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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.