Category Archives: Climate Change

Farmers Markets for District of North Vancouver

Photo: Natalie Maynor

Tonight the District of North Vancouver’s Mayor and Council will debate the merits of a proposal for two farmers markets. The two proposed locations are at Lynn Valley Village Plaza and Parkgate Plaza, and would run for a trail period of one year. The proposal on the table tonight would authorize staff to modify special events permits to allow for events like a farmers market on public lands.

There’s nothing like buying your fresh produce from a local farmer – the person that put in the sweat equity to make that carrot so sweet and crunchy! Farmers Markets provide the opportunity to buy fresh healthy local produce, support our local economy, and of course create the connection between food purchasers and producers.

To support the proposal for Farmers Markets in the District of North Vancouver you can:

  1. Write to Mayor and Council – we’ve even created an email that you can cut and paste if you’re short on time. Email them at:

Dear Mayor and Council,

I am writing in support of the proposal for the Farmers Market trials in North Vancouver. Farmers Markets provide access to fresh local food, an opportunity to get outside and meet new people, and support our local economy in BC. I would like to see Farmers Markets in North Vancouver, and I hope that you will support this proposal.


  1. Attend the Council Meeting – tonight (Dec 13th) at 7:00pm, 355 West Queens Road, North Vancouver

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Filed under Climate Change, Politics, Urban Agriculture

Copenhagen Wrapped Up?

Masked climate activists protest outside U.N. climate talks in Bangkok, Thailand on Friday, Oct. 2, 2009, (AP Photo)

The negotiations in Copenhagen have finished, and dignitaries, world leaders, and activists are heading home with copies of the draft Copenhagen Accord in their pockets. It’s not what many had hoped for, and I’m feeling disappointed and deflated as I read over the outcomes.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to scavenge for scraps of “insider news” from the Bella Centre for the last couple of weeks, then you might find this brief summary of what has come out of Copenhagen useful. I wasn’t there, and I have not read the draft Accord, but this is what I know:

Copenhagen Accord: The Basics

  • No legally binding emissions targets were set. From what I understand, countries have been asked to develop and submit their mid-term (2020) emissions targets by February 2010. However, the Accord includes a target of 80% reductions from 1990 levels by 2050.
  • Negotiators settled on limiting temperature rise to 2C. This has major implications for developing nations, and is significantly higher then the 1.5C rise that many environmental groups, developing nations, and climate scientists have been advocating for…. not ambitious.
  • A date for the peak of global emissions was not set.
  • A statement regarding the important role of deforestation in climate change was included in the Copenhagen Accord, but it is vague and does not specify mechanisms for an outcome from Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+).
  • This accord is not a replacement of the Kyoto Protocol – an important factor because it means that countries are still responsible for their commitments in the Kyoto Protocol, as well as what comes from the final version of the Copenhagen Accord.
  • As for “fairness,” $30bn of funding for developing nations from 2010-2012 was promised, increasing to $100bn by 2020. These funds will go to the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund – no specifics on who the money will come from, or how it will be used. From what I understand, developing nations will need to agree to international monitoring and verification of their emissions to be eligible to receive funding.
  • Nations have agreed to reconvene in 2015 to readdress targets like the maximum temperature rise of 2C.
  • A goal to make the Copenhagen Accord a legally binding document by the end of 2010.
  • The first time in history that all major greenhouse gas emitting nations (both developed and developing) came together to slow the threat of climate change.

What’s Next?
Canada will be hosting the next G20 Summit in June, and there are already whispers of organizing to show world leaders (once again) how important climate change is to the people they represent. The Copenhagen Accord should become a legally binding document at the COP16 in Mexico City, December 2010 – perfect timing for a sunny vacation… just kidding!

Meanwhile, developed nations have to meet the February 2010 deadline for submitting their specific mid-term emissions targets. From the leaked documents revealing Canada’s position on this, it looks like we have a lot of work to do in January to show Harper and our Government that their proposal is not acceptable.

Take Action
Calling my MP seemed intimidating at first, but then I remembered that his job is to represent me and that if I don’t tell him what I think then he can make as many assumptions about the views of his constituents as he wants. With that in mind, it felt great to tell him (actually his answering machine) what I thought of Canada’s role at Copenhagen, our government’s weak emissions targets, and lack of funding for alternative energy and green jobs.

If you haven’t already, please call your MP and Prime Minister Steven Harper – tell them what you think! Watch how easy it is here.

“While the reality of climate change is not in doubt, […] our ability to take collective action is in doubt…” President Barack Obama

In the coming weeks and months we will need to come together to send a strong and clear message to our government to take action on climate change. Keep your eyes peeled and an ear to the ground for local groups and actions you can participate in. Talk to your friends, family, and collegues about what future you want to see, and then start ‘doing’. We cannot rely on government to organize all the solutions. We cannot stand alone in the face of climate change – identify your strengths and share them with your community to create the blueprint for our survival.

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Mojave Going Green

I connected with Paul of Mojave on Twitter. He heard about the NoTankers Loonie campaign, and thought it was really cool. After watching the video clips about the campaign he was even more shocked by what could happen to our coasts if oil tanker traffic is allowed to proceed, and wanted to support the NoTanker loonies to help stop them. SO, we’re going to be giving out decals at Mojave’s show at the Roxy on Tuesday night (Feb 10).

“Mojave is an acoustic duo formed in 2007 from rock roots that now combines folk and classical elements, including the violin in their live shows. Their first album, Stories, was released digitally in order to save on wasteful packaging and tours that have taken them across the border and back have been offset through Tree Canada.

On top of encouraging sustainable lifestyles, the band also donates a portion of their profits to 1% for the Planet and will support a Dogwood“, during their next show February 10th in Vancouver at The Roxy for “Indie Night in Canada“. … read more.

The NoTanker loonies have been picking up a lot of media attention! Despite the fact that the Royal Canadian Mint has sent a cease and desist order, we’re still moving forward.

“We have been very careful not to deface any coins,” said Campbell. “The Notanker decals can be removed by a flick of the finger and the loonies brought back to their former selves. The same can’t be said of an oil spill on our coast. In a world facing huge risks from global warming the risk of legal sanctions for blackening loonies with oil spill decals seems minor.” ... read more.

See you on Tuesday @ the Roxy!

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Save BC Coast – One Loonie At a Time

Photo credit: Richard Vignola on Flickr

In typical Emily fashion – I’ve found a(nother) passion! I’ve always been a fan of BC’s beautiful coast line – kayaking in the Broken Island Group and studying the tide-pools around Bamfield. Coastal northern BC, especially Haida Gwaii, is on the top of my to-go list.

In the fall I went to a presentation about the impact of the Alberta Tar Sands on BC. Very insightful presentation – I was totally clueless to the plans of major pipelines being built to connect the Tar Sands to our coastal ports. I also was not aware that Prime Minister Harper has decided to ignore a  37 year old moratorium on oil tanker traffic in BC coastal waters – the only thing stopping MAJOR oil tanker traffic from Asia slurping up Tar Sands oil. Hmmmm….

5 Reasons to Stop Tar Sands Tankers on Our Coast:

1. The certainty of oil spills

Oil spills are a matter of when and how large, not IF. At a rate of two to three tankers a week, industry averages suggest a ‘major’ spill of over 10,000 barrels every 16 years.

2. The impossible clean up

In ideal conditions the oil industry considers a 15% clean-up of spills a success, a target they have never actually achieved.

3. The local ecology

The tanker routes pass approximately 605 salmon spawning rivers, orca feeding grounds and the habitat of over 20 threatened and endangered species.

4. Jobs and communities

An oil spill would devastate the coastal communities and First Nations that rely on tourism and fishing for their livelihoods

5. Global warming

Oil tankers in BC are to facilitate the massive projected expansion of the Alberta Tar Sands, the single largest contributor to the growth of Canada’s global warming causing emissions.

Learn more…

    These decals ARE LEGAL because they stick by friction not 'sticky' stuff.

These decals ARE LEGAL because they stick by friction not 'sticky' stuff.

So what to do? Superman-esk cape flapping in the coastal breeze, the Dogwood Initiative is here! With a WICKED campaign lined up to launch in early February – I’ve got the inside scoop*. They’re distributing No Tanker decals that turn the loon and water on our one dollar coins black with ‘oil’.

The goal: 1,000,000 NoTanker loonies in circulation to get people talking about the threat of the Tar Sands oil in BC, and supporting the moratorium that Harper is ignoring.

Where can I find the NoTanker decals?

Once you’ve got the decals, stick them on every loonie you’ve got! Register your No Tanker loonie sightings, spend them, give them to friends, and then order more decals! OH! Don’t forget to sign the petition.

I’m hosting a Loonie party soon, and I can hook you up with the supplies to do the same – pretty easy, all you need are decals and friends! Who doesn’t love sticker parties?

If you’re a business, and you’re interested in sponsoring the No Tanker Loonies, let me know. It a pretty sweet deal – you’ll be featured on the No Tankers website, put on the interactive map, and caught up in all the media buzz this campaign will create. Did I mention the decals are totally cheap?

* I’m the volunteer coordinator for Vancouver. Contact me if you’d like to host a Loonie Party, or you own a business that would like to sponsor the No Tanker Loonies – emily at urbanwren dot com


Filed under Climate Change, Politics, Water

PodMob for Sustainable Sushi all Rolled-Up

We can change business as usual.

We buy things everyday.  Businesses will do anything for money. Businesses will do anything for our money… so why don’t we use that power?  To use our purchasing power requires organization, and until the Carrotmob came around, groups hadn’t seen ‘our money’ organized on a grassroots level successfully. We took the concept to Vancouver, and we’ve called it the PodMob*.

Chalk drawings on Robson Street

Chalk drawings on Robson Street

*Pod – group of Vancouverites. Mob – the act of organizing our purchasing at one place and time.

The concept: A big group gets together and agrees to buy things at one place and time.  Now, we have pooled our money into a large sum we can use to negotiate with. Negotiate what?

How about sustainable sushi?

Vancouver is full of sushi – the West End alone has over 20 sushi spots. I can’t convince a sushi restaurant to drop farmed salmon from their menu or start composting scraps by threatening not to purchase a $10 sushi combo.  But a group of 100, 200, or 300 people that stop in for sushi on a particular day does have enough combined money to persuade a sushi restaurant to step up to our challenge to green their restaurant.


The challenge:

  1. Green your operations (i.e. energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management, and purchasing/supply chain).
  2. Label your menu so we know what items are sustainable (based on the Seafood Watch Sustainable Sushi Guide).
  3. Offer at least one “Best Choice” item from the Seafood Watch Sustainable Sushi Guide.

What does ‘greening your operations’ really mean? The Green Table Network heard about the PodMob and stepped in to offer a one-year membership to the business we PodMobbed. They are experts in greening the hospitality industry, and their membership provides tools, guides, and a great network.

The Seafood Watch Sustainable Sushi Guide bases it’s ranking of ‘sustainable fish’ on the state of natural stocks, fish farming practices, harvesting methods, and health concerns (i.e. PCBs and mercury).

The Flores Brothers from Sushi Bento Express

The Flores Brothers from Sushi Bento Express

The bidding:
It all started on a rainy November day. I walked into almost every sushi restaurant in the West End, and told them I would bring them a mob of paying customers if they committed the highest percentage of one day’s revenue to ‘greening’ their restaurant.  Considering the state of the fish stocks across the globe, we also asked the restaurant if they would spruce up their menu with some sustainable sushi options.

Shad DJs ROCK!

Shad DJ's ROCK!hi options.

A handful of restaurants stepped up to the challenge and wanted to dig their teeth in and learn more.

The top bid came from Sushi Bento Express at 31% of revenue from November 20th.

The PodMob

I met a girl while I was canvasing the sushi restaurants that thought her boyfriend, Simon, would totally be into lending a hand. So I met up with Simon, who works at Change, about a week before the PodMob. He also introduced me to Lorien, from Limelight Events. Between the two of them we handled a whole bunch of last minute things that I hadn’t had time to think about and designed some awesome posters! We pulled together a great night that harnessed West Enders’ purchasing power to create change in a local business.The PodMob was a success!

Lisa Johnson from CBC covered the story on the 6 o’clock news, and the CBC wrote an article on sustainable sushi. I also got

the chance to speak with Mike McDermid from the Ocean Wise program on BC Almanac with Mark Forsythe. Jackie Wong wrote an article in the  WestEnder that featured our story on November 20th. Sushi Bento Express put together a sustainable sushi combo menu just for the day. Shah DJs pumped out awesome tunes. Boyd, our sponsor from, asked trivia questions and gave out bamboo t-shirts.  Tiny Bites popped in to review the sustainable sushi scene. An intrepid trio from Bowen Island even made the trip across the drink to munch on guilt-free sushi. Of course, there was also a mob of West Enders that kept the Flores brothers busy all night. We’ve got pictures to prove it!

What impact did we have?? Drum roll please…..

85% increase in revenue!

Over 100 Podmobbers on the scene.

Sushi Bento Express upped their contribution to ‘going green’ to 33% – they rock!

The Flores brothers were amazed by how many people showed up for the PodMob, and they’ve decided to keep the sustainable sushi combos on the menu full time. They’ve also committed to labeling their menu with green, yellow, and red dots so you can make informed choices, and exploring Ocean Wise Certification.

Where did the PodMobbers come from? Some saw our youtube videos, got an email, saw a poster, facebook, or heard about it from a friend.

Eat sushi. Save the ocean.

Line up out the door

Line up out the door

With an introductory meeting with the Green Table Network under their belt, the next step is an audit. A Green Table representative will spend half a day at the restaurant observing how things run, and then they will be able to compile a list of suggestions. This is where energy efficiency, water conservation, and waste management will improve.

Eat sushi. Save the climate.

We’re going to keep tabs on the changes that happen at Sushi Bento Express, and report back what the impact. How many kilowatt-hours, liters of water, and kilograms of waste are diverted? Stay tuned!

Eat sushi. Save the planet.

Congratulations to everyone that came out and participated in the PodMob! You rock!

3rdwhale Bamboo T-shirt Winner

A 3rdwhale Bamboo T-shirt Winner

Originally posted at


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Ocean Wise Fish

A Vancouver Aquarium Conservation Program

Ocean Wise Symbol for Sustainable Menu Items

Ocean Wise Symbol for Sustainable Menu Items

Navigating Sustainable Seafood

Ocean Wise. Seafood Watch. Sea Choice. It’s a confusing world of consumer guides and restaurant programs out there! Here are the basic differences:

Ocean Wise – initiative out of the Vancouver Aquarium that promotes adoption of sustainable seafood in restaurants.

Seafood Watch – consumer guide out of the Monterey Bay Aquarium (American).

Sea Choice – Canadian consumer guide.

How does Ocean Wise define sustainable seafood?

“Sustainable seafood is, very simply, seafood caught in a way that ensures the health of the ocean for years to come. Ocean Wise choices are species that are:

  • abundant and resilient to fishing pressures
  • managed as part of a comprehensive plan based on current research
  • harvested in ways that limit accidentals bycatch of other, possibly endangered species
  • harvested in ways that limit damage to ocean habitats.

From the Ocean Wise Brochure

What is the Ocean Wise Program?

Ocean Wise is a free voluntary program for restaurants that want to serve sustainable seafood. The whole menu doesn’t have to make the switch, but at least one unsustainable item has to be removed or replaced (every six months), and sustainable options highlighted so customers can clearly identify ocean-friendly choices.

The Vancouver Aquarium lists participating restaurants in their Ocean Wise directory, provides training sessions for staff, media resources, and access to an extensive network of chefs committed to sustainable seafood.

Participating restaurants:

  • complete an assessment of their menu
  • remove at least one unsustainable option
  • use the Ocean Wise logo on sustainable menu options
  • commit to removing an additional unsustainable item every six months
  • participate in information sessions for front line and kitchen staff
  • commit to keeping staff informed of Ocean Wise info

Check out the Ocean Wise Restaurant Directory here.

Sushi Bento Express is going to offer sustainable sushi options, and they’ve agreed to labeling their menu – they’re only a few steps away from being Ocean Wise! I’m going to bring the information that I have on Ocean Wise to the folks at Sushi Bento Express – maybe they’ll take those last steps and be the first small sushi spot in Vancouver to be Ocean Wise.

Originally posted at

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The Green Table Network

Vancouver based organization that helps restaurants “go green”


I’m really excited that the Green Table Network (GTN) has donated a one-year membership to Sushi Bento Express for winning the PodMob. The membership will provide the folks at Sushi Bento Express with tools and guidelines for greening their restaurant that are based on local and international standards, and tailored specifically for restaurants.The GTN provides guidance on solid waste management, water conservation, energy conservation, pollution prevention, and purchasing. They’ll also get access to advice and support from GTN Green Experts, a network of wicked local suppliers that have greened their own operations and products.

From what I understand, the membership that Sushi Bento Express is receiving will not qualify them as “green,” and they’ll have to meet specific criteria to be publicly listed as a GTN Approved Member. They’ll be able to use the assessment tools that GTN provides or hire an auditor to determine what changes need to be made and create an action plan.

The minimum requirements met by GTN Approved Members are:

1. Eliminated Styrofoam and non recyclable plastics

2. implemented container and paper recycling programs

3. Installed low-flow spray nozzles on all dish/cleaning sinks

4. Posted “turn it off” light and faucet reminders

5. Retro-fit current incandescent lighting to energy efficient technologies

6. Purchased 30-100% pcf paper products (choose at lease 2: bathroom tissue paper, towels, napkins, office paper, menus, business cards)

7. Have created a Sustainable Purchasing Policy

8. Chosen 1 protein with an organic/sustainable/ethical source

If Sushi Bento Express meets all these criteria, they’ll be listed publicly as a GTN Approved Member, and then audited annually to ensure that they’re keeping up with their green initiatives.

The combined waste, water, and energy savings of all 65 operators signed on with the GTN is impressive!

  • 285 tonnes of solid waste diverted
  • 76.5 million litres of water reduced
  • 159,310 kW electricity reduced
  • 12770 GJ natural gas reduced
  • $110,173 operating cost savings

With everyone’s support this Thursday, I think we’ll give Sushi Bento Express plenty of incentive to go for GTN Aproved Member status!

– PodMob – Thursday Nov 20, 2008 –

-Party & Prizes between 6pm – 9pm –

– 1258 Robson Street (between Jervis & Bute) –

Originally posted at

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