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November 2013 Newsletter


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. Handmade Holiday Event: November 23, 1 – 3 pm, Schubert Centre. A learn-to-make-it-yourself afternoon that will give you lots of neat, yet inexpensive ideas for gifting this Christmas with ‘no’ buying. Do you have a “make-it” idea you want to share? Contact Joanne immediately at joannesale.river@gmail.com Sponsors: SENS and Vernon In Transition.

2. Genetically Modified Foods and Human Health: November 28, 7 pm, Schubert Centre: Dr T. Vrain, (retired soil biologist and genetic engineer with Ag Canada for 30 years) speaks on history of genetic engineering, regulations, and recommended public actions. Questions and discussion welcome. Sponsors: SENS, Food Action Society, Greenpeace, GE Free BC.

3.. Repair Café a Success: This busy October 5th event was a rousing success as it provided maintenance advice, repair skills, and repurposing ideas to many people (preventing landfill fill-up in turn). There were all sorts of repairs (bikes, toasters, items that magnify, skateboards, and more), sewing using solar panels on a picnic table, library book sign-out, book repair demo, blade sharpening, knitting, and sock-darning. Crepes, coffee, and pop were flowing all day, as was the community spirit of sharing! To see photos, go to Vernon in Transition’s Facebook page.


1. North Okanagan Naturalists: Nov 6, 7:30 pm, Best Western Lodge. Andrea Gunner, Armstrong-Spallumcheen agrologist and local food producers speaks.

2. Farmers Market: Every Monday, 9 – 1pm, Schubert Centre (3505 30th Ave, Vernon) from November 18 until April, 2014.

3.Urban Agriculture with keynote speaker, Laura Kalina, Interior Health and Kamloops Food Policy Council, November 12, 7 pm, Vernon Library. Take part in discussion and films to hear how other communities successfully grow food and increase food security. Food Action Society of the North Okanagan (FASNO) holds their AGM after the talk. New members welcome. www.foodaction.ca

4. Secret Lives of parasites – We’re Not Alone! Rosemary Drisdelle, parasitology specialist, Nov. 19, 7:30pm, OK College lecture theatre in Vernon. Tickets for this Science In Society talk are $10 at the door or $7 in advance from the Okanagan Science Centre – 250 545-3644 or www.okscience.ca

5. Fresh Outlook Conference: November 25 to 28, Kelowna. Join the Fresh Outlook Foundation for their 6th annual Building Sustainable Communities conference! Learn about green economic development, “happiness by design”, and how to accelerate community actions and initiatives. For registration and more information, click here.

6. MMBC (Multi-Media BC) Coming To RDNO: This B.C. recycling program, a 100% fully financed, industry-run program, is on track to start next spring. The program aims to increase the amount of printed and paper packaging recycled in B.C. from 50% to 75% For the entire article, go here.

7. Putting Shuswap River To Bed For Winter: During October’s clean-up, low water exposed a lot of junk so 2 canoes and 7 enthusiasts were able to fill 3 XXL garbage bags with climbing harness, 5 inflatable rafts, men’s underwear, lawn chair, beach toys, tarp bits, beer/pop cans and much more. Lots of sun, kingfishers, beaver dens, polypore mushrooms, deer, and mergansers too!

Look for this event again next year and join them!


1. Berkeley Food Institute Launch: Read this story to learn how Berkeley University aims to transform the World's Food System!

2. Food Gardening Club: To join or get more info, email Joanne River or Jane Emlyn.

3. NON-GMO Cookbook: Go here for this great book!

4. Mexico Bans All GM Corn: After years of deliberation, a Mexico judge has placed an indefinite ban on genetically-engineered corn. Effective immediately, companies like Monsanto and DuPont/Pioneer will no longer be allowed to plant or sell their corn within the country’s borders!


1. B.C. Flora: These PDF files can be downloaded from the Ministry of Forests website

2. Plastic to Oil Invention: Wow! Check out this amazing video! A very promising solution…

3. Speed Kills Your Pocketbook: Watch this and ask yourself, “Are our current posted speeds ‘’nuts’? It’s very informative and funny!

FROM OCCP (Okanagan Collaborative Conservation Program)

1. Precious Frog Film: The primary cause for the decline of the 'Oregon Spotted Frog' has been the loss of wetlands to urban development and agriculture. In recent years, additional threats to the few remaining frogs also include pollution, mining, and invasive species. Check out this film by Isabelle Groc and her other conservation films!

2. Not Waiting for Noah: In this article the author describes what led to the flooding in Calgary this summer and the B.C. mudslides of last year. She also outlines the danger of relying on B.C.’s outdated flood plain data. According to her, “Planning is best done in advance, and now seems like a good time to get ready.” It’s a good read with links to other recommended readings.


1. The Storied Mackerel: This highly sustainable fish is rich in flavour, Omega-3, and history. Check out the Foundation’s two new video recipes (Italian and Japanese) for preparing this fish. To learn more, read the entire article here.

2. Saving the Monarch: Biologists estimate the North American monarch butterfly population declined by about 80 per cent this year, the lowest numbers in 20 years. Why the decline? Scientists suspect it is habitat loss and a disappearing food source. Read the entire article for details. You’ll also learn how you can help this iconic and beautiful insect (e.g. plant milkweed and nectar-producing flowers) and more.

3. Video on How Climate Change relates to Extreme Weather: Please watch this short video in which David Suzuki explains the links between climate change and increased extreme weather. Share it with your family, friends and social networks. If more of us know the science, more of us will act. And for even more information, go here.


1. Continued Use of 2,4-D in Canada: GM seeds that are resistant to 2,4-D (a component of the highly toxic herbicide ‘Agent Orange’), are soon to be sold here. PCN is calling for analyses and reviews of the seeds and the exposure risks. Please offer your support for a special review of the 29 pesticides already banned elsewhere; it can be emailed to Health Minister Ambrose (Minister_Ministre@hc-sc.gc.ca;Rona.Ambrose@parl.gc.ca). Read the entire article here.

2. Greenwashing: Here is a good piece on how some companies in the Cosmetics & Personal Care Products industry are “greenwashing” (making false green claims) their products. It’s got tips and helpful advice. “Natural”, “ecofriendly “, “ organic”, “unscented”, and display of a pink ribbon have no meaning – but sell well! Read labels carefully!

3. Canada to Review the Health Effects of Radiofrequency Radiation: Cellphones, towers, smart meters, wifi etc are possible type 2B human carcinogens and some even cause acoustic neuroma (tumors on the ear nerves that can grow and press on the brain). Health Canada is seeking the assistance of a committee of the Royal Society of Canada to review this. However, the committee is taking a very Harper-esque, non-scientific approach: it’s not making any of the research methods, questions and data public knowledge. As such, the onus is on you if you want your say to be heard! Check out the Citizens for Safe Technology webpage for convenient communication with the committee. Read the entire article here.

4. Endocrine Disruptors Regulation: Endocrine disruption from many common chemicals may play a role in many major developmental and chronic disorders, including cancer. Regulation of these chemicals is difficult…But the E.U. attempting just that. It is considering scientific criteria to identify endocrine disruptors of “high concern”. For the entire article, go here.


1. Ouch! Food Waste: A new initiative by FarmFolk CityFolk called Foodprint is a public awareness campaign to engage and educate household residents about reducing their food waste in the home because 51% of food wasted in Canada happens at home – that’s $27 billion annually or 172kg per person per year . What can YOU do to decrease such waste?

2. Anaerobic Digester = Electricity: The largest commercial-scale high solids anaerobic digester in North America is operating in Richmond. The system generates biogas from food and yard waste that would otherwise go to landfill. The biogas gets purified, is then turned into electricity and then is sold back to the grid. Go here for more

3. Emphasis on Recycling Clothes is Needed: According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, textile recycling has a major impact on reducing greenhouse gasses. In 2011, 2 million tons of clothing were recycled in the U.S. That’s the equivalent impact of removing one million cars from the nation’s roads! Clothes recycling is better than recycling yard trimmings (5x), glass recycling (4x), and plastics recycling. How is this possible? You’ll have to read more to find out…

4. Accelerant To Decompose Plastic: PlasTek, a non-toxic, eco-friendly compound, claims to solve landfill space capacity problems by decomposing plastics over 12–36 months once it is sprayed onto garbage in a landfill (normally a thousands of years process). The methane gas captured after bacteria access the changed materials produces enough green energy to power about 4,000 homes per landfill each year, reducing CO2 emissions by 68 million pounds annually per landfill– the equivalent of CO2 emissions from 34 million gallons of gasoline every year. Read more

NOTE: One wonders if the PlasTek would be better employed directly on plastic at a different facility and not the landfill…

5. Electronics Recycling Analysis : Interested in program costs methodologies, best practises and even the amount of gold, silver, copper, nickel, and other valuable materials that can be recovered from waste electronics, and provide a rough estimate as to their economic value? For the full report, cilck here.

6. Recycling Bias Experiment: Interesting that people see a dented can as NOT useful and put it into the garbage but the same can, undented, is perceived as useful and put into recycling! – Same for bits of paper vs whole sheets…Hmmm. Read more.  For full experiment, click here.

7. NO Waste Bin At London Drugs, St Albert, Ab: Brenda Marsh, Manager of the London Drugs store received permission from Head Office last month to remove their dumpster bin completely.

They’re now down to disposing of 1-2 garbage bags a week. Read more

FROM CAPE (Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment)

1. Fossil Fuels Lose To Renewables: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Renewables_Ousting_Fossil_Fuel_Energy.php

2. Oil Sands Commentary: http://www.vancouverobserver.com/opinion/there-way-out-preventing-oilsands-health-tragedy-becoming-canadas-permanent-legacy?page=0,0

3.Improved photovoltaic Energy: http://www.i-sis.org.uk/Sunny_Prospects_for_Solar_PV.php

4. Leaked Enbridge Info (intellectual content lacking): http://desmog.ca/2013/10/01/leaked-enbridge-s-new-northern-gateway-pipeline-ad-campaign-open-bette

5. Our Gorgeous Coast: - See wildlife and wild ecosystems via these 2 videos: a salmon stream and a tiny rocky island, then think of damage due to pipelines and tankers…. www.pacificwild.org/


Nestles vs the Guelph Community: Ecojustice provided assistance that meant Nestles was not allowed to pump 1 million liters of groundwater even in a drought. The Ontario government noted the deal benefitted Nestles, not the community. Protecting water supply is a priority.

Co-Edited by Egan Mandreck