The Green Blues Show – Edition 27

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Ancient stone terraces of Battir (David Kattenburg)

The Green Blues Show

In today’s edition of the Green Blues Show: Good food makes good neighbors. Traditional agriculture is also a form of cultural and political resistance. And, digital carbon footprints – all that browsing and clicking generates Earth-warming CO2. Smart computing tips for a low carbon economy.

 

This past week, at the G-7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec, the government of Canada put forward a Zero Plastic Waste Charter. Behind heavily guarded lines of plexiglass-shielded riot police, armed with hard plastic truncheons, Canada one-upped the European Union’s pledge to recycle at least half of its plastic waste by 2030.

Canada should take the lead. According to Greenpeace, it generates three million tonnes of plastic waste per year, contributing to a global plastic pollution crisis that’s reached mind-boggling proportions.

An estimated trillion plastic bags and a half-trillion plastic water bottles are sold around the world each year. Some eight million metric tonnes of plastic waste end up in the oceans – a figure projected to double by 2025. All around the planet, beaches are littered with countless plastic straws and stir sticks that were used for a matter of seconds before being trashed.

By 2050, some estimate there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish – floating in vast gyres on the ocean surface; suspended in the water column, to be devoured by hapless marine life; on the bottom of the Mariana Trench in drinking water and food; drifting down from the atmosphere; buried in Antarctic snow and ice.

It’s a crisis, and crisis should spell action. The British government has just announced that plastic straws will soon be banned. Fast food giant A&W Canada pledges to switch its plastic straws for fully compostable paper ones by 2019. Meanwhile, the Canadian Plastic Industries Association and Chemistry Industry Association of Canada have announced plans to reuse, recycle or recapture 100% of plastic waste by 2040.

Justin Trudeau’s Zero Plastic Waste Charter seems to suggest the Canadian government is prepared to follow industry’s lead. What to make of its announcement, earlier this year, that it’ll be forking over $35 million to a Canadian plastics giant to expand its production of polyethylene? Will polyethylene products, and plastic bags, food wrap and single-use plastic bottles of the future be biodegradable? We can only hope.

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John K. Sampson’s poignant song “I Hate Winnipeg” captures the cold anonymity of Prairie Canada’s capital on a grey dismal day. But there are plenty of reasons to love Winnipeg.

West Broadway, Winnipeg (David Kattenburg)

Like many older cities, Winnipeg is a study in contrasts. Consider West Broadway, a traffic-choked strip between Portage Avenue and the Golden Boy-crowned legislature: On its southwestern edge, along tree-lined Wolseley Avenue, cyclists and joggers rule. Street signs remind them that motorists have rights too. To the south, heritage apartment blocks and private homes with manicured gardens sit side by side with bed bug-infested rooming houses. Near Wolseley and Sherbrook, where trendy cafes, sushi dens and a vegan burger joint bustle with professionals, in the heat of a summer’s night, a drug deal may go sideways, or a knife-wielding addict could get gunned down by cops.

West Broadway’s social conscience is centered around Langside and Young. Here, the West Broadway Community Organization has established a vibrant center, a football pitch, a hockey rink, a wading pool, community gardens and composting boxes. Another one of their going concerns: The Good Food Club.

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Think of the biggest energy guzzling, greenhouse gas spewing countries in the world. China, the US, Japan, India and Russia top the list. Number six isn’t a country at all – it’s the Internet! The billions upon billions of personal computers and hand-held digital devices – and the mega data hubs linking them — consume vast quantities of electricity and material and generate oceans of waste, much of it toxic.

Tim Frick, the CEO of a Chicago-based certified B Corporation called Mightybytes, is helping to pioneer a greener, more energy conscious approach to our digital existence. Listen to our conversation about his new book, Designing for Sustainability: A Guide to Building Greener Digital Services and Products.

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In the first half of today’s show we heard how community food production builds community health. Food also binds people to their land. Nowhere is this more evident than in a tiny Palestinian village called Battir, squeezed into a valley between Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

Battir (David Kattenburg)

Beneath Battir, a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, herbs and trees — including olive trees said be over a thousand years old — festoon an amphitheater of ancient stone terraces. The engine of all this biodiversity? A very special microclimate, for sure. Also, pure spring water that Battir’s eight extended families have been cooperatively managing for generations.

Battir’s diverse, cooperatively managed gardens earned it World Heritage status from UNESCO back in 2014. For years, Israel has been wanting to run its Separation Wall right across the valley, a move that would destroy it. Battir’s UNESCO status has put Israel’s plans on hold — for the time being.

In today’s edition of the Green Blues Show, songs by Dan Weisenberger, John Renbourn and Lonnie Johnson.

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