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March 2013 Newsletter

MARCH 2013

The Sustainable Environment Network Society (SENS) Newsletter

Environmentally active for over 40 years!

Support Us! You can become a member (Family - $20.00, Individual - $15.00, Basic - $5.00), attend our monthly meetings (the 4th Thursday usually), donate, and/or volunteer. Mailing address: SENS, c/o the Boys and Girls Club, 3300-37th Ave., Vernon, V1T 2Y5. Website: www.sensociety.org

*** SENS provides tax-deductible receipts for donations ***


1. Annual Seed & Plant Swap /Sale (March 28, 6:30 – 9 pm, Schubert Centre):

6:30pm – seed and plant swap/sale; 7:15pm – AGM (short!); 7:30pm Jane Emlyn, master gardener, shares how to make the most out of your garden for almost free and shares tips on successful seed planting and germination. Everyone is welcome. Bring a carload!

2. Environmental All-Candidates Forum (April 25, 7 pm, Schubert Centre): Mark your calendars! If you have a “green” question you’d like considered, please send to jblissau@telus.net


1. Indoor Winter Markets:

  • Armstrong – Thursdays, noon – 5 pm, Odd Fellows Hall, Bridge Street. Call Art @ 250 546-3411

  • Enderby – 2nd and 4th Fridays (March 8 and 22), 11 am – 4 pm at the Seniors Citizen Complex.

  • Vernon – Wednesdays, noon – 5 pm, behind Westbilt Centre on 43rd Ave.

  • Vernon – Tuesdays, 10 am – 3 pm, 2913 29th Ave, behind Towne Theatre.

  • Coldstream – Wednesdays, 2:30 am – 6 pm, Coldstream Women’s Institute Hall

2. Seed Swaps: in Enderby Saturday March 2nd, in Cherryville at A.L. Fortune School from 10 am to 3 PM, and March 10th at the Cherryville hall, 10 AM to 3 PM.

3. New Technology To Control Disease Spread with Dr Jennifer Gardy, March 5, 7:30pm, OK College Lecture Theatre. Free but seating limited so book on line: www.genomebc.ca/okanagan.

4. “A Chemical Reaction” documentary: free screening March 5, 7 pm, UBCO lecture theatre #130. The film tells the story of Hudson Quebec’s initiative that resulted in Canada’s first by-law to ban the use of all chemical pesticides and herbicides. Producer Paul Tukey will be present.

5. “Lord of Nature”: March 9, noon, Our Lady of Peace Church, 3012 37th St Vernon. Admission by donation. Learn how top predators are a revitalizing force in nature.

6. Science Centre Volunteers/Water Works Exhibition: You’re needed, March 18 – 22 and March 25 – 28. Lots of fun and hands on involved! Phone 250 545 – 3644. Also, the hands on water exhibition will be leaving by the end of March if you’ve yet to check it out…

7. Local Students Active & Socially Engaged: Check out their Facebook page!

8. Science Centre/School Garden Outreach: This program aims to grow intergenerational relationships through science and health. Interested adults work with elementary students every second Wednesday morning for 3 months to grow food to eat . Email Linda for more information.

Needed also are: people who can help construct garden beds, provide cash donations, and provide construction/gardening materials (e.g. tools, wheelbarrows, large pots, etc.).

9. Avaaz Community Petitions Website: Should you wish to start a petition campaign, you can use this site: http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/start_a_petition/?cl=2506136101&v=21863

10. Local Courses: Intro to Permaculture, Mar 23 & 24; Beyond Organic Farming with Joel Salatin (livestream) on ‘You Can Farm” (Mar 20),” Pastured Poultry Profits” (Mar 21) and “Salad Bar Beef” (Mar 22); Design and Build a Solar Greenhouse, April 13 -14. Details: www.elementecodesign.co

11. Pesticide-Free Zone Registry: For this registry RDNO identifies properties of owners who do not wish herbicides applied within 10 meters of their property. RDNO has heard that the Ministry of Forests is wishing to spray Tordon and Dicamba to handle noxious weeds such as tansy, in a few areas (Currie, Outlet, Kate Creeks, Dolman’s ditch by Highway 6) and will not give the go-ahead if there’s opposition. If you do not wish any spraying in your area please write saying you do not want this spraying and why to john.friesen@rdno.ca

12. Carpool.ca: This non-profit carpooling initiative, introduced into the Okanagan by SENS in 2005, is holding their prize-filled annual #MarchMadness campaign. Enter to win at www.carpool.ca as a new user or to track your trips and measure your savings, or to enter a carpool story or photo.

13. Artificial Turf at the College?: Artificial turf may be considered should the sports facility be approved for OK College. In the US there are concerns about all the chemicals in the turf that involve significant environmental and public health impacts. More at:

www.ehhi.org/turf/ for a scientific analysis of artificial turf issues, (Environment & Human Health, Inc.) www.synturf.org for a compendium of information on artificial turf,

and www.safehealthyplayingfields.org/#!environment/c16nf (Safe Healthy Playfields Coalition).


1. Petition to Ban Diacetyl from Popcorn: Diacetyl, a chemical used in popcorn flavouring, triggers a life-threatening and non-reversible lung disease. Every major brand maker has discontinued its use since 2008. However four international companies continue to ignore the known risks. Please sign this petition to pressure these greedy corporate holdouts to switch to safer chemicals.

2. Petition to have all Keystone Pipes Inspected: Recently, some protesters to this controversial tar sands U.S. pipeline discovered that, due to faulty welding, there are already holes in the pipeline! And with each day that passes, TransCanada is moving ahead with construction, potentially adding more damaged segments of pipes; we must act now! Sign this urgent petition to TransCanada demanding independent pipeline inspection.

3. Government Cuts and Charities: The government is considering eliminating or lowering the capital gains tax on charitable donations. Sounds nice, right? But, there is no guarantee that boosting tax credits will boost giving. And as pointed out by the NDP, this move might “drastically” reduce federal tax revenues, further reducing the services that the Conservatives already blindly slashed. Look for it in the 2013 budget… For the full article, go here.

4. Plastic Poisons: Today, discarded plastics are circling the globe at a significant human and environmental cost. It is suffocating our oceans and choking our wildlife. The plastic chemicals are also entering our bodies and are accumulating over time. The potential consequences are indeed dire. Read this wonderful article on our unhealthy addiction to plastic. Learn about the dangers to human health and the environment and how to reduce your own plastic footprint!

5. Positive Social Change from Disasters: This is the topic that Shelley Pacholok, a UBC Okanagan professor, is exploring in a new line of research, using interviews with those affected by Hurricane Sandy. “Quite a few people referenced how they positively connected with people they wouldn’t have normally connected with”, Pacholok says. For the full story, go here.

6. Wind Turbine: http://www.interestingengineering.com/index.php/zepelin-style-wind-turbine/

7. Why We Need Bike lanes: Bike lanes don’t cost too much money but they do allow cost savings for low income families who would have more discretionary income for food, medical treatments and shopping downtown if they could ride instead of drive. They’d pedal to Prosperity!

8. Coca-Cola Sues Recyclers: SumOfUs.org is asking for help w ith a petition to tell Coca-Cola to drop their lawsuit that would block a recycling program in Australia that would put a 10cent refund on recycling plastic bottles. To act, click on http://sumofus.org/


1. Healthy Environment Petition: Here's a petition from DSF, advocating in favour of Canadian citizens' right to a healthy environment. Please spread the word about the importance of enshrining a healthy environment in the Canadian constitution!



1. Starbucks’ Reusable Tumbler: As an ongoing commitment to turn their business a darker shade of green, the international coffee purveyors have unveiled a $1 reusable coffee tumbler aimed at cutting down on paper cup waste. Read more.

2. Canadians and Their Garbage: We produce more garbage per capita than any other country on earth. The Conference Board of Canada ranked Canada in 15th place among 17 developed nations studied across a host of environmental-efficiency metrics.  Read more.  

3. Zero Waste Canada (ZWC): This non-profit organization formed to promote strategies that could replace landfills and waste-to-energy facilities, to help provide local green jobs and opportunities, protect the environment and human health, and conserve resources.  Read more

4. The Recycled Paper Office: Wouldn’t it be cool if all that wasted office paper (on an average day, 12 of the 30 pages printed get dumped) could be used to build offices?  Read more.  

 FROM CAPE (Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment)

1. Enough is Enough: By all accounts, this book, published last month, is a very informative starting point for understanding where we have to go as a global society. Check it out!

2. B.C. Forest Giveaway: The Liberal government plans to grant forest companies de facto private control over public forestlands without first having to notify or consult with the public. Instead of companies enjoying rights to log set volumes of trees on public forestlands, companies would gain dramatically expanded powers to log trees on defined areas. For the full article, go here. Also, be sure to check out www.bobsimpsonmla.ca for a similar take and the latest information about this.

2. Eat and Bear It: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has decided that ISA virus contaminated feedlot salmon can be grown-out in the ocean and sold to Canadians.  This follows on the heels of a U.S. decision to ban their sale there. Instead of wisely culling these infected fish, Canadians are now expected to eat them. Utter madness! And it gets even worse

3. Asbestos’ Last Ditch: With a new PQ government in Québec, comes promising new change! They refused to bail out the asbestos industry. Soon after, the federal government dropped its opposition to adding asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention list of Hazardous Substances. There is still opposition in Russia, as this article attests.

4. Mercury Victims Speak Out: Here’s a heartfelt letter from one victim from Grassy Narrows, Ontario describing the horrible conditions for him and his family. He writes of the delayed diagnosis for him and his family members, the pitiful compensation, and how it’s breaking to “watch your daughter and grandkid having seizures”. He prays change comes to the bureaucratic and Government policies that are slowly killing them. Additionally, here are links to a Mercury Study in Ontario, the Free Grassy Website, the Mercury Disability Board Website, and a CBC Documentary on the ongoing Mercury Poisoning in Ontario regions.

On a related note, the Pulp mill at Dryden, Ontario is allowed to continue releasing pollutants into air, land and water.

5. Lemonade from Lemons: When the town of Greensburg, Kansas rebuilt after a devastating tornado, it used a high level of energy savings technology and planning. It is now an international inspiration for green disaster recovery. Given the increased extreme weather events to come, it’s nice to know we can turn the climate change lemons into green living lemonade. See article here.

6. Open Release GMO's: A new study conducted in China finds that all 6 of the major rivers tested were positive for a wide ranging superbug – and it is rapidly spreading! The study also determined that the gene conferring the antibiotic resistances was made in a lab. Likely culprits are genetically modified (GM) crops, many of which carry antibiotic resistant genes. Free from labs, their genes are then transferred into unrelated species of bacteria. Read the rest of this report here.

7. Weaning from Fossil Fuels: Here’s an encouraging article on the emerging trend of universities now offering investors new divestment from fossil fuels funds. Projects like the Keystone and Gateway pipelines soon may be on their way out… Check it out!

8. Pesticides in French Vineyards: A recent study of vineyard employees and neighbouring residents in France found they were both exposed to dangerous pesticides. It also showed that living close (less than 250 meters away) to cultivated areas, which is probably the case for millions of French families, increases the exposure. Most troubling! For the full article, go here.

9. 71 % of Manitobans: support a ban on lawn pesticides. Lake Manitoba was named the world’s worst threatened lake for 2013 due to toxic run-off. There is already a cosmetic pesticide ban in 6 provinces.

Co-Edited by Egan Mandreck