaping was the only thing that made the environmental act possible. Granted, I still have to argue with the Canuck Clan about who will take the full bucket out to the garden composter on a winter’s night. But it’s a such a small effort to make when you consider the benefits and savings in the spring.

Kitchen Composter From Lee Valley

Kitchen Composter From Lee Valley

Recycling is another pain in the ass that only the neurotics like Uncle Edno adhere to with passion. How many times have you chucked out that yogurt pot simply because you were eating at your desk or that your workplace has not implemented a proper recycling system yet. Do you actually recycle the toilet paper roll? Or doesn’t it end up in the bathroom waste even though you recycle the paper towel roll. And why haven’t you bought a ShamWow to replace all though paper towels? You’ve seen the commercials you know all about the cost savings and how much they outweigh that annoying jerk on the TV?

The same goes to water and Gatorade bottles. Now you know I’m talking about the President’s Choice Brita filters commercial, where you suddenly realise that you are personally responsible for thousands of plastic bottles in the local land fill, sure I know all about all the ones you recycled that eventually got turned into your new MEC fleece, but I’m talking about the ones you bought when you out and could not be bothered to bring home to your blue box.

The inconvenience of being green is probably the biggest hindrance to not blowing our blue planet up in the 50 years. What more can we do is something we constantly have to answer no matter how annoying it is to refill your water bottle before you leave or  plug in the mower every time you pull it free from the plug, take the toilet paper empty downstairs after replacing the new one and therefore announcing to all that you’ve been hiding out in the bathroom fro 20 minutes and yes you did use that much paper. Sure we might have to buy into products like the ShamWow and compact fluorescent bulbs even though we’re not quite sure that math adds up. But the real alternative of sitting through another one of Al Gore’s movies and pretending that the most boring vice president in the history of time is suddenly the coolest guy around is just too much for me, especially when I find out that he reads your Twitter posts on these 30 inch Apple cinema displays.

Al Gore 3 x 30 inch Cinema Display(Picture taken from this Time Article)

Also worth a read:
Garden tools shouldn’t pollute

Mow Down Pollution


  1. I can’t wait ’til Pointe-Claire starts handing out the big recycling bins – our little one is overflowing every week (yes, we do recycle that yogurt and apple sauce cup and toilet paper roll).

    I like that they’ve reduced garbage pickup to once a week since twice was overkill for us. And the municipal composting is a nice touch but I feel sorry for the guys that picked up a bin full of dandelions at our place this week!!!

    I get the feeling our backyard composter is more of a buffet for the local wildlife though. I don’t put the lid on in the summer because it makes it easer to dump kitchen pail. Besides, the ‘coons know how to take the cover off, the skunks dig underneath if the cover is on, and the squirrels just eat through the plastic.

  2. Is your nitrogen balance right in your composter? Normally if you put in enough brown (paper, dry leaves …), then there should not be much odour to attract the critters. I’ve been composting for over a year now, and only had diggers when we threw in an egg shell.

    I leave the cover on, as it increases the heat, and accelerates the composting process. It’s only a quarter turn anyways.

    Costco sells a barrel that looks like a bingo drum, and rolls the stuff around as needed, which makes it digger/critter proof, but also breaks the connection with the soil and reduces the number of worms and bugs that are part of the composting engine.

  3. I have always dumped the Brown coffee filters and Tetley’s tea bags into the composter, the only critters we get are terrorist squirrels stealing broccoli stems and potatoes. They also recommend dumping in small shovel’s worth of black earth to help the process, you’re supposed to get a richer grade of earth from the mix.

    We put the new black box composter over the old school compost pile so the ecosystem of worms, bugs and bacteria were already there, the lid always stays on for the heat and mediocre protection from the above terrorists .

    This was our first full year with this composter and also first time we’ve had enough compost for all the flower pots. This was a huge WIN for us.

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  5. Yes, I love to recycle. If the province we live in were more cooperative, there would be way more stuff that we can recycle. Right now, there is a limited amount that can truly get recycled here. Eventually we’ll become more educated and have a general conscience about the whole thing.

    I always love to travel to the maritime for work, but Nova Scotia always impresses the most. Go to a Mcdonalds’ and you’ll notice that they have multibins for the remnants: paper, plastic, glass, metal, compost and, the smallest one there, garbage. If we were smart, we could do the same thing and significantly reduce the amount of actual trash we throw away here.

    My wife finds me annoying when I take a broken toy apart to extract the recyclable parts. Honestly, who doesn’t love taking things apart? The big bonus, I don’t have to worry about putting it back together!

    As for composting, I currently have 2 bins. One full of ready to use soil from last years stuff, and one bin for in process stuff. There are, I feel, 2 key things to a good compost:
    1)add browns as steve_mtl pointed out;
    2) Turn it over from time to time. This gets the ‘hot middle’ moved around and gets the ‘outside cold’ back in the mix of things.

    How much do I believe in composting? Last summer I used some of my compost in my garden. We got so many vegetables, it was awesome. The best part was the surprise fruit that grew from one of the composted seeds: we grew 6 delicious melons that I wasn’t expecting in my crop and to tell you the truth, I don’t really enjoy melon but these were fan-frickin-tastic!

    Bottom line, I recycle and compost and I love it (even in the winter).