Never too late for new year resolutions; and a bit about worms and candles

Yesterday’s Sustainability Fair in the town of View Royal was small but perfectly formed, with displays about waste & recycling, composting, water conservation, land conservancy and other plans, achievements and services. The town has also created a fabulous document called Steps to Sustainability. You can choose from a sprawling list of things to do to live more ethically and sustainably, with helpful links to sources of more information. There are, as in all such lists, a few items I’d disagree with, but a lot more things I hadn’t thought about which would be easy to do.

For example, even apartment dwellers can vermicompost their kitchen scraps in a worm bin, which comes in small enough sizes (like this Worm Factory) to can sit on a balcony or porch. I don’t know how well red wigglers would endure northern winters but you could even bring them inside, as one advantage they have over other compost bins is that they keep smells down.

(If the View Royal list isn’t long enough for you, another way to inspire yourself with new resolutions can be found in this book, Change the World for Ten Bucks. Or you could celebrate Buy Nothing Day on a weekly or monthly basis instead of confining it to an annual event; if you’re really tough you could do as others have done and try it for a year.)

One of the items I wasn’t sure about on the View Royal list was the suggestion to save power occasionally by using candles. I’d heard there was some kind of environmental issue around candles, but I was surprised when I looked it up to discover it’s largely to do with the wick, which may contain lead, which means you’re creating lead vapour when you burn candles. There’s no ban on using lead in candle wicks in Canada, so we’re advised to be wary when buying candles; most of those made in North America (or sold at Ikea, surprisingly) are considered safe. BC Hydro’s fact sheet can tell you more, including how to test the wick for lead.

Bruce has just reminded me to mention the other half of the candles issue: there are health concerns over the hydrocarbons (burned and unburned) in candles, which are not designed to burn clean like a modern car engine or EPA wood stove, so the pollutants go straight into the air in your home.

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