Friday, April 22, 2005

Earth Day Inventions

In the past 35 years, there's been no shortage of inventive inventions aimed at reducing eco-footprints; we've come a long way from the old brick-in-the-toilet trick. Today's new refrigerators use about a third of the power as ones sold 30 years ago, and the U.S. government has plans to boost fridge efficiency an additional 30 percent by 2011. Tank-less water heaters offer steamy scrubs while consuming less energy. But being green isn't always about saving green. Organic furniture store owner Fred Shapiro says some 70 percent of his customer base consists of "cultural creatives" -- style-savvy consumers who are willing to spend more for eco-friendly options that also look good. Green options also sound good, say members of Rhode Island-based band Protium, who are claiming the mantle of the first hydrogen-powered rock band. The six-member group will be rocking three fuel-cell generators to power their guitars and amps during an Earth Day concert.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Food For Thought - Fair Trade Fish?

There is an excellent article in the Courier April 20th about 'the price of sushi' - it is written by Rhiannon Coppin-contributing writer, and is some very fine and thorough journalism.

Here's a Condensed version

Sushi is the most obvious example of Vancouver's love for and consumption of seafood. But as a relatively affordable food it also comes with a hidden environmental cost. As the true price of sushi catches up with us in the form of collapsing stocks, struggling independent fishermen, the exploitation of the waters of the southern hemisphere, and health concerns, sushi lovers are in a position as consumers to make a difference in how we get our food. But they have little choice now when it comes to seafood. Unlike coffee, which is often labelled so that we can narrow down our purchase based on its fair trade or organic status and country of origin, the origins of our seafood, for the most part, remain a mystery.

Tojo notes the explosion of what he feels are low-quality sushi bars in Vancouver in the past eight years, and shakes his head. They can get away with cheaper lower-quality tuna, marked-down farmed salmon, and rely even-in the case of supermarkets-on mechanized sushi machines which prepare rolls that can sit around for up to three days in the deli.

"From the customer side, you must be more educated."

It is now common for fossil fuel inputs to absolutely dwarf the energy to be gained by eating the fish.

It is a basic cost-expense equation. If the amount of energy used in fishing exceeds the amount of energy contained in the fish caught, it is a wasteful endeavour. And so it is with many of our fisheries, which continue production even though stocks are for the most part in decline thanks to larger boats, more efficient technology, and diesel-lots of diesel.

The energy return on investment of fishing for wild salmon, or the amount of energy in all the landings divided by the energy-mainly fuel-used in catching the fish, is around seven per cent. Mining tuna, "the chicken of the sea," is about as efficient as raising actual chickens: around three per cent. Farmed salmon requires twice as much energy to raise as wild salmon requires to be caught.

According to the UN, exports of fish and fish products to wealthier nations from developing nations, which may not share Canadian standards of marine conservation and stewardship, is an industry close to four times as large as the coffee export business, and ties up more money in exports than cocoa, bananas, rubber, and tea combined.

But we can have our sushi and eat it too, at least that's what the UN hoped when in March its Fisheries and Agriculture Organisation created and adopted a set of voluntary guidelines for the eco-labelling of fish products. Eco-labelling of seafood has already occurred to a small extent with the "dolphin-safe" certifications, but new guidelines would have seafood products labelled with country and region of origin as well as method of harvest or catch.

It's part of what they hope will become a global marketing strategy targeted at choosy middle-class consumers, aimed at improving seafood's oft-salty image.

"Do I think we should have fair trade fishing? Sure, it's a great idea. But can you implement it? I guess it really does start with the consumer," says Greenwood, now finishing her meal.

There's a reason sushi is cheap in Vancouver, mainly that the true price we pay is hidden. Eco-labelling of seafood could become the next "fair trade coffee" issue, putting information, incentives, and choice back in the hands of consumers. In the meantime, we'll keep chowing down like there's no tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The New Arrivals

It's been a while since we've sent out a newsletter, and a part of the reason for that is there have been a lot of changes here at Creative Wonders.

So without further ado, Creative Wonders would like to welcome its new staff.

Nancy Page, our new Art Director, hails originally from Montreal, and recently from Vancouver Island where she worked freelance for twelve years. Nancy is currently completing her Masters degree at Syracuse University through the independent study program. She has worked with Quiznos Canada, Capers and Pharmasave. In her free time Nancy enjoys rock climbing, hiking and spending time with her dog, Sam I am.

Mike Catherall, our new Creative Strategist, fills a dual role as both Copywriter and Strategic Planner. Mike recently returned to Vancouver from Australia where he did a Master of Communications. Mike's background consists of making regional television ads in Australia for clients such as Jox&Sox, Blackwatch and Mustang Cruisers as well as travelling the Earth, from the sands of the Sahara to the jungles of Guatemala. Mike enjoys travelling, running and playing hockey.

Tracy Ho has joined Creative Wonders as our new Graphic Designer. With a Bachelors Degree in Graphic Design from the University of Manitoba and five years of design experience under her belt, Tracy is ready to guide her star over to the Creative Wonders constellation. Here Tracy can bring her technical design skills to the forefront to shine. When not making stellar marketing campaigns, posters, logos and websites, Tracy likes to swim, rollerblade and spend time outdoors.

Daisy Tattersall comes to Creative Wonders as our new Administrative Designer, a unique position that combines graphic design with the management of the front office. In her seven years of design experience, Daisy has worked with Athletica Knit, Bernia of Canada and as a freelance designer on clients such as Kashiri, Relaxus and Orca Bay. Daisy has a strong education in graphic arts, fine arts and animation, and is a graduate from the Vancouver Film School, VanArts, and George Brown College out East. When not putting the finishing touches on your work, Daisy enjoys painting, running, drumming and acting.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

What's the spin?

Coca-Cola vows to change perception of its practices abroad
The Associated Press - ATLANTA

The Coca-Cola Co. vowed Tuesday to change the perception of people who still believe it permits abusive practices abroad, a tough sell to some shareholders who bombarded the beverage giant with questions about human rights and water depletion.

At his first annual meeting since taking over the Atlanta-based company's top post, chief executive Neville Isdell had his hands full pushing through Coke's routine business of the day.

Shareholders didn't want to talk about re-electing the board of directors or appointing an independent auditor. Instead, they questioned Isdell about issues he's heard before, namely the killings of several union workers at Coke bottling plants in Colombia and accusations that some of Coke's plants in India have depleted local groundwater.

Isdell said Coke has not done anything wrong in the two countries, noting that government inquiries in Colombia have dismissed the accusations that Coke was complicit in the deaths by failing to protect workers there. He also said a high court in India has sided with Coke over the water dispute. Even so, Isdell conceded that the company's best efforts to put the questions to rest have not been successful. Last year's annual meeting also descended into questions about alleged abuses abroad.

"As long as anyone continues to believe these allegations, we're going to take them seriously" and work to change people's perceptions, Isdell said.

Isdell turned down a request from one angry shareholder representative to have a face-to-face debate with him, saying "I get many of those (requests) and I respectfully decline that at this point in time." Later, he said the company will engage "anybody who believes, even though they're wrong, the accusations."

According to preliminary voting results released during the meeting, the two company proposals were approved. Three shareholder proposals voted on at the meeting in Wilmington, Del., including one that would have restricted compensation for current executives and another that would have restricted severance packages given to departing executives, were rejected.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Positive News - Parking Lots offer incentives for fuel-effiecient vehicles

EasyPark lots in Vanouver are planning to initiate a pilot project in June that will provide cheaper parking for hybrid vehicles.

Motorists driving Toyota Prius, Mercedes SmartCar or the new Honda Civic will be offered free parking for a while, and then parking at significantly discounted rates.

Currently, the drivers of these cars are offered a 25% discount, as an incentive to cut down on greenhouse gasses.

Motorcyles and people who carpool are also offered discounts, but the public response has been weak due to a lack of awareness.

Only two or three people took advantage of that offer.

Marion Town, the Executive Director for Better Environmentally Sound Transportation stated, "The more we can get drivers to go out and purchase low-emission vehicles I think the better off the downtown will be."