environmental citizens organization

Celebrate the International Year of the Pulse!

February 15/16

Those who follow the Standard American Diet (SAD) will get the standard American diseases and die the standard American death.

2016 has been designated as The International Year of the Pulse. Whenever I mention this fact, I get a blank look; or someone’s fingers will move to his wrist as if measuring the heartbeat. No, I smile, not that kind of pulse, rather, that broad genre of plant known as legumes that we eat as an edible seed from a pod: black beans, kidney beans, chick peas or lentils to name a few.

I was elated when I discovered that the United Nations had elevated the humble legume to food of the year, not only because the pulse is a staple of my vegan diet, but because it is one of the healthiest foods we can eat. It has twice as much protein as other whole grains and so becomes a perfect replacement for animal protein, limiting the saturated fat in our diet. Pulses/legumes are high in fibre, helping to decrease and control blood sugar levels and cholesterol. And they are high in B vitamins, as well as key minerals including magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium.

All this in the lowly bean.

But there’s more, and this fact is every bit as critical. The pulse is super-healthy for the planet. Its carbon footprint is significantly lower than that of animal protein. 1 kg of legumes = 0.5 kg in CO2 equivalent vs. 1 kg of beef which produces 9.5 kg in CO2 equivalent.

And planting pulses leaves nitrogen behind in the soil – valuable nutrients for future crops. Growing them in rotation with other crops can disrupt disease and insect infestation cycles.

Speaking personally, I intend to extend my own expiry date, but more than that, to ensure that those last years will brim with vigor and glowing health. If you feel the same, ditch the SAD diet and get on board with healthy, plant based nutrition. For some great recipes check out:

To watch an inspiring TEDX Talk and get in the know about plant based eating, visit:

Here’s to your good health!


New Year, New You, and a Healthy Environment!

10… 9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… HAPPY NEW YEAR!

With the beginning of the new year, it was time to sit down, reflect on my 2015 resolutions, and make plans for the year ahead. For the last several years, I have vowed to get healthy, read more, volunteer in my community, and learn a new language.

!! GET HEALTHY – Over the last couple of years, my family and I have done our best to eat healthy and get active. This resolution is always being adapted and will continue to top our list every year.

!! READ – In 2014, I joined a book club. I have been reading non-stop ever since.

!! VOLUNTEER – As for getting involved in the community, I joined ecoCaledon back in January 2015, combining my resolution to get involved with my passion for creating a sustainable future.

!! LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE – As for learning a new language, well, that resolution is still a work in progress.

On the heels of the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris and the bold targets and commitments set forth, I thought it was time to add a few “green” resolutions to my list. While I am already quite passionate about conservation and reducing waste, I knew that there was more I could do to reduce my carbon footprint.

Being “green” does not mean a huge investment of time or money. There are a number of low and no cost ways to make a big difference to the environment.

Here are my top five “GREEN” resolutions for 2016:

1) EAT Meatless Meals and BUY Local – Trim meat consumption by cutting out meat just one day of the week. Meat production is a major contributor to climate change and livestock production is responsible for 18% of greenhouse gases (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization).

Where our food comes from is also a factor in climate change. The average meal travels over 1,200 kms from the farm to our plate (David Suzuki Foundation). Food that is grown closer to home will have fewer emissions, and will be fresher and more nutritious.

2) “TAKE Back the Tap” and KICK the Bottled Water Habit – It takes millions of barrels of oil to produce plastic water bottles each year. Even though they are recyclable, a large percentage of plastic water bottles get tossed into the trash or end up polluting our oceans (David Suzuki Foundation).

3) PACK a “waste-less” Lunch – Packing a “waste-less” lunch is one way to make a difference for our environment. Some simple tips include: using a reusable lunch bag and water bottle; reducing waste by purchasing in bulk and then placing food items in smaller reusable containers; and, placing unwanted food scraps and peels in the green bin. This may mean bringing scraps home if there is no access to a green bin at work or at school.

4) ELIMINATE Phantom Power – Some equipment use energy even when switched off. Cut expensive waste by unplugging phone, tablet, and laptop chargers when they are not in use.

5) Get CONNECTED to Nature – Spending time outside makes us healthier and happier. As residents of the Town of Caledon, we do not have to travel far to get connected to nature, we have access to a number of beautiful trails and outdoors spaces. Get connected!

Looking forward to making 2016 the GREENEST year yet!


Energy Efficient House Building at Humberview Secondary School Reduces our Energy Footprint

Over the past year David Grant’s Grade 10 Construction Technology classes have been “Walking
the talk” by incorporating Environmentally Sustainable Energy Building into their House Model project. Students have included smart construction design with environmental technology features and landscaping/natural features to maximize the quality and energy efficiency of their house designs. They have learned how to reduce the use of energy and water in house designs while reducing the impact on the environment.

ecoCaledon (Caledon’s environmental committee) has sponsored three prizes and some small
building supplies as part of their “Walk the Talk” program.  “Walk the Talk” encourages
Caledon citizens to reduce their energy footprint.

These Humberview students have embraced the challenge by adding features such as solar
panels, overhanging roofs over windows on the south, coniferous trees on the north and
deciduous trees on the south, and water heating features such as the hose on the roof below.

house model 1 July 2015

As part of the project Humberview students designed their houses (models), developed scale
drawings and selected building materials and environmental features. The project has sparked real excitement in David Grant’s Humberview construction technology classes based on designs that can make a difference both environmentally and economically. One of the students, Alexander Farkas describes his model, “On my own model, I have included many features to keep the building sustainable. It has been designed to decrease water and electrical use and to run on its natural surroundings.” The energy systems include solar energy, a geothermal heating and cooling system and a grey water system.

Alex has tried to think about all aspects of the construction to reduce the environmental and financial cost on the house owner and ultimately reduce the energy footprint. “The solar energy system powers the electrical needs including all outlets and the water heater while the geothermal system powers the heating and cooling. The design takes advantage of natural sun by having the majority of windows face south to gain sun in the winter while an overhang reduces exposure to the sun in summer.

house model 2 July 2015

Alex utilizes a grey water system for heating and cooling floors and foundations then to use in the geothermal system and later for the toilets. Rainwater is captured from the roof and used as fresh water (with a filter system) saving transportation costs and saving an important resource!!

Humberview and ecoCaledon will be awarding three winners at Humberview’s November
Awards Ceremony. These include First Place; Alexander Farkas, Second Place; Kevin Langford
and third place Matthew Pavusa. These three students embraced the project by fully
incorporating Environmental Sustainability to reduce the energy footprint. Congratulations!!

The “Walk the Talk” program is sponsored by the Town of Caledon Green fund and delivered by
ecoCaledon volunteers. ecoCaledon is Caledon’s recognized Environmental committee that
offers a variety of programs including School programs (Waste and Water Workshops in Grade
Schools,), Paint a Picture for Water Conservation (Pan-am sports theme this year) and Rain
Barrel sales to raise funds for High School Graduation Bursaries.

For more information on the ecoCaledon programs including “Walk the Talk” check out the
ecoCaledon web site: ecoCaledon is a not for profit group that receives program funding from the Region of Peel and Town of Caledon and partners with the TRCA (Toronto Regional Conservation Authority) on the Paint a Picture for Water Conservation program.

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ecoCaledon “Walk the Talk” Inspires…..interactive workshop

Reducing your Energy Footprint Interactive Workshop at Caledon East United Church March 7th

A group of Caledon East United Church members enthusiastically participated in the “Walk the Talk” Reducing your Footprint Workshop March 7th.  Thanks to Karen Hilliard and Cathy Pley and the Caledon East United Outreach committee for hosting the workshop.

Walk the Talk is all about stepping up and doing your part to reduce the amount of energy and your impact on the environment.  Approximately 25 % of all CO₂ emissions are from households making it a big area for each of us to have a positive impact.

Kathryn MacDuffee from ecoCaledon welcomed the group with inspiring words about the environment and our future!  She also summed it up with, “Let us not be content to wait and see what happens. Give us the determination to make the right things happen.”

Other EcoCaledon members (Lou Chiappetta, Amanda Stibrany, and John MacRae) co-presented along with St. Michaels grade 11 student Hannah Rybka.  There were a variety of activities and discussions of how to make an impact on reducing your energy footprint.  Hannah Rybka shared her own experience in reducing her energy footprint demonstrating how all ages can make a difference.  Hannah and others showed how to get started on the Walk the Talk in a variety of ways to make the environment sustainable.

Together participants considered steps to reduce their energy footprint, big and small and to save money on energy use.  Some of the steps that Caledon East United Church participants identified included:

  • using a programmable thermostat
  • not pre-heating an oven
  • unplugging phantom power
  • preparing more for meals that can be reheated as leftovers the next day in the microwave
  • using a clothes line
  • plug in Power Watt Meter to see where power is being used
  • turning off computers and cable/satellite TV box
  • increasing insulation
  • use awnings and window blinds
  • unplug all appliances, TV’s, DVD/VCR’s, radio and lights
  • caulk windows and weather strip doors
  • use LED light bulbs, not compact fluorescent
  • run dishwasher when full, and at off-peak hours
  • plant shade trees and “wind-break” trees
  • composting at AbbeyField
  • open windows at night, no AC
  • better use of off-peak times for laundry
  • install solar panels
  • plastic covering of the Stained glass windows in winter
  • provide better system to recycle on all floors of house

During the workshop, participants discussed ways to reduce energy use in their homes and community to preserve the green community in Caledon and beyond.  As part of the presentation they discussed how you can take the ideas home to get your family involved.  Also, additional information on programs available to make the cost of energy reducing improvements lower were discussed.

ecoCaledon now has a “Thermal Imaging Camera” that can identify hot and cold spots in your house – areas you should consider better sealing or insulating.  Interested workshop participants can have an ecoCaledon volunteer come out to their house to use the camera.

Sharing what you do is a big part of “Walk the Talk”.  Anyone who participates is encouraged to send photos of their actions to ecoCaledon and to their community group to share what they have done to reduce their energy footprint. On our web site we have a very useful check list that you can use to take steps big and small to reduce your energy footprint.  Copies are also available at Caledon United Church and at future “Walk the Talk” workshops.

“Walk The Talk- Reducing Your Energy Footprint” is an initiative that began with the ecoCaledon members thinking about how they could individually and collectively reduce their impact on the environment.  Members each identified areas in their own homes where they could have less impact beginning small and working towards bigger actions.   “With a better understanding of where energy was being used in our homes we could choose some immediate actions which were manageable for us and our families, like turning down the thermostat and using the dryers less. And we each made plans to make larger changes over time.    We started to Walk the Talk…” noted Amanda Stibrany, one of the Walk the Talk presenters.

Now ecoCaledon is encouraging others in Caledon to be a part of “Walk the Talk”.  It has been promoted at the Bolton Farmers Market and Caledon Day to get the word out.  The Interactive presentation/workshop on “Walk the Talk” is being shared with the community through community organizations such as service clubs and churches including Caledon East United.

In the next few months “Walk the Talk” will be delivered to more community groups and service clubs including April 25th at Palgrave United Church.  The experiences of each of these community groups will be shared through ecoCaledon’s Web site and through local media.

The “Walk the Talk” program is sponsored by the Town of Caledon Green fund and delivered by ecoCaledon volunteers.  ecoCaledon is Caledon’s recognized Environmental committee that offers a variety of programs including School programs ( Waste and Water Workshops in Grade Schools ) , Paint a Picture for Water Conservation (Pan-am sports theme this year) and Rain Barrel sales to raise funds for High school graduation bursaries.

For more information on the programs check out the ecoCaledon web site: We are a not for profit group that receives program funding from the Region of Peel and Town of Caledon and partners with the TRCA ( Toronto Regional Conservation Authority) on the Paint a Picture for Water Conservation program.

If you have any questions about the program or presentation please email John MacRae at


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Young designers look at energy-saving features

ecoCaledon is excited to welcome Humberview Secondary School Shop students to the Walk the Talk project! As part of their G11 course, the students design and build a model house. This year, they are being encouraged to include energy-saving features in their designs, guided by teacher David Grant. Take a look at the first few designs from Fall of 2014 by clicking here. Another class is about to start on the project, so look out for more photos at the end of the semester.

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Green present-wrapping

Before you dash out into the fray to buy some brand new sparkly paper to wrap your presents, have a look at what you have round the home! Did you keep some of the wrapping paper from presents you received last year? For small or irregularly-shaped gifts, any creases from previous use probably won’t show. Another alternative which has caught on in my family is to circulate and recirculate a few favourite gift bags containing a present adorned, not wrapped, with a few pieces of tissue paper (which can be reused too). But the option that I prefer is to wrap gifts in the brightly-coloured comics pages of newspapers. They look really cheerful and the paper is very well suited to the job, being more flexible and stronger than traditional wrapping paper. Save money while you help the environment!