Georgia Strait Alliance is the only citizens' group focused on protecting the marine environment in and around the whole Strait of Georgia – Canada's most at-risk natural environment, and the place where 70% of British Columbians live, work and play. We are committed to a future for our region that includes clean water and air, healthy wild salmon runs, rich marine life and natural areas, and sustainable communities.

January 18, 2013

Good things come in small packages

Back in the day when I was a school-kid, slogan t-shirts were all the rage – many of them went over my 9 year-old head (and remembering them now, I can’t believe how inappropriate some of those sayings were) but the kernel of truth from my best friend’s  "Good things come in small packages" shirt has stuck with me over the years. I was reminded of my friend and that shirt recently, when a small envelope was received at GSA’s Nanaimo office.

The enclosed note said: I want to help save the world and the oceans and the animals  I hope the five dolers from my pigey bank is good

The sincerity behind that note, carefully printed by a child’s hand, brings me back to what drives us at Georgia Strait Alliance to do what we do every day, and to what motivates each of our members and donors to give what they can, even in these hard times, to help us to continue our work to protect and restore Georgia Strait and its surrounding communities each year.

Photo by Cheryl Onciul
From the $5 from our young donor to the $5000 first-time gift from a new donor, we are grateful for the contributions we received in 2012 from the wide range of individuals who share our belief in a future for our region that includes clean air and water, healthy wild salmon runs, rich marine life and natural areas, and sustainable communities. As we begin 2013, we want to thank our long-time members, new members, and those who have recently renewed their memberships after a period of inactivity. Your monthly gifts, one-time gifts, bequests – small and large, donations through online crowd sourcing platforms, and donations of stocks have helped us to increase our membership by 36% in 2012! 

With more members standing with us, GSA’s voice is louder as we speak out in opposition to increases in infrastructure for fossil fuels, like Kinder Morgan’s new TransMountain pipeline proposal. Your donations help us to publish materials that inform individuals about the ways we can all minimize our unintended negative impacts on the marine environment and allow us to participate in community events on both shores of the Strait to connect with communities around the region.  Together we are helping more marinas than ever before go green, through our Clean Marine BC eco-certification program. And our increased membership gives even more weight to our work to protect Species at Risk, including our southern resident killer whales, whose existing protection is tenuous at best and under threat of being weakened even further through anticipated changes to federal environmental legislation.

So yes, our young environmentalist friend, the $5 from your piggy bank IS good. We need it, just like we need the gifts of our hundreds of members and donors – our diversity and our numbers make us stronger. Thank you! We will do our best to help save the world and the oceans and the animals for you and your friends for generations to come. Good things really do come in small packages!

This blog was submitted by Cheryl Onciul, Georgia Strait Alliance's Grant Coordinator.

January 11, 2013

Down at the Dock: from boat shows to cruising magazines

2013 is upon us, and you know what that means! Soon we will be mingling with boating enthusiasts at the Vancouver International Boat Show. We hope you will stop by our booth February 7th to 11th where we will be featuring our award winning Clean Marine BC green boating and marina eco-certification program.

You can even pick up one of our brand new burgees – I ♥

If you have the time, we would sure appreciate your help. We are looking for volunteers to staff our booth during the five day boat show, and all the better if you are familiar with green boating and GSA programs ~ if not, it is a great opportunity to learn! If you are interested, please email Michelle Young, or call our office at (250) 753-3459.

We are also very excited to let you know that GSA is in the Suncruiser Westcoast 2013 cruising guide. You will need to get your copy to check out our full page spread, Down at the Dock: Hop on Board!, chock full of Clean Marine BC news and information.

Suncruiser also has our wonderful full page ad:

See you down at the dock…or at the Vancouver International Boat Show, as the case may be!

January 8, 2013

Big benefits from small resolutions

I hate New Year’s resolutions.  There, I said it. Feels good to get that one off my chest!

As to why I have this strong reaction to resolutions, it’s quite simple – most resolutions are made close to midnight on Dec 31, after one or two cocktails, and have within them the seed of failure due to their vagueness or their complete lack of grounding in reality.  For example, people commit to ‘taking better care of themselves’, a resolution with no measurable goal so you never know if it’s been achieved.  Or, they resolve to lose 50lbs, but with no plan for success, the first setback results in the resolution being abandoned.  So failure all around.

Now, you’re probably wondering what the ‘big benefits from small resolutions” of the blog title is talking about.  Well, truth be told, New Year’s resolutions have crept back into my life – thanks to the thoughtful resolution development of my husband.

Our favourite travel mugs
At the beginning of 2011, he announced that he had a New Year’s resolution for the year.  When I asked what it was, he said “no more take away coffee cups”.  Not an earth shattering resolution is probably your first reaction but think about it – how many paper coffee cups do you go through in one year?  The reality was that sticking to this resolution was no small task and my husband found himself more than once walking away from a badly needed coffee because he hadn’t brought his reusable mug with him.  The result is he became much more diligent about packing his mug – so happily had his caffeinated beverage and no additions to the landfill were made.

What was interesting is that as the year went on, I found myself taking on his resolution, one coffee at a time, so that now I too forgo coffee on the go if I’ve not brought my mug.  One resolution becomes two. 

In 2012, we both made the resolution to not buy or consume bottled water, if they were on offer.  We now carry reusable water bottles with us or grab a glass and drink tap water.  There have been a few lapses on both the coffee and water front, but for the most part, we’ve stayed true.

This year, we’ve resolved to be very conscious of the packaging that comes with the products we buy, choosing to buy products with less packaging or not buying something at all, if we can, if the packaging is excessive.  In addition we’ve recommitted to not using plastic bags (I now have a reusable bag in all my purses and briefcase) and to continue our commitment to “drinking local” by purchasing wine and beer from BC only.  Admittedly this last one is fun as well as positive!

If you haven’t made a New Year’s resolution yet, perhaps you’d like to borrow one of ours:
  •          No more paper coffee cups
  •          No more bottled water
  •          No more plastic bags
  •          Buying items with less packaging
  •          Eating and drinking local
Will any of these actions change the world? Perhaps not, but I guarantee if you stick to the resolution you’ve chosen, they will change your perspective as they did mine.  Once you become aware of your own behaviour, and succeed in changing it, you become inspired to do more – and to inspire others.  One resolution becomes two becomes four and more.

The bottom line is with all the big issues to take on in the world – issues that no one person can resolve on their own – remember that you have the power to make small changes which have big impacts.  If we can all do a little on our own, what can’t we take on together?