Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 11, 2006
Celebrate an ecological Advent
Pay as you spend Mother Earth's depleting resources
By SUZANNE ELSTON
This year may very well go down as the year that we finally woke up to the reality of global warming. Our planet is in peril and we have a very small window of opportunity to turn things around. What's needed is for everyone to make a commitment to reduce his or her greenhouse gas emissions. We can accomplish this in a variety of ways.
To get started, this year's Advent Sharing Calendar will focus on reducing our energy consumption, recycling more and buying less.
To begin, create an Advent Sharing box. Take a small box or coffee can, put a slot in the lid, and then wrap the container in Christmas paper.
Monetary gifts are added every day until the Epiphany (Jan. 6). Gifts should be added as follows:
Dec. 1: If your home has been untouched by violent weather, put a loonie in the box.
Dec. 2: Add another loonie if your tap water is safe. As Greater Vancouver recently discovered, heavy rainfalls can contaminate otherwise safe drinking water supplies.
Dec. 3: If you drove today when you could have taken public transit, add a loonie.
Dec. 4: If you drive an eight-cylinder vehicle, add a toonie. If you drive a six-cylinder vehicle, add a loonie. If you have a fuel-efficient, four-cylinder vehicle or hybrid car, pat yourself on the back.
Dec. 5: If you don't use a programmable thermostat, add 50 cents. You'll need to hang onto the rest of your cash to pay for your heating bill.
Dec. 6: Add 50 cents for every string of Christmas lights on your house. Add 25 cents for every floodlight.
Dec. 7: If you live above sea level, add $1. The World Health Organization estimates that 150,000 people will die this year as a result of global warming. Many of them will drown in low-lying coastal areas.
Dec. 8: Add five cents for every year of your life untouched by natural disasters.
Dec. 9: Add 10 cents for every produce item you bought this week that was imported from the U.S. Add 25 cents for items imported from Australia, Asia or South America.
Dec. 10: Add 10 cents for every light bulb in your house that could be replaced by a compact fluorescent bulb.
Dec. 11: Add 50 cents if you haven't had your car tuned up in the last six months. A properly tuned engine can improve fuel efficiency by 10 per cent.
Dec. 12: If you haven't checked your tire pressure lately, add another 50 cents. Properly inflated tires can provide a six to eight per cent fuel saving.
Dec. 13: Add 25 cents for every heavily packaged Christmas present that you've bought.
Dec. 14: Add a loonie for every gift purchased that requires electricity to operate. (This includes battery operated toys and games.) Subtract a loonie for every energy or water efficient gift that you purchase.
Dec. 15: Add 10 cents for every present that you wrap with previously unused paper. Save money and energy by reusing paper, making your own gift-wrap from recycled paper, or investing in cloth gift bags that can be reused for years.
Dec. 16: Add a loonie for every degree that your daytime thermostat is set above 20 degrees C.
Dec. 17: Add a loonie for every degree that your nighttime thermostat is set above 17 degrees C.
Dec. 18: Add a loonie every time that you leave your car idling while parked.
Dec. 19: Add $5 if you don't recycle. The energy saved by recycling a single aluminum can could power a television for two hours or a laptop computer for three hours.
Dec. 20: Add a dollar if you buy your holiday beer in cans, not refillable bottles.
Dec. 21: On this, the darkest day of the year, add two cents for every light bulb inside your house.
Dec. 22: When visiting friends and family, slow down! Add 10 cents for every km/h you drive above the speed limit.
Dec. 23: If you take a drive around the neighbourhood to see the Christmas lights, add $5. Walking is better and allows you to enjoy the lights.
Dec. 24: On this most magical of nights, add a toonie if you leave your Christmas lights on after bedtime.
Dec. 25: If you don't recycle Christmas wrappings and boxes, add a loonie.
Dec. 26: If you don't compost the remains of Christmas dinner, add a toonie.
Dec. 27: If you braved the Boxing Week sales, add $5. If you drove alone to the mall, add another $5.
Dec. 28: When heating up holiday leftovers, add 50 cents if you used the oven rather than the microwave.
Dec. 29: Add 50 cents for every load of laundry that you don't wash in cold water.
Dec. 30: Add a loonie for every showerhead in your home that isn't low-flow.
Dec. 31: Add five cents for every disposable glass, plate and napkin you use at your New Year's Eve party.
Jan. 1: Resolve to use less electricity this year. Visit www.weconserve.ca and take the pledge!
Jan. 2: Develop a conservation plan for your family.
Jan. 3: Challenge co-workers and employers to make their own plan.
Jan. 4: Make a commitment and a budget to replace energy inefficient appliances.
Jan. 5: Sit down with your family and decide where you would like to send the contents of your Advent Sharing box. Suggestions include the Conservation Council of Ontario (www.greenontario.org) and The Pembina Institute (pembina.org).
Jan. 6 (Epiphany): Send a cheque to the charity of your choice.
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