by Victoria Foote
Boy, did we hear from you! ON Nature’s Last Word column in the Spring issue (“Excess baggage,” page 46) by Edward Keenan clearly struck a collective nerve, as you will notice in our In the Mail section. Quite a few readers voiced their enthusiastic support for Keenan’s suggestion that something – perhaps a tax on usage, maybe an outright ban – be done to reduce our dependence on plastic bags. (The Worldwatch Institute estimates that 100 billion plastic bags are discarded each year in the United States alone. More than 500 billion are used annually around the world.) Not long after the publication of the Spring issue, Loblaws, to its credit, announced its new President’s Choice (PC) green shopping bag. The PC bag is recyclable and 85 percent of the fabric comes from post-consumer recycled plastic soft drink and water bottles.
One writer, Joanne Brown, even sent her letter to Toronto’s mayor David Miller, pointing out to him that San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors recently passed legislation banning plastic bags in its major supermarkets and, within a year, large chain pharmacies. Stores will probably switch to biodegradable bags made of corn and potato starch.
We agree that something needs to be done to curb the ubiquitous presence of plastic bags, and we are hoping that local politicians are listening. We are also thinking about the upcoming provincial election. Along with other environmental organizations, Ontario Nature has put forward six election priorities that form the backbone of any meaningful environmental agenda in this province.
These are critical issues for which our provincial government must be accountable and that reflect our environmental concern for healthy habitats and healthy inhabitants.
ON Nature continues to do its part to minimize its ecological footprint. The magazine is still printed using vegetable-based inks on chlorine and acid-free FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper containing 50 percent recycled fibre and 25 percent post-consumer fibre – the most environmentally friendly paper stock available in the weight used by this magazine.
But magazines should also be printed on eco-friendly presses. Warren’s Waterless Printing used a waterless press to print this issue, which eliminates the use of dampening solutions and petroleum-based solvents. Warren’s is FSC certified and purchases green, renewable energy to power its printing facilities.
ON Nature is also proud to announce that “The saga of Victor mine” (Spring 2006), by Chris Nuttall-Smith, and “The new farm” (Autumn 2006), by Ray Ford, have been nominated for National Magazine Awards (environment category). The winners will be announced June 15, 2007.
Jen Baker, Ontario Nature’s boreal campaign coordinator, has long been an advocate for the boreal forest. Unfortunately, threats to the forest have multiplied over time. As Baker writes in this issue’s Last Word column (“Escape clause”), a legislative loophole allows mining companies to stake claims and initiate mining operations on ecologically significant habitat without a thorough environmental assessment being done first. “It is important,” says Baker, “that people understand the freedom big industry has on our public lands and why it is so vital that we put conservation before development in the boreal forest.”
Toronto-based writer Allan Britnell is a frequent contributor to ON Nature. For his profile of aerial photographer Lou Wise (“The view from up here”), Britnell combed through Wise’s extensive collection of photographs of southern Ontario waterways. Britnell quickly discovered that Wise’s archives provide a unique view of how much our urban and rural landscapes have changed over the past three decades. “I’ve always loved aerial photographs,” says Britnell, “and talking to Lou is like getting a living history lesson.” Britnell’s articles have appeared in Cottage Life, Canadian Geographic and Toro.