Conserve energy, say sweater-clad Canadian grannies

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 06, 2013 08:00 hrs

Toronto, Feb 6 (IANS) Dozens of sweater-clad grannies sprung into action in the Canadian city of Toronto this week ahead of the third annual National Sweater Day, which falls Thursday, to remind people the importance of energy conservation.

World Wildlife Fund (WWF)-Canada is mobilizing over 30 grannies to deliver one simple message. And that's for people to put on a sweater and turn down their thermostat by two degrees Celsius, reported Xinhua.

WWF Canada's director of climate and energy Josh Laughren believed that grannies are the appropriate spokespeople who can deliver an effective message on behalf of WWF.

"How we use energy is really at the heart of climate change," he said. "We thought, how could we engage people into thinking about ways to conserve it? Who knows more about conserving energy than the previous generations who lived through scarcity, and who do we listen to more than our grandparents ... and who knits sweaters?"

According to WWF, if all Canadians turned down their heat by two degrees this winter, they could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to four megatonnes. That's equivalent to shutting down a 600 mega-watt coal-fired plant.

Loblaws, a supermarket chain that's sponsoring the event, will be going a step further by turning down their heat by three degrees in over 600 stores across Canada.

But Laughren stressed the importance of individual action.

"It is symbolic. We are not expecting climate change to be solved by that one day, but I think it is no less important for being symbolic," he said. "We know that if we are going to tackle climate change, we need governments and businesses to lead the way and we also need to change some of our behaviour."

Many people want to make a change in their lives and take part in the event, said Laughren, but they often forget when the time comes because of their busy schedules, so the WWF Canada is getting grannies to make some calls in their cozy "granny call center" to remind people to bundle up and turn down their thermostats.

Last year, over one million people participated in the initiative. This year, grannies will be calling up everyone who signed up for the event to give them a sweet, endearing reminder.

Grannie Gladys, their event "spokesgranny", is one of many concerned grannies who are working to create awareness of energy conservation. With two children and four grandchildren of her own, she said it is important for them to have a future not affected by climate change.

"I want them to have a wonderful life and not to have to worry about climate change," she said. "We have got to think about the future."

Heating used to be a luxury, said Gladys as she recalled her earlier years.

"I grew up at a time when we could not just turn a thermostat, but had to light a fire to get warm, so we were used to putting on sweaters," said Gladys. "We have got so used to doing it the easy way that we have forgotten that it could be a problem too."

Laughren said it is important to develop a green habit and tell Canadians to make the appropriate changes in their homes to help save energy.

"Whether your house is well insulated, whether you keep your temperature at a reasonable level, whether you avoid wasting that energy when you are not in rooms and not in the house, those are all within your control, and are one of the many ways in which we can impact on climate change," he said.

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