Ideas for living green on display at annual Kagawong Expo

Jan McQuay of Mindemoya was just one of several hybrid and electric vehicle owners who attended the “Show and Shine.” Her 2015 Toyota Prius C Hybrid gets 5.0 litres per 100/km average over 580 km driven April 19 and 20 from Toronto to Mindemoya and Kagawong.  photo by Sharon Jackson

KAGAWONG––Devin Arthur believes electric vehicles are the way of the future. Mr. Arthur founded the Greater Sudbury Electric Vehicle Association and he was at the Park Centre in Kagawong on Friday, April 20 as part of Green Living Expo 2018.

Mr. Arthur’s presentation followed an almost sold-out Mac ‘n Brew dinner featuring wine and local craft beer from Split Rail Brewery. Driving electric vehicles emits nearly zero emissions and can save owners from $1,500 to $2,500 per year on fuel and maintenance costs. It was evident from the amount of questions that there is a definite interest on Manitoulin.

Saturday’s Expo saw a Show ‘n Shine with electric and hybrid vehicles outside with displays inside and a series of five minute Ted-style Smash talks throughout the afternoon. 

Chris Theijsmeijer of the Kagawong Go Green Committee welcomed attendees and thanked the organizing committee, including John Rosen, Barbara Erskine, Sandy Cook, Sharon Jackson and Kagawong’s recreation committee for the food. “It’s volunteer week,” he noted. “All of these people are volunteers.”

Heather Pennie presented a SMASH talk entitled ‘15 ways to “clean up” your life’ that focused on simple and inexpensive ways to replace harsh chemicals around the house. Those in attendance were impressed that Ms. Pennie pollished her shoes with coconut oil, made her jeans, repurposed old workout clothing into a new top and was able to share so much information in  just five minutes.

Barbara Erskine, Billings Township’s council representative on the Go Green committee loved the energy of the event. “Last night was fantastic,” she said. “Everyone getting together and starting that conversation of what we should do, what we could do and what the options are.”

Mr. Theisjmeijer kicked off the Smash talks with ‘Green Choices – There’s an App for That!’ There’s an app to calculate your environmental footprint or to locate electric vehicle charging stations. Goodguide lets you scan a barcode and then provides a rating out of 10 for the product. Mr. Theijsmeijer made sure there were some games on the list too.

Heather Pennie began by saying, “I’m not an expert, just an ordinary person.  I’m a busy mother with a full-time career teaching.” Ms. Pennie encouraged attendees to consider their environmental impact by listing 15 ways to ‘clean up’ your life that are inexpensive and simple. Vinegar is her first choice for disinfecting and cleaning. Not only is vinegar excellent as a fabric softener but it’s also kid-friendly. She uses vegetable-based castile soap “from toes to windows.” Coconut oil doesn’t go rancid and can be used as a wood conditioner, body scrub and moisturizer. One part each of Borax, washing soda and soap granules gets her laundry clean.

Ms. Pennie provided environmentally-friendly options for drying clothes, air fresheners, baby wipes and diapers, disposable dinnerware and clothing.

Mr. Theisjmeijer kicked off the Smash talks with ‘Green Choices – There’s an App for That!’

Larissa Chevrette talked about efforts by Manitoulin Secondary School (MSS) students and played a film created by MSS students for Earth Day 2018. “We do a lot of green things at MSS,” she said. “We compost and recycle. We have a greenhouse. MSS has received gold certification with the Ontario EcoSchools organization.”

In the video students give their reasons for living green. “This is my world,” Ms. Chevrette said. “This is the world my children are going to be on. I’m so happy there’s hope for the future.”

Smash talks were held every 15 minutes. The new format for the Expo was well received by attendees.

Jesse Beaudin spoke about the work of Manitoulin Streams. Justin Tilson talked about his journey in ‘Permaculture: A Journey to Abundance.’ Jan McQuay offered green choices in financial investment. 

Vanessa Glasby shares all things Western Manitoulin Community Garden at the Green Living Expo.
photos by Lori Thompson

The Western Manitoulin Community Garden was represented by Linda Willson, Sarah Earley and Vanessa Glasby. Ms. Earley is the garden’s individual plot coordinator. This is the second year for the garden. In the works is a mentoring program in which elderly persons who can no longer participate in the physical act of gardening can continue to share their knowledge with others. This is the first year for individual plots. There is also a Kids Can Grow children’s garden with a plot for C.C. McLean Public School students. Ms. Earley said she’s “pretty new to the community and just learning how to garden. This is a good way to learn and to get integrated into the community.”

Sandy Cook spoke for the Go Green committee. “We promote awareness and provide information,” she said. The committee has met monthly since the last election when legislation was introducing mandating municipalities to reduce greenhouse emissions. Ms. Cook believes they have met targets; however 2017 numbers are not yet available.

The committee has looked at biomass as an alternative energy source for the municipality and has provided a summary of different solar energy options available for reducing energy consumption and costs. They organize an annual roadside cleanup and maintain a blog. Every two years they work with the recreation committee to host the Green Living Expo.