Greenest City

I’m supposed to be at a greenest city event right now, but I’m nursing a cold and look a little green around the gills. So thought I would write about the ideas I was going to pitch tonight instead. First a bit of background, our Mayor, Gregor Robertson, wants us to be the greenest city in the world by 2020. Many of us ordinary citizens would like that too. He and his green team have already been installing dedicated bike routes around the city like mad. A little too madly, some of my car-loving friends have grumbled. The Greenest City Council has declared car free days on some of the city’s busiest streets. In July, they approved a green building policy that puts Vancouver in first place in North America. They’ve invited the community to share their ideas in many ways, through the web site, open houses, pitching events, and a poetry slam. Even if you don’t have one green idea yourself, you can at least vote for your faves on-line. It closes October 7th though, so hurry.

Okay, so here’s what I wanted to pitch tonight. Create a zero waste ethic. That is set the highest example of waste diversion on all civic property and in buildings. Have recycling bins everywhere, more than garbage cans. At the pool where I swim, they actually removed the recycling bins from the washrooms because people were throwing garbage into them. Put them back, even if the staff have to sort a little. Oh and make sure all city events are green. Oakland, California, Des Moines, Iowa, and our province of Nova Scotia have green event guides for all events that take place in their cities, including their own. In a nearby municipality, North Shore Recycling lends out zero waste stations to community groups.

My next pitch is right into the toilet. I would like to see us stop using drinking water to flush. Let’s devise a way for people to convert to a grey water system and use dish and bath water for flushing. Olympic Village uses rainwater to flush. In our parks, let’s not use water at all, but instead install composting toilets. There are portable ones available now too and they can be used at events.

I was happy to see a lot of food initiatives being recommended on the web site. I would add, when opening up space for more community gardens, give food deserts priority; those dead spaces that have no grocery stores and often very little green space. So you get two for the price of one: you’re helping people feed themselves and greening the city.

In Toronto, Ontario they’re putting greenhouses on rooftops. We have a lot of tall buildings too. Seems we’d all benefit from this shade of green.

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