Archive for September, 2009

Starbucks “Via”

So, Starbucks has created “Via” which is their new instant coffee.  It’s supposed to taste exactly like fresh brewed coffee. I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t comment on the taste, but I will say that I’m not certain it fits in line with Starbucks’ effort to reduce waste. To me, it seems like more packaging and a system based nearly entirely around “single use” packaging.  They’re selling it in 3 use packages and 12 use packages.

The even have a picture of a paper cup on the box, and not a reuseable mug. People say all the time that they’re immune to advertising, well… why am I writing about “Via” then?  If you want people to start using travel mugs, and ceramic mugs, why is there a paper mug on the package?

I simply don’t see how “Via” is in line with their stated goals to recycle.  They say that they want to have the “option” to recycle in 100% of the stores where they manage the waste management solution. “

Well, I’d like to go on record as saying I don’t think that’s good enough. I see lots of under utilized blue (recycling) boxes as I go about my day, and lots of garbage in recycling bins, and lots of recycling in garbage bins.  How about an overall waste reduction by X percent, and an overall increase in recycling by X %?  And by “waste reduction” I don’t mean necessarily moving the kg of waste generation from 1 column over to another column marked “recycling”, I mean an actual reduction in waste generated and an actual, tangible increase in materials recycled.

To me, while this product may or may not taste like fresh brewed, it runs counter to a larger issue, a declared goal of Starbucks, to have a better, happier planet.

That’s my 2 cents.

I want to hear yours.  Please, seriously.  I think there’s a larger issue to discuss here.

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Spud Patrol

It’s not cold YET! But it will get that way, and it will get wet and it will happen soon. I’d like to introduce you to Spud Patrol. I heard about them last year through CBC’s morning feature, “Bright Lights”.

Here’s a quote from their main page:

A little effort on our part goes a long way. Each month on Saturday nearest the full moon a group of us go to downtown eastside Vancouver, Nanaimo, & Victoria to distribute home-baked potatoes. We go rain or shine. In fact, it is easy to think that this is someone else’s problem and to stay in the comfort of our homes, but we encourage you to put love and compassion into practice by DIRECTLY helping those less fortunate than yourself – you’ll be glad you did!

Take a look at their website, and give them a visit. You’ll be glad you did!

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Purchase or Repair

I’ve been ignoring the fact that soles of my brown leather dress(ier) shoes were wearing out, for about as long as I’ve been ignoring the fact that somehow I’d nearly ripped (clean off) the pocket of my jeans.  My favourite jeans.  And the shoes weren’t too shabby either.

Molly Maid (my mom owns the Vancouver franchise) was coming to clean my house the other day and I had to kill some time before they got there. I thought that instead of playing video games (my default activity in almost ANY given situation), I’d take this stuff to the cleaner and to the shoe guy.  The cobbler is his official title I think.

Well, I’m happy I did.  I think it’s probably cheaper to buy new shoes, they were $50 to repair, and the jeans will be $20 if they need to actually sew in another pocket, but I’m ok with this.

I thought about it as my bank account was communicating with the cobblers bank account, “$52.50? Crumbs that’s expensive”. But you know what? It isn’t.  It’s fair market value for a North American market.  I have skills. I own a garbage/recycling company. My hourly rate? $125 if you want me to consult or send guys out to do work on an hourly basis.  Not any old chump can repair shoes.  But we’re used to paying a fictitious price based on the cost of labour in a less fortunate nation.

I would expect him to take 30 minutes to an hour to repair my shoes, and therefore the $50 seems like a pretty fair price.

The jeans? Well they’re my favourite pair, they’re broken in, there’s no holes in them that aren’t supposed to be there and I can’t donate them to charity with a clear conscience because they need $20 worth of repair work done. So I’m happy on that front as well.

Anyway, I thought I’d pass this along on my blog.  Even though repairs are more expensive than buying new (sometimes), consider the fact that the person you’re paying is from Canada, or at least Canadian and has to live and pay for things in Canadian $. As well, you can work towards cancelling out the fact that you bought shoes from a (probably) 3rd world nation by paying someone at home to do the repair instead of supporting a less than perfect system some say is based upon exploitation. AND, you’re keeping shoes and pants out of the landfill (and I would have thrown them out – nothing bothers a charity more than something that “could easily be fixed by someone (as long as it isn’t me)”.

Have you ever been forced with a similar situation? What lead you to choose option A, over option B? I’d be curious to know.

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Drafts and Piggies

I have a couple of drafts in the works about various environmental topics, but in the mean time, here’s a very cute little piggy having a bath!!

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Tom, is that you???

That was the subject heading of the email my cousin sent me the other day from “Shipment of Fail”

Cardboard Fail!

Cardboard Fail!

Oh my lord that’s awesome!!

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Vegetarian vs. Carnivore

Check this photo that one of my cousins “tagged” as being me on Facebook (as well as a whole lot of others). I thought it was pretty funny!!! (i’m on the right)

Vegetarian vs Carnivore

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3 cups of Tea & $100

I received this email today from Cissy Pau owner of Clear HR and a woman I know well.  I want to do my part, so I’ll post this on Twitter as well.

From: Cissy Pau <>

Date: September 3, 2009 11:12:12 AM PDT (CA)

Subject: Our Challenge

Hello All,

We received an email challenge today which has gotten us so excited, but we need your help.

The Challenge

We have been challenged to take $100 and, between now and midnight on Sunday, September 6, see what can be done with the $100 to make the biggest difference in the lives of others.

The Prize

If it turns out we make the biggest difference with our $100, we will win 2 tickets to the taping of the Oprah Winfrey show on September 25th in Chicago.

Being big fans of Oprah, and being strong believers in the ability of one person to make a difference, this was one challenge we couldn’t pass up.

The Cause

After thinking long and hard, we’ve picked a cause and we hope you can support it.  Andreas and I have recently finished reading Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Support Peace…One School at a Time.

For those of you who haven’t read it, Three Cups of Tea is the autobiography of Greg Mortensen, a remarkable man who has dedicated his life to promoting education, especially for girls, in the remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Since 1993, he, along with the organization he co-founded, the Central Asia Institute, have established over 90 schools in the rural and often volatile regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan, which provide for (or have provided) education to over 34,000 students, including 24,000 girls, where little or no educational opportunities existed.  The philosophy of focusing on girls is “Educate a boy and you educate an individual.  Educate a girl and you educate a community.”  Several global studies have shown that sending girls to school significantly decreases infant and maternal mortality rates, helps stabilize population growth, and improves the quality of health and life for everyone in the community.  And, educated mothers are less likely to condone their son’s joining terrorist groups.  Building schools and providing an education in an unstable part of the world has a direct impact on safety and security around the world.

More information on Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortensen and the Central Asia Institute can be found at and

The Goal

Our goal for this challenge is to increase awareness for this cause, and to encourage the donation of over $5,000 by Sunday.

Did you know how little it takes to make a difference?  Consider this:

$20………One student’s school supplies for one year
$50………One treadle sewing machine and supplies
$100……..Maternal health care supplies for 1 year
$600 …….One teacher’s annual salary
$800……..One advanced student’s annual scholarship
$5,000…..Support for existing school for 1 year
$50,000…One school building and support for up to 5 years

Wouldn’t it be something if together we could raise enough to build and support a school?

How You Can Help

We’d like to rally all of you to make a contribution to this amazing cause.  Some suggestions of things that you can do to help:

  • Read the Three Cups of Tea book and pass it onto a friend to read.  Or share it amongst the staff at your office.
  • Encourage a young person in your life to read Three Cups of Tea – Young Reader’s Edition or Listen to the Wind – the children’s book version
  • Make Three Cups of Tea the selection at your next book club
  • Donate copies of the book to your local library or school
  • Recommend the book to a teacher or principal so that they can introduce it to their students
  • Send a copy of the book to your MP and MLA with a note encouraging them to read the book and support local and global educational and literary initiatives
  • Blog, Facebook, YouTube and/or Tweet about the book
  • Forward this email to others who you think would be interested in this cause.
  • Buy a copy of the book off this page ( and up to 7% will be donated to the Central Asia Institute
  • Start a Pennies for Peace campaign at your office, church, or kid’s school (  A penny buys a pencil in Pakistan, several pennies buys paper and books. 100 pennies pays a teacher’s salary for a day.
  • Donate to the Central Asia Institute – (Note: This is a US charity – Canadians who donate may not get a tax deduction for the donation)
  • And anything else you can think of!

Taking Action

We know that there are many great causes out there to support.  We were truly inspired by the impact that Greg Mortensen has had on the world – we hope you can spend a few moments in the next few days supporting this cause, too. If this speaks to you, please send us an email by 9 pm on Sunday September 6 to let us know what you have done to help this cause.

We would love to win the Oprah tickets & see the show live but, really, whether we win the tickets or not, the real winners are the children who will become future community leaders and the promotion of peace in a volatile part of the world.

Look forward to hearing what you all do!



Cissy Pau, CHRP, B.Comm

Principal Consultant

Clear HR Consulting Inc.

T. 604.688.3879

F. 604.688.3841


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