Sunday, August 10, 2008

Canada IS Greener

My view is delightfully different right now-Maine harbor view, tide rolling in, gulls laughing and a gentle warm breeze-perfection.

After mountains, potato farms, tree farms (Irving owns millions of acres for wood pulp production for virgin toilet and tissue paper etc., another blog entry...), wilderness and hundreds of kilometers of rugged coastline, we arrived at the very tip of Gaspe Peninsula- Land's End in local Micmac. Gaspe, the city, has about 15,000 folks and the rest of the peninsula is dotted with villages and isolated homes along the coast. We were about one hour south of Gaspe, looking out on the endless Atlantic ocean, in what seemed like the middle of no where.

Yet despite this isolation, we had two blue large 60 gallon recycling totes and one green garbage totes, none of those small bins-they meant business. All of the recycling went into the one tote, all mixed-how civilized. Garbage pickup was Tuesday night, recycling was Wednesday night.

That was the neatest thing of all. The pick up is done during the night. That way the crews don't have to worry about traffic (yes, traffic-only one road around the rim of Gaspe), kids, dogs and bicyclists and can zip through their job. Zip they did and how efficient it was. They had big lights on their vehicles and keep in mind, they do this all winter long. Food for thought for other communities.

We started the week with three days of solid rain but when that rain stopped, and even before the sun shown, out came the laundry hung to dry, dotted all across the landscape. (remember dryers are the second energy hog in the house) It was in stark contrast to our lifestyle. And it was beautiful. All sorts of colors flapping in the breeze, one load after another. Nothing fancy, usually just a pulley and a line. Bravo.

So what else is it about this neck of the woods that makes it seem greener? To summarize it-simplicity. The houses and cars are smaller- more motorcycles were being used. Gasoline was over $5.oo per gallon. The lawns are smaller, few riding lawn mowers around. And no silly irrigation systems. More cloth shopping bags though less shopping and eating out in general. Heck, there's just no place to go, and how wonderful it was. And yet, they get by, we got by and everyone seemed happy too.

Canada and its citizens should be happy. Canada has the lowest unemployment rate in 30 years and all the Provinces are in a surplus. That's right, the country is in a surplus. Yes they pay higher taxes but at least they manage their money properly. And Canada has its eye on being greener too with commitment to action to boot. Canada is taking the leadership role for educating and encouraging their citizens to do better. The National Website is loaded with good information, all coming from the top down. Canada has been a world leader when it comes to chemical precaution, not caving to special interest groups. They know all of this will pay off in the long run- economically and environmentally.

So, the answer is yes- my humble opinion is that Canada trumps its southern neighbors in greenness. As is true where ever you are, you can stand to learn a lot from your neighbors.

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