Garbage and the Green Electricty Market

I participated in the semi annual roadside clean up with BPEG on Wednesday. We picked up trash from Lion’s Head to Ferndale, and also around the recycle centre.

I have done roadside clean up on Highway 24 in Guelph before, and I can tell you the road was clean compared to Guelph. On the Guelph pick-up, you would get hundreds of Tim Horton’s coffee cups.

I didn’t appreciate the dirty diapers that had been thrown. But there was a lack of interesting items. On the Guelph pickup, I found a $2 bill once. Lion’s Head people don’t seem to throw money around. On the Guelph road we once found a condom in a high heeled shoe. There could be an interesting story written about that one.

The recycle centre was a mess. I suspect the Ferndale winds pick up cardboard and deposit in the skanky ditch behind the bins. The municipality is considering a solution to the mess at the recycle centre, and I hope they come up with something. It was an eyesore, and reflected very poorly on our community. But it looks good now. I doubt if the wind picked up the bicycle tires and rims – somebody must think the centre is a dump – and before the clean up they wouldn’t be wrong.

The Facts and Arguments section of the Globe and Mail reported that the average Canadian sends 302 kg of trash to landfills every year, up 2.4 percent since 2000. No wonder we are running out of space to put it, Michigan excepted. But this level of trash is small compared to the trash we put into our air.

According to information from the One Tonne Challenge, which is a program that encouraged Canadian to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, and subsequently cancelled by the Conservatives, the average Canadian is responsible for 5 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year, from their use of fossil fuels. So that is 17 times as much garbage as we send to landfills. And the impact of the emissions is global in nature, rather than local.

20% of the electricity in Ontario comes from burning coal, and about 8% from burning natural gas. So using electricity contributes to your emissions. The average Ontario Household uses about 10,000 kWh/year, which would cause emissions of about 2.4 tonnes of CO2, which would be about 700 kg per person. That’s pretty significant. And it would also cause emission of 29 kg of Nox, which contributes to smog, and 10 kg of Sox, which causes acid rain, as well as mercury, other heavy metals, and particulates, which are linked to asthma and other lung ailments.

When you turn on a light, or plug in a kettle, you are dumping garbage into the air.

Some municipalities charge consumers for each bag of garbage they send to the landfill. A few people object to this, and dump their garbage on roadside, or neighbours. But the vast majority pay the fee, because it isn’t right to dump garbage on your neighbours.

It is equally wrong to dump the garbage from your electricity consumption on your neighbours.

Fortunately, there is a way to eliminate your emissions from your electricity use, and that is to buy power from renewable energy sources. When electricity is generated from renewable clean sources, then there is that much less coal that must be burned to provide the system with power. Three organizations offer Green Power. Bullfrog Power offers a 100% renewable choice to Ontario consumers. When you sign up with Bullfrog, they purchase an amount equal to your consumption with 80% from Ecologo Certified water power, and 20% from wind. Select Power a subsidiary of Guelph Hydro, offers 100 kWh blocks, which lets you purchase as much or as little power as you want from wind. And Greentags Ontario sells Green Tags, which accomplishes the same thing. All three buy their wind power from my firm.

Wind energy costs a little bit more than the current price of power – Bullfrog power estimates that it costs less than a cup of coffee per day for most consumers. Of course, the total cost is less if you use less. By buying renewable energy, you reduce the emissions from Ontario’s fossil plants, and provide the economic basis for expanding renewable energy production in the Province.

If you don’t want to dump garbage on your neighbours, you should be buying Green Power.

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