It’s the environment, stupid! Issue 53

I have been struggling a bit since writing issue 52 that dealt  with prejudice, hate, and discrimination. I just have too many interests. So, I am finding it difficult to focus on one of them. I have wanted to get back to writing about the kind of city that I would enjoy. However, I have hit pause to read through  the articles for perspective. Also, I have neglected the “Things I Like” series and these pieces are fun to write. 

It is just too hot!

Raging wild fires draw attention to climate change.

However, when I thought about some of the more recent articles and newsletters on my reading list such as: 

So, it’s the environment, stupid!


There is a link, of course, to my writings about cities. I live in a Montreal suburb. Six houses, twenty people, and seventeen cars reside on my little stretch of street. If you take our household out of that formula, five homes, eighteen people, sixteen cars. In what world does that make any sense? 


But since I have spent and will spend more than a little time rattling on about cars, people and cities in my city series, I will turn my focus elsewhere. 


How frustrated are you with the amount of plastic that results from almost any shopping trip? It drives me to despair. I keep looking for alternatives. We have our own shopping bags plus   string bags for fruits and vegetables. We pick bulk alternatives whenever possible but still we generate piles of plastic. It is dutifully placed in the recycling but how much is really recycled. I wonder. 


A quiet street, a quiet neighbourhood now interrupted multiple times a day by FedEx, UPS, DHL, Amazon contractors, and the postal service. Noisy, exhaust exhaling trucks left to idle while packages get delivered to doors.

We then unpack the delivery. Often, there is one cardboard box inside another. Plastic bags, styrofoam popcorn, and hard plastic containers take up the rest of the space in the recycling bin.

This should be a beautiful landscape

Fast Fashion

Western society has an addiction to cheap, fashionable garments. The scientific data indicates that the textile industry is the world’s second worst polluter, just behind the petrochemical industry. For the financial year ending March 2018,  Burberry burnt US$38 million worth of merchandise. H&M had US$4.3 billion of surplus merchandise in the same year.

I often wonder how often Greta Thunberg’s young acolytes think about the impact of fast fashion during their weekly visit to the mall. 

The excess of fast fashion

And what about cotton?

I can’t leave the fashion section without a little bit about cotton. Many consumers still think that cotton is virtuous. It can be, if it could be determined where it is grown. Egypt has grown cotton for centuries on land irrigated by the naturally occurring Nile delta floods. Sea Island cotton is grown in naturally conducive conditions. 

Pima cotton from Arizona is not. It grows  by siphoning off billions of gallons of water from the Colorado River. The “Stans” have drained the Aral  sea to grow cotton. How many pairs of chinos or jeans do we need? How many shirts or t-shirts? 

No time for self-righteousness

This is where I would normally launch into more self- righteous rhetoric. However, I have just read an excerpt from Sahra Wagenknecht’s book, The Self-Righteous. A quick synopsis:

  • That despite a consensus that the planet is suffocating in waste, the climate is getting hotter, and more species are becoming extinct, the climate debate triggers anger
  • This because many feel that a necessary discussion on saving the environment should not be a debate about lifestyle. 
  • Political maneuvering to modify demand through carbon taxes, higher meat prices, airplane surcharges, et cetera multiplies negative reaction. 

Fix the supply side

She suggests that it is the supply side of the equation that needs modification:

  • Measures to make economies more regional, less polluting,  and resource efficient
  • Legislation that causes manufacturers to offer extended warranties to ensure that products last and can be repaired. At the same time, legislate less packaging. 
  • Rather than focus on “all-electric cars”, limit automobile engine sizes to lets say 1.5 litres and impose stricter emission regulations.
  • Incentivize technological solutions to make production and supply better for the environment and the climate.


Okay, so the reminders are a little self-righteous but they don’t cost anything. In fact, they save you money::

  • Buy better – buy less
  • Repair
  • Re-Use
  • Re-Purpose
  • Re-Wear

….. and only then

  • Re-Cycle
Buy better, buy less

Cities are in Crisis

March 7, 2024

Anastasia Mourogova Millin, March 5, 2024 Earth’s urban population will grow by 2.5 billion people over the next 30 years. Over the same time period, urban land expansion put at risk the survival of 855 different species and will threaten the homes of over 30,000 animal and plant species. Add in the impact of climate […]

The Co-working Concept, Issue 80

January 22, 2024

Co-working space came to mean the notorious We Work model. When I had been asked to opine on co-working I tried to steer the conversation away from the Adam Neumann / Softbank  flimflam growth model. Instead, I suggested that property owners look at usage and users. While I doubted We Work’s ability to survive I […]

The Affordable Housing Conundrum

October 3, 2023

Before I fall completely into the trap of opposition politics, I have decided to take a break from never-ending criticism and to start suggesting solutions to the affordable housing conundrum. Do I have a plan? No, more a collection of ideas To start with, I think there are three key issues: Home ownership is not […]

We Should Know Better

August 26, 2023

I know! I am going to sound like a grumpy old man. Maybe that is because I am. I have been scratching my head in wonderment at the Taylor Swift phenomena. Is she an Incredible song writer, composer, and performer? I really don’t know! A discussion for another time? But probably not. At my age […]

Not in My Back Yard

August 4, 2023

Don’t build it! At least, Not In My Back Yard ! I acted as an advisor  in the sale of a beautifully natural, 14-acre urban waterfront estate. Existing zoning allowed for the development of 30 to 35 single-family homes, which after road dedication would leave very little green space. I did not think that was […]

Glasgow – That Dear Green Place

July 31, 2023

We were visiting Glasgow (literally that Dear Green Place in Gaelic) to see where my father was born, grew up, and went to University. Fortunately for me, my cousin John from Australia had just visited and had met with historians, Bruce Downie  and Norry Wilson.  So,  we too arranged to meet them in the Govanhill […]