Earth Day 2013

Come to the library to celebrate Earth Day and partake in our special events (see March 23 blog for details).

Also, take a look at our Reference island display featuring some of our library’s resources on the environment and consult our handout for useful links and a list of our most recent resources.  For more resources, search our on-line catalogue using such subjects as environmental protection, sustainability, recycling, ecology, pollution.

Source for photo :


Special Earth Day Events at our Library

There are some exciting free programs occurring at our library for Earth Day 2013.

On Sunday, April 21 at 11:00 a.m., Montreal-based author Taras Grescoe will discuss his book Straphanger : saving our cities and ourselves from the automobile.

Also on Sunday, April 21, from noon until 5 p.m., come to the library for an Eco Fair and learn all about the great eco-minded businesses and organizations in your area.

Celebrate Earth Day with the family at a screening of The Lorax on Sunday, April 21 at 2 p.m.  This is a free event, but registration is required.

For more information, consult our Programs and Events brochure Spring/Summer 2013.


The Importance of Trees

Last Wednesday, July 4th, environmentalist David Fletcher came to the library to give a talk called The Enchantment of Trees: From Roots to Canopy. Mr. Fletcher started by pointing out the importance of trees to the environment and to the island of Montreal in particular, explaining that in areas which have a healthy forest canopy, more oxygen is produced, more energy is stored, and temperatures are lowered. Take a look at this temperature map of Cote Saint-Luc and the surrounding neighbourhoods – those white areas are white because they’re cool. And they’re cool because there are lots of trees around:

Heat Map of CSL and Environs

Of course, once we realize how important trees are, what can we do to ensure that our beneficial native species don’t become overrun by invasive transplants? Recognizing threats is the first step.

The Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald Ash Borer

This is an insect which has, in some places, severely reduced the native ash population. This is relevant to us because roughly 25% of the trees on the island of Montreal are ash trees or one kind or another.

This bug, as you’d probably guess from its name, bores into the wood of ash trees and eventually kills the tree from the inside. It is not native to Canada, having come from Asia. According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, this insect is responsible for the deaths of millions of trees in Ontario and Michigan.

What you can do: First, don’t move ash wood or branches from one location to another (and, in fact, it is currently prohibited to move ash off the island). If you see one of these beetles, contact Cote Saint-Luc’s Public Works department at 514-485-6868. For more info, see the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s website here.

Common Buckthorn

Common BuckthornThis species of small tree is native to Europe and was brought to North America as a decorative garden shrub at some point in the 19th century. Its bark and fruit used to be used as a purgative or expectorant, though this is no longer the case due to its violent action and possibly dangerous side effects. It has become an invasive species in parts of North America because it leafs earlier than native species, giving it a competitive advantage. In areas where it is abundant, its dense leaf cover keeps native seedlings from growing. It also possibly gives off a substance that slows the growth of other species.

What you can do: This may sound drastic, but… pull it up! If you notice this shrub in your back yard or garden, it’s very easy to remove it from the ground when the plants are young. You may have to do this for a few years in a row, as the seeds have a high germination rate and can germinate up to three years after they’re dropped.

For more information, check out Tree Canada.

Norway Maple

Norway MapleThis is a species of maple that is native to eastern and central Europe and southwest Asia. It produces a large number of viable seeds and also emits a chemical that inhibits the growth of other species around it. It discourages competitors by throwing lots of shade in areas where it dominates (as well as the thick, suffocating layer of leaves that cover the ground around it in the autumn), and it is eaten less often by herbivores than other species are – yet another advantage. It is very tolerant of shade even as a sapling and has shallow roots, which compete with other species at the ground level. For these reasons, it is considered an invasive species in parts of North America, though it’s still often used in urban plantings and can be found everywhere. It is, however, banned in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and is no longer sold by any nurseries owned by Meijer, Inc. (an American chain based in Michigan).

What you can do: Choose an alternative tree for planting, such as sugar, red, or silver maple (which are all native to this area). Remove any Norway maples in your yard, if possible – they are easy to remove as seedlings or young plants. See Tree Canada for more info.

Become a Locavore

The Eleanor London Côte Saint-Luc Library will continue its seven-part series on the environment entitled Doing Your Part: Building A Sustainable Future Together.  Join us for what will be an interesting  session entitled “Become a Locavore: Bringing Local Foods to Your Table”
Wednesday July 18 at 7 pm

Sarah Elton, author of Locavore: From Farmers’ Fields to Rooftop Gardens, How Canadians are Changing the Way We Eat will discuss the benefits of eating local, sustainable food.
In addition, representatives from Lufa Farms and Arlington Farms will be on hand to discuss their local produce/fruit basket programs and CSSS dietician, Caryn Roll, will discuss the Good Food Box Program.

Talking about trees

Environmentalist David Fletcher will talk about the importance of the tree canopy and urban forests on the island and in our city on Wednesday, July 4 at 7 pm at the library.  Fletcher will also present the challenges we face due to climate change, putting the focus on our own indigenous trees and the new invasive diseases like the emerald ash borer.  Patrick Raggo, the Director of the Public Works Department, will also be on hand to discuss the city’s plan to combat the effects of the emerald ash borer on the city’s ash trees. 

This event is part of the Doing Your Part lecture series presented by the library.  This session is entitled:

The Enchantment of Trees : From Roots to Canopy

Doing Your Part: Energy Efficiency in the Home

Doing Your Part: Energy Efficiency in the Home

This past Wednesday night, we had the fourth instalment in the library’s Doing Your Part series of eco-themed talks. This week’s discussion was about how to use energy more efficiently at home. Wendy Pollard, our speaker for the evening, gave an excellent and engaging lecture with a great and eye-catching Powerpoint presentation, complete with virtual tours of green homes.

She did a fantastic job of explaining how energy works in a home and how to maximize energy with minimal consumption. She drew examples from newer home projects that featured award-winning green homes. She also explained the culprits for energy loss in some older homes and how to prevent those energy leaks.

Among the topics she covered were: operating energy, passive solar energy, plug loads, and efficient mechanical systems in the home. She provided us a good stack of brochures that outlined many of the points she covered in the lecture and even left us with some nice bookmarks.

The next talk in the series will be Breathe Easy: The Importance of Trees, and will be taking place on July 4th at 7:00 pm. We hope to see you there!




Doing Your Part: Where has all the water gone?

On June 6th, Professor George McCourt from McGill University’s School of the Environment gave an interesting presentation on water conservation in the Library’s Eco-Cafe urging the audience to start conserving water.  When one thinks of Canada, one thinks of an endless supply of water, but this is not the case.  Even in Canada, resources are increasingly limited.   Fresh water sources are becoming increasingly stressed, a problem compounded by the effects of climate change. According to Professor McCourt, Canada is the biggest water consumer per capita, around 350,000 litres per person per year.   

Quebec and Montreal in particular are huge consumers of water. Quebecers use an average 795 litres per person per day compared to 491 litres consumed by people in Ontario.  Montreal’s aging infrastructure loses up to 50% of treated water in pipeline leaks .  As a result, Montreal’s water consumption is substantially higher than any other similar-sized North American city, earning the city the title of “Capital of Water Waste in North America.”

In many cities, residents have water meters and are charged for the water that they use.  This enables one to have an idea of how much one consumes and make adjustments saving the consumer money but also reducing overall consumption.  If you pay for what you use, consumption will go down. 

Here are some tips from Environment Canada to help conserve our water so that it will be sustained for future generations. Kitchen Tips

  • Kitchen TipsInstall a low-flow faucet aerator, which can cut water use in half.
  • Soak pots and pans before washing. When washing dishes by hand, fill one sink or basin with soapy water.
  • Fill the basin or a pan with water to wash fruits and vegetables.
  • Keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator rather than running tap water until it is cool enough to drink.
  • When buying a new dishwasher, consider purchasing a water-saving model. Newer models can cut water use by 25 percent and are no more expensive than non-conserving models.
  • Wash only full loads in the dishwasher.

 Bathroom Tips

  • Bathroom TipsBathroom use accounts for about 65 percent of the water used inside the home.
  • Check regularly for any leaks and fix them. Most common bathroom leaks are found in faucets and in and around toilets.
  • Replace older, larger-use toilets with the newer ultra-low flush models. Standard toilets manufactured prior to the 1980s usually require 15 to 20 litres per flush. Toilets sold during the 80s and early 90s use 13 litres per flush.
  • Do NOT use the toilet to dispose of paper, facial tissues, or cigarettes.
  • Take a five-minute shower.
  • Use the minimum amount of water needed for a bath by closing the drain and the filling the tub only 1/3 full.
  • Install a low-flow showerhead. It can save about half the amount of water you typically use in the shower, while still providing a refreshing, cleansing shower.
  • Turn the tap water off while brushing your teeth,  shaving, or washing your face.
  • If the toilet flush handle frequently sticks in the flush position, letting water run constantly, replace or adjust it.
  • Laundry Room Tips 

    • Laundry Room TipsWhen buying a new clothes washer, consider purchasing a water-saving model. New horizontal axis models can save up to 40 percent of the water used by a conventional model. Check with your municipality to see if they provide rebates on the purchase of water-saving clothes washers.
    • Wash only full loads in the clothes washer.
    • Insulate your water pipes. You’ll get hot water faster plus avoid wasting water while it heats up.

     Outdoor Tips

    • In the summer, lawn watering and other outdoor uses can account for up to 50 percent of home water use. Studies show that as much as half of this outdoor use is wasteful. As a general rule, 2 to 3 cm  of water per week is adequate.
    • Don’t overwater your landscape. It can cause yellowing leaves or poor plant health. Give plants only the amount of water that they need.
    • Use low-angle or pulsating sprinklers that produce large fat droplets of water. Sprinklers that spray the water high into the air or produce a mist or fine spray lose much of the water through evaporation.
    • Set sprinklers to water the lawn, not sidewalks and driveways.
    • Check your sprinkler or irrigation systems regularly for any leaks, and fix them.
    • Be sure your hose has an automatic shutoff nozzle to ensure water is not wasted when the hose is left unattended.


    • Add two to four inches of organic material, such as peat or compost, to the soil. Greater soil depth will increase the ability of the soil to retain moisture.
    • Use water-wise plants. Native and adaptive plants will use less water and be resistant to local plant diseases and pests.

     Car Washing

    • Using a running hose to wash your car can waste about 400 litres of water. Using a bucket with a sponge plus a trigger nozzle on the hose will save you about 300 of those litres.


    • If you own a pool, be sure to use a pool cover when it’s not in use. This will cut down on evaporation losses and will keep it cleaner and warmer. Check equipment such as filtration systems and water inlets on a regular basis for signs of leaks.

    Rain Barrel

    • Collect rain water in an old barrel or other large container that is outfitted with a spigot and a suitable cover, and use the water on your garden. Use this water as an alternative to turning on the hose for newly transplanted material, window boxes, flower pots and container gardens. Rain water is actually better for your plants as it does not contain any chlorine and is at ambient temperature. Keep your rain barrel covered to prevent mosquitos breeding and for safety reasons.