In the 1950s, this building in downtown Victoria – photographed here in the 1920s – would become a Buckerfield’s. Company CEO Kelvin McCulloch asks: Can we limit our demands and expectations to return to a more sustainable existence?

In the 1950s, this building in downtown Victoria – photographed here in the 1920s – would become a Buckerfield’s. Company CEO Kelvin McCulloch asks: Can we limit our demands and expectations to return to a more sustainable existence?

There Was a Time…

Let’s think about our early beginnings … and try to find our way back to a place of sustainability

By Kelvin McCulloch

Buckerfield’s CEO

The picture above was taken in the early 1900s in front of what is now the Swan Pub in Victoria, B.C. This feed dealership would eventually become a Buckerfield’s store in the 1950s.

The picture shows what commerce looked like in the last days of environmental sustainability. Greenhouse gas emissions were minimal. Natural processes rather than man-made ones dominated the evolution of the planet. Industry relied on manual labour, horse-drawn carriages, the emerging motorcar, rail, hydroelectricity, coal and steam levels that could be sustained.

Global business was limited. There was no plastic, no computers, no cell phones, no digital cameras, no television, no air travel, no GPS, no satellites, no box stores, no credit cards, no online shopping, no social media.

The pace was slower. Expectations and offerings were simpler.

There are two horse-drawn wagons and two trucks in the picture. The wagons operated at a classical two horsepower each, that’s four horsepower. The two commercial trucks might have operated at 40 horsepower each. All the motive transportation in the picture might have produced a whopping 84 horsepower. That’s how the business was operated.

Now, picture the cars in a big box store parking lot one week before Christmas. Imagine the mountains of consumer goods that will be put into those cars and transported home. Virtually every car in the lot will have more than 130 horsepower. Many will have up to 400 horsepower to do about the same kind of work as one of the horse-drawn wagons in the picture. In total, there will be tens of thousands of horsepower sitting in the box store parking lot at any one time. Imagine for a moment the amount of carbon dioxide produced by all that horsepower.

Now imagine all the box store products, the extruded plastics, the computers, the consumer electronics, small appliances, major appliances, on and on. None of these things existed in the 1920s.

Imagine the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the manufacturing processes required to create all the box store products. Imagine how much greenhouse gas is produced transporting all those products from the factories in China where they are made to the box stores in our communities.

Now picture the waste material produced by a 1920s consumer. What did it look like? How much was there per person? Compare that with the waste that will be generated when all the cars in the box store parking lot drive home and the unboxing begins. Picture all the styrofoam and plastic and cardboard discarded.

Much of that box store product comes from China, hence the need for all that packaging. Not so in the 1920s when people’s needs were simpler and many of the products were produced in their own local areas and domestic markets.

How do we go forward – or backward – to a time when the environment is truly life giving and sustainable again? Can we get by with one or two horsepower? Can we limit our demands and expectations? Can we re-establish simple, local markets to minimize our carbon footprint? Can we minimize our waste gases and other materials to levels that do not alter the climate and destroy the planet? Let’s think about our early beginnings, remember there was a time … and try to find our way once again, before it’s too late.

 

Piles of waste will be generated this holiday season from imported consumer products. Can shopping closer to home help reduce that?

Piles of waste will be generated this holiday season from imported consumer products. Can shopping closer to home help reduce that?

Just Posted

Ripy Jubbal of Abbotsford has received a 30-month jail sentence for the fraudulent use of credit cards and credit card data. (Facebook photo)
Abbotsford woman sentenced for $80K in fraudulent credit card purchases

Ripy Jubbal and spouse used identities of 19 different victims, court hears

....
Dutch Canadian Liberation Society donates commemorative panels to Abbotsford school

Upper Sumas Elementary School receives artwork highlighting students work with Dutch Heritage Day

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. (File photo)
UPDATE: 2 cougars killed following attack in Harrison Mills

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

....
Abbotsford graphic designer pitches Flyers rebrand for AHL team

Alex Svarez suggests new affiliate team turns back the clock and brings back Flyers moniker

Mike Haire, a former vice-principal at W. A. Fraser Middle School in Abbotsford, began court proceedings on Monday, May 3 in New Westminster for two child pornography offences.
Trial paused for former Abbotsford vice-principal charged with child porn

Judge reserves decision on admissibility of evidence against Mike Haire

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

A picture of Shirley Ann Soosay was rendered from a postmortem photographer and circulated on social media. (DDP graphic)
B.C. genealogist key to naming murder victim in decades-old California cold case

In July 1980, Shirley Ann Soosay was raped and stabbed to death

Mary Kitagawa was born on Salt Spring Island and was seven years old when she was interned along with 22,000 B.C. residents in 1942. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds health services for survivors of Japanese internment

Seniors describe legacy of World War II displacement

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read