Newsletter 133, 17 April 2018

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Local impacts of China's decision not to be a global dumping ground

Transition Brockville and the Brockville Public Library

How might residential blue box recycling change following China's decision to limit its intake of the world's unwanted paper and plastic? What added costs might Brockville residents have to pay?

For the answers to these questions, Transition Brockville has invited Erik Lefebvre, district operations manager at Waste Management in Brockville, to give a talk at our next presentation, Sunday, April 22, at 2 p.m. in the Brockville Public Library. "Brockville is at the dead centre of what's going on," Lefebvre said in a conversation with Transition Brockville. In his talk, he'll explain why.

As outlined in a recent CBC series on recycling, China was taking in about half the world's unwanted paper and plastic for recycling when it decided last summer it would no longer be the global dump for some 20,000 tons of that material daily.

"[China's new policy] is causing giant troubles for our industry," Lefebvre said.

Also at this month's meeting: Transition Brockville will be selling a special rose fertilizer as a fundraiser. This "Fritz Mix" was concocted by Paul Fritz for the roses in his beautiful rose gardens on Oak Leaf Road near Athens. He gave bags of the mix to the Athens Garden Club to sell as a fundraiser, but the club has dissolved and Fritz has moved. Using his recipe, Transition Brockville hopes to help rose lovers feed their roses while supporting Transition's efforts to encourage gardening and more sustainable living. Each $5 bag feeds one rose bush for the season.


  • Don’t call it dirt! A report on our soils workshop
    Transition Brockville / 26 March 2018
    Mary Ann Van Berlo, a Master Gardener from Maitland, gave a lively, fact-filled talk on soil improvement, "Don't Call It Dirt!" at the March 25, 2018 Transition Brockville meeting at the Brockville Public Library. Her big "take-away" message was this: "If you want to improve your soil, ADD ORGANIC MATTER!" Organic matter can add air spaces to any soil, from clay to sand. With organic matter, clay soils open up and allow water to pass through, and sandy soils are able to retain water longer. She …
  • Call for seedling donations

    Transition Brockville will be participating this year in the Annual Plant Sale organized by the Brockville & District Horticultural Society. We are seeking donations of plants for this small but helpful fundraiser for our group. If you can donate some healthy seedlings, cuttings or separations during the week May 14 to 18, please contact us at for further details. We will also be selling the excellent 'Fritz Mix' organic rose fertilizer again, as mixed and packaged by the TB Steering Committee.

  • Rob Hopkins: Transition at 10 years old
    Transition US / 08 August 2017
    Keynote presentation for the first Transition US National Gathering in St. Paul, Minnesota on July 29, 2017. Founder of the international Transition movement, Rob Hopkins, reflects on the 10 years since Transition started as an optimistic project in a small Devon town, sparked by an opportune meeting in a thatched pub, which has been licensed to serve alcohol since 1321. What has happened since? What has worked? What were the moments that were most surprising, intriguing, impactful or …


  • New map shows just how hot our hometowns could get this century
    CBC News / Bryce Hoye / 4 April 2018
    An ambitious new mapping project gives Canadians a chance to peer into the near future and visualize just how hot a warming climate could make their own backyards over the next 80 years. “The impacts are startling,” said Ian Mauro, co-director of the University of Winnipeg’s Prairie Climate Centre, which launched its Climate Atlas of Canada on Wednesday. “Part of this map is data, but part of it is storytelling.” The atlas includes documentaries of how Canadians …
  • Farming hub Homestead Organics going out of business
    CBC News / Matthew Kupfer / 07 April 2018
    A major organic seed, feed and milling company headquartered in eastern Ontario is going to close its doors after hitting financial trouble in the midst of a more competitive industry. Tom Manley, president of Homestead Organics, said the 30-year-old company will be closing its doors in a matter of days because of pressure from its creditors and banks. “We know we are closing, that’s for sure. Our last week will be a question of clearing out remaining inventory,” Manley said. …


  • Ontario’s first manufacturing facility for EV charging stations
    BNN / 22 March 2018
    Gleb Nikiforov, CEO of talks to BNN about opening Ontario’s first manufacturing facility dedicated to electric vehicle charging stations. The plant will produce approximately 40,000 charging stations per year and create 100 new clean tech manufacturing jobs.…
  • Ontario and California vow to keep fighting pollution
    Office of the Premier / 16 April 2018
    As people across Canada and the U.S. increasingly feel the impact of climate change, Premier Kathleen Wynne and California Governor Jerry Brown held a bilateral meeting in Toronto today to discuss the next steps in the fight for the future of the planet. Ontario and California -- the two biggest economies in …


  • Recent federal audit exposes Canadian climate failures
    Huffington Post / David Suzuki / 09 April 2018
    In Canada, despite hopeful rhetoric after the 2015 federal election and leading to the Paris climate summit, neither the federal nor provincial governments are doing enough to indicate they even understand the severity of the crisis. Federal Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand and auditors general in nine provinces conducted an audit of climate change planning and emissions-reduction programs between November 2016 and March 2018. They concluded that “most governments in Canada were not …
  • Many Canadians are recycling wrong, and it’s costing us millions
    CBC News / Emily Chung / 06 April 2018
    Canadians are throwing too much garbage into their blue bins, sometimes out of laziness or ignorance, but sometimes with the best of intentions. And it’s costing recycling programs millions of dollars a year. Even a few spoonfuls of peanut butter left in a jar can contaminate a tonne of paper and make it unmarketable — destined for the dump. Same for that glob of yogurt left in the bottom of the container. “It’s shameful, it’s awful. In some instances almost one in three …
  • Your lifestyle is making blue box recycling unsustainable
    CBC News / Emily Chung / 27 March 2018
    Our changing lifestyles over the past few decades have dramatically altered the types of materials we put in blue bins. And that’s led to flatlining recycling rates and ballooning costs for municipalities across Canada that are struggling to cope with the changes. “It’s a really a perfect storm of crazy stuff going on that means that the blue box has huge challenges that it did not have 10 years ago,” says Maria Kelleher, principal of Toronto-based Kelleher …
  • Vancouver targets straws, bags to cut down on plastic garbage
    Globe and Mail / Mark Yuen / 04 April 2018
    Plastic straws are among the items in the crosshairs as the City of Vancouver develops a strategy to cut down on plastic and Styrofoam waste by placing restrictions on single-use disposable cups, bags, takeout containers and utensils. The city says it costs about $2.5 million per year to collect single-use items from public green spaces and waste bins, and its strategy contains proposals to reduce, reuse or recycle the offending items. In its strategy, the city says plastic straws and stir …
  • Breaking the gas habit
    Corporate Knights / John Lorinc / 03 April 2018
    According to federal government data, fully two-thirds of all the energy Canadians use to heat their homes is supplied by natural gas and propane. For climate activists and building owners who want to decarbonize Canada's building stock, that figure is, well, chilling. While natural gas is one of the cleanest burning fossil fuels, this statistic alone offers a bracing reminder that Canada remains a long way from the day when our housing stock is no longer responsible for a formidable share of …


  • The oceans' circulation hasn't been this sluggish in 1,000 years
    Washington Post / Chris Mooney / 11 April 2018
    The Atlantic Ocean circulation that carries warmth into the Northern Hemisphere's high latitudes is slowing down because of climate change, a team of scientists asserted Wednesday, suggesting one of the most feared consequences is already coming to pass. The Atlantic meridional overturning circulation has declined in strength by 15 percent since the mid-20th century to a "new record low," the scientists conclude in a peer-reviewed study published in the journal Nature. That's a decrease of 3 …
  • Climate science's official text is outdated. Here's what's missing.
    Grist / Eric Holthaus / 22 March 2018
    A helluva lot has changed in our understanding of the Earth's climate system since the 2013 IPCC report. Here are some of the highlights: Sea-level rise is going to be much worse than we thought. Like, potentially a lot worse. In the last IPCC assessment, the worst case scenario for sea-level rise this century was about three feet. That's now about the midpoint of what's expected; the worst-case has ballooned to about eight feet. That's largely because ……
  • Underwater melting of Antarctic ice far greater than thought
    The Guardian / Jonathan Watts / 2 April 2018
    Hidden underwater melt-off in the Antarctic is doubling every 20 years and could soon overtake Greenland to become the biggest source of sea-level rise, according to the first complete underwater map of the world's largest body of ice. Warming waters have caused the base of ice near the ocean floor around the south pole to shrink by 1,463 square kilometres – an area the size of Greater London – between 2010 and 2016, according to the new study published in Nature Geoscience. The research by the …
  • Arctic sea ice continues a trend of shrinking maximum extents
    NASA Climate Change / 23 March 2018
    Arctic sea ice reached its annual maximum extent on March 17, according to analysis by NASA and the National Snow and Ice Data Center. The 2018 extent reached 5.59 million square miles, only about 23,000 square miles larger than the lowest maximum on record, in 2017. This continues a trend of shrinking sea ice, with the four lowest Arctic sea ice maximum extents on record in the last four years.…
  • The future ain’t what it used to be
    Peak Prosperity / Chris Martenson / 30 March 2018
    This marks our 10th year of doing this. And by "this", we mean using data, logic and reason to support the very basic conclusion that infinite growth on a finite planet is impossible. Surprisingly, this simple, rational idea — despite its huge and fast-growing pile of corroborating evidence — still encounters tremendous pushback from society. Why? Because it runs afoul of most people’s deep-seated belief systems. Our decade of experience delivering this message has …
  • Green growth explained
    TheRulesOrg / 26 March 2018
    Green Growth is the big plan to deal with environmental damage while still growing the global economy. Can we trust it?…
  • Eating out increases levels of phthalates in the body, study finds
    The Guardian / Patrick Greenfield / 29 March 2018
    Eating at restaurants and fast food chains may increase exposure to potentially harmful hormone-disrupting chemicals used to increase the flexibility and durability of plastic, a study has found. Researchers investigating levels of phthalates in the human body, which have been linked to asthma, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes and fertility issues in the past few years, were found to be nearly 35% higher in participants who had eaten out the previous day compared with those who stayed at home. …


  • How I talk to my daughter about climate change
    The Atlantic / Michelle Nijhuis / 05 April 2018
    My daughter is 9—9 and a half, she would tell you—and she's curious about many things. She's curious about dragons and hyenas, prime numbers and royal marriages. She's curious about robots and religion and race and gender. She wants to know why kids can't vote; she wants to know if there's any news about the Mueller investigation. She doesn't want to know about climate change. Not from me, at least. Not yet.
  • New garden book club
    Cosies British Café, Well Grounded Gardens
    This is for both the garden and book enthusiast to share an afternoon of conversation and ideas about garden books and gardening while enjoying a cosy refreshing break with friends. If you are interested in joining us, contact or 613-498-4475 for more information and to register for the first session Tuesday, April 24 at 2 p.m. Space is limited so be an early book worm.
  • Rain barrels available for purchase
    Transition Brockville / 16 April 2018
    Transition Brockville was selling rain barrels from repurposed food-grade barrels until a couple of years ago when our sources “dried up”. The Volunteer Centre is offering barrels this spring. This sale benefits Volunteer Centre of St. Lawrence-Rideau and will be held at 105 Strowger Blvd, Brockville on Friday, May 18, 2018 from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM. To see various barrel styles and to order, visit For product-specific questions, contact
  • Why we make our own maple syrup
    Mother Earth News / Rebecca Harrold / 29 March 2018
    Finally, after years of talking about it, we tapped some sugar maple trees and boiled down the sap to make maple syrup. The syrup we produced is rich in maple flavour and tastes all the more delicious because we produced it ourselves. Our home is in Southern Ontario, in the heart of the sugar maple's (Acer saccharum) range. Around here, real maple syrup is easy to find at farmers markets, at farmgate sales on Mennonite farms or at any Maple Syrup Festival. Despite its easy availability, we …
  • The greens and browns of your compost
    Mother Earth News / Rebecca Louie / March 2018
    Get to know how different browns and greens behave in your system and curate compost ingredients to optimize moisture levels, troubleshoot problems, and af-fect the rate of decomposition. Knowing the quirks of individual items is particularly helpful if your com-post system has limited space or is in proximity of wary or sensitive neighbors.


Proper Care and Maintenance of your Well and Septic System

Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority
WHEN: Tuesday, April 17, 6:30 pm
WHERE: Lansdowne Community Hall, 1 Jessie Street, Lansdowne

Groundwater is a limited resource and the primary source of drinking water for most rural residents. Compared to other regions, groundwater in eastern Ontario is highly susceptible to pollution because of a relatively high water table, very thin soils, and highly fractured bedrock environments. Rural residents are encouraged to maintain private wells and septic systems throughout the year to reduce groundwater vulnerability on their property.

This event will be an interactive discussion-based workshop including an information session featuring speakers from the following organizations:

  • Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority
  • Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
  • Public Health Ontario
  • Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change

Speakers will be touching on important topics such as groundwater water quality and vulnerability in eastern Ontario, proper use and maintenance of private well and septic systems for rural property owners, and best management practices. A Groundwater Protection Workbook for residents will also be available for participants to better understand groundwater vulnerability on your property. More info: or 613-546-4228

Brockville Community Clean-Up

City of Brockville
WHEN: Saturday, April 21, 9:00 am - noon
WHERE: City-wide

The Brockville Community Wide Clean-up organizing committee is comprised of volunteer community members and students. Each year, the committee coordinates with City of Brockville staff and with financial support from environmentally conscious businesses, in an effort make our city clean. But the greatest effort comes directly from local volunteers and neighbours, who pitch-in armed with rakes and garbage bags. Each year this event draws a few hundred volunteers, removing tonnes of garbage and recyclable rubbish from our parks and green spaces. Can you help out? Again this year, there are prizes to be won! More info and registration:

Perth Tiny House & Green Home Festival

Algonquin College and The 2 Marys Events
WHEN: Saturday, April 21, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
WHERE: Algonquin College - Perth Campus, 7 Craig Street, Perth

The Perth Tiny House & Green Home Festival features affordable, sometimes quirky, energy efficient and sustainable housing. It aims to inspire and explore options to reduce the ecological footprint in constructing and furnishing homes, providing an important opportunity to promote products and services to an appreciative and informed audience. On-site, there will be six or so tiny houses for public viewing; speakers addressing Green Living and New Technologies topics; exhibitors promoting their related services and products; and background music, food and kids' activities for a relaxed atmosphere.

Ticket Price: $17 in advance (includes ticket fee & taxes) - $20 at the gate - Children under 16 are free - Free entry to Algonquin students and staff with ID card. More info:

11th Annual North Grenville Sustainability Fair

Sustainable North Grenville
WHEN: Sunday, April 22, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
WHERE: Community Centre, Municipality of North Grenville, 285 County Road 44, Kemptville

Celebrate Earth Day with us! This is a FREE family fun day with something for everyone. The whole family can enjoy the many exhibits from local businesses and non-profit organizations in the region, farmers' market vendors as well as arts and cultural groups from the community. There will be a children's activity area, music from local groups, and talks throughout the day. Also, the region's largest Electric Vehicle show will take place in the arena with around two dozen cars with their local owners. The participation of dealerships offering test drives of plug-in cars has been popular and will be repeated.More info:

Common Garden Invaders

Brockville & District Horticultural Society
WHEN: Monday, April 23, 7:00 pm
WHERE: Wesleyan Church, 33 Central Avenue, Brockville

The BDHS welcomes Kellie Sherman of the Ontario Invasive Plant Council, who will speak about common garden invaders and their alternatives. All are welcome. $2 guest fee.

Gardening Workshop (3rd of 3): Keeping the Garden Going

Community of Gardens Project
WHEN: Thursday, April 26, 6:30 pm
WHERE: Country Roads Community Health Centre, 4319 Cove Road, Portland

Organic pest control, watering, weeding and mulching, harvesting the early crops, and succession planting for a fall crop. OPEN TO EVERYONE - new and experienced vegetable gardeners. Contact Anne at 613-359-6000 or

Brockville Farmers Market

WHEN: Saturday, May 5, 8:00 am - 1:00 pm
WHERE: Market Street West, Brockville

Opening for our 185th season!

Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit

EOATS Committee - City of Brockville, lead partner
WHEN: Thursday, May 10 - Friday, May 11
WHERE: Memorial Centre, Megadoma Drive, Brockville

Are you interested in living in a healthy active community? One that is safe for walking and cycling? Learning how towns are transforming themselves into a more livable place? Are you an engaged citizen interested in living in a town like this? Learn about these simple concepts that make towns healthier, more vibrant and stronger economically. Perhaps you're a downtown business person, discover the economic potential of pedestrian and cycle friendly communities? Or a town planner or staff person, learn best practice techniques of others building healthier towns. Maybe you're a resident that wants to be able to get around your community more easily and safely on foot or on a bike. Join us at the Eastern Ontario Active Transportation Summit. More info and registration at

Mother's Day Tree Sale

CRCA and the Friends of Mac Johnson
WHEN: Saturday, May 12, 10:00 am - 2:00 pm
WHERE: Mac Johnson Wildlife Area, Centennial Road entrance, Brockville

One of the highlights of spring at the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area! All trees and shrubs are native stock grown at the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area nursery.

Annual Plant Sale

Brockville & District Horticultural Society
WHEN: Saturday, May 19, 8:30 am
WHERE: Brockville Senior Citizens Club, 15 Elm Avenue, Brockville

Offering plants from our members and other select vendors. You never know what treasures you might find! • • Facebook Group