Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – Fairs, Exhibitions, and not resorting to plastic during the Summer Season – Cornwall Ontario – July 12, 2010

Cornall ON – Well the summer flurry of fairs and exhibitions is in full swing.  These are wonderful events which offer the opportunity to reconnect with old friends and to meet new ones.  Attending these events often includes purchasing a meal on site and everything always tastes better when someone else makes it so support your local vendors and take a break from cooking.
We can avoid the guilt of all the garbage such an extravagance offers by packing a container that your local vendor can fill with your purchased meal and your own reusable utensils.  Chop Sticks are a great utensil to consider packing for just such an adventure because they also force you eat a little slower and enjoy the meal.  Also, avoid the plastic trap by packing enough water in your own reusable container to keep you hydrated for the day.  This small change over the year can eliminate a room full of plastic from our landfill sites.

If you are hosting a special event over this summer or next and are interested in ‘greening up’ your event you may visit and view or download documentation entitled “Greening Your Event” to help you do exactly that.  Any journey begins with the first step so incorporating one small change can make a huge difference in the long run.  Please feel free to share it with the companies and organizations you associate with.
I attended a Canada Day Celebration in South Mountain this past July 1 and sadly noticed no blue boxes on the premises for people’s recyclables.  Your help and voices are needed to get these simple helpful measures in place.  Come on people…it is 2010.  Not having blue boxes in place for our community and municipal events is absolutely unacceptable.

My family has been doing rather well in staying away from plastic film and Styrofoam in our weekly grocery purchases.  This has meant that we have had to bypass products that we would love to purchase such as corn or grapes which I have only seen in plastic over the past few weeks.  Farm Boy has been our source for meat and cold cuts as they are willing to pack requests in paper or in containers we supply.

We have also discovered a second Grocery Store in Cornwall who has a meat counter, Gosselin’s Super Market which means we can avoid the plastic Styrofoam route for purchasing our meat products.  With the abundance of locally grown produce available at our local farmers’ markets and produce stands plastic is easy to avoid as long as you remember to bring your reusable grocery bags.
Smart tip of the week:  Consider using an insulated carafe to put your pot of hot tea or coffee in.  We have used such a carafe over the last few years.  The carafe of coffee stays hot for several hours and saves us considerable electricity in the process as we do not continually heat or might I say cook the coffee with the coffeemaker.  A great energy and flavour saver and great when you are entertaining a house full of company.  The stainless steel carafe was purchased for about $45.00; an investment that has paid for itself several times over.

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  1. Jacqueline;
    You have some good ideas. however I see other sides that have not yet been answered having been involved in a local food business.

    What do you do with the butcher paper after you use the products? It is not recyclable and having stored meat products is susceptible to bacteria growth if not disposed of properly. Which is to say, storing it in recycling areas is not a good idea either.

    As for using your own containers, it is a great idea and should be done by more of us. As always a question, what do you think the health board would say if more people began bringing in personal containers and having the merchants handling them.

    Sorry to be a stick but I believe you have now opened a sanitary issue for some of these stores with the EOHU.

  2. Smee, Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on Earth Matters.
    Googled “is it sanitary to bring your own container to have someone fill it?” and came up with many articles on the subject, most from the states. Check out
    a Canadian site and
    to name a couple. Obviously I’m not the only person who attempts such maneuvers. In all cases that I have had a vendor refill or fill a container, the container never goes to a food prep area. Tim Hortons regularly fills clients cups so I do not anticipate my actions being a problem for the health unit however I will certainly look into this further. As for the paper from the butcher, I have been putting it in the recycle bin, I guess I could compost it as well. I made the assumption that is was recyclable. Even if it is not, I think I am being a little kinder to the planet by insisting on the paper and avoiding the plastic and Styrofoam. Don’t you think so?

  3. I agree Jacqueline; there is absolutely no need for Styrofoam. All we need do is look to past practices it all seemed to work pretty well for us then. Having some experience in a food grade poly-ethylene facility I can tell you people working there will never place warm foods in any plastic containers, pretty much all people use glass.

    I have questioned how Tim Horton’s and other restaurants can fill a cup from the carafe every time it is brought in. Imagine having driven for a time sipping coffee then needing another and again stopping at Timmies to have them fill the cup. They take the soiled cup in hand, and then pour from the carafe into the same place someone just drank from, or perhaps coughed all over in the car.

    Seems kind of contradictory to many recent health scare issues don’t you think?

    I think the idea of saving the environment is a great idea and long over due.
    My only issue, which makes me appear to be the ever present thorn, is people become obsessed with their plight such that they cannot see the forest for the trees. The environment is more becoming a business venture and political soap box then an issue of sustainability.

    Take a good look in the area at who is on the committees promoting relating to the environment. They are retirees, politicians and long time term civil servants. What the area seems to be lacking is people with more of a global insight and experience abroad. Outside the box if you will.
    I am positive the people now doing the leg work are try their best and often running up against brick walls, the only way to fix that problem is to bring in a new and fresh ideas.

    I have yet to see anyone create a soap box and outright and publicly challenge Mr Brownell to pass a private members bill where in we do not permit bottled water sales in Cornwall, or eliminate the use of plastic bags in grocery stores, if Schwarzenegger can do it whay can’t Jim?

    Platforms such as these are what is needed to encourage sustainability. Articles such as yours and our current approach is exactly what is needed by the people in industry and government while they stall the process hoping to save money.

    The diversion tactics practices are quite common here in North America. The so called oil crisis a few years back. Fuel was for my car &0.67/L. They cry fowl prices are hiked in excess of $1.00 and now we are happy with 0.85/L.
    They are doing the same thing with the environment, oh save the planet and use enviromentally friendly lighting. For that we increase manufacturing to produce mercury filled lights because they are environmentally friendly? Or because we need to stimulate the Asian economy…..

    Fixing it is easy, the enviroment is pretty good at self maintenance. The procedure is the problem

  4. Concerning the South Mountain event. As with most of these types of functions, volunteers make the event, and there is less and less of them. You would think some enterprising high school kids who need volunteer hours to graduate, could be enlisted to handle the recycle part. That would be a win win.

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