Pilot’s Contest

Kaitlyn’s adorable new puppy Arial from Toronto knows all about wasting-not! Image


Kids Parties: Loot Bags

*Photo Credit: Ayla87

If you’re a parent no doubt at some point or another you’ve received or given a loot bag for a kids party. Loot bags can easily become the biggest form of after party waste along with some concerning toxins in cheap toys.

A typical loot bag will contain tons of little candies as well as small plastic toys. When it comes to small candies you are often left with a pile of wrappers. Sometimes unwanted candies end up in the garbage as well.

On top of the garbage left behind by candy, the toys that come in the loot bags often become clutter and the garbage. Usually they are so cheap they break within an hour. If they don’t break, the toys are so simple your child may abandon it after two hours. Even worse still, cheap toys made of plastic often run the risk of being filled with chemicals from dye and plastic.

So what are you to do when your kids next birthday roles around? It’s so customary to give a loot bag it’s not only disappointing for the kids, some parents even fear judgment from other parents. While you want to make it as waste free you probably also want to keep the cost down.

Working at a party store I have heard many suggestions for loot bags and have seen many choices.
Some parents are opting to give small gift cards of $5 to Malls or even local toy shops like Mastermind.
You could even consider giving one good quality toy.

If you are at the party store and can’t be bothered with shopping around and don’t like the 1 gift idea here are some other tips:
-Skip the candy. With chocolate there are peanut scares, and what kid needs even more candy?
-Consider the usefulness of the toys. Pencils, pencil crayons, notebooks, and pencil sharpeners are all things for school.
-Instead of filling plastic bags, consider using sand pails or lunch boxes which make great gifts on their own.

Drowning in a Sea… of Litter?

*Picture Credit: GlennPeb

Walking down a sidewalk, you’ll lose count of the pieces of garbage you’ll see strewn about. If there happens to be a ditch lining the sidewalk, well, let’s just say I hope you don’t fall in – you’d drown in a swamp of soft drink cups, grocery bags, cigarette butts and lighters, chocolate bar wrappers, and plastic bottles.

Although littering is incredibly common, seeing someone actually do it right in front of me is painful to watch. Just the other day I was waiting for the bus with an acquaintance who was sipping from a soft drink cup. As the bus pulled up, he set his half finished cup on the sidewalk and hopped on. Speechless, I stared at the cup until I realized I had to get on the bus before the doors shut. I just couldn’t believe that even sensible, intelligent people would litter. I thought about it, and I’ve concluded it’s not because they want to litter, it’s because it just doesn’t cross their mind that they are, to say it politely, “pooping” in their own bed.

Not only does litter look plain old disgusting, it can be dangerous to people, animals, and nature as well. Respect and pride for the city one lives in – as well as for nature and the environment – is a factor in littering as well, but that’s a whole other blog post.

Oftentimes I’ve been a pack mule of sorts for friends, lugging around their garbage or recyclables until I find a proper bin; it would otherwise just end up on the ground. According to curelitter.ca, most litter occurs within 5m of a waste receptacle – apparently ten steps or so is just too far for most people to carry that cigarette butt or foam cup. I think it’s up to the people who take notice (and offense), then, to speak up and let people know what’s what.

I hear the weather’s looking good this weekend; care to join me for a warm spring stroll? I’ll bring the bags and litter grabbers.


The Earth on a Smaller Scale

Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The other day when I was watching the Garbage! documentary by Andrew Nisker, I opted to multitask and clean my fish tank at the same time.

I’ve been keeping fancy goldfish as a hobby for almost 7 years now and learned a lot about keeping my fish alive. People are often surprised when I tell them my oldest goldfish lived to be 6, but even crazier is the fact that goldfish are actually supposed to live to 10 or older.

My fish tank is a contained 30 gallons with a large filter, some live plants, and an aerator. There are a few parameters that need to be constantly checked: Nitrate, Nitrite, and Ammonia. Now since my tank has been set up for a while there are lots of good bacteria on the filter and in the water that help keep my Nitrites and the Ammonia down. I’ve added plants and promoted growth of algae which feed on Nitrates, yet I still have to change the water every week to lower the Nitrates. Nitrates are constantly being created as food decays and the fish releases waste.

Past the science stuff what I’m getting at is that even though I have cultivated a system and environment, it still needs to be maintained. Say I avoid cleaning the tank for a while and the bio system crashes, the tank could still be crystal clear and yet the goldfish could be suffering from ammonia poisoning, nitrate poisoning, or nitrite poisoning. Since I’m on the outside I’m suddenly wondering why I have a sick/dead fish.

Much like the fish tank, the Earth, as large as it may be, is contained. It’s space and resources are fixed and if we abuse it we upset the balance we hurt ourselves in the process. We are given everything and like the goldfish, we unknowingly destroy our home with our waste, chemicals, and garbage. Unlike my lucky goldfish though, we don’t have someone to clean up after us. When we die from chemical poisoning or pollution we will be the only ones to blame.

It’s difficult to understand the expanse of the Earth and our footprint. I encourage everyone to keep a Goldfish to truly understand the difficulty maintaining, and the delicacy of a contained environment. It’s really eye opening.


The Power of Youth

While many people agree and point out that children are our future, there is often a groan of disappointment in this statement. Young adults from the ages of 16-25 are often painted as lazy, unmotivated, good for nothing kids who would rather party then make a difference. That isn’t to say that some aren’t, I’m sure many are, but the past 12 months paint a very different picture.

In the past 12 months we’ve seen a huge rise in social awareness in youth as well as activism. From Occupy Wallstreet to fighting SOPA (Stop online Piracy Act) and the newest movement Kony 2012. Here we have hundreds of thousands of our youth fighting back against something they feel is wrong. Although we are giving it our best we are met with criticism at every turn.

As poor students gathered to “Occupy Wallstreet” their heavy duty commitment to the cause drew it’s fair share of scoffs.  “Get a job” was a common jeer. Another backlash to the movement was the idea that people who were fighting for more equality were just lazy and looking for handouts. Even when people opposed the method, there was almost no constructive criticism. Here you have youth, going out of their way to physically create change in the only way they know how.

Then with the movement against SOPA you had again thousands of youth following the news for developments, lobbying their governments, raising awareness, signing petitions met with more criticism. The same criticism that Kony 2012 is receiving and there is a new word for it: “Slacktivism” The idea behind slacktivism being lazy activism. Critics laugh at the naivety of the youth that changing their facebook photo or sharing a video will change anything.

What I’m getting at, is that it’s there, there is passion and drive within this new generation to create change. Unfortunately this passion is being met negativity. These kids are interested and they are trying their best, they just have no idea how to create change. And it’s everyones responsibility to educate yes, but continue to encourage this passion.

After watching the documentaries “Chemerical” and “Garbage” both directed by Andrew Nisker I was absolutely blown away. There is something wrong with this world, and it’s only going to get worse until we intervene. What I love about both documentaries was it gave the information “Okay, so this is what’s wrong…” and then the most important part “…and this is how you can change it.” That is what makes the Kony 2012 campaign so popular. We want to create change, so tell us how.

People don’t realize how incredibly easy it is to start at home with reducing our carbon footprint as well as protecting ourselves from harmful chemicals in our cleaners and cosmetics. Not only is it easy, it’s also economical. The amount of money saved by creating your own detergent is mind blowing. The problem is this world is being drowned in garbage and chemicals, and those documentaries as well as many other articles can show you how to stop it.

Here it is: the call to action. Watch those documentaries, do your research, and start the change with yourself. Youth, you asked how you can make a change, and this is it.

Now go ahead, get involved: Take Action


Both Chemerical and Garbage can be purchased here:

More ways to make a difference:

This is Pilot. He knows everything about the environment.