Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Jane Dunne

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The Unexpected Benefits of Walking to School

Posted by Jane Dunne on Thu, Sep 20, 2018

Remember when splashing through puddles, collecting pretty-coloured leaves and deciding to keep a caterpillar for a pet were part of getting to and from school? Imagine all that you would have missed if your walk to school as a kid had been replaced with a sterile car ride. October is International Walk to School month (iWalk) and that has got me thinking…

Could Walking Boost Creativity?

Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “all truly great thoughts are conceived while walking” and many of the world’s greatest thinkers have recognized the power of a walk to spark new ideas and thoughts. Charles Dickens felt that walking enabled him to develop novel ways to write and some say that his walking stick was almost as important for his writing as his pen. (Charles Dickens Museum) A Stanford study has confirmed this belief and found that walking does boost creative inspiration. According to the study, creative output increases by an average of 60 percent when a person is walking. (Stanford News) Apparently, even after a walk, creative juices continue to flow, which is great for kids just arriving at school.

Exercise for Life

Setting up good habits when a child is young can translate into an active teen and adult life. Being driven to school each day contributes to sedentary behaviors and since much of the day is spent sitting in a classroom, an opportunity to be active while walking to school can help to develop life-long patterns of choosing exercise. Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that kids aged 5 to 11 get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise every day. (For details on these guidelines, see Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines.) 

Clearing the Air

Car fumes are not healthy for anyone, but the one place that really should not have exhaust surrounding it is your local school. University of Toronto assistant professor, Matthew Adams, recently found that school kiss-and-ride drop-off zones are exposing children to increased levels of air pollution (see U of T News.)  Knowing that your family has chosen to walk, and is not contributing to poor air quality around schools by driving a short distance and then idling, is empowering. The morning walk to school is a chance for students to breathe fresh air and means that kids arrive at school feeling more alert and able to learn.

Street Smarts

Many parents find that letting their kids walk to school helps kids to learn how to be responsible and to make decisions by themselves. Walking or biking to school is a great way to improve academic performance. A recent study found that children who exercise have more brain power. Researchers were able to show that physical activity can actually increase the size of children’s brains and that kids who are physically fit have a greater volume of grey matter in the frontal and temporal regions and the calcarine cortex, all of which are important for learning, motor skills and visual processing. (For more information, see Brain Power.) 

Why Wouldn’t Kids Walk to School?

Some parents tell themselves that driving the kids to school is what is best for safety, but who is this really best for? When you consider that children are at a greater risk of injury in a car than while playing or walking, you really can’t put safety forward as the reason to drive them to school.

One fear that parents have is that their child will be kidnapped. Kidnappings are incredibly rare, but parents don’t want to be that 1 in 14 million, even though limiting their child’s independence is an expected outcome of not allowing them to experience the world on their own. A good way to quash this particular fear is to find a group of kids that can walk to school together. Set up rules on how everyone sticks together and no one is left behind. (For ideas on starting a walking school bus in your area, see Walking School Bus.) 

Getting Involved

For those of you living in British Columbia, you can register a school to participate in the Walk and Wheel to School event (October 1 – 5th 2018) with the Directorate of Agencies for School Health (DASH BC). (See DASH BC for more information.)

Jane Dunne is a Senior Editor for Specialty Technical Publishers. She works on a diverse catalogue of environmental publications that are recognized across North America as effective tools to ensure regulatory compliance with complex requirements.

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Tags: Health & Safety, Environmental, Environmental risks, Transportation

Upcycling:  Creativity Reigns the Recycling Box

Posted by Jane Dunne on Thu, May 24, 2018

Many of the items that make their way into your home are designed with only one purpose in mind.  After you’ve opened up a bottle of champagne, the cage and cork become destined for the landfill.  Once you’ve eaten all of the fruit out of the colourful plastic mesh bag, it can’t be recycled and it’s pushed into the trash bin.  You can sit around getting blue about all the waste that abounds or you can do what I do and give those items a second chance at life.

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Tags: Environmental, Environmental risks, Business & Legal, Hazcom, climate change, sustainability

Striking a New Pose: Sustainability in Fashion

Posted by Jane Dunne on Thu, Apr 19, 2018

A lot of time is spent shopping for the right look and for fashion that will flatter or get attention, but are we spending our dollars wisely to make sure that the clothes we wear today will not damage the environment in other parts of the world or in our own backyards tomorrow?

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Tags: sustainability, Environmental, Environmental risks, corporate social responsibility, Hazcom

Is a Zero Waste Christmas Even Possible?

Posted by Jane Dunne on Fri, Dec 01, 2017

Christmas holidays bring joy, laughter and vast amounts of plastic waste and junk into our lives, but the wastefulness can be avoided with just a bit of creativity.

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Tags: Environmental, Environmental risks

The Latest Climate Change-Fighting Innovations

Posted by Jane Dunne on Tue, May 02, 2017

All over the world, our brightest and most creative minds are finding ways for us to produce fewer greenhouse gases and use renewable energy to its greatest potential with fascinating new technologies.

Sustainable Job Innovators

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Tags: climate change, clean water

Think Drinking Water Issues Only Exist in Places like Brazil?

Posted by Jane Dunne on Thu, Aug 18, 2016

We often see pictures in the media of places where the environment is being abused. During the Rio Olympics, we’ve seen many visual images of garbage-laden rivers and dirty beaches and it’s easy to think that if that were in our country, it would be under control, but a recent Harvard study took a closer look at water quality at home and found that it comes up short in many U.S. states.

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Tags: Environmental, Environmental risks, Canadian, EHS, Health & Safety

Can a Hospital Be Both Hygienic and Environmentally Sustainable?

Posted by Jane Dunne on Mon, May 02, 2016

When it comes to hospitals we all expect the highest standard of cleanliness and yet, we want every part of our lives to be more sustainable. Of course, when hospitals are faced with a choice that puts hygiene up against sustainability, hygiene always wins. But I wonder if it’s possible to find ways for both to win?

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Tags: Health & Safety, Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS, EPA, sustainability

Emissions in the Shipping Industry: Who Is Steering the Ship?

Posted by Jane Dunne on Tue, Apr 05, 2016

You might ask how it is possible that there is no direct mention of the shipping industry in the Paris Agreement at COP21. Many people wonder just how much air pollution is created by the shipping industry and who is working to improve this mysterious source of greenhouse gas emissions?

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Tags: EHS, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Hazcom

New Year’s Resolutions: Setting Green Goals for the Year

Posted by Jane Dunne on Thu, Jan 14, 2016

New Year’s resolutions are all about improving yourself and being the best person that you can be. Most goals fit into one of three categories: personal success (money), priorities (family) and health. Let me show you how focussing on kindness to others, reducing material excesses and embracing your local neighbourhood can play a part in some of the best green resolutions. There are ways to live gently on the earth, while saving dollars and expressing your gratitude for all that you have, by giving back to your community and setting green goals for the year.

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Tags: EHS

The Best Environmental Books for Kids

Posted by Jane Dunne on Wed, Dec 02, 2015

It takes time to stand in the bookstore and figure out which books will make suitable gifts for the little people in your life. Some book covers masquerade as educational and enriching, but when you open them up, they are vapid and do not offer any challenging material, nor new thoughts to open up a child’s mind. If you are looking for books that introduce environmental themes and get kids thinking and asking the questions that matter, here is what I can recommend:

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Tags: Environmental risks, Environmental, EHS