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Spring 2011

There’s a home energy app?

Get the most

out of your garden With a lower environmental impact and less effort Q & A with Tim Flannery

Introducing The Green Appliance Guide


Green Roofs: Enviro and Mental Benefits FROM THE PUBLISHER

By Angela Loder

vigorous campaign of committed activists to “Green businesses” need to present In the opening address at the recent overcome industry objections. Good “green” economic value propositions, practice sound Green Living Show,Chicago John Wilkinson, seasonal variations. City Hall green roof: Publisher: Paul Cassel marketing is based on true accounting, prebusiness principles, and provide good Minister of the EnvironGreen roofs do more than Ontario’s clear the Contributing Editor: Cynthia McQueen 401 Richmond green roof, Toronto: Chicago’s award-winning green roof mimics the long-lost senting a balanced understanding of all costs customer service support and information in ment, identified us as the one species & Webcity. Manager: prairie native to Chicago and hosts birds, butterflies, and airProject andCoordinator cool the Researchers have and benefits to the consumer. addition to verifying green benefit claims to on earth “taking more than we are Ariel Crawford This popular green roof combines an accessible gardenbees. Many participants found the roof beautiful, though Unfortunately, there are entrants into the earn our trust as their customers. putting back”. Surrounded by an exhibiSpring 2011

Designer:calm Gord Nauntonthe mind too. style roof plants, with a moreoftraditional, colour and detail viewersmarket” were toothat far away. found they don’t The always confer the with potted The idea thatalong a large segment the tion hall full of innovative products andwas ser-lost if “green

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A truly sustainable held belief that environmentally responsible Writers: of TorontoContributing planted their own green roof atop City Hall that whether because start-ups with legitimate business strategy demonstrates that options cost more. Green roof on 161 North Clark, Incentives for winning green roofs in Toronto: Chicago: promises shrinkMcQueen the building’s Julia Barnes energy consumption by Randy Tyrrellto Cynthia sustainability-based products and services If weofapply Minister Wilkinson’s approach intentions do not have the capital or business 10Jeffper cent. Connie Likewise, has passed some the most TeplitskyToronto Azra Fazal Ranson acumen to successfully establish themselves ultimately deliver more. to a full accounting ofThis our sedum purchases androof on a parking garage in downtown Currently, the City of Toronto offers an Eco-Roof Incentive green stringent in North America. Meenuroof Deol legislation Chris Winter Peter Ormondgreen these emerging markets. Energy efficiencygreen fuel roof savings. A financial choices, we will often Chicago find thatmet these program aimed at encouraging implementation theare minimum in requirement of 50 per cent Celeste O’Neil Katie Fullerton Anastasia Vaskova return on investment in clean power. The latter seems to have been the case products the coverage,that but repreparticipants found it looked half-finished and in industrial, commercial, or institutional buildings inGreater However, recent research has shown thatthe green roofs and technologies “Susty”, the Sustainability Squirrel benefits city’s designated employment program prowas aesthetically unappealing. choosingDelivered, a light-weight mayMascot: provide health and well-being to those who comfort in betterdistricts. insulatedThe homes. Reduced withIfOrganics who advertised in sent the best economic value. In the long Sales: Donna-Lee Bolden-Kerr vides funding for green roof retrofits on existing buildings, sedum green roof, try to add colour and variation for more look outAdon them. In a study, researchers run, found a majorfuture disposal costs. A clean environment inthis very publication in 2010 and has since they will actually cost the least by not 647-438-9292 or for industrial and commercial and institutional buildings aesthetic appeal. ity of office workers in Toronto and Chicago who overlook stead of a contaminated environment. While become insolvent (a venture in which the “passing along” hidden or future costs of a gross floor area of over systems 2,000 m2. incentive green roofs from their workplace felt the environmental sight of greenery we need better ofThe reckoning andpropublishers of Our Green Home had with no stake degradation and remediation vides $50/square metre up to $100,000. For more informaMountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) green roof, Toronto: amid concrete and glass gave them a mental break from accounting to help us assess these values in or interest). This failure should not be held or healthcare. tion see the workday. This mental breathing space was described Advertising Information: our purchasing and investment decisions, we against the organic food delivery industry, A price premium is largely a belief assessOne of the first green roofs in Toronto, MEC’s prairie-style as calming and peaceful, and helped office workers gain 416.850.8787 all share a clear and common goal: better just as deceptive selling practices of some ment. Are car seatbelts a premium? They Return on Investment: vegetation was also sometimes described as “messy,” but perspective clarity about the problems facing them 1.and 877.850.8787 health for our families, for our communities vendors should not be held against the save lives and money (through the reduced participants appreciated its ecological benefits and seaduring the day. This was particularly true if the green roof and for our planet. renewable power industry. health care costs of accidents), but it took a reduce the cooling costs for the upper sonal variation. The small wildflowers do not tend to be vis- Green roofs can was accessible and provided a space for participants to ible from a distance, so you might want to experiment with floors of buildings, insulate against sound, and, if done take a break from their desks. Follow us on Twitter: @Our_Green_Home properly, can reduce the size of the ventilation system some border colour or patterns if it will be seen from afar. Facebook @ Our Greenmany Home Magazine required for the building. For more specific information on Green roofsusalso gave office workers a sense of hope You can find Our Green Home at The Big Carrot, Grassroots, Fiesta Farms, the benefits of green roofs, please see Robertson Building green roof, Toronto: about ability to address environmental problems and Caplan’s Appliances, Beaver Valley Stone and City of Toronto Live Green events. pride about the organization responsible for the green roof OGH is printed on FSC certified paper (Chain of Custody Employees take to a break from their desks tocomments have lunch or suggestions to - bothStandard of which influence well-being. and Controlled Wood Standard). Please feelcanfree send responses, on one of two accessible green roofs that overlook the Coverscale photo taken by Tania Pacitto from Beaver Valley Stone. skyline. Because employees were on the roof, colours The and aesthetics of green roofs were found to influAngela Loder is a PhD Candidate at the University of Toronto studying green roofs and health. and flowers were more visible and employees loved the ence the perception of their associated health benefits,.

o Nursery • Installation • Maintenance Serving Your Community Since 1984

416.815.8080 OUR GREEN HOME . SUMMER 2010 . 5


Spring in the city’s green scene Green Scene is a new column. Please visit for current information on upcoming green events in and around Toronto. Earth day. Earth week. Earth month. The Earth is no longer a one-day event April is the greenest month in more ways than one – it is the busiest time of year for environmental events and this April was no exception. Earth Day Canada held their annual fundraiser at Green Drinks Toronto atop the CN Tower. As the mighty spire glowed green with LEDs to broadcast the eco-message as far as the eye could see, about 300 eco-friendly attendees schmoozed in the rotating restaurant. “It is a fun and interesting event that is always a sell out,” said Jed Goldberg, President of Earth Day Canada. The Centre for Social Innovation, an incubation facility for social entrepreneurs and non-profits, hosted A Festival of Solutions, a free conference to discuss solar energy, water and climate change. Ksenia Benifand of The Climate Project concurred: “My sincere hope is that the audience will take away the information … and transform it into action that works to mitigate climate change, and creates a greener, healthier world.” The annual 20 Minute Toronto makeover, a volunteer drive to clean public spaces, was appropriately sponsored


by Glad bags. LCBO stores pitched in by collecting donations for Earth Rangers, a charity that educates children about biodiversity. The CN Tower was also the venue for WWF’s annual stair-climbing marathon, a popular fund-raiser for the charity which raises over $1 million dollars a year. Toronto Greenhouse featured a panel of CEOs of Green Companies in industries ranging from Solar Energy to Pollution Control. Exhibition Place once again played host to the Green Living Show, Canada’s largest green consumer show. In addition to established features such as: the Green Business Forum, Live Green Toronto’s “Green Toronto” Awards and over 400 exhibits, this year’s show added new attractions including an Eco Mentors Conference and a Green Jobs Forum. As the perfect introduction to spring, Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) announced the results of its annual survey, showing that more than 400,000 square feet of green roofing was installed in Toronto last year, the most in Canada. “Cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa continue to lead the way with incentives and regulations that recognize the many benefits from green

roofs, including much needed green jobs in their communities.” said Steven W.Peck, Founder and President of GRHC. Congratulations to the winners of the 2011 Green Toronto awards, presented at the Green Living Show: Community Project: Afri-Can Food Basket Energy Conservation: Nitta Gelatin Canada Inc. Green Business: LoyaltyOne Environmental Awareness: TREC Education Youth Leadership: Youth Mentors Local Food: The Toronto Beekeepers Co-operative Green Design: Architects Alliance Green Home: Anthony Ketchum Water Efficiency: Kraft, East York Bakery Leadership: CivicAction’s Greening Greater Toronto For a list of upcoming green events, visit

Randy Tyrrell is Founder and Managing Director of Toronto Greenhouse.

Case Study: MicroFIT Solar

Photo by Anastasia Vaskova

A return on investment in the sun In a cost-benefit analysis, one-time spending for long term gain makes green energy a great investment opportunity. So, why in Canada — considered a nature loving country — is consumer buy-in to solar slow? Jack Swenson bought in quickly when he put 23 solar panels on the roof of his Don Mills home. He and his wife saw an investment opportunity in the microFIT program. The microFIT program was put into effect for a limited time — 2 years until October of 2011 — to encourage people to create renewable energy streams and sources. Under the program, the government currently pays 80.2 cents per kilowatt (kW) for residential applications that produce 10 kW or less. The green energy producer enjoys a rate guaranteed for 20 years through the OPA. With an average of 11 to 14 per cent return on his investment per year (about $4,500-$6,000) and a six to

eight year payback, there are 12 to14 years to turn a profit on the 20-year OPA contract. “This is a great investment and a great way to offset rising energy rates with the generated income,” said Swenson. Researching solar potential, Swenson found Solsmart Solar on the Internet. Andrew McCormack from Solsmart, who offers a turnkey service to homeowners, says the Jim Swenson’s roof during installation of solar panels. process can take five to six months from signing an agreement to getting hooked up to the grid. They do all the paperwork with the OPA, factors. After crunching the numbers based on their roof’s Toronto Hydro or Power Stream, inspectors with the average sun exposure and their home’s location, they City of Toronto and the Electrical Safety Authority. realized the biggest risk was not getting their application Knowing all the hardware and components in on time. . . Here comes the sun! necessary for the production and installation of the Anastasia Vaskova is a consultant/writer who solar panels are certified and approved by the increases consumer engagement with environmental Canadian Standards Association and come with a practices. 20 to 25 year warranty was just one of the decision


A community in conservation This is the first in a regular series of articles on community action and the voluntary transition to a conserver society. Sooner or later, by choice or by crisis, we will live in a conserver society. I prefer sooner, and by choice. Here’s why: Five years ago, I was speaking at a community meeting in the Town of Shelburne, extolling the virtues of conservation as a means to lowering energy bills, making renewable energy affordable, creating a resilient economy and saving the planet, all at the same time. Then someone asked, “Even if we do conserve, will it make a difference?” That simple question crystallized the fear in the room that no one had dared voice. We all have a fear of the future, but we are quick to bury it to seek solace in the reassurances that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe in Japan could never happen here, or that there will always be new sources of oil, or that the oceans will never run out of fish. But we sleep on it because the implications of these potential crises on our treasured lifestyle are too much to bear.

There are many compelling reasons to be afraid – but I have learned that fear is not the best reason to be a conserver. I am a conserver because I love it. I love riding my bike to work, I love living in a walkable neighbourhood with local stores and parks. I love how Toronto has a world of experiences within an easy ride on the TTC. When I travel, I tell people that I live in a village in the city of Toronto. They are surprised that we have no car (a savings of $10,000 a year), but when they learn that Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods, each one a complete community, they begin to realize that a conserver lifestyle is actually not that bad at all. To my mind, Toronto is one of the greenest cities in all of North America, because it is a city of open, friendly, and safe neighbourhoods — about 140 of them. It is one of the keys to our success as a multicultural city, and it is the key to our success as a green city. Each one of these neighbourhoods is vibrant, with a village “centre,” local shops, parks, schools, libraries, recreation centres. Every neighbourhood has community groups and local sparks who are the folks behind the community gardens, farmer’s markets, clean-ups and tree

plantings, cultural events, and so much more. They are the lifeblood of the community. Toronto also has a wealth of green groups and businesses invested in conserving. Green consumers changed the auto industry, gave rise to a local food movement, and are reducing the need for new nuclear plants. So does a green, conserver lifestyle make a difference? You bet. It builds stronger communities, supports local business, and stimulates a shift to a greener economy. With this series of articles, I will focus on some of the issues and strategies that are helping make Toronto one of the greenest and healthiest cities in North America. In the meantime, if you want to become part of the Live Green Toronto community networks, please contact your local community animator through the Live Green Toronto website ( Chris Winter is the executive director of the Conservation Council of Ontario.


Get MicroFIT for summer. Don’t pay for 6 months.*

Toronto’s most experienced designer and installer of solar systems is ready to help you turn passive energy into active gains for your finances and the future.

Request a free quote or learn more at or call 416-229-2200 6 . OUR GREEN HOME . SPRING 2011

*O.A.C. Bank financing plan.

Energy Math: A guide to reducing home energy consumption By Peter Ormond

Spring is in the air, and summer heat will soon follow. Are you prepared? Air Conditioning: Your air conditioner is by far the biggest electricity hog in the home. In fact, A/C use can triple or quadruple the total electricity consumption of an average household. Therefore you can generate a significant return by taking a few simple steps to minimize A/C use and by making sure that your air conditioner is working efficiently. Service Your Air Conditioner. For most efficient operation, your air conditioner should be tuned up annually. At the very least, vacuum or replace the air filter. If possible, shade it from the sun. Installing a programmable or turning down the A/C when you’re not home can save a lot. Try circulating cool night air with fans. Ceiling fans can make a big difference in the temperature setting that lets you sleep comfortably. And remember, for every degree you raise your A/C, the energy costs drop by three to five per cent. Work With Time-of-Use Rates: On a hot summer day, when thousands of air conditioners work at full load, the demand on the electrical grid dramatically increases. As the supply of electricity becomes limited, electricity usage also becomes more expensive. Time-Of-Use rates have been created in order to reduce this daily spike in energy consumption. Rates vary, depending on the time of day, day of the week and the season. The cheapest times to use electricity are at night, on weekends, and on statutory holidays. Shifting electricity-intensive activities to mid-peak or off-peak times will greatly reduce costs. Contact your local electrical and gas utility companies to see what energy conservation programs they offer.

Toronto time-of-use rates:

On-Peak Hours: 4 kW x 10 h x 9.9¢/kWh = $3.96 plus additional fees. Mid-Peak Hours: 4 kW x 10 h x 8.1¢/kWh = $3.24 plus additional fees. Off-Peak Hours: 4 kW x 10 h x 5.1¢/kWh = $2.04 plus additional fees.

Join the peaksaver® Program The peaksaver® program has been developed to specifically target air conditioners and electric hot water heaters. Under this program, a switch cycles your air conditioner on and off during periods of peak demand. When engaged, the switch reduces the demand of your air conditioner or electric hot water heater by 50 per cent. This reduces your overall energy usage, yet the impact on system performance is barely noticeable.

As a distributor of quality electrical materials and technical solutions and services, Sonepar Canada is leading our Blueway initiative to facilitate discussions about our "big three" areas of expertise:

Energy Efficiency Alternative Energy Electrical Product Recycling A community of interest making the sustainable creation and use of electricity a reality.

A holistic approach to energy conservation will provide continuous rewards for you, your community and the environment Check for examples of computing the return on home energy saving investments in our new series of columns: “Energy Math – calculating the payback” (see the first on page 20). Peter Ormond, a green engineer, understands that every choice does matter.


By Celeste O’Neil, Lead Researcher

Here are some highlights from our online guide to shopping for environmentallyfriendly and socially responsible products. We research and present labels and certifications to look for and evaluate the ingredients, production methods, packaging, distance traveled, and disposability concerns. The complete range of surveyed products for these and many other categories or food, beverage and household supplies is available online at We invite you to help us grow our guide by sending suggestions for other green, sustainable and socially responsible products to

Nacho chips Tortilla, or nacho, chips are the perfect complement to dips, salsa, parties and picnics. They are portable, delicious and can go anywhere without refrigeration. These chips are made of ground corn, are a staple in South GreenHomes2011Spring_2:BigCarrot_GreenHomes 4/15/11 5:52 PM Page 1 and Central America and often served with salsa.

If you are looking for organic tortilla chips, be sure to look closely at the bag. Most of the chips we found are “made with organic corn,” but the oil used for frying is usually not organic. Organic oil is just too expensive to be used for frying. Fully organic tortilla chips do exist, but you’ll need to look closely to ensure that the package says “organic” instead of “made with organic.” Some of the nachos reviewed used expeller pressed oil, which means that the oil was extracted using grinding and pressure only. Oils that are not labeled “pressed” most likely use chemicals to extract oils from the remainder of the pressed seed. Most tortilla chips are fried in oil and can, therefore, be considered somewhat bad for you. There are baked tortilla options, which have a lower fat content, however some people believe that these tortillas do not have as much flavour, or are more fragile than the fried version, which makes them not as dip-able. Whatever your preference, we hope our research helps make your next serving of chips and salsa a healthy, environmentally responsible and tasty choice.

Evaluation Criteria:

Relevant Certifications:

Ingredients Production Method

Organic Leaders for 27 Years! Ontario’s 1st Certified Organic Retailer! Look for the Canadian organic logo on our products available in our vegetarian deli, organic juice bar, produce, bulk and cheese departments.

Natural Food Market 416.466.2129 Organic Produce • Bulk • Grocery • Dairy • Raw Foods Locally Raised Meat • Vegetarian Café • Appliances Books • Paraben Free Body Care Department

Wholistic Dispensary 416.466.8432 Vitamins, Minerals & Nutritional Supplements North American, Ayurvedic & Chinese Herbal Remedies Professional Product Lines • Professional Staff

Organic Juice Bar NEW MENU! Free Nutritional Store Tours Free Seminars • Cooking Classes 348 Danforth Ave. 3 Blocks East of Broadview Ave. •

Packaging Distance Traveled

Certified Organic

QAI Organic

Fair Trade

Fair Trade

USDA Organic



Local Food Plus

Availability Disposability

Evaluations: Warning Caution Pass Recommended Learn more about our methodology and different grocery certifications at

Mon-Fri 9:00-9:00 • Sat 9:00-8:00 • Sun 11:00-6:00


Garden of Eatin’

Neal Brothers Organics

These US made chips are made with organic white corn and expeller pressed oil. The producers believe that natural and organic ingredients are better for the environment, better for animals and ultimately, better for you. Garden of Eatin’ has a variety of tortilla chips made with organic corn including blue, yellow and white corn, in guacamole and chili & lime flavours. Currently, there is a voluntary recall for this product for undeclared wheat and soy allergy concerns.

These Blue Corn Tortillas are made with stone ground organic corn, and produced locally in the GTA. Neal Brothers believes in the positive impact that the organic movement has on environmental sustainability of our earth’s environment. They also support fair trade and the positive impact it has on poor farmers around the world. Along with their line of chips and salsas, they distribute many other fair trade products.

Mad Mexican These lightly salted nacho chips keep it local. These gourmet chips are handmade in Toronto using fresh and local (when possible) ingredients. As well, Mad Mexican’s salsa’s, dips, nacho chips and pre-made burritos are available at a variety of local food shops. *Note: Ingredients for the salsa get a “pass”.

Que Pasa These Tortilla Chips are made with organic blue corn that is stone ground in their Vancouver area factory. Que Pasa makes a variety of tortillas, salsas and hot sauces that are available in various retail locations and online.

The 1 organic and fair trade fruit juices on the Canadian market st

Find Camino products in: • natural health food stores • grocery stores with organic or natural health food aisles

Taste of change. Taste of Camino. OUR GREEN HOME . SPRING 2011 . 9

“Ever since our family farm stopped using chemicals and joined the Organic Meadow Co-operative, we’ve been proud to supply Ontario families with local, great-tasting organic milk. We believe that a healthy environment is better for our cows, our land and our crops, and better for our family. I feel like I’m farming like my grandfather in today’s world, and truly enjoying it. Our farm is healthier today than it was yesterday, and we can’t wait until tomorrow!”

Organic Meadow farmer Ron Vice



Salba Smart Organic Salsa

Everybody loves a party, and salsa is a menu staple for almost any gathering. Salsa, Spanish for ‘sauce’, is usually a tomato-based mixture that can be used for many purposes from a dip to an ingredient in soups. Salsa is a fairly simple product and usually contains tomatoes, onions, peppers, salt, spices along with other herbs and vegetables. Living in the northern climate that we do, it’s not always possible for our Salsa ingredients to be fresh and local, so ingredients such as vinegar and citric acid (lemon juice) are used to preserve quality and for safety. As noted in the chips introduction, some products labeled as “organic” include non-organic ingredients. This is because a product can only be labeled organic if it contains at least 95% certified organic ingredients. This rule exists because there are certain ingredients that are not available in organic form (salt is one of these). In Canada, there is an additional stipulation that the non-organic ingredients can be used only if no organic option exists. Salsa is the ultimate in healthy dips. It is nearly completely vegetable based and fat free, so enjoy your local or organic salsa guilt free at every party.

Celeste O’Neil is an MBA Candidate at Schulich School of Business, with a BSc in Food Science from University of Guelph.

Salba Smart organic salsa is made in the USA and contains a small portion of the ancient South American salba grain, which is very high in omega-3 and fibre. Beware, if this is your only source of fibre or omega-3 though, as the quantity in the salsa is low. Little is known about the production of Salba Smart products except that they are made in America. All products in the Salba Smart line contain some of the salba grain and the line includes Nachos, pretzels, potato crisps, whole grain salba seeds and salba flour. Salba Smart products are available at and Sobey’s and select specialty food stores.

Nativa Organics Nativa Salsa is made in Canada using organic ingredients. No information is available about the environmental impacts of its processing. The Nativa line of organic products is available at Shoppers Drug Mart and is comprised of a range of organic foods including olive oil, coffee, cereals, chocolate, cookies, salad dressing and chips.

T H E W I N E M A K E R ’ S PA L E T T E

e c a l P e th te s Ta 1 201 DATE: JUNE 18TH, 2011 TIME: 10AM TO 6PM


Join our Winemakers as they tour you through our organic and biodynamic vineyard while you sip on our new releases. Open to the public. For more information visit

OUR GREEN HOME . SPRING 2011 . 11 TastePlaceQuarter.indd 1

11-04-20 10:41 PM

Neal Brothers Organics This fully organic salsa is manufactured in the GTA. Neal Brothers supports organic for many reasons, most importantly for the positive impact on sustainability. They also support fair trade and the positive impact it has around the world. Neal Brothers are distributors for many fair trade products including coffee, chocolate and sugar

Green Mountain Gringo This salsa contains ingredients that are all natural, but is not certified organic. It is manufactured in the U.S. and the company does not make any claims that their manufacturing process is sensitive to the environment. Green Mountain Gringo makes a line of salsas and nacho chips, some of which contain organic corn flour.

PC Organic This salsa, made for President’s Choice, contains fully organic ingredients and is available in most Loblaws, Zehrs and No Frills stores. There is no information available on how or where it is made. The PC Organics line has about 250 items that range from cereal and soy milk to pasta, baby food, chocolate and produce.

The Our Green Home team was recently at the Brewer’s Plate event on April 6th where our research group tasted a variety of beer and wine products poured. Look for our tasting notes online in June and in our Summer issue.

Predicting revolution

Tim Flannery on democracy and how voting is an environmental choice. By Cynthia McQueen

In a discussion with a man who is called the next Charles Darwin, I was surprised when he championed voting as the single biggest thing you can do for the environment. In an interview, Tim Flannery — one of the world’s most influential scientists, an international bestselling author, conservationist, credited with discovering more species than Darwin — I asked him what he wanted people to take away from his new book Here on Earth.

Photo by Cynthia McQueen

a Canada that’s taken its global responsibilities very seriously … The Canada that I know today has abrogated its responsibilities — under the Kyoto Protocol, and increasingly under environmental treaties. And I really worry about Canada because your government set targets to reduce your emissions by 17 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. That’s a big target and you’ve got eight years and eight months to do it. Now the credibility of the government both internationally and domestically is going to rely on whether it can actually meet it’s own self-set targets. There are no programs in place right now that I can see that would get you there. Any responsible government would be looking very seriously at how you want to go about doing that. Canada’s been kind of tarred and feathered inernationally if you will because of our tarsands – could you speak to that?

TF: The way we express our common desires in our democratic societies is through the TF: I can sympathize political process. And with that because we should never ever in Australia we’re treat that lightly. We “Government’s words the world’s biggest have a real chance to are their bonds with exporter of coal, but it have an impact. So doesn’t stop us having getting involved in the their people andwith democratic process is the world as a whole,” good environmental programs and good so central. And asking Tim Flannery climate programs. Nor those fundamental should it. We need to questions: what sort get on with it. There’s a of world do I want to reality there that we’ve all been dependent leave my children? Because you’re creating on fossil fuels for the 20th century. That is that world today. Your government’s creatno excuse for not charting a more sustaining that world today with every decision able future. And if Australia can do it, then they make. So for me, getting involved with Canada can do it. Just as a few examples, that process is just incredibly important. we’ve got a mandated 20 per cent renew“Guide your superorganism” would be able energy target in Australia, by 2020, 20 my rallying call by getting involved in the per cent of the energy’s going to be coming democratic process. from wind power and solar and renewable resources. It’s something both sides of If you had one piece of advice for Canada politics have agreed on and that’s passed politically or for the environment, what through parliament and it’s being acted on would it be? now and we’ve got plans in place to make sure that it happens. We’ve got a minus five TF: I would just say that Canada needs to restore its place in the world. You know one per cent reductions again agreed on by both of the reasons that we admire Canada - you sides of parliament. They have different know people like me have grown up with means of wanting to achieve it and we’re

Tim Flannery at his hotel in Toronto during an interview.

just in the process now of getting a carbon price in place. So if you set targets you’re nailed to all of them. No one’s forcing you to set those targets. They’re self-assessed by the Canadian government once they’re set they become an issue of credibility. Government’s words are their bonds with their people and with the world as a whole. To set that kind of a target without programs in place to achieve it is incredibly dangerous, I think. There’s been a lot going on politically on the international stage and in the Middle East for democracy and was wondering if I could get your opinion on that? TF: I was delighted to see that, because I did predict that that would happen in the book. Maybe not necessarily in the Middle East, but that democracy would continue to grow and that it would be aided by the Internet. There’s quite a discussion there about super systems and about why democracy’s

there and why democracy works for us. Democracy’s also practiced by ants and by honeybees, very different forms of democracy and I talk about them in the book. And it is the one system that works for human beings because we’re all selfish beings and we’re greedy beings and we all need a say so we need to honour a social contract in order for the system to work for us. So I think democracy is the system of governance we’ve settled on, and it comes with many drawbacks. Endless deliberations and concessions and all the rest, but nevertheless I think it’s the system we’ve decided on. The thing that I worry about is that we live in imperfect democracies. Here in Canada, where the upper house is still appointed. But we all live in imperfect systems. I mean, look at the Internet. Young people would have no tolerance at all for these sorts of stupid anti-democratic systems that rob them of their power as a citizen.

Cynthia McQueen is a freelance journalist and editor in Toronto.


Many Earthly Delights

A garden can produce more than vegetables A garden is a microcosm, a small attempt at human re-creation of nature. It is ultimately both a progressively creative act and a yearning for simpler times at once. Since the time humankind discovered agriculture, we have attempted to make our environments more beautiful. In essence, gardening in its most primitive form started at

the beginning of humankind’s move from gathering. The most basic objective of the gardener back then was food production, and for some of us it still is. Now we want better food like a sun-warmed tomato, or fresh greens rich in nutrients. There are few things more satisfying than enjoying the

efforts of our labour. All you need is a small spot, even one foot square that gets four to six hours of sunshine throughout the growing season. My advice, if you’ve never had a productive garden, is to start small, very small. It’s more rewarding to have one tomato plant that can produce dozens of tasty fruit, than to have a half dozen that wither and die for lack of care by mid-summer — precisely when they should be most productive. If your one plant rewards your efforts the first year then it’s time to expand. Not everyone likes to have a formal vegetable garden, nor do many of us have the space. If you have a shady yard it’s time to think outside the box. Serviceberry (or Saskatoonberry) is a native tree or shrub that is attractive and produces delicious blue berries midsummer. It grows equally well in sun or shade. A bit of research will reveal that there are plenty of other plants that fit this bill, both native and exotic. Be careful of exotics, though. For example, native and non-native forms of raspberries and blackberries can become rather invasive if not controlled. Trees also create breezes from their transpiration of water — the discharge of water vapour from plants. Trees can also reduce cooling costs for your home, and its greenhouse gas impact. Even if food production is not part of your interest in gardening, think of the benefits to wildlife. Birds eat berries and insects. They need places to nest and raise their young. The more diverse your garden, the more diverse the creatures that will live there. And diversity leads to balance, which means less work for you, an appealing thought not only to gardeners, but nongardeners alike. No matter what the space a garden can provide food for you and some wildlife, cooling breezes and is a way to reduce your carbon footprint.

A view of Connie’s garden.

Connie Teplitsky owns and operates a garden maintenance company, Landskeep.


My Green Garden:

How I finally saw the light and transformed my front yard into an oasis My soil was fine for growing veggies. With a boost of organic compost, I had the most beautiful Ratatouille (the French recipe) garden. And because I planted perennials and native plants common in the area, I didn’t need anything other than compost for my sandy soil. Reduce water use and help Pollinators: Plant perennials and native plants Perennials and native plants have already adapted to this area and rarely need watering beyond what nature supplies. In addition, the native plants attract wildlife, provide shelter, nesting areas, food and keep moisture in the soil. Some of the perennials I planted included stella d’Oro, butterfly bush, yellow loosestrife and my favourite fillers – forget-me-nots and cosmos. Pollinator friendly native plants included wild bergamot, globe thistle, aster, black eyed Susan and purple cone flower.

A view of Katie’s garden from the street.

So how did it turn out? Picture this. Last August, I drove up to the front of my house in Toronto, tired and hot after

 a long, solo two-day drive from Cape Breton. I stopped the car, looked at my        yard and laughed with delight – looking back at me was a forest of pink cos  front         mos, a cornucopia of heirloom vegetables, a flurry of bees and butterflies, a healthy        oak tree and colours everywhere. I had been away six weeks and the front yard had      burst into glory.

         Katie Fullerton is a regional animator with EcoSpark. !    "     #$ 

I have a confession to make: for nearly two decades I had a disgraceful front yard. An ugly patch of lawn that I mowed, watered, fertilized, seeded, reseeded and weeded only to have it turn crispy every August. Being a “greener� at heart, and in my work, I was embarrassed by this somewhat barren plot and wanted to transform it into an environmentally friendly garden. Finally, in the fall of 2009, with the inspiration of my partner Jared (and thanks to his hard work in ripping up the lawn), change it I did.              I had high expectations. I decided that to be truly green this garden was going to have   

       !" to feed us, cool us, provide bird and pollinator habitat, lower our energy and water use # $$  %  &'"()#% and in the end to reduce our carbon footprint; all this in a 20 foot-square area. !&*!! +",,* , -. +",,* + I was also hoping it would be so dazzling and fun that it would encourage others in the

       neighbourhood to do the same.          In assessing the approach and content of the garden I took the followingsteps              A wide selection of natural stone              and precast concrete products   Cool shade: I needed a tree Trees provide many benefits. They shade our surroundings and our homes with their canopy, they filter air pollution, they generate oxygen and they provide habitat for birds. I got my tree for free through the City of Toronto Urban Forestry program. I am now friends with a chinquapin Oak – not quite native but well adapted to the area. And best of all its acorns are edible. (Trees for your backyard are available at subsidized rates through LEAF).




Your one stop shop for pond and      "  XBUFSGBMMLJUTBOEBDDFTTPSJFT !



Rd. " E., Growing Conditions: How much soil and how much sun? Office and yard: 25 Langstaff   Before planting a veggie garden I recommend you test your soil. The earth in front yards Thornhill. Yonge & Hwy 7-407 #$    may contain heavy metals from car fumes and may have been contaminated by an Manufacturing plant: 12350 Keele St.,Maple  #  $ industrial past. Also is the soil for example sandy or clay-like and how will this affect 416-222-2424 or 905-886-5787                     

    your choice of plants?   Fax:  905-886-5795      



      # $$  %  &'"()#%   !" # $$  %  XXXCFBWFSWBMMFZTUPOFDPN &'"()#% !&*!! +",,* -. +",,* + !&*!! +,",  , HOME OUR,* GREEN -. +"SPRING 2011 . 15


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Researched and reviewed by Julia Barnes & Azra Fazal Welcome to the Green Appliance Guide, where we sift through the range of household appliances to discover machines that will serve us in the most energy efficient, ecologically and socially responsible manner. According to the National Energy Use Database, 13 per cent of our residential energy use annually is consumed by household appliances. Thus, it will make a big difference to determine which washers, dryers, ovens, dishwashers and fridges will help minimize our resource use and put energy savings back into your pockets.

Evaluation Criteria

The Green Appliance Guide is a representative sample of products available in Canada and illustrating factors that go into evaluating the best choice for your household. If you know of other products that demonstrate sustainable and socially responsible initiatives, you are invited to send them to to help us grow our guide. We use a relatively straightforward method of rating each appliance. We look at its efficiency in energy and water consumption, and do our best to consider the sustainability of its production, transportation and disposal. Five levels of evaluation are used; green meaning that the appliance is recommendable while red indicates our warning that a product may not meet a sustainable standard.

Certifications and Labels

Water Usage Energy Efficiency Production Process Transportation

Energy Star Qualified

Evaluations Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) Qualified

Recommended Pass Caution Concern Warning

European Union (EU) Energy Label

High Efficiency (HE)

Resources Learn more about our methodology and product-specific grocery certifications at Each category has its own methodology based on product-specific concerns and attributes.

Office of Energy Efficiency: Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) Qualified: European Union (EU) Energy:


We base our evaluations on the data provided by producers and we strive to ensure that it is both informative and accurate by referring to third-party certifiers such as EnerGuide. Over the course of 2011, we plan to work through all major household appliance categories, posting the ratings, methodology and results of our research online at and publishing highlights in Our Green Home. We hope that this guide makes your next appliance purchase a simpler process and a clearer choice.

Julia Barnes is an editorial assistant at Corporate Knights magazine and senior editor of the Toronto Sustainability Speaker Series blog

Washers and dryers Laundry appliances are a cornerstone of comfortable living, saving you time and hassle, but their use forms part of your personal environmental impact. Luckily, there is no shortage of high efficiency models on the market to give you peace of mind and shrink your energy bills. Traditional top-loading washers rub clothes against an agitator in a full tub of water, but front loaders tend to be much more efficient, tumbling clothes through a small amount of water. Still, high efficiency top loaders, that spin or flip the clothes through less water, have also been developed. On any washer, you can look for water level controls that let you use less water for small loads, and temperature controls that let you choose cold or warm water instead of hot. On both washers and dryers, you can also look for delay start features that allow you to time your laundry

to start during off-peak hours, when electricity is cheaper. Compact washers and dryers are ideal for smaller households, having a smaller capacity and using far less energy than larger machines. However, you can end up using more energy overall with a compact if you do more loads than you would with a larger machine. Pick a size that suits your household to get the best efficiency and remember that all washers and dryers are most efficient when you run them fully loaded. Energy Star qualification is applicable to standard size washers that are at least 30% more energy and water efficient than the minimum federal energy performance standard in Canada’s Energy Efficiency Regulations. But washers still vary significantly within the Energy Star classification. You can compare the energy and water use of almost all available models on the website of

Energy Efficiency ( You can also look at the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) ratings that assign efficient models to three tiers, Tier III being the best. Energy efficiency does not vary significantly from one dryer model to the next, so dryers are not Energy Star qualified. According to Natural Resources Canada, while clothes washers have become 68% more efficient, clothes dryers are only about 17% more efficient today than they were in 1990. However, improved washer design and technology can help on this front. High performance spin cycles in washers now remove more water before the clothes hit the dryer, so you can cut drying time by as much as half - and the associated energy use. The only significant gains in dryer efficiency have been along the same lines: moisture sensing technology is widely used to automatically turn off the machine as soon as clothes are dry. A cool down or perma-press cycle can also save energy by completing the dry cycle with cool rather than hot air. Modern home appliances are made of steel, non-ferrous metals, plastics and other components that are valuable and recyclable, so there is not much variation in the disposability or end of life impact of appliances. According to Warrington Ellacott, Chair of the Canadian Appliance Manufacturers Association, appliances have a high material value so only 11to17% of end-of-life material ends up in the landfill. With average life expectancy of washers and dryers at 14 and 18 years respectively, the bulk of their environmental impact comes from their use, making energy and water efficiency crucial.

Maytag Bravos® Washer This washing machine is Tier III certified, making it one of the more efficient and less expensive top-loaders on the market. This washer is designed to use High Efficiency (HE) detergent, meaning that that the machine uses less water to clean a load. In addition the IntelliFill™ Water Level Control ensures that only the minimum amount of water needed is used. The product ships from Clyde, Ohio in EPA SmartWay certified trucks.


Maytag Bravos® Dryer with IntelliDry® Sensors measures the amount of moisture present in the clothing, and automatically shuts off the machine when the clothes are dry. This decreases the amount of energy used as well as increases the lifespan of the clothing. Maytag’s dryers are shipped from relatively close to Toronto using intermodal train, which helps to reduce emissions. This product also boasts a 7.3 cu. ft. SuperSize Capacity Plus, which is both time and energy efficient for larger sized families.


Azra Fazal is a researcher with Our Green Home and Corporate Knights Magazine and a student at the University of Waterloo.

Whirlpool Cabrio® 4.3 cu. ft. capacity High Efficiency Top-Loading Washer This Energy Star qualified and CEE Tier III top-loading washer has energy and water efficiency to rival frontloaders. Its energy use is competitively low and the H2Low™ wash system “automatically senses the size of each load to use less water and deliver better cleaning performance and gentleness than a traditional top load washer.” Assembled in Ohio, this machine ships from relatively close to Toronto.


Enwise Helps You Save In More Ways. Choose from a full line of energy saving products & services installed by licensed professionals.

Tier III

• • • • •

Whirlpool Cabrio® 7.4 cu. ft. capacity This dryer’s AccuDry™ sensor helps you save energy by measuring moisture and temperature levels and automatically stopping the cycle when your load is dry. Like all Whirlpool and Maytag laundry machines reviewed in this guide, this dryer is assembled in North America, and the company uses EPA Smartway certified vehicles to minimize pollution and emissions from their transportation.


Tier III

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. 17 HOME SPRING 2011 4/29/2011 1:49:10 PM

Samsung High Efficiency Front Load Washer with PowerFoam and Steam

Samsung Front Load Electric Steam Dryer

This front-loader Tier III certified washer is a higher end, high-efficiency machine. Its array of options provide the user with a machine that adapts to their material needs. This washer provides a variety of temperature options, including an Eco Cold Wash, which uses cold water and foam to effectively clean clothes using 65 per cent less energy than the normal hot water cycle. Shipped from South Korea, Samsung has reduced the use of hazardous materials in their products through a stringent Eco-Partner Certification System.


This more compact Tier II washer has a Load Sensing Adaptive Fill that measures the laundry load size and will add just the right amount of water. It also saves energy with its PerfecTemp Temperature Management System that controls the water temperature to ensure the protection and longevity of the clothing. Although assembled in China, GE ensures that all materials comply with their Ecology, Hygiene and Security standards (EHS) and do not contain hazardous materials.

Tier II

Bosch’s Advanced SensoTronic® II Plus allots the appropriate volume and temperature of water for each load. This front-loading washer spins up to a maximum of 1200 rpm, which removes more water and therefore requires less drying time and energy as a result. The washer is also Tier II certified for its efficiency. Bosch’s 29 manufacturing sites rely on local suppliers, thereby decreasing transportation costs for their parts.

Tier II

This dryer, built in Canada, uses less energy through the incorporation of a moisture sensor and a cool down option. The moisture sensor stops the machine once the clothing is dry, while the cool down period allows for the machine to turn off the heat during the last minutes of the cycle to finish the drying process. These products, under GE’s implementation of the Restriction of the use of certain Hazardous Substances, do not contain any hazardous material.


This drier has nine different drying cycle options and has a DuoTronic system that uses two different measures: temperature-difference and residual moisture, to determine the most efficient drying option for the clothing. Once the laundry is done, the machine will automatically shut off to conserve energy. Bosch keeps its carbon footprint small by using local suppliers while also reducing their waste output by collecting and sorting their materials. As a result Bosch presently recycles 92 per cent of its total waste volume.


LG 4.8 cu. ft. Front-Load SteamWasher™ This washer’s best feature may be its ColdWash™ technology, which LG claims gives warm water performance in cold using “enhanced washing motions to penetrate deep into fabrics.” Energy Star qualified and CEE Tier III, this washer has very high energy and water efficiency. LG says its steam washer has been designed for easy recycling and the cabinet has been reduced in size and weight for minimized resource consumption.


GE Super Capacity Electric Dryer White

Bosch® Axxis Electric Vented Dryer

Bosch Stackable Front Load Washer



Tier III

GE Energy Star King-size Capacity Frontload Washer with Stainless Steel Basket


This large capacity dryer has a Mixed Load Bell feature which indicates when certain materials can be removed. This is useful for large loads containing heavier clothing. The dryer also uses steam, which both dries the clothing as well as smoothes wrinkles, reducing the need to iron creased clothing. This Samsung model is Woolmark Certified, which handles wool garments without shrinking or tearing.

Tier III

LG 7.4 cu.ft. SteamDryer™ To help you save energy, this LG steam dryer has a Sensor Dry System that measures moisture during the cycle, and automatically adjusts the drying time and temperature. Both the LG washer and dryer are shipped from South Korea, but the company has a comprehensive GHG emission reduction strategy and targets in place for the product manufacturing process.


Energy Math: Laundry

Calculating the payback on front loading washing machines

When your brand new washing machine arrives on your doorstep, you’ve made a considerable investment. What most people forget is that the impact of this investment goes far beyond the next credit card statement. It shows up on every water and hydro bill. Natural Resource Canada calls this cost your “Second Price Tag” or the long term cost of running your machine. This secondary expenditure is a good reason to take into consideration the type of machine you are buying and the amount of water and energy it uses. The selection of washing machines that you evaluate to make your choice should include one that is front loading. To get an idea of what your secondary costs would look like we take a look at two washing machines that have similar tub capacities, with the one major difference that one is a top loader and the other is a front loader. The two important numbers to look for are the annual water consumption indicated by litres/year and the annual energy consumption listed as kWh/year. Natural Resource Canada lists all EnergyStar Certified machines on its website. The annual energy consumption of an appliance can also be found on the EnerGuide label that is attached to every machine. Example

Maytag 5.0 Top Loader

Maytag 5.0 Front Loader

Annual water consumption

27 940 litres/year

17 640 litres/year

The City of Toronto General Water Rate is $2.2842 per cubic meter of water (m3, 1000 litres) Dividing the annual water consumption by 1000 litres and then multiplying it by the General Water Rate is how much it will cost for the water an average family washing machine uses annually.

Example Top Loader Front Loader

With our comparison example washers, the front loader saves more than $20.00 at current water rates, annually. The cost of electricity differs during peak and off-peak times, so we’ll use the average electricity rate from the Ministry of Natural Resources of $0.1001per kWh to calculate our electricity costs.

Toronto general water rate $2.2842/m3 $2.2842/m3

Annual water cost $63.82/year $40.29/year

When we add the annual electricity savings to the annual water cost and multiply it by 18 years — the life expectancy of a washing machine we can estimate the total return on upgrading to a front loader. The Maytag 5.0 front loading washing machine lists at approximately $1,100 dollars, whereas the top loading machine costs a little less at $1,000. Thus, your investment of less than $150 (including tax) to upgrade to, the top loading machine will pay back on its energy use at least fourfold during its lifetime. Example Top Loader Front Loader

Annual electricity consumption 277 kWh/year 168 kWh/year

Ontario general electricity rate $0.1001/kWh $0.1001/kWh

Annual electricity cost $27.72/year $16.81/year

The amount of energy used to dry an average family’s washing over a year in a standard dryer is 937 kWh. Based on our current electricity cost, this equates to $93.70 per year, so over the dyer’s lifetime, about $1686.60.  The reduction in this cost is a significant bonus above and beyond the washing machine energy savings we have calculated. One last consideration is the direction our energy rates are going. If they rise during the life of your machine, so do your savings.

number of litres/year 1000 litres = cunic meters (m3) cubic metres × general water rate = annual water cost

Example: 27940 litres/year 1000 litres = 27.94 27.94 m3/year × $2.2842/m3=$63.82/year

Annual water consumption 27.94 m3 17.64 m3

Top Loader Front Loader Total Savings

Annual Water Cost $63.82/year $40.29/year $25.53/year

Annual Electricity Cost $27.72/year $16.81/year $10.91/year

Total Annual Cost $91.54/year $57.10/year $34.44/year

What does the energy math tell us? Drop the lid of that top loader and take a front loader for a spin.

Azra Fazal is a researcher with Our Green Home and Corporate Knights Magazine and a student at the University of Waterloo.

kWh/year × Average Ontario Electricity Rate = annual electricity cost Example: 277 kWh/year × $0.1001 kWh = $27.72/year

The average household will save over $10.00 in washing electricity costs annually by using a front loading washing machine, but greater savings transfer to your dryer, as front loading washing machines remove more water from your clothing, decreasing the drying energy cost. 20 . OUR GREEN HOME SPRING 2011

Second Price Tag $1647.72 $1027.80 $619.92

You’ll find our complete range of product ratings, research commentary and energy saving tips at: .C A

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Products that help you save The Bagster

PowerCost Monitor The PowerCost Monitor makes it easy to track energy consumption in your home. With electricity rates on the rise, understanding where and when we use energy is crucial to usage reduction. The PowerCost Monitor collects data via an optical sensor, which attaches to the electricity meter outside your home with a single screw. Collected data is easily accessible with an in-home monitor or via a WiFi connection. You can use the Google PowerMeter or Microsoft Hohm applications to chart your data, find energy savings, and discover phantom power load. Available at Lowe’s.

Honeywell Wind Turbine f you’re looking for a stylish and affordable way to take advantage of MicroFIT programs or generate power off the grid, the WT6500 Wind Turbine produces approximately 1500kWh of energy per year under typical Southern Ontario wind conditions and over 2500kWh in high wind locales. This award-winning, gearless turbine is small, lightweight, makes less noise and has more output than traditional turbine designs. Its enclosed perimeter design with multi-stage blades allows quick reaction to changes in wind speeds and shrouds the system so it is more distinguishable to wildlife. More information:

The Bagster Bag is an ideal solution for home renovation clean-up. This “collapsible bin” can be conveniently stored until you’re ready to start your project. Much more manageable than a dumpster, a single Bagster can hold up to 1500 kg of waste and debris, the equivalent of 18 large trash bags. When The Bagster is full, Waste Management, the environmentally progressive waste hauling and processing company, provides a reliable collection service. Pickups can be scheduled and paid for online at The Bagster Bag is available at home improvement retailers, including participating Home Depot locations. Further information:

ARXX reFit Insulation ARXX reFIT is a greener and easier way to finish and insulate basements and interior spaces. Installation requires fewer steps, less labor, and less material than conventional insulation methods. The result? A comfortable, well-insulated space which saves you money on heating and cooling costs, with a 13.9 R-value for the insulated walls. Made from Expanded Polystyrene, reFIT is an environmentally considerate product. The lightweight, vertically interlocking insulation panels require no vapour barrier and do not offgas, emitting no CFCs, HCFCs or VOCs. More information:

Garant Enviro Square Point Shovel

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This long handle, square point shovel is a sturdy, versatile tool perfect for all kinds of yard work. As part of the Enviro collection, it has a 20 per cent recycled steel blade, is powder coated with 75 per cent recycled paint and has a Forest Stewardship Council certified hardwood handle. Unlike products made with virgin materials, this tool directly contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Reasonably priced and Canadian-made, the Enviro shovel is a great choice for environmentally friendly gardening. You can dig one up at Rona, The Home Depot, Ace or T.S.C. Hardware Stores.

Meenu Deol is a publishing assistant at Our Green Home and yoga instructor in Toronto.


Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. Rethink end-of-life electronics. Most of your electronics – at home, the cottage or the office – can be reused, refurbished or recycled at hundreds of no-charge drop off spots across Ontario. Rethink it. Unwanted electronics are not garbage. And remember, protect your personal information. Clear your hard drives and SIM cards before bringing back for reuse or recycling. For a full list of what’s included, and locations near you, access our website or toll-free number.


Our Green Home Spring 2011  

Our Green Home is an on and offline resource guide focused on helping homeowners make environmentally responsible, healthy choices in renova...