Go Green

Best-selling children’s writer Dan Gutman put together a collection of a hundred tips to help young readers green their world, and asked me to contribute to the book. (All the writers who contributed to the book, as well, as the publisher, will donate all their royalties to a green charity,)

The suggestions in this book are practical, effective and do-able. Teachers looking for a good eco-project will find lots of ideas here – and kids wanting to make a difference to their world will also find it a great resource.

Recycle This Book
Edited By Dan Gutman
Published by Yearling
ISBN: 978-0-385-73721-0


A Good Home for Chimpanzees

Humans have been using and abusing chimpanzees for decades. NASA used them to make sure their rockets were safe before blasting humans into space. Circuses and film and TV shows have used them to amuse and entertain us. Most harmful of all, scientists have used them as test subjects for deadly diseases like hepatitis, tuberculosis and AIDS.

Chimps are our closest relatives on the planet. They share 98% of our DNA. They are intelligent, have rich emotional lives, and senses of humour. The can use tools and plan ahead. Some have learned rudimentary sign language.

Sanctuaries like The Fauna Foundation offer a home to chimpanzees that are no longer wanted by humans. Some were once pets, some were in the entertainment business, some were held in small cages in biomedical labs. In a sanctuary, the chimps are given a safe and caring environment to live out the rest of their days. It’s the least we can do for these amazing animals we’ve often treated with such cruelty

The Fauna Foundation Website


Don't Drink Bottled Water

Why pay for water that comes virtually free from your tap?. In countries like Canada and the US, tap water is totally safe. Often it's more carefully monitored for harmful substances, and therefore safer, than the water sold in bottles.

Bottled water companies suck their water out of land that belongs to all of us. They deplete natural sources and interfere with a region’s aquifers. Then they sell it back to us and at a colossal profit. What’s next, paying for bottled air?

Instead of buying bottled water, buy a re-usable stainless steel bottle, fill it up with tap water and take it with you in your knapsack or satchel. At restaurants, ask them for tap water instead of bottled.

You’ll also be helping reduce the production of plastic bottles, which are choking recycling facilities and landfill sites.

And you’ll be saving yourself money too!


Bullfrog Power

We all need electricity. But a lot of the electricity we use is generated by power plants that create a great deal of pollution. Coal-fired electricity plants in particular fill our breathing air with harmful chemicals, create smog, and contribute to global warming.

For a long time I’d been looking for a way to buy clean electricity. At last I’ve found a Toronto company that supplies it: Bullfrog Power. They supply electricity only from wind and low-impact hydroelectric generators.

I signed on as a client instantly.

Learn more at


Ethical Shopping

We all need clothes and food and other domestic goods. But the companies that create these things have very different attitudes towards people and the environment. Some companies treat their workers well; others badly. Some companies try to protect the environment; others pollute thoughtlessly.

How can we tell the good companies from the bad? I came across a brilliant little book the other day called The Better World Shopping Guide, by Ellis Jones, a professor at the University of California. The book ranks most the major North American companies on their social and environmental practices. It has rankings for peanut butter and cosmetics, toothpaste and frozen pizza, cookies and computers, and pretty much everything else you can think of.

Remember that you have a little bit of power whenever you buy something. You can refuse to buy things from companies that are disrespectful of the planet and its people. If enough of us do the same, it sends a clear message to the company: Act responsibly, or fail.

Check out the book or its website.


Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb (CFL)

Did you know that you could save up to $30 a year if you replaced just five ordinary light bulbs in your home with CFLs? CFLs cost a little more, but they last a lot longer than normal bulbs, use less energy, and save you money. What's not to like?

According to Natural Resources Canada: "CFLs use only one quarter of the energy of standard incandescent bulbs. A 15-watt CFL produces the same high-quality light as a typical 60-watt incandescent bulb and saves 45 watts for every hour you leave the light on.

"Replacing even one 60-watt incandescent bulb with a 15-watt CFL in each of Canada's 12 million households could save up to $73 million a year in energy costs. It would also reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions by approximately 397 000 tonnes - the equivalent of taking more than 66 000 cars off the road each year. Imagine the impact we can make together!"

I've switched most of the lightbulbs in my house to CFLs, and my electricity bills have gone down significantly. If, like me, you're concerned about how much energy we use, and how much pollution we create on our planet, please think about switching to CFLs.

Even one bulb can make a difference! - Kenneth Oppel

Learn more about CFL's here