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Cape Breton Post - - ENVIRONMENT -

Ihad a scary thing hap­pen to me last week. I got caught at a drive-thru.

How did I get caught and why was it scary? Well, it was scary be­cause we live in a pretty small place, where most peo­ple know most peo­ple and, as the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of ACAP Cape Bre­ton, if I was go­ing to dare go through the drive-thru, some­one I know was go­ing to see me. Eat­ing high-calo­rie, pro­cessed food is one thing, but be­ing too lazy to get out of the car is an­other.

Now I had my rea­sons, but they are not good enough ones to share. How did I get caught? Well it so hap­pened that the very day I de­cided to pick up a tea at the drive-thru, there stood Randy MacDon­ald from CTV with a video cam­era. Imag­ine my shock. I had turned off my ve­hi­cle since be­ing lazy is one thing, but idling and putting waste­ful emis­sions in the air is def­i­nitely not cool. When I rolled up to the fa­mil­iar face with the cam­era, the only ques­tions he had were sur­round­ing my pref­er­ence of tea or cof­fee? He was ap­par­ently gath­er­ing opin­ions for a story to air later that day about caf­feine ad­dic­tion. Whew.

This un­ex­pected en­counter got me think­ing about “walk­ing the talk” and looking at ways to get bet­ter at this. Peo­ple have free­dom of choice, thank good­ness, and every­one can­not be ex­pected to make eco-right de­ci­sions 100 per cent of the time. But at home and at work, we should cer­tainly try our best.

For ex­am­ple, at ACAP Cape Bre­ton we make ev­ery ef­fort to buy prod­ucts from lo­cal busi­nesses, and the ma­jor­ity of the prod­ucts we choose are Cana­dian. We con­sis­tently en­cour­age oth­ers to pur­chase wisely. Mak­ing the choice to buy less, choos­ing prod­ucts with less packaging, and those made closer to home, are fre­quent mes­sages on our web­site, and in our com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

We ap­plaud the pro­vin­cial sus­tain­able pro­cure­ment poli­cies and we meet those stan­dards. As well, we sup­port sup­pli­ers with sus­tain­able pro­cure­ment prac­tices in our own op­er­a­tions. In 2008, we ini­ti­ated an an­nual Eco Busi­ness Award of Ex­cel­lence with the Syd­ney and Area Cham­ber of Com­merce to en­cour­age lo­cal busi­nesses to go green.

It is im­por­tant that ACAP Cape Bre­ton leads by ex­am­ple. We take care to in­cor­po­rate nu­mer­ous en­vi­ron­men­tally con­scious ini­tia­tives within our own work­place. New staff mem­bers are in­tro­duced to th­ese prac­tices dur­ing ori­en­ta­tion, and we reg­u­larly ed­u­cate staff and pro­vide in­for­ma­tion to vis­i­tors who drop by the Cen­tre for Sus­tain­able Com­mu­ni­ties on Ge­orge Street in Syd­ney.

We have an ex­ten­sive re­cy­cling pro­gram that in­cludes re­cy­cling bins with clear sig­nage for pa­per, plas­tic and re­deemables, and of course we com­post. We of­ten as­sist com­mu­ni­ties in cleanups and beach sweeps and are strong ad­vo­cates against il­le­gal dump­ing. Staff reg­u­larly bring brown bag lunches, and make use of the large ar­ray of “real” dishes in our kitchen. ACAP CB staff car­pool to events and meet­ings. Our desks and com­put­ers are all re-used prod­ucts.

We have had an en­ergy au­dit for our Cen­tre for Sus­tain­able Com­mu­ni­ties and have made rec­om­mended lighting up­grades from T12 to T8. We use Down East Prod­ucts, which is en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly, and we act as one of only a few re­tail out­lets for Down East Prod­ucts in East­ern Nova Sco­tia, sell­ing in bulk from our Cen­tre for Sus­tain­able Com­mu­ni­ties.

In ad­di­tion to be­ing well-known as a provider of en­ergy ef­fi­ciency in­for­ma­tion through the En­erGuide for Houses pro­gram, ACAP has been de­liv­er­ing wa­ter con­ser­va­tion mes­sages to schools, ser­vice groups and the wider com­mu­nity for our Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity part­ners for years and we also ad­dress waste wa­ter and source wa­ter pro­tec­tion is­sues. I do not mean to boast, or preach, but I thought shar­ing some of our eco-friendly prac­tices might give you some ideas to help be more sus­tain­able in your own busi­ness or or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Now, as you think about “walk­ing the talk,” I can’t tell you to stay out of the drive-thru, but I can tell you that if you don’t, some­one will surely be watch­ing.

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