Category Archives: environment

Investing in a Vespa?

Anyone who lives in the Greater Toronto Area is probably now aware that the TTC did a sneak attack and went on strike at 12am this morning, leaving people at bars and clubs in the city stranded.

It has caused our city to come to a grinding halt and inconvenienced thousands upon thousands of riders who depend on the TTC to get them around.

This includes me.

This weekend, I *gasp!* actually had some social plans (I know! It’s crazy! Hermit Ginger actually having social plans?! Unbelievable.), so of course they had to go on strike. Of course they did.

That means 3 friendly outings today alone were botched, and my shopping plans for Sunday, too. I’m not too thrilled, as you can imagine.

But I guess I shouldn’t really complain too much. After all, it is the weekend and all neccessities such as grocery stores, pharmacy and laundromat are all within walking distance to me. I’ll be fine on that front, but it’s just injustice of the situation… I was finally going to be social and work on not being so awkward and the TTC had to ruin it. Thank gods I wasn’t clubbing last night.

This ridiculous strike has forced me to reevaluate my transportation options. Currently there is no possible way I can afford to either a) move closer to my workplace, b) walk or ride my bike to work (too far), nor c) afford a car.

So what else can I do when the TTC is on strike or having one of its many mechanical failures?

Coincidentally, when I received my May Metropass in the mail yesterday (on the discount plan) there was a coupon offering a membership with AutoShare for only $75 (AutoShare is a service that loans out cars for hours or days to its members, similar to ZipCars). This might actually be doable, it’s cheaper than ZipCars and there is a parking lot right by my house so I could certainly use it. It would cost me about $9.50/hour to rent a car, plus an annual fee of $35. That’s reasonable.

However, I’m not sure how easy it would be to reserve a vehicle during a strike. Hmmm. It would certainly make groceries easier though.

My other option, which I am seriously considering is purchasing a scooter. The Vespa brand definitely has the cutest, but they’re also the most expensive, so I’ve looked up some other brands and they’re much more affordable.

My dad has given me his blessing to get one, and is going to check to see how much it would cost to insure a scooter. I would have to get my M license but as I understand it I would be able to ride my scooter right away as long as it’s during daylight hours in the city.

I’ve googled a couple of shops in the area and I plan to go in and ask questions about the different types and brands, associated costs and the pros and cons of owning a scooter. I hope that the sales staff will be able to help me find the right scooter for my needs. I would love one that fits 2 people and has the luggage box on the back.

So far what I have learned is that it is economical and also less impactful on the environment to ride a scooter. It would give me more freedom and flexibility in terms of personal transportation, and I could use one for at least 6 months out of the year.

If I buy a used scooter I can get them for less than $3000, and most will only cost $4-10 per tank of gas. If I get a new scooter the pricetag would be much higher, but I would stay under $4000.

So now the hunt begins. Wish me luck!

Click here for the AutoShare discount for TTC MDP members.

Earth Hour 2008

I’m participating in Earth Hour 2008. Are you?

Hi Ginger, and thanks

Hey guys, I found a nice little email in my inbox this morning!
Chris Winter, the big cheese over at We Conserve sent me a thank-you note for posting about the site here recently.

Apparently a good number of you checked the site out, I think that’s great because we need to support causes like this to help the planet.

Here’s a copy of the email:

Nice little post on your blog – and 32 people took the time to jump over to We Conserve.

Thanks, and do say hi if you make it out to one of the three events this week.


Chris Winter
Executive Director
The Conservation Council of Ontario

Thanks again to everyone who hopped on over there, I’m happy to know that my blog helped spread the word!

Keep your eyes peeled for blurbs about some of my other favourite causes…

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, I don’t get paid to plug any of this stuff, I just do it because I want to! (however if someone wanted to pay me I would be ok with that too!)

Going Green: Part 3 – We Conserve and My Footprint

I was walking down the street yesterday and found my eyes resting on a delightfully green and blue poster advertising something really cool!

If you live in Toronto or the surrounding area, a movement called We Conserve is hosting a few free community workshops on how you can become more green through personal conservation and by patronizing companies that do their share, too. What a great idea! Unfortunately I didn’t find this poster until after a few workshops had already happened, but there are a few next week, too, so I may stop by!

Their website is pretty good, too. There are resources, tips, event listings and even an ecological footprint calculator to use. I would definitely recommend visiting this site if you are (or want to be more) eco-conscious.

If we don’t do something for our planet now, what will our children have? We need to start working towards a greener world today.

Let me know if you visit any of the workshops, or tell me what your opinion is on this movement?

FYI I tried using the Carbon footprint calculator – apparently I create 14.8 tonnes of CO2 every year. I used some of the average settings in places where I didn’t know how much I used (such as driving, electricity, heat, etc. since I don’t pay for any of those things).

What’s your footprint?

Going Green: Part 2 – Water Conservation

During my daily troll through the interwebs yesterday, I came across an interesting article about the flip-side of the coin in terms of water conservation. It describes the catch-22 situation that some municipalities are facing as they spread the word about water conservation.

The article is here: The High Cost of Using Less Water

It basically talks about how water conservation is costing the cities in terms of decreased revenue. As we install our low-flow toilets and stop watering our lawns, our consumption goes down. This is great for the environment, but now the cities don’t have as much money to do the necessary repairs on our water systems, and therefore it becomes more expensive. This big question is whether the cost of this will be passed onto the consumer. If it is, would it deter others from making those positive water conservation changes?

“Asked about declining water consumption, he told the Star:
“Conservation is killing us.”
Realizing what he’d just said, Curtis smiled broadly and quickly added that there were, of course, a thousand reasons to conserve.
But one thing is certain: Conservation is putting cash-strapped municipalities in a bit of a pickle.”

Here are some great links I found on water conservation tips. They’re both American sites, but the majority of the rules apply just as well to Canada.

I am happy to report that I’m doing pretty well and adhere to most of these tips. In the summer, particularly in August when it tends to get really dry in our area and we get drought warnings I go further. I already use the old saying “If it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down!” at those times (my granny grew up in California, apparently this is common?) and I think I may try capturing the excess shower water in buckets in the future.

So, what are your favourite ways to conserve water, and do you have any that you’d like to share?

Going Green: Part 1

Going green seems to be one of the hot topics these days. Working in media I have access to many newspapers, journals and magazines that are all beginning to feature this topic. I think it’s a step in the right direction, but I really don’t think people and countries are doing enough. I’m not involved enough in the world or political news to keep up with all the conversations about the Kyoto Accord and things of that nature, but it seems to me that our leading countries are being jerks about the whole thing, and trying to pass the buck.

I guess it is up to us smaller folk to do what we can to preserve our Earth for future generations. We should also try and reverse some of the devastating effects our pollution has caused.

I thought that a good topic for an article would be the ways that I attempt to “go green” in my daily life, and maybe feature some interesting articles or resources about reducing our impact on the environment, etc. I consider myself lucky to have gone to a (somewhat) environmentally-conscious grade school when I was younger. Even though it was a smallish town, they still managed to teach us lasting lessons about being environmentally conscious citizens, and how we could do our part. I remember how exciting it was to plant trees and sort our paper for recycling. Before composting became a big thing, we were doing it in the classroom.

I think it is very important to teach children about the environment from a young age. Just look at how I turned out! I’m neither a Greenpeace activist nor a super-wasteful consumer. I learned the “Four R’s”. Most people know the three, but do you know the fourth?


Recycle – This one’s pretty obvious. If it can be recycled, then do it! Don’t put it in the trash!

Reuse – Reuse those old margarine and yogurt containers, wash out your ziploc bags if they’re still decent. Many people can go completely without tupperware/rubbermaid containers, simply by reusing food containers again and again.

Reduce – Don’t cut your lawn so often, reduce the number of times you do it. Install water-saving showerheads and low-flow toilets in your home to reduce the use of our resources. Turn the thermostat down just one degree and save!

Refuse – With the help of some big companies such as Loblaws, it is becoming easier to do this. Refuse to take the plastic shopping bags they offer, and bring your own cloth ones instead. Refuse to buy over-packaged products and try purchasing bulk foods instead. If we stop accepting and over-consuming unnecessary plastics and the like, we can greatly reduce our impact on the environment and landfills.

This article seems to be taking me quite some time to write, so I’ve decided to split up the idea into a series of smaller articles. I’m planning to include some links to interesting environment-related websites and articles and also my opinion and thoughts on each of them.

Stay tuned!