A call to green malls (Day 320)…

eaton centre

I was at a dinner not so long ago where, not surprisingly, the conversation turned to the environment. It’s sort of funny: whenever I let slip that I’m doing this challenge, inevitably the person I’m speaking to feels compelled to list off all the green things he or she is doing, which in turn means I’m supposed to nod approvingly and maybe give them a gold star (OK, kidding — but really, it’s kind of a conversation stopper, unless they also happen to be living without a fridge).

Anyway, back to dinner: I was all prepared for this woman to start telling me about how she recycles everything and this one time she picked up some litter she found on the street and she always turns the thermostat down at night or whatever, but she surprised me. Turns out, she’s in the business of green malls, working for a firm called Ivanhoe Cambridge, which owns a lot of the shopping centres here in Ontario and is apparently quite the leader when it comes to all things eco.

She explained to me how they’re in the process of switching the light bulbs in all their buildings to compact fluorescents and how they purchased more than 11,000 megawatt hours of energy from Bullfrog Power, which will reduce CO2 emissions by about 8,000 tonnes. They’re also pretty forward thinking when it comes to enforcing recycling and tracking energy usage.

The only crappy thing is, Ivanhoe Cambridge’s one Toronto mall is Dixie Outlet, which is pretty damn far away in the ‘burbs — it would mean driving rather than cycling to, say, the Eaton Centre (also, upon reflection, the Eaton Centre does have a lot of natural light, so perhaps it doesn’t suck as much electricity as one might assume).

Either way, the conversation reminded me about how every single decision we make can affect the environment, so we shouldn’t just be thinking about the stores we go to, but the malls those stores are in. From now on, then, if I do need to go to a shopping mall, I’m going to make sure it’s one that cares about both its shoe stores and its carbon footprint.

Photo of the Eaton Centre (the Canadian geese aren’t real, by the way, they’re part of a sculpture) courtesy of Kurtis Billard on Flickr

9 Responses to A call to green malls (Day 320)…

  1. Rhett says:

    Well, not all of us can be so awesome as to go without a refrigerator. I’m not sure how, in the heat, humidity, and bugs of Florida, we’d be able to make it work, though refrigerator space reduction is on our minds these days.

    Besides, at least someone doing something still has the topic on their minds. The true loss here would be to not keep those people engaged and involved, meaning that political dialog about our future will roll back.

  2. blah says:

    Apparently the Mall of America relies on solar and body heat to warm up the entire mall. I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but that’s sort of neat.

    I’ve got a question that I think is really only appropriate here: I turn my heat off at night when I go to bed (I live in Chicago), but I use an electric blanket. Is it better to do as I have been and use the electric blanket, or turn the heat on. I know they both use electricity, but I’m not sure what is best. Sometimes doing what you think is best is actually worse

  3. limesarah says:

    blah — look at your electric bill. If you use electric heat, you should be able to easily tell which uses less electricity. If you’re heating your whole house, it will definitely use far more electricity than one electric blanket, so that’s going to be the better option. Some people use space heaters the same way.

  4. gettinggreen says:

    You’re right, Rhett — I’d never cut someone off or try to downplay their commitment to the environment, no matter how small (besides, as someone who considers restricting her use of a hair-dryer a massive sacrifice, I can definitely appreciate the little things). It’s just a little annoying when someone tells you they recycle. Like, seriously, who DOESN’T recycle these days? And also, no one is going to argue that recycling is bad, so there’s not many interesting things you can say after that; just kind of cuts the convo short sometimes.

  5. Mjh says:

    All the puny efforts commented on here are spits in the ocean and will have zero impact on the need to reduce emissions by 39% within the next four years(Kyoto). They just make people feel good and that is not helpful!!

  6. pat says:

    It may be true that governments need to make the big changes however to say that personal acts are puny and unhelpful is nihilistic
    . You might as well say the same about voting in a democracy being a waste of time. We also vote with our personal choices, purchases, and actions. Bullfrog power is a choice and some are willing to go out of their way to change the status quo and support them. Last week I went to the supermarket and they had sold out of freerange eggs! Loads of the regular kind but no free range. That is purchasing power and it is exciting.

  7. blah says:

    Mjh – don’t be a hater. This is not the website to sew seeds of contempt and certainly not the website to go on to tell everyone that good intentions are all for not. Politely piss off.

  8. Vanessa says:

    Haha, yeah, seriously Mjh — in case you didn’t read the sticker, Mean People Suck. I’d like to know if your fridge is unplugged!

  9. Rhett says:

    Man, Vanessa…can I have some of your haters? It’d make me feel like I’m at least reaching an audience!

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