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FEBRUARY 14TH 2011 

Why a green scorecard isn’t about the environment

Of course it is. But we at CC would argue that’s not the most important point to be taken from the recent Green Scorecard for Toronto, commissioned by the GTA Civic Action Alliance (hmm, must check this organization out) and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Here’s the link to recent Toronto Star’s coverage of it:

http://www.thestar.com/news/article/931177–signs-of-hope-in-green-scorecard.

The most important point comes in the last couple of sentences. Deborah Martin-Downs, the director of the ecology division at the TRCA, says “just putting a little less salt on your sidewalk, or using a salt substitute, can make a difference.” She’s referring to the health of the groundwater and our rivers and streams given that whatever gets put on the land ends up in the water. And salt in sufficient quantities badly damages the ecological potential of that water.

OK, so that’s not the most important point either. But it leads to it. Ms. Martin-Downs goes on to finish her comment with this gem: “If everyone did it, imagine the impact.” Ahh, there’s the rub: “If everyone did it…” It speaks to our core belief at CC. We can’t control whether “everyone” will do it. Nobody can. But each of us can have 100% control of part of the solution…our own behaviour.

There’s a reason “everyone” has the word “one” in it. Because the concept of everyone doing something starts with one: you, or me. That’s where change begins.

By extension then, this green report card isn’t Toronto’s report card. It’s the report card of Torontonians. Toronto is a big mass of people, and it’s difficult to drive the change we need through such a large group, but when we think of that group as being composed of individual citizens making hundreds of choices every day, about everything from how they get to work, to what they’ll have for dinner, change becomes a more realistic goal. Because we can each change something for the better. Everyday.

Some of you will rightly point out that some change is beyond our ability as individual citizens when it comes to things like retrofitting storm sewers, or generating electricity. Those are costly items that take many years to change. But as a citizen you can still impact this: You can vote for motivated politicians who have the vision and determination to figure out how to change the big things.

And, in the meantime, you can try smart substitutes for dealing with icy sidewalks. Use sand or kitty litter — both are better environmental alternatives and will save the neighbourhood pets’ paws.

It’s such an easy switch to make and it won’t cost you more money — in fact, it may even save you. And to quote Ms Martin-Downs, “Imagine if everyone did it.” But it starts with you and me.

Editor’s note: Check out the full Report Card at: http://www.thelivingcity.org/lcrc/
At 78 pages it’s a hefty read, but its comprehensive coverage of the health and environmental well-being of Canada’s largest city is insightful.



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