Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Working Bibliography for the History of the Canadian Environmental Movement

I occasionally receive emails from students asking if I can recommend sources on the history of the Canadian environmental movement. These emails have made me realize it might be useful to compile a working bibliography on the subject. You can find my first effort at accomplishing that task here.

No doubt I'm missing some sources. If you've read an article or book on the subject that you think should be included please feel free to send me an email with your suggestion. Currently the list is divided into three sections: Conservation, Government and Environment, and Environmental Movement. That division may remain, or it may not. It is, after all, a work in progress.

If you have any sources you think I should include, or any other feedback, please feel free to send me an email at thegreatgreennorth@gmail.com. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nyle Ludolph and the Blue Box Program

The recent passing of Jack McGinnis has resulted in an upsurge in interest in the origins of the blue box. While McGinnis has been dubbed the "Father of the Blue Box" it must be remembered that the program wasn't the work of a lone individual. Rather, it was the product of a partnership between Resource Integration Systems [RIS], which is a group co-founded by McGinnis, and Laidlaw. Laidlaw's interest in recycling was largely attributable to Nyle Ludolph, the company's former manager of special events. A newspaper interview with Ludolph appears in this past Monday's edition of the Kitchener Record, and you can read it here.

One of the projects I'm currently working on is an article about the origins and development of the blue box. It touches on the Is Five Foundation, RIS, and their partnership with Laidlaw. I'll let you know when I receive details of its publication.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Marshall McLuhan's Critique of the Environmental Movement

A frequent critique of the environmental movement is that the message is often lost amidst an overly-preachy tone. People are told that they must recycle, they must consume fewer resources, and that they must have fewer children. This demanding approach has alienated a certain segment of the population because, let's face it, people don't like being bossed around.

Marshall McLuhan, the celebrated media guru, foresaw the perils of this approach. As former Pollution Probe employee Ann Love told me, one day in the 1970s she and a number of her co-workers bumped into McLuhan in the University of Toronto parking lot they shared. After some small talk, McLuhan left the young environmentalists with one of his patented turns-of-phrases:

"Well boys, I think you are doing a good thing. But remember -- don't should on me."

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Legacy of Jack McGinnis

A year ago I wrote a brief entry about Jack McGinnis, one of the figures behind the creation of the iconic Blue Box program. I interviewed Jack while researching my dissertation, and found him to be a rather fascinating individual. Despite his important role in the development of the environmental movement -- he was a founder or co-founder of such groups as the Is Five Foundation, the Recycling Council of Ontario, and Durham SustainAbility -- I never detected a sense of egotism.

Jack and I kept in contact following the interview. He had numerous projects on the go, as well as plans for the creation of a recycling museum. Today I was going to email him and ask if he'd comment on the section of my dissertation that addressed his work. Before I could do so, however, I stumbled across news that he passed away on January 29.

Personally, I'm disappointed that I never had the opportunity to meet Jack in person. At the same time, I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to interview him about his extensive work in the field of recycling. 

For more information on Jack McGinnis you can check out this announcement from the Recycling Council of Ontario, his obituary at the Solid Waste & Recycling website, and this article in the Toronto Star. You can also learn more about his work in the Pollution Probe report "'We Recycle': The Creators of the Blue Box Programme."
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