When my wife and I moved to Fredericton, Canada we bought a composter for our backyard. During the first summer and fall in our new home we fed the composter diligently. However, by January a snow drift three feet deep stretched from our back door to the composter. I started off the month with good intentions, shoveling a pathway or trampling down the snow with a pair of winter boots that reached nearly to my knees, but by late January, when the temperature dropped to minus 30°F, I had had enough, and despite my good intentions, the organics ended up in the garbage can at the curbside.

My environmental transgressions extend beyond seasonal composting. While I was still teaching, I would bike to work during the spring, summer and fall. However, during the winter, which in Fredericton stretches from November through to early April, I would take a taxi. I…

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