Friday, September 16, 2011


Ashlea Moor, Miss Earth CANADA 2011 in her first volunteer work ''Project Paintbrush''!
Project Paintbrush was created to assist Lethbridge seniors and special needs residents who are financially and physically unable to maintain their fences or the exterior of their homes. Each summer, individuals, community groups, and corporate employees volunteer their time to paint homes and fences in the community

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sunday, September 04, 2011

MEC11 Ashlea Moor and Beauty for A Cause Finalist: her presentation.

Beauty For a Cause Presentation: “Go Green! Education is the Solution to Pollution”

Good Afternoon ladies and gentlemen, distinguished guests and honourable judges.

My name is Ashlea Moor, and I am honoured to be here and share with you all a deep rooted passion of mine, and speak with you today about environmental awareness education. This is a topic I have previously been privileged to speak on both formally and informally, and I have tailored my presentation specific to the audience I have before me today. The premise of my presentation today is the following chain effect:

Personalization = Education = Empowerment = Positive Environmental Change

I highly suspect that this is a very educated audience. Many of you are environmental leaders in your communities. I could venture and guess that a number of you recycle- And not just bottles, your cardboard, paper, tin and plastic products. I strongly believe that many of you buy local products as often as is possible, that you support “green” projects that lead to sustainable growth and development.

And if I am correct in one or several of these instances, then I am incredibly fortunate and I’ll explain why- when I speak of the importance of environmental awareness I have a key objective in mind, and that is positive environmental change. When I have the honour of presenting to a group that is acutely aware of a need for change, and is actively engaging in positive change then the first part of the communication battle is accomplished. The topic interests you, and is important to you, and therefore my message has personal value to each of you. So at this point I question you all as to what is the MOST important problem facing our environment today?

Is it ozone depletion? Air pollution? Forest destruction? Flooding? Oil spills? CO2 Emissions? Climate change? Overconsumption of our resources? Our overall carbon footprint?

Now if you are anything like me, one or several, if not all of those issues mean something to you. And likely, as a group of free-thinking individuals, the ranking of importance of each of these topics will vary quite a lot. I believe this is an incredibly complex question, and that complex questions require complex answers.

I believe that no single issue is greater or more important than the last- they are all equally important. But what is of utmost importance is that action is taken to address these concerns. This is why I choose what I believe is a holistic approach to solving our environmental crisis. And that to me is Education.

I am a firm believer that when we know better, we do better. As a global population we have no doubted made some mistakes when it comes to caring for our planet. However, as we become more aware of our impact I believe our impact changes for the better.

Education enables us to utilize our energy appropriately. Allow me to demonstrate:

**Have audience stand and participate, demonstrate squat with feet together/one leg raised- take note of the amount of energy required to do the task. Then do the same squat with feet shoulder width apart. Take note of how energy was used more effectively- we can complete the same task more efficiently and more often with the same amount of energy by altering one small thing. Without someone teaching you how to be more efficient, how will you ever have a positive change?**

Having had a lot of opportunity to be fully immersed in the issues we face I felt a deep desire to contribute to positive change. So whether I was participating in a community clean up, car pooling, composting in my backyard, or buying local, I began to feel empowered. I began to believe that my impact was important and significant. And it was an incredible feeling that I wanted to share with others. I wanted them to feel that same empowerment.

So I took an initial step of creating a recycling program at work. And at this point I began to get a lot of interest from co-workers, friends, family and neighbours about “why” I was so passionate about the environment and what I was doing. On a personal level, as a registered nurse I recognize the strong connection between our environment and our health. This connection plays a pivotal role in my passion of advocating our environmental issues. I believe that personalizing the environmental-health connection is crucial to initializing sustainable change on an individual, societal, and even global scale.

But everyone is different. Our unique life experiences lead us to have varying opinions. I learned that some people are driven by other means. They want their kids to grow up with the same untarnished outdoor playground that they did. They want to save money by utilizing resources properly. They want to support their community by buying local.

So the key to education is personalization, because this leads to empowerment, and empowerment is what leads to positive change. This is what led me to creating my own program, the “Go Green” initiative. I hope many of you have had the chance to visit my website which displays dozens of commitments of individuals from my workplace, my community, and my province.

As my program began taking off, I found that I rarely travel anywhere without my “Go Green” whiteboard in hand because I can see the positive changes happening wherever it goes. It is personalized- everyone chooses a goal relevant to them, they then make a public commitment towards a positive change. Now, as a nurse, coach and wellness educator I understand that a public declaration in writing is about 80% more likely to be fulfilled than a mere affirmation. As such, with my program, when someone makes a commitment, they write in their own words, and stand beside their declaration accountable for their commitment.

With consent the picture is shared on-line so it is publically available and visible. This often leads to a domino effect. When you make a change and people notice, as curious human beings a dialogue begins…

For example: Dialogue between a mother and her young daughter:

(**Brief video display on power-point with the following dialogue**)

Mother unpacks reusable grocery bags from her cart and begins loading them with groceries.

Daughter: “Mommy, do we use these bags to save money?”

Mother: “Well honey, its true that we do save some change by using these bags, but more importantly we are doing our part to keep the earth clean. Using these bags helps keep the plastic ones out of our landfills”

Daughter: “So that means the earth will be nice when I grow up and become a mommy too someday?”

Mother: “That’s exactly right honey”.

Personalization =Education = Empowerment = Positive Environmental Change

In conclusion, I would like to thank you all for being such a wonderful audience today. Thank you to the judges, and the Miss Earth Canada Organization for honouring me with the privilege of speaking with you today about a passion of mine.

Welcoming feedback from Audience/Call to Action:

I welcome any feedback as an opportunity to grow and shape my message so that I may better inform others. My contact information is listed, as well as my website. If the Go Green program is something that has managed to strike a chord in you personally then I encourage you to commit to an act of green today or come talk to me later about starting your own Go Green program in your community. I also have my “Go Green” board with me, so I welcome each and every one of you to make a commitment today. I will post the commitments on my website so that others can view your declaration and find encouragement to make a change in their own lives.

I would like to leave you with one last thought:

Our environment, the world in which we live and work, is a mirror of our actions and behaviours. When we act to better our environment, we better the world in which we live and work.

Thank you again

MEC11 Beauty for A Cause Finalist Jaclyn Miles and her presentation.

Greetings honourable judges! Thank you for taking the time to review my presentation. I have worked very hard to make it unique yet informative and compelling. I hope that you enjoy it. See you in Montreal! MERCI!
Jaclyn Miles

Forest destruction, ozone depletion, wildlife extinction, pollution... These are just a few examples of the many environmental issues we face today. These issues are so big that they affect one another and make the damage we’ve done to this earth seem impossible to reverse. The environmental challenges that we face today are numerous and impact the whole world which can leave us feeling like not one person could make a difference. So what can one person do about the increase of smog in our cities or the forest fires in British Columbia? A LOT!

The environmental issues that we face today are a product of human activity. We are polluting the air with CO2 emissions which can be produced by natural gas emissions (such as driving a motor vehicle or emissions from factories). This and other emissions that pollute the air destroy the ozone layer, which heats the earth’s temperature and contributes to forest fires, wildlife extinction and resource depletion. One environmental problem is related to the next in so many different ways, but it can all be stopped and possibly even reversed if we look at our own actions. These problems started because of US and WE must take on the responsibility to correct them! (At this point I will be speaking about the model I have created to illustrate this point which is presented in the video).

What we have to realize is that we don’t have to focus on just one environmental issue. We can choose to work on them all! You don’t have to work for Greenpeace or be a scientist to make a difference! All you have to do is take a look at your personal impact on the environment or what we call your “ecological footprint”. By recognising the impact one person has on the planet we can be guided to make small steps to correct the problems. For example, if each person lessened their shower time by 2 minutes, they would save a total of 10 gallons of water! Imagine how much water would be saved if every person in the world did this!

It’s easy to say that the solution to solving all of these environmental problems would be for each person to make small steps to lessen their ecological footprints. But how would we actually get people to understand how important it is to make a change? I feel that the best solution to this problem is education!

As an educator, I see the impact that education has on children every day. The planet, its resources and creatures are so precious to children and we must take to opportunity to educate them about what they can do in their everyday lives to save the planet! I feel that it would be essential for grade schools across Canada to develop environmental clubs such as the one a co-worker and I have developed at Ecole St Jean Baptiste in Amherstburg. During recess, the children discuss ways they can help with environmental problems by learning about their ecological footprint and how they can take action to stop harmful behaviours. In turn, parents and other siblings learn the importance of making the earth a greener place! Overall, my goal as Miss Earth Canada would be to visit grade schools across Canada and encourage them to take this initiative. Prevention is the key to saving the environment!

For now, I can provide each and every one of you with the tools on how to start lessening your ecological footprint today! On the back of your complimentary eco-friendly gift, is a list of things you can do to save the planet, one person at a time!

Lessen Your Ecological Footprint. Save The Earth One Person At a Time.

(Will be on the back of the gift)

- Take a close look at your beauty products. They are often full of chemicals that are harmful to you

- and the planet.

- Buy recyclable, biodegradable clothing (Made from cotton, bamboo, hemp...).

- Household products/cleaners can be full of toxins. Use an environmentally friendly solution for

- dishwashing, laundry, and other household products.

- Recycle!

- Reuse items before throwing them in the garbage or recycle.

- Buy biodegradable products.

- Buy local! Save resources and lessen carbon emissions by buying locally grown food.

- Plant a tree! ONE tree can offset 2.5 billion tons of carbon monoxide in its lifetime!

- Use alternate modes of transportation (public transit, bicycle, walk).

- Support local businesses!

- Avoid plastic bottles.

- Eat organic. It will be healthier for you and the environment!

- Eat less meat in your diet! It takes a lot of water, energy and fossil fuels to make the meat healthy

- to eat!

- Stop doing your dishes by hand. Doing a sink full of dirty dishes uses 25 gallons of water! Buy an

- energy efficient dish washer which uses 5x less water.

- Shorten your shower time and lessen the temperature. You use 3 gallons (or more) of water per

- minute in the shower.

- Keep devices unplugged! 75% of the power consumption of these types of electrical appliances is

- when the device is turned off, but still plugged in.

- Replace all the bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent bulbs. If we all did this we could

- prevent the emission of greenhouse gases equivalent to that of 800,000 cars.

- Avoid Styrofoam! It takes practically forever to biodegrade.

- If every person in Canada used 100% recycled paper towels, 1.4 billion trees could be saved.

These and more tips can be found on my webpage:

MEC11 Beauty for A Cause Finalist Courtnee Anderson and her presentation.

Horse Slaughtering in Canada: What is it and what can we do about it.

Horse slaughtering is a practice in which horses are taken to slaughterhouses and kept in feed lots before they are killed and the meat is then sold to people for consumption. The meat travels mostly to Europe and Asia. The description sends shivers up my spine, as both a horse lover and human being. In Canada horse slaughtering has become a growing industry. In the past five years with as many as 100, 000 horses being slaughtered per year (Humane Society International/Canada, 2010). Since the USA banned horse slaughtering for human consumption, Canada’s industry has increased drastically with the number of horses slaughtered in Canada increasing by 75% (CBC News, 2008). Canada’s industry will continue to grow until something is done to stop it. The USA is using Canada as a means to still carry out this inhumane practice and it will continue to happen until we act upon it.

There are numerous ethical issues surrounding the issue of horse slaughtering. Horses end up at auction houses because their owners often can no longer afford them, can no longer provide adequate care for them, or they are a retired race horse or show horse that is no longer performing well. Wild horses are also captured by slaughterhouses as they don\t have to pay any money for a horse they catch. Horses are bought at auctions by slaughterhouses for very cheap and then transported in trailers to the slaughterhouse. The trailers are designed for smaller farm animals and the horses become very crammed, many are injured during the trip and some even die. Horses are often not given enough food or water for the trip either and are emaciated upon arrival. It is blatant animal cruelty. When horses are transported to Canada from the US the same thing occurs and the horses often suffer in hot temperatures on the drive and many die from heat exhaustion. At the moment, horses can be transported without food of water for 36 hours according to guidelines (Humane Society International/Canada, 2010). At the feed lots the horses are put in pens and are crammed together, this is to prevent them from getting exercise so that they have more meat on them. When it comes time for the horses to be killed, they suffer even more. Horses are a head shy animal and when they are hit with the stun gun they often have to be hit multiple times because they throw their heads up constantly (Humane Society International/Canada, 2010). Some slaughterhouses even use a gun to shoot the horse which was shown in video obtained by CBC News, a horse had to be shot three times before it had passed away. The same video also showed that horses may not have been dead when they were cut open at the slaughterhouse (CBC News, 2010). There really is no humane way to kill a horse given their kind nature and personality.

Horse slaughtering can affect everyone and the environment. Horses are given numerous vaccines when they are younger all the way into their adulthood. The slaughterhouses have been known to dump horse blood into fields which in turns makes its way into our rivers and streams which is dangerous not only to the animals that live in the water but also because water is a non-renewable source and that could be our drinking water at some point! A video can be viewed at this link Humans would then be exposed to the chemicals in the vaccines. The same happens to those consuming the horse meat. Horses are not bred for human consumption and as a result people consuming horse meat are consuming the chemicals that have been injected into the horses to fight or strangles or an infection. The horse remains are put into a field almost like compost but it has been found that slaughterhouses do not follow regulations when disposing of the remains (CBC News, 2008). Animals are part of our environment and they should be shown respect and treated humanely.

I chose to present this issue because I am an avid horse girl who has a passion for riding and a love for horses. I have been riding horses since I was about 5 years old and I don’t think I will ever stop. I consider horses to be friends, not food! I hope to one day open my own rescue center to take in injured, abandoned, and unwanted horses. The relationship between a human and a horse is a very special bond that is like no other. Horses are more than a pet, almost like a friend in a way. I have a great amount of respect for these creatures and they should be treated humanely and not treated like dirt. Many people do not know about this occurring in Canada which makes the problem even more serious. Educating the public about the issue is key so that letters can be written to local MP’s requesting action be taken immediately to stop the practice.

This issue is so important because there are ethical issues at hand which are listed and described above. It is both a humane and environmental issue. This disgraceful practice takes place in our own back yard and we need to do something now to stop it. We as Canadians protect other animals from harm so what is stopping us from rescuing the horses. Defenceless horses are being sold and our wild herds are disappearing. If the USA can ban the practice, so can Canada. There is hardly a market for horse meat in Canada, those living in Europe and Asia pay top dollar for the meat so it is making a lot of money for those in the industry in Canada. Money should not be a reason to continue this unethical practice.

How people can you help? Spread the word! Educate everyone, the more that know about the unethical treatment the better. Contact your local horse shelter to volunteer, host a fundraiser in support of a rescue shelter for horses, contact your local MP, and write a letter to the Prime Minister as well as the Canada Food Inspection Agency. You can also start a petition and gather signatures and then send the petition to the federal government urging them to do something about horse slaughtering. Please see the sites listed below for more information on horse slaughtering and protecting the Canada and the USA’s horses.

More resources for consideration:

Reference List (Bibliography)

CBC News. (2008, June 11). CBC probe raises questions about horse slaughtering. Retrieved August 1, 2011, from CBC News:

CBC News. (2010, May 17). Horse slaughter rules violated, video shows. Retrieved August 2, 2011, from CBC News:

Humane Society International/Canada. (2010). Horse Slaughter. Retrieved August 1, 2011, from Humane Society International/Canada:

MEC11 Beauty for A Cause Finalist Megan Franklin and her presentation.

"Let every individual and institution now think and act as a responsible trustee of Earth, seeking choices in ecology, economics and ethics that will provide a sustainable future, eliminate pollution, poverty and violence, awaken the wonder of life and foster peaceful progress in the human adventure."

John McConnell, founder of International Earth Day

My beauty for a cause presentation relates to the how the environment affects every aspect of our daily lives. It is imperative that we curb our detrimental environmental behaviours in order to reverse the effects pollution is having on the planet. We need to save the planet for future generations so that they are able to live free of the harmful side effects pollution and carbon emissions created by previous generations have caused. When presenting information I like to take an interactive approach and therefore this is simply an outline of ideas that I would like to discuss during my presentation with the contestants, judges and guests during the Miss Earth Canada competition.

I believe that we need to be the change we wish to see in the world. If I were chosen as Miss Earth Canada I would try my very best to lead by example. I try to be as environmentally conscious as possible and feel that I am an excellent green ambassador for the community. Every time we perform an action that harms the environment there is a ripple effect that creates far more problems to our health, the economy and the world around us.

The earth does not belong to us. It was simply kind enough to allow us to live out our days as guests on this fine planet. As guests it is our duty to leave this planet in a better state than it was when we arrived so that future generations may continue to grow and prosper.

We can all do our part to help improve the conditions of our environment. That doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to make any major changes but rather small adjustments to our daily routine that will have a profound and lasting impact on the overall condition of the environment.

As I sat thinking about what topic to do my beauties for a cause presentation on, I immediately thought climate change. I have been fortunate enough to study under Dr. Fennell at Brock University and Lee Norton from the climate change project who was personally trained by Mr. Al Gore. While this is a cause dear to my heart as I began writing I couldn’t help but think that the presentation seemed a little bit impersonal. A lot of facts and figures that while interesting and informative didn’t seem to have the emotional impact I was looking for in this presentation. So I went back to the drawing board and decided to take a more personal approach.

As many people in pageants are probably aware the number one question people will ask you is “why did you decide to enter the Miss Earth Canada pageant?” This question came up several times in my search for sponsors. Pageants have a certain stigma attached to them and therefore getting sponsorships can be difficult but once I explained why I was running people quickly changed their minds and were eager and enthusiastic to join me on my journey. I have always been passionate about the environment. I grew up in Canada’s fruitbelt, the agricultural area of Niagara and so environmental changes are often more apparent than they would be to people living in large cities. For people who depend on the environment to earn a living the delicate balance of our ecosystem is always on the radar.

Growing up we always rode our bikes down the street to Nokara farms where we would pick up whatever fresh fruit and vegetables were in season at the time. As a child we didn’t think much of it other than that was how we got our food. We didn’t eat the same foods year round because you simply weren’t able to get them. When our parents would buy fruits and veggies at the grocery store in the winter we always commented that they weren’t as good as the ones we picked up in the summertime. As a child we didn’t know that eating local foods was better for our environment and economy, we just knew they tasted better and so we would always look forward to when our favourites would be in season.

There are definitely some obvious reasons why eating locally is beneficial to both the environment and economy. Some of the economic benefits are that more of your money is staying in your community. When you purchase food from a major grocery store you are not only paying for your produce but also paying fees to many corporations that food has passed through on its way to your shopping cart. Even those foods labelled organic are often shipped in from various parts of the world collecting higher food miles and contributing to a far greater carbon footprint. Food from your local farmer can be easily picked up from farmers markets even if you live in a large city. This food is fresher because it travels a much shorter distance and also has a longer shelf life since it is handled far less along the way. As we all know organic produce is often far more expensive than ordinary produce and therefore may not be a realistic choice for all families. Foodland Ontario however has very strict guidelines as to which pesticides may be used and what quantities. In fact allowable levels are so low that it rivals the organic quotas used in many other countries. It may be a bit misleading but organic doesn’t necessarily mean pesticide free. At the moment Canada is one of the few countries to have governing bodies overseeing who uses the terms organic and biodynamic and certifies that the information is accurate.

We are all in this together sharing one world for one brief moment in time. Make green choices so that you are doing your part to contribute to a greater life for all of us.

Decreased air quality due to carbon emissions is directly linked to a wide variety of health problems such as respiratory and heart conditions.

Chemicals used in processed foods and pesticides have also been linked to the increase in cases of Alzheimer’s and autism we see today.

Increased globalization has also caused issues surrounding the environment. Our wanderlust causes a sense of urgency to see the world however air travel is a major contributor to carbon in the atmosphere. Carbon emissions from aircraft not only have less distance to travel before reaching the stratosphere and troposphere but also cause a higher level of emissions than automobiles.

Resources are not, they become (John Stuart Muir). Meaning resources are only valuable once we turn them into something beneficial to mankind at which point they often deplete at an alarming rate.

There is a difference between conservation and preservation. Conservation is saving for use while preservation is saving from use. We need to focus more on preservation to maintain our delicate ecosystem.

Silent Spring is a fabulous book written in the early 50’s outlining the potential dangers facing our environment.

Sudbury and Ohio valley super stacks were monumental environmental disasters. At the time it seemed as though building higher smokestacks would save the air for the people in the surrounding community. The smoke did not dissipate however and simply polluted the neighbouring country. The emissions of both stacks cross through the Niagara escarpment UN world biosphere reserve which shields the fruit belt from harsh conditions. If actions aren’t taken to repair the damage we could face crop shortages and decreased quality of produce.

MEC11 Beauty for A Cause Finalist Luana Buratynski and her presentation.

Cause: Sustainable Architecture / Green Buildings

Sustainable architecture is a general term that describes environmentally conscious design techniques in the field of architecture. Sustainable architecture is framed by the larger discussion of sustainability and the pressing economic and political issues of our world. In the broad context, sustainable architecture seeks to minimize the negative environmental impact of buildings by enhancing efficiency and moderation in the use of materials, energy, and development space. Most simply, the idea of sustainability, or ecological design, is to ensure that our actions and decisions today do not inhibit the opportunities of future generations. This term can be used to describe an energy and ecologically conscious approach to the design of the built environment.

The green building movement strives to create a permanent shift in prevailing design, planning, construction and operational practices toward lower-impact, more sustainable, and ultimately regenerative built environments. This transformation will never be complete, since green building is fundamentally a process of continual improvement. In this process, today’s “best practices” become tomorrow’s standard practices and the foundation for ever higher levels of performance.

Why is green building necessary?

The answer is rooted in the effects of conventional buildings and land use on people, the environment, and our shared natural resources. The cumulative impact of the design, construction, and operation of built environments has profound implications for human health, the environment and the economy. For example, with conventional development practices,

· Clearing of land for development often destroys wildlife habitat

· Extracting, manufacturing, and transporting materials contribute to the pollution of water and air, the release of toxic chemicals, and the emission of green house gasses.

· Building operations require large inputs of energy and water and generate sustainable waste streams; and

· Building-related transportation, such as commuting and services, contributes to a wide range of impacts associated with vehicle use, energy consumption, and harmful environmental effects.

North American Standards and Best Practices

The Canadian Green Building Council (CaGBC) in association with the U.S Green Building Council (USGBC) is the nation’s foremost coalition of leaders for every sector of the building industry working to promote buildings that are environmentally responsible, profitable, and healthful places to live and work. CaGBC / USGBC is a nonprofit organization whose members represent more than 15,000 organizations across the industry and include building owners and end users, real estate developers, facility managers, architects, designers, engineers, general contractors, subcontractors, product and building system manufacturers, government agencies, and non profits. Green building professionals can join one of more than 78 regional chapters across North America that can provide green building resources, education, and networking opportunities.

CaGBC mission is to Lead and accelerate the transformation to high-performing, healthy green buildings, homes and communities throughout Canada.

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating systems was created by USGBC to provide a framework for meeting sustainability goals and assessing building performance. Voluntary and consensus-based, LEED addresses all building types.

LEED is a third-party green building certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of high-performance green building and neighborhoods. LEED gives building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance. LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in location and planning, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection, indoor environmental quality, innovative strategies, and attention to priority regional issues.


Modifying the conventional way in which homes, schools, offices, shopping centers, hospitals and cities are designed can have a beneficial effect on the environment. Green building practices can minimize human use of natural resources while generating economic benefits that include lower operational costs and higher human productivity. Green buildings are efficient and comfortable and they contain amenities needed for a better quality of life, including improved health.

MEC11 Beauty for A Cause Finalist Lacey Budge and her presentation.

“Sustainable Agriculture: a positive step toward the betterment of the planet”

It was Robert. F. Kennedy Jr. who said: “If we want to provide our children with the same opportunities for dignity and enrichment as those our parents gave us, we’ve got to start by protecting the air, water, wildlife and landscapes that connects us to our national values and character. It’s that simple.”

This statement is very true; however, this is becoming more and more difficult as we are often presented with food that is not in its wholesome, natural, local or nutritious state. Consequently, these types of foods are affecting our health and our planet. Our bodies are our vehicles through life and we need to fuel them properly and efficiently. The well being of humans and of the planet is aligned, so if the Earth is sick, we cannot be entirely healthy.

It is time for a long-term solution! Today, I am here to inform you about the importance of sustainable agriculture and how we can make choices in order to preserve the overall health of our beautiful Mother Earth.

We often hear the word sustainability, but what does it really mean?

When referring to sustainable agriculture, this “involves food production methods that are healthy, do not harm the environment, respect workers, are humane to animals, provide fair wages to farmers, and support farming communities.”[1]

For the most part, sustainable agriculture is usually related to local food, which is another step toward the betterment of the planet.

This all sounds so positive, so let’s take a closer look at the benefits of buying local and supporting sustainable methods?

Firstly, sustainable agriculture aims to put back into the environment what has been removed. Therefore, water, soil and air can be replenished and available for our future generations [2] and natural habitats can be preserved. This is fantastic because Mother Nature only gives back to us what we put into her, so it is important to give her the respect and appreciation she deserves.

Secondly, local farmers promote biodiversity by growing a variety of plants. In fact, “in 1866, 1,186 varieties of fruits and vegetables were produced in California. Today, California’s farms produce only 350 commercial crops.” It is important to maintain all varieties, not only those with a long shelf life!!!

Lastly, local farmers put less stress on the environment when it comes to production, transportation, processing and packaging. Did you know that, according to Get Local BC: The average North American meal travels 2,400 km to get from field to plate and contains ingredients from 5 countries in addition to our own – that’s a lot of “food miles.”[3] Unfortunately, industrial food production is entirely dependent on fossil fuels and when refined and burned, this creates greenhouse gases and contributes to climate change.

Furthermore, when it comes to packaging, large amounts of non-recyclable paper and plastic are used to keep food fresh and in tact during transportation and storage. When we buy local, we create less waste and a smaller carbon footprint, as food is grown closer to home.

It may seem as though all I am saying is “grow your own carrots instead of driving to the grocery store to buy some”, but it is more that. I am talking about a global solution; a multifaceted, innovative and long-term approach to health, environmental and even hunger issues, which would benefit from the use of sustainable methods.

So, what can you do today?

A great start is to reorient ourselves with the natural diet of our ancestors and eat more wholesome and even organic foods. We can do this by supporting local farmers who use sustainable methods, by eating seasonally oreven growing our own food – even if it means on a balcony!

Moreover, Canada let’s trim our waste (waist)! Ok, yes, the benefits of eating local wholesome food will offer great health benefits, which would lead to weight loss, but today I am talking about packaging and processing waste. Lets make a conscious effort to buy less packaged foods.

When we consume food that we know is good for our body and our planet, we feel better about our choices. Trust me- it’s a great way to make a difference, all while feeling grounded with Mother Nature.

Sustainable agriculture is not the need for a law or regulation; it is a choice, a way of life. Each step you take benefits both you and your family, and helps preserve and protect the planet for future generations.

I can still remember as a child, sitting in my garden, barefoot and full of dirt…mom and dad thought my sister and I were out picking snow peas for dinner…but our little secret…we were eating them all.

MEC11 Beauty for A Cause Finalist Katherine Highgate and her presentation.

It’s hot, it’s humid, and Canadians are about to get a few degrees warmer yet this summer. With temperatures rising, I can bet that many of us will refresh ourselves with a little h20, but as you’re reaching into the cooler at your local grocery store, think about this, is bottled water really better than what’s coming out of the tap, and more importantly, what is this industry doing to our environment?

The bottled water industry may mean big business in Canada, but in terms of sustainability, bottled water is sucking us dry. Depending on where you live in Canada, bottled water is anywhere from two hundred and forty to ten thousand times more expensive than tap water, and what most people don’t know is this; bottled water is no better than what’s coming out of the tap. In fact, the bottled water industry is even less regulated than our public water infrastructure, meaning that while commercials try to convince us that bottled water is a premium product, it’s no healthier and certainly not safer than what we have access to for free! Something that we have already paid for through municipal taxes and that has been hardwired into our homes is now being treated as a commodity and is being bought and sold. Aside from hurting our wallets, the privatization of bottled water may mean that some people around the globe could eventually be denied access to clean, safe drinking water, which in my opinion, is a basic human right. And aside from all that, it’s actually damaging our ecosystems.

Bottled water is the single largest area among all soft drinks and beverages, and lately, has been seen as more of a luxury item than a necessity. While you might not think that the packaged bottle of water you had with lunch could be that detrimental to the environment, approximately forty million bottles a day are ending up in the trash, and the amount of waste that is being produced is enough to make an impact not only in Canada, but globally.

Every day, companies like Nestle and Coca-cola pump millions of gallons of water from the earth, bottle it, ship it and sell it back to Canadians for nearly ten thousand times the cost of tap water. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t agree with paying ten thousand times the price of something that is hardwired into our homes, but that’s what the makers of bottled water are doing. Most simply put, it’s bad for public water systems, it’s bad for taxpayers, and most importantly, it’s bad for the environment.

Consider this; the amount of oil that is used to make plastic water bottles each year is enough to fuel approximately one million bottles, and it takes even more energy to ship that packaged product around the planet. Eighty percent of the bottles end up in landfills where they will sit for thousands of years, or they end up in incinerators, releasing toxic chemicals and pollutants into the environment.

As a whole, Canadians are consuming way too much plastic, and even though some of us try to recycle those plastic bottles, there is a chance that it won’t get recycled anyway because we’re making so much of it that recycling plants can’t keep up with us. The few bottles that you might consume a day don’t seem to make an impact, but think about how much extra plastic is wasted each year as a result of packaged bottles of water. It’s nearly seven billion pounds! The plastic water bottle is something that Canadians have begun to take for granted, and often disregard as a threat to our environment. The production of plastic water bottles has released toxins into the environment, contributing to global warming.

Additionaly, the plastic that is used to produce the millions of litres of bottled water that Canadians drink each year is now at such a volume that it cannot be contained strictly in landfills, and much of this waste ends up in the world’s major oceans, presenting a big risk to marine life. The amount of plastic drinking water bottles that has accumulated in our major bodies of water has increased significantly over the last several years, and by producing such an excess of plastic, we’ve managed to quickly poison the oceans that feed us and sustain us. Many birds and fish mistake this garbage as food, putting these species in danger.

One hundred million marine mammals are killed every year by plastic in the ocean, and if that doesn’t scare you, think about the fact that oceans drive our climate and weather. Plastic is killing the ocean, and is poisoning the fish that we eat. Thanks to the excess of plastic bottles being tossed every day, fish that we eat have likely ingested contaminated plastic, which means that we are indirectly injesting plastic. So when you toss that plastic water bottle, it doesn’t just end there, the consequences are so far reaching that they don’t just affect the environment, they affect our health.

Most of the oxygen in our atmosphere is actually generated by the sea, and by poisoning our water sources with so much waste, we’re actually polluting the air that we breathe, and poisoning ourselves. So while we don’t think twice about downing a bottle of dasani, the effects of millions of us doing this are so far reaching that perhaps we should consider using the tap. Why waste plastic on something that already comes out of our faucets for free.

But if you don’t believe me about the impact that bottled water has on our environment, just consider how it ended up at the store in the first place. First of all, there is a giant pollutant factory that converts oil into plastic pellets, and then you take those plastic pellets and ship them off to another big smoky factory which makes pellets into plastic, and then you take the plastic and put it on a truck to ship it to another factory where they fill it with water. Then you take those plastic bottles, put caps on them and cover them with more plastic, which isn’t even recyclable. To top it all of, it’s sitting on a bunch of cardboard that came from a different factory all together.

What does all this boil down to? Wasted plastic, fuel and resources that could all be avoided by foregoing the tap and picking up a reusable plastic bottle. If every Canadian replaced their disposable water bottle with a reusable contained filled with tap water, we could all do something beautiful for the earth, and keep billions of plastic water bottled out of the ocean. So the next time you’re tempted to grab a dasani or aquafina, I challenge you to think of the environment as well as your wallet, and take back the tap!

Friday, September 02, 2011

MEC11 Beauty for A Cause Winner: Maria Al- Masani

My speech – future of a blue green Canada

I am not going to advocate that green house gases contribute to global so people should stop driving cars worldwide, as I cannot even convince my own mother to stop using her car or to rely on fossil fuel powered electricity to heat our home! Believe me, I’ve tried! [ooops.... I hope she is not in the room] I can only advocate for my country, Canada, where must create a reliable alternative to fossil fuels that enough people like my mother can comfortably use and also tax incentives to ensure that they switch. Yes, her bathroom is now green certified due the Ontario tax incentives.

Why change Canada? Its not just because I want my wonderful home to be lovelier, but there is a real problem here because Canada have one of the highest productions of fossil fuels per-capita in the world. Here is my plan to change this:

If I am Miss Earth Canada, I will use my reign to leave a legacy behind, that I contributed to reducing pollution and creating a healthier environment by lobbying parliament and corporations to create more investment and jobs into environmentally friendly technologies to reduce Canada’s energy reliance polluting sources. There is a $11.5 billion gap of what Canada should be investing in clean technologies, compared to the U.S.That's one big hole right there. No wonder we are one of the top polluters per capita: there is no investment in the alternative. If the government is not going to do, I'm going to do it. It may sound ambitious but here is my man:

My vision to reduce global warming is to create and initiative in Canada to bring the private sector together to promote clean energy and its marketing and investment, and if it works help replicate this model in other countries. If young women around the world all achieve a little success in their countries –pollution that causes global warming can be reduced by a lot. The concept is to fill the $11.5 billion gap bring companies that support green initiatives like Scotia Bank, Telus, and others who believe in corporate responsibility and create a non-profit fund classified as a charity for supporting, investing in and promoting innovation in clean energy technologies and lobbying for it in parliament. Ideally, we’ll lobby to get matching grants. Charitable status will enable businesses to write off 29% and will be an incentive to donate, and as a separate body aimed at loaning to companies and issuing stocks traded on the TSX for green energy companies will be a way to give great ideas great funding. We need to connect the people with the solutions with businesses, bankers and investors.

Finally, we need to send our best and brightest to trade shows and lobby aggressively for investors in clean technology in Canada on the international scene. As individuals and organizations we can pool our resources, change Canada and the world.

Canada missed creating 66,000 jobs by not matching its investment for clean energy to the U.S.’s level and one British study said up to a quarter of a million jobs were not created if Canada did not maximize its investment in clean energy. The tertiary economy – blue collar jobs drive the service sector, and most other sectors. In economics it’s called the trickle-down effect; if blue collar workers get jobs, they go to restaurants and shopping, creating jobs for waiters and shop assistants. Those jobs create jobs and suddenly everyone is richer, and companies make more and hire more because of economies of scale so everyone is richer. Investing in green jobs is not only good for the environment; it makes our country richer, spiritually, environmentally and financially richer.

A studying for blue collar jobs in Hamilton show that 30% of new jobs came from clean energy firms, and for green jobs, firms are hiring hundreds while firms are only hiring in tens for blue collar jobs. Creating green stocks, money market funds, and mutual funds in a growth industry is a win-win. People building their pensions earn more and more green jobs are financed.

Right now the Canadian government is cutting research related jobs and research funding across the board and it is this research and investment that is vital to create clean energy to replace fossil fuels that are correlated with global warming. The private sector should step in to fill this gap and then after we have produced results, we can bring the government on board through matching grants, lobbying and many other means.

Canada has some amazing innovations like the tidal wave technology developed in Newfoundland that would reduce population if they replace fossil fuels, and they create lots of jobs. Technologies like this one can be promoted at international fairs, putting our heads together collectively as business people in the private sector, we can find the best way to attract investment. China invested twice of what the U.S. has in green technologies and is a major market for green technology.

The first Canadian black female Member of Parliament, the Honorable Jean Augustine told me great words of wisdom from her grandmother, “if everyone cleans only their little corner of the world, but each person cleans up or tries to fix their little space, from the combined efforts, you’ll change the world.”

My vision is for a greener and more prosperous Canada and world. My dream is that one day clean energy production in Canada exceeds that of fossil fuels. I am from Ottawa and live on a 15 minute drive from parliament. If I make Miss Earth Canada, I will have enough of a stature to open many more doors not only lobbying, but in the private sector to create the first step to a richer, greener, cleaner Canada, and then world.