Archive for July, 2008

Methods of Transportation – What do you think?

An interesting topic arose in the Fresh Start office this morning and it got me thinking. With the introduction of the highly unpopular carbon tax and a constant increase in gas prices, how many people will continue to use their cars for day to day tasks? With the rapid disappearance of the middle class, most societies now consist of those that are wealthy and those that aren’t. Unfortunately, with today’s costs of living, more and more people are dropping into the latter category, and fewer and fewer people are able to afford the cost of a car. With this in mind, the unanimous opinion we reach this morning was that in a few years time there will be substantially less cars on the road.

And what then? As most of our staff choose not to drive for day to day tasks we can say first hand how difficult it can be to get around some areas of the city without a car. Granted some areas could use some improvement, but for the most part Vancouver is well enough planned for pedestrians, providing plenty of crosswalks and sidewalks for getting around. However, for those of us who like to use non-motor powered wheels, such as bicycles, as a means of transportation things get substantially worse. Generally sidewalks are too busy to ride or skate on and the law technically frowns upon doing so. But with few bike lanes on the road and a general unawareness from drivers in regards to other road users, how safe is it to ride on the road? Speaking with regular cyclists, even the safest of travelers have had close calls if not collisions with vehicles. And with plenty of city planners thinking with “car head” (the perspective of looking at things through the windshield of a car), are conditions for non-drivers ever going to improve?

What do you think? We want to know how you commute and how safe and convenient you feel it is to either cycle, skate, or board as a means of commute. Leave a comment here or send us an email at!


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Reaching Out to Kibera

For over 15 years The Environmental Youth Alliance (EYA) has been dedicated to improving the health of our environment, planet, and its people. With numerous projects ranging from Winds of Change – a project focused on protecting our urban forests – to Build a Better World – a joint project with the Centre for Human Settlements (CHS) helping youth in Brazil – the EYA has helped make drastic changes both communally and globally.

Recently, one of their projects has been tackling the overwhelming garbage issue in Kibera, the largest and filthiest slum in Africa. With children living and playing in all sorts of garbage, including animal waste, the EYA decided it was time to make a difference. Finding a brilliant solution to this critical issue, the Kibera Calendar Project designed a waste management system for the people of Kibera. With the help of Kibera residents and international volunteers, a waste transfer station was constructed in just 16 days! A self-sustaining system, the project is inexpensive (the total cost equaling less than $4500 including labour, training, and materials) and has drastically improved the lives of people in Kibera.

An inspiration, there are now over 30 groups looking to do the same in their own communities. Check out A World of Difference, CBC’s video coverage of the story, and be sure to read more about The Kibera Calendar Project to see what you can do to help!

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Comfy, Sassy and Eco-Friendly?

Finally! One of Vancouver’s best kept secrets has come out of hiding. Eco-friendly and cost affordable clothing companies for non-yoga/outdoorsy types does exist! and even better, it’s local!

Lav and Kush designer/ president Angela Saxena is deeply devoted to helping the environment while designing pieces that compliment the female form. Doing what they can to lessen their impact on the environment, Lav and Kush choose their fabrics carefully, primarily using fabrics such as bamboo, soy, hemp and organic cotton and are also members of environmental groups such as PETA. All the while, with a passion for fashion, their line features sassy and sexy pieces with plunging necklines, flirty ruffles, and form-fitting wraps. Even T-shirts are strategically designed to hide any “food babies” on those bloated days! Available all over North America, you can pick up Lav and Kush at Vancouver shops such as Life of Riley, Nimama Maternity, Barefoot Contessa, and others.

Not to leave out the opposite sex, another eco-friendly company known as Twice Shy designs clothing for both men and women. Experiencing the dilemma of not being able to find trendy and organic clothing, founders Jen McCormack and Michael Ziff created Twice Shy. With a strong dedication to helping the environment and having fun doing it, Twice Shy has grown exponentially over the years and have recently expanded their line to include Fig, an organic line for kids. Twice Shy and Fig are reasonably priced and can be found in numerous shops around the city. Twigg and Hottie, Belly and Beyond, and Riot are a few places that you can find these great lines.

For more information, visit Lav and Kush, Twice Shy, and Fig Kids. Know of any other local eco-friendly designers? Post a comment and let us know!

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A greener way to bike

We are all aware of how fun, efficient and eco-friendly cycling is, but did you know that companies and individuals are taking their bikes one green step further? I recently stumbled upon an article on about a young design student in the UK who designed and created his own bike made of cardboard (see below for the link.) Following the links in this article about carbon-alternative bikes, I was repeatedly led back to pieces written about bamboo bicycles, the new “it” thing. Intrigued, we’ve done our research and here is what we’ve learned about this eco-friendly alternative…

A sensational hit in 1894, the first bamboo bicycles were shown at the London Stanley Show. Though a great concept, they grew into a fad and eventually died out, long to be forgotten. That was until Calfee Design produced their own version as a publicity stunt for the annual bicycle trade show, Interike, in 1996. The design was a great success and companies such as Calfee Design and Biomega have been working with bamboo ever since.

As the fastest growing plant on earth and with an abundant quantity worldwide, it’s a wonder that more companies are not taking advantage of this natural resource. With a simple process of cutting and fitting the tubes, wrapping the tube junctions, and sanding the bike for aesthetic purposes, bamboo bikes are not difficult to make and have numerous benefits over standard metal frames.

So, “What are the benefits?” you may ask. In addition to looking ultra-cool, bamboo bikes are lightweight (the frame weighs as little as four pounds) and their durability has actually been found to surpass that of other metal frames. Most importantly, for those of us concerned about the environment, they’re eco-friendly. While metal frames such as aluminum and titanium require high levels of energy to extract and produce, bamboo emits more oxygen than the equivalent number of trees.

Now available in a variety of models, including mountain bikes, bamboo bikes are creating quite a splash in the market. For more information on bamboo bikes, check out the links below. Also included are interesting articles on The Bamboo Bike Project and 16 year of Marco Facciolo, the creator of a fully functional bike made of just wood and glue!

Cardboard BicycleCalfee DesignBiomegaBamboo Bike ProjectWooden Bicycle

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