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Category Archives: Environment
I spent this past Saturday, cutting down trees. I know that may sound like an unusual way to spend my leisure time, but it’s all part of a larger picture. A very dear friend’s father, purchased a 50ha. property of abandoned farmland, about an hour north of Toronto, some forty years ago, and for the past thirty, we’ve been planting trees, mostly conifers such as pine and spruce, in the spring and thinning them in the fall.
Most gardeners will understand that planting is only half the job, the other half being to nourish and maintain the plantings. Bearing in mind that a forest is a very complex ecosystem and that a stand of trees does not a forest make, the exercise of reestablishing a healthy tree cover, requires attempting to compress a process that would naturally take hundreds of years, into a much shorter time frame.
It’s necessary to plant the small saplings, rather densely to encourage competition, suppress other grasses and shrubs and to encourage them to reach for the sky quickly. Hence, it’s necessary to return a few years later to begin the process of eliminating the trees that are stunted and damaged, and to give the others some elbow room into which they can put on some girth. Secondary to allowing the trees more room to grow, is that removing some trees also allows sunlight to reach the forest floor and other species of trees to take hold and, thereby, initiate the diversity that is fundamental to a “natural” ecosystem that will sustain a variety of plants and animals.
The pay back, as you can imagine, is way down the road. In fact, although I am seeing the blossoms, I will never live to see the ripe fruits of my labour, but that’s OK. I’m enjoying the process far too much to care. And then, there are the photographic opportunities.
Pretty well everything I do is in some way informed by a sincere concern for my impact, be it short or long term, on our tiny, little, blue planet. That’s a huge concern and even hugerer subject to tackle in a short blog post. So I’ll spare you the blow by blow stories of my childhood indoctrination, and skip straight to the shocking truth behind our dependence on disposable batteries.
Basically, every little bit we do counts, on both sides of the ledger, and that’s why I think we can’t ignore the down side of all those convenient toys we like to click and point. In plain language, those tiny little power sources we depend so much on, add up to one big mess. There are two major types of consumer batteries: Lead-Acid and Dry-Cells. In North America, approximately 90% of all Lead-Acid batteries are recycled, which is a good thing, because along with the solid waste, each car battery contains about four litres of Sulphuric Acid.
On the other hand, although, Dry-Cell batteries have undergone a complete redesign over the past twenty years, that by 2011 will have completely eliminated mercury from all but the button cells used in watches and hearing aids, there are very few recycling facilities. In Canada an average of ten disposable batteries per person, per year, are discarded either directly in to the garbage, or to a recycling program, which may or may not be redirected to the traditional landfill anyway.
Enter the rechargeable battery. Although introduced over twenty years ago, these batteries have not been as popular as they should have, due to two primary complaints: shelf life and the memory they develop that over a very short period of time, renders them all but useless. Fortunately, there have been some impressive improvements in both those drawbacks.
I recently read an article by Steve Maxwell, in the Toronto Star, in which he praised the Sanyo Eneloop http://ca.sanyo.com/eneloop/. That got me wondering, so I did a quick Google search and discovered PowerEx by IMEDION http://www.mahaenergy.com/store/Index.asp , which declares equal if not better performance. Both of these manufacturers, claim that their batteries retain 85% of their charge after one year in storage, and have recently introduced high capacity 2500 mAh versions for heavy power consumers such as digital cameras and flashes. I’ve reviewed forum posts elsewhere and the feedback seems to confirm the claims. When you consider that each of these batteries has the potential to replace 1000 Alkaline batteries it would be irresponsible of us not to give them a try. For more information about our collective battery use, visit these two very informative sites: http://search.dal.ca/search?q=Eco-Efficiency+and+Battery+Management&btnG=Search+dal.ca&entqr=0&output=xml_no_dtd&sort=date%3AD%3AL%3Ad1&client=1_frontend&submit=&ud=1&oe=UTF-8&ie=UTF-8&proxystylesheet=1_frontend&site=default_collection AND http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/batteries.php