Crows and cats

Crows and cats

In my last blog post I talked about finding employment for feral cats. I was kind of joking around, but I do think that we should be considering ALL living things when we think about how our community works.

Screen Shot 2017-10-28 at 3.36.37 PMSo I was interested in this post, which describes a project in Amsterdam that trains crows to pick up and dispose of cigarette butts. At first reading, it sounded like a great idea — the crows learn fast, they pick up the trash, and they get paid a peanut. What’s not to like?

However, a commentator brought up a point I hadn’t thought about. John Marzluff, a professor of forest sciences at the University of Washington, argued that ” it is unethical to ask a wild animal to do our dirty work. Crows have other things to do, being highly social animals and intelligent, and it doesn’t seem right to me to enslave them to work for us. Why not just pay people a good wage to do the work?”

Now, you’re probably thinking that we are getting into Philosophy 101 territory when we start worrying about making wage slaves out of crows. But I don’t think this is a silly argument. It seems to me to be a highly moral argument that we should be applying to the wildlife that lives around us. Perhaps when we start seeing nature as valuable in itself, rather than something that has been set up for us to use, we will learn to inhabit our communities in a way that promotes a healthy environment for humans and animals.

So what’s the difference between crows and cats? Basically, cats aren’t part of the ecosystem. We domesticated them and brought them here. So I think we owe them a free lunch or two. Or maybe even a career in rodent removal.

How to Beat the Recycling Blues


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When we first came to Stratford I had the worst time with the garbage. I mean, the WORST. I had always lived in cities where the garbage was picked up on a given day, and that was that. In Stratford, we do things differently. Sometimes it’s garbage, sometimes it’s yard waste, sometimes it’s recycling, and sometimes it’s other stuff. It can get confusing.

I used to case out my street the night before collection, sneakily trying to figure out what I should put out, but many times I was wrong. Then I would have the humiliation of having to drag it all back in off the street, proving myself to be a total garbage noob. Finally, a neighbour took pity on me and gave me the collection schedule sheet, and it was great for a while, but then I lost the schedule. I think I recycled it.

So you can imagine my joy when I found Recycle Coach. It’s a free app, easy to use, and it’s personalized to your own street. When you sign up you take a little quiz to see how much you know about recycling. I did pretty well, but not great, and I think of myself as someone who knows about recycling. Once you join, you have a little calendar that appears on your phone, very convenient. But best of all, I’ve set it to send me little reminder notes in my e-mail. You don’t have to do this, but I’m a person that can’t survive without little reminder notes, so that is just perfect.

I’m wondering if the city of Stratford is interested in apps like this. In addition to their free account that allows municipalities to set reminders for citizens, Recycle Coach offers services  (not free) that allow them to communicate with users, sending out announcements of special collection days, for example. There’s also a package that lets the city educate citizens on what is acceptable for recycling and at the landfill. It might be worth looking into.

Click on the picture above to go to the site. If you try it, or if you know of a better app, leave me a reply.