Green Living Show 2009 and green living in Toronto-Danforth

The Green Living Show.  It's all green.  It's all good.I spent the day yesterday at the Green Living Show.  The Green Party had their booth there and most passers-by were happy to sign our petition to protect Canada’s navigable waters.  It feels good to be a Green at the Green Living Show.  A lot of the attendees are Green Party supporters.  People who support other parties feel the need to apologize.  Last year, the Liberal Party had an enormous booth and I spoke to the Young Liberals staffing it about their soon-to-be-released Green Shift plan.  With the Liberals now under an Ignatieff leadership proclaiming the importance of the tar sands, the Liberals were nowhere to be seen.

I have very mixed feelings about the show itself.  There is considerable expertise in green building, home retrofits, organic gardening and renewable power collected in one room.  The most efficient new products are on display for those in the market for a new car, a new appliance or even a lightbulb.  The speakers alone are well worth the price of admission.  Yesterday’s talk by Alanna Mitchell, for example, was informative, terrifying and inspiring.

It’s also a great place to meet and connect with like-minded people.  So many of the luminaries at the show are Toronto-Danforth residents.  It highlights to me how very green this riding is.  For example, Alanna Mitchell herself lives here.  Martin Liefhebber of Breathe Architects was there along with Rob Grand of Grassroots.  Greg Bonser, for whom the Green Party Bonser ballot is named, was there to talk about home energy retrofits.  I remembered that Greg Allen won the City of Toronto’s Green Leadership award last year at the Green Living Show.

This riding is home, of course, to a number of other green leaders.  People like Jack Gibbons of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance who virtually singlehandedly brought the province to a coal phaseout and who is working so hard to fight nuclear power today.  And Professor Danny Harvey lives here too.  Danny is a lead author of the IPCC, a tireless researcher, an author of an authoritative text on energy efficient building, and of two other books now nearing completion.

But there is a preponderance of stuff sold at the show that is only very questionably green.  You can get socks and clothes and bags and jewellery and furniture and cards and vehicles and saunas and electronic gadgets and pots and so on and on and on.  It’s difficult to believe that anyone interested in green living is going out to this show in need of a bamboo-fibre scarf.  And while a bamboo scarf may have some green advantages to a conventional cotton one, not buying a scarf you don’t need at all is clearly a greener option still.  To the degree that this is a conventional trade show that encourages and greenwashes pointless overconsumption, it has its disappointments.

And I fed my own vice there too, buying 4 books.  Alanna Mitchell’s Sea Sick, about the importance of the health of the global ocean, and of the threats to this ocean today,  Gwynne Dyer’s Climate Wars about the likelihood of increasing conflict in a destabilized world, and the newest offerings from Thomas Homer-Dixon and Bill McKibben.

Meanwhile Toronto-Danforth is turning green quite literally as well.  Yesterday was so warm that the air conditioned Direct Energy Centre was significantly cooler than outside.  I’m looking out the window this morning to the neighbour’s tree, whose branches are tipped in light green.  It is one of my favourite times of the year.  I’m a walker and I strongly recommend walking now.  The temperature is perfect and after the winter it’s so wonderful to see the forsythia out, the tulips emerging and the trees crowned in green.

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