Friday, November 16, 2007

Treasure hunting in an outdoor art gallery

"Geocache and discover public art in North Vancouver", says Lori Philips of the City of North Vancouver Public Art Program.

Fans of the great outdoor activity, geocaching, are excited about new locations around the North Shore. Thanks to the efforts of the City of North Vancouver Public Art Program 10 brand new geocaches will be placed in late October this year. They will be stashed near some of the city’s less known public art pieces to help the public discover those hidden items of culture in this beautiful city.

If you would like more information on public art, the Public Art Program has a brochure and map detailing the public art and they invite anyone who is interested to call the office at 604-984-9582 to obtain a copy. The brochure has a description of the work and the artists involved. You can find more information on their website (

So how do you find them and what the heck is geocaching?

Geocaching is one of the fastest-growing sports/adventure/hobbies in the world today. It is a family-friendly, vacation-friendly activity that involves using satellite technology to look for hidden treasures. More importantly, geocaching is about finding new places you can explore, that you would never have discovered unless someone took you there.

It involves taking the locations of the cache (a waterproof plastic box containing information about the area, a log book and goodies) from internet websites like and tracking them down using a hand held GPS (Global Positioning System). A GPS is a handheld device that shows your exact latitude and longitude coordinates anywhere on earth by triangulating from several satellites. There are over 400,000 geocaches around the world and more are being placed every day.

Lori Philips says, “This is a new idea for the Public Art Program. There are currently more than 21,000 caches in Canada, and many right here on the North Shore. People are participating in this activity but it's the first time Geocaching has been used by the municipality to help people discover some of the amazing public art installations managed by the City of North Vancouver “

“Approximately 55 million people view public art firsthand everyday, says Lori Phillips, “geocaching is a new way to direct people towards our local public artworks in a fun and family oriented way.”

Letter From: Stu (Scruffster) Garret - BCGA President

Hi Bob,

I can't tell you how pleased the geocaching community is to see the City of North Vancouver participating in the sport. The Public Art series has created quite the buzz. Although the Public Art caches have been available for a short time I've already received emails on the topic from all over the Lower Mainland, Washington State, Alberta and New South Wales, Australia.

North Vancouver entered into geocaching at the right time. It will go down as a Canadian Geo-friendly city along with Canmore, Alberta and Wilberforce, Ontario. As geocaching becomes increasingly popular, geo-friendly cities will benefit in the form of tourism.

Geocaching enthusiasts always like to hunt down a few quick caches when travelling to cities for conventions or other business. They do not always have an automobile at their disposal. For this reason, geocachers always look for hotels around "geo-hotspots." The Lonsdale Quay area, with many geocaches within walking distance, is turning into Vancouver's hot spot. The city of North Vancouver should witness an increase in geocaching related hotel visits.

For people that live in the lower mainland, North Vancouver has and will continue to be a geocaching destination. It is where geocachers will plan daytrips, fill their cars with gas and buy lunch.
I've been to all the caches in the Public Art series and I must say I'm quite impressed. I loved the cache in the "nut" and the granite living room with children's art was amazing. I was sad that the living room was in such an obsure little park. It should be in a place where more people will see it. But that is what the geocaches will do. They'll bring people to parks they would not normally visit. For bringing me to these places, I thank you.

It's my hope you continue with the series. After looking at the Public Art registry, there doesn't seem to be a lack of public art in North Vancouver.

If there is anything the BCGA can do to help, please feel free to ask. We enjoy working with all levels of government to enhance the geocaching experience.

The truth about recycling

As the importance of recycling becomes more apparent, questions about it linger. Is it worth the effort? How does it work? Is recycling waste just going into a landfill in China? Here are some answers.

IT IS an awful lot of rubbish. Since 1960 the amount of municipal waste being collected in America has nearly tripled, reaching 245m tonnes in 2005. According to European Union statistics, the amount of municipal waste produced in western Europe increased by 23% between 1995 and 2003, to reach 577kg per person. (So much for the plan to reduce waste per person to 300kg by 2000.) As the volume of waste has increased, so have recycling efforts. In 1980 America recycled only 9.6% of its municipal rubbish; today the rate stands at 32%. A similar trend can be seen in Europe, where some countries, such as Austria and the Netherlands, now recycle 60% or more of their municipal waste. Britain's recycling rate, at 27%, is low, but it is improving fast, having nearly doubled in the past three years.

Even so, when a city introduces a kerbside recycling programme, the sight of all those recycling lorries trundling around can raise doubts about whether the collection and transportation of waste materials requires more energy than it saves. “We are constantly being asked: Is recycling worth doing on environmental grounds?” says Julian Parfitt, principal analyst at Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), a non-profit British company that encourages recycling and develops markets for recycled materials.

Based on this study, WRAP calculated that Britain's recycling efforts reduce its carbon-dioxide emissions by 10m-15m tonnes per year. That is equivalent to a 10% reduction in Britain's annual carbon-dioxide emissions from transport, or roughly equivalent to taking 3.5m cars off the roads. Similarly, America's Environmental Protection Agency estimates that recycling reduced the country's carbon emissions by 49m tonnes in 2005.

Recycling has many other benefits, too. It conserves natural resources. It also reduces the amount of waste that is buried or burnt, hardly ideal ways to get rid of the stuff. (Landfills take up valuable space and emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas; and although incinerators are not as polluting as they once were, they still produce noxious emissions, so people dislike having them around.) But perhaps the most valuable benefit of recycling is the saving in energy and the reduction in greenhouse gases and pollution that result when scrap materials are substituted for virgin feedstock. “If you can use recycled materials, you don't have to mine ores, cut trees and drill for oil as much,” says Jeffrey Morris of Sound Resource Management, a consulting firm based in Olympia, Washington.

Extracting metals from ore, in particular, is extremely energy-intensive. Recycling aluminium, for example, can reduce energy consumption by as much as 95%. Savings for other materials are lower but still substantial: about 70% for plastics, 60% for steel, 40% for paper and 30% for glass. Recycling also reduces emissions of pollutants that can cause smog, acid rain and the contamination of waterways.

A brief history of recycling

The virtue of recycling has been appreciated for centuries. For thousands of years metal items have been recycled by melting and reforming them into new weapons or tools. It is said that the broken pieces of the Colossus of Rhodes, a statue deemed one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, were recycled for scrap. During the industrial revolution, recyclers began to form businesses and later trade associations, dealing in the collection, trade and processing of metals and paper. America's Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), a trade association with more than 1,400 member companies, traces its roots back to one such organisation founded in 1913. In the 1930s many people survived the Great Depression by peddling scraps of metal, rags and other items. In those days reuse and recycling were often economic necessities. Recycling also played an important role during the second world war, when scrap metal was turned into weapons.

As industrial societies began to produce ever-growing quantities of garbage, recycling took on a new meaning. Rather than recycling materials for purely economic reasons, communities began to think about how to reduce the waste flow to landfills and incinerators. Around 1970 the environmental movement sparked the creation of America's first kerbside collection schemes, though it was another 20 years before such programmes really took off.

In 1991 Germany made history when it passed an ordinance shifting responsibility for the entire life cycle of packaging to producers. In response, the industry created Duales System Deutschland (DSD), a company that organises a separate waste-management system that exists alongside public rubbish-collection. By charging a licensing fee for its “green dot” trademark, DSD pays for the collection, sorting and recycling of packaging materials. Although the system turned out to be expensive, it has been highly influential. Many European countries later adopted their own recycling initiatives incorporating some degree of producer responsibility.

In 1987 a rubbish-laden barge cruised up and down America's East Coast looking for a place to unload, sparking a public discussion about waste management and serving as a catalyst for the country's growing recycling movement. By the early 1990s so many American cities had established recycling programmes that the resulting glut of materials caused the market price for kerbside recyclables to fall from around $50 per ton to about $30, says Dr Morris, who has been tracking prices for recyclables in the Pacific Northwest since the mid-1980s. As with all commodities, costs for recyclables fluctuate. But the average price for kerbside materials has since slowly increased to about $90 per ton.

Even so, most kerbside recycling programmes are not financially self-sustaining. The cost of collecting, transporting and sorting materials generally exceeds the revenues generated by selling the recyclables, and is also greater than the disposal costs. Exceptions do exist, says Dr Morris, largely near ports in dense urban areas that charge high fees for landfill disposal and enjoy good market conditions for the sale of recyclables.

For the full story please visit the Economist.
Jun 7th 2007 From The Economist print edition.

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a concept whereby organizations consider the interests of society by taking responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, employees, shareholders, communities and the environment in all aspects of their operations. This obligation is seen to extend beyond the statutory obligation to comply with legislation and sees organizations voluntarily taking further steps to improve the quality of life for employees and their families as well as for the local community and society at large (CSR - Wikipedia).

I think it is fair to say that organisations mostly started to think about CSR 10-15 years ago when they began to be increasingly criticised from other groups like Greenpeace, WWF or other pressure groups to change their ways of doing business or at least change some of their ways of managing their environmental and social impacts.

CSR then really jumped on top of the global agenda when Shell was boycotted for the way it dealt with the disposal of the Brent Spar (Brent Spar).

After this boycott nearly bankrupted Shell, organisations all around the world started to take notice and developed their Plan B for public relations disasters like this.

This was when CSR was born.

This Plan B called CSR quickly developed into a more comprehensive list of actions and responsibilities and in the end to a complete management framework on how to (1) manage the expectations of your stakeholder, (2) change and manage the way you do business more responsibly and (3) take care of your environmental impacts. There are more areas to CSR but I think these three are the most known ones and good to start with when first reading about CSR.

CSR since then has grown continuously into a-must-have for organisations around the globe. No matter whether they have a complete management framework for CSR in place or a policy of some kind, CSR is different from one company to the other and needs to be a tailored approach to managing the responsibility within our society of this particular organisation. There are obviously good and bad examples in the world but overall one can say that CSR been promoting responsible business practice in the world. And this is a good thing.

If you are interested in finding out how your company can participate or learn more about CSR, sustainability and what LOHAS is please e-mail Diane Lund at Creative Wonders ( She would be happy to chat with you about it.