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Pistachio’s Heather Reisman – “Buy less. Buy better. Buy forever”

This past Christmas, I was delighted to find a great range of cards from Pistachio (the latest project of Heather Reisman of Chapters-Indigo). They were "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" cards, which thereby extended the Christmas card-sending season to March.  Plus, they were FSC-branded, 100% post-consumer waste fibre, Soya Ink, powered by Green Energy - Mohawk, Made in Canada.  Yeh!! Every kind of serious sustainability logo, right there. My decade-long lack of enthusiasm for cards has largely been driven by concerns about ecological footprints, as well as time crunches associated with grading 100s of final exams and essays at Christmas and attending untold numbers of "festivals of lights" school celebrations. But, I acknowledge that cards are an important means of staying connected and serve an important social purpose.  These Pistachio cards allowed me to do that, and simultaneously underscore my sustainability message to friends and relatives.

Pistachio was back in my thoughts today, thanks to Jennifer Well's article in the Globe and Mail Business magazine: "It's not easy being Pistachio - Heather Reisman is moving eco-products upscale. But will her aim exceed consumers' reach?" Reisman is quoted as saying: "Buy less. Buy better. Buy forever." Wow!!

Reisman has found that people are willing to pay a 5-15% premium for sustainable, ethically-sourced items.  This compares surprisingly closely with the student responses to question 9 of IRIS' Carbon Offsetting survey, in which just under 50% of those surveyed saying that they would pay 5-10% more for environmentally friendly products.  Only 20% said that they would be willing to pay over a 10% premium.

I wish Pistachio all the best, and recently stocked up on their thank you cards. But what I'd really like to see, and would buy, is a set of cards with the "Buy less. Buy better. Buy forever." slogan emblazoned across the front.

Dawn Bazely

Solar water heaters take off in China

Solar water heaters have been around for many decades now, but it has only been in the last few years that the technology has begun to escape the domain of specialized international development projects and alternative energy conventions.

Cost effective in southern climes where they are becoming increasingly popular in rural areas, solar water heaters are also coming into vogue in the north, where financial incentives in some jurisdictions are subsidizing the high start up costs that accrue due to the additional technical requirements for winter weather. When the savings in zero emissions and zero energy consumption are factored in, the technology becomes a vital weapon in the fight against climate change.

Recently, China has joined Israel and Spain as one of the countries where this technology is wildly popular. Indeed, the price of basic models in China has dropped considerably, going for about a fifth of the price in the West. China's advance is also seen in the improved technology that allows heaters to continue to function under adverse weather conditions. However, even this affordability has its competitors as pictured to the right with the beer bottle powered contraption invented by a carpenter in China' rural hinterland.

In the video clip below, the New Scientist visits the Chinese coastal city of Rizhao where solar heaters are being used to supplement electrical heaters:


If you'd like more information on solar water heating systems, the Canadian government maintains a resource page that may be of help for the Canadian context.