Around since 1978, Green Calgary was “empowering Calgarians to create healthy homes and communities” long before most in the city had any notion about bringing eco-friendliness into their homes. With Earth Day casting a spotlight on all things green, CREB®Now caught up with the executive director of the city’s non-profit urban environmental organization to talk about what it means to be eco-friendly.

CREB®Now>> What is the role of Green Calgary?

Cameron>> Green Calgary provides hands-on support, consulting services, products and education that help individuals, families, community organizations and businesses increase sustainability.

CREB®Now>> Why do you think the issue of ecofriendliness, specifically in and around the home, has become such a concern?

Cameron>> We have a very educated and informed citizenry that is well aware of the finite nature of our resources, and the environmental impacts our current society is having on the planet. People are concerned about the future — they want their homes, communities, and businesses to be healthy and sustainable. Most of all, people are concerned about what our children will face in the decades ahead.

CREB®Now>> What would you say is the biggest environmental issue facing Calgary?

Cameron>> In nature (and reality) nothing is separate — everything operates in a system and everything has impacts and influences on everything else. Thus, it is really difficult to single out just one environmental issue as key. The top four are all related and I would list them as: 1. Energy use (which impacts green house gas emissions, air quality, heating and lighting our homes, businesses, public buildings and transportation); 2. Our food system (which depends now on huge energy inputs, huge chemical inputs, huge water inputs, huge tracts of land, and is mostly shipped in from afar); 3. Waste reduction (throw away convenience has resulted in huge squandering of resources); and, 4. Water quality and supply.

CREB®Now>> If you could change one thing about Calgary or Calgarians, what would it be?

Cameron>> [I would] convert home lawns and lots of community green space to organic garden space watered by rain harvesting and nourished by rich compost. That one change would accomplish so many things — connect neighbours to each other, boost the sustainability, healthiness, and deliciousness of our food system, reduce waste going to landfill, nourish our soil, reduce the draw on our processed water supply, eliminate toxic run off into our rivers, and gardening is incredible for fostering physical, mental and emotional well-being.

CREB®Now>> What’s your favourite way to spend a day off in or around the city?

Cameron>> Drifting down the Bow River in a canoe, followed by a picnic with family and friends.

CREB®Now>> What about the issue of greenwashing? How can people be sure they’re getting an environmentally friendly product?

Cameron>> Give Green Calgary a call and they can steer you to information on particular products – we have years of experience and have done tons of research. Buy locally from trusted sources. Buy less and focus on purchasing quality products that last a long time.

CREB®Now>> What’s your favourite room in your home and why?

Cameron>> I love my studio for the natural light and for my huge collection of books.

CREB®Now>> What’s one thing people can do around the home to be more environmentally responsible?

Cameron>> Compost food waste and use it in your garden. Forty percent of food in North America ends up in landfill. [It’s a] terrible waste.

CREB®Now>> What’s Calgary’s best-kept secret?

Cameron>> While they are not exactly secrets, Calgary is home to some amazing jazz vocalists – like Glennis Houston, Deanne Matley, Shari Chaskin and Deb Rasmussen.

CREB®Now>> How would you rate Calgary as a city in terms of eco-friendliness?

Cameron>> We have challenges in the eco-friendly department, but there are a great number of individuals, organizations, and businesses working on putting us on a more sustainable path. The City of Calgary is making progress on sustainability goals, lots of home builders are developing more eco-friendly home options, the gardening and food systems people are doing exciting things. Just about every day, I learn of another wonderful “Green” initiative that is making a positive difference.