Canada is no stranger to the negative impacts of climate change. As carbon pollution continues to warm the planet and damage our natural systems, we are seeing an array of consequences in the form of extreme weather events, rising sea levels, resource depletion and biodiversity loss, all of which threaten human health today and for generations to come.
Climate change measures at both the global and national level are essential to ensure long-term planetary health, but we all have an important role to play. Although living a green lifestyle requires mindfulness in regard to daily habits, eco-friendly living does not have to involve costly home renovations or extreme lifestyle changes.
We’ve compiled a list of simple practices to help you improve the sustainability of your lifestyle and home.
Ditch Single-Use Plastic
Though single-use plastic items (disposable water bottles, shopping bags, straws, etc.) can be produced from recycled material, natural resources and energy are still required in the manufacturing and transportation processes, which generates carbon emissions. At the end-of-life stage, single-use plastic items often end up in landfill, shipped to developing countries without adequate recycling infrastructure or littering waterways, where they break down into microplastics and are consumed by marine animals. Here are some reusable alternatives to single-use plastic items:
Instead of purchasing disposable water bottles, opt for reusable alternatives. Be sure to purchase a durable bottle that can be used many times. Check out our BPA-free and stainless steel alternatives that will help curb your dependence on disposable water bottles (which take centuries to break down in landfill) and reduce your environmental impact.
When you’re not on the go, water filtration pitchers and faucets are a more sustainable alternative to disposable plastic water bottles. Both options provide clean, filtered water right from your tap, which reduces dependence on single-use plastic, prevents emissions associated with transport of disposable water bottles and saves money
You can also reduce your dependence on single-use plastic by opting for reusable shopping bags. Alternatively, grocery carts are a great option when you have a lot to carry or are travelling by foot, while reusable produce bags and glass food storage containers (for bulk items) can help limit the amount of single-use plastic you bring into your home.
Politely refuse plastic straws when you go out, and opt for reusable alternatives made from durable materials like stainless steel at home.
Reduce Household Waste
Waste not, want not, as the old adage goes. Canadians send an alarming amount of organic and recyclable material to landfill every year. Here are some tips to improve waste diversion in your household.
Recycle What You Can
Review your municipal recycling program, including pick-up days and accepted waste streams. Encourage proper sorting of recyclables in the house with an additional recycling bin, allowing for simple separation into municipal curbside recycling bins.
Avoid wasting food by keeping leftovers and other pantry snacks fresh longer with reusable food storage containers.
Compost Food Scraps
Purchase a kitchen compost bin and BPI-Certified paper liners to collect food waste for municipal curbside collection (where applicable). Alternatively, a backyard composter is a great option if you have a garden. Once food waste breaks down, it can be returned to the soil in the form of a nutrient-rich fertilizer.
Repair Damaged Items
Consider repairing damaged items before replacing them with new models. Use a sewing machine or purchase a sewing kit to mend small holes and tears in your clothes or replace buttons. Superglue can also be used to repair a variety of household items.
Improve the Efficiency of Your Home
You can improve the overall efficiency of your home by investing in energy and/or water efficient appliances and fixtures. Though this will require some financial investment, it will result in reduced energy and water consumption as well as utility costs. Here are some tips to improve the efficiency of your home.
Energy Star Appliances/Fixtures
Consider replacing old appliances and fixtures with energy-efficient Energy Star certified models. From refrigerators to dishwashers to LED bulbs, Energy Star certified products are rated to consume less energy than alternative, non-certified models, resulting in reduced electricity costs.
Use Cold Water
If you can’t afford to switch to energy-efficient appliances/fixtures all at once, consider washing clothes in cold water to reduce your energy consumption. Be sure to purchase cold water detergent to keep your clothes clean and fresh.
Adding insulation to your home can improve energy-efficiency and reduce heating and energy costs. Another simple measure to help rooms retain heat is to add area rugs and curtains. If you need a little more insulation or live in an area with cold winters, window insulation film can also help retain heat.
Replace old Thermostats
Smart thermostats can help increase energy-efficiency in your home, as long as you monitor and adjust the temperature as needed. Most models come with downloadable apps for easy monitoring.
Other Ways to Transition to an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle
There is a wide selection of non-toxic cleaners that are safe for your family, pets and the environment. You can also make your own non-toxic cleaner with simple, everyday ingredients such as vinegar or baking soda.
Hang Clothes to Dry
Save energy and reduce expenses by skipping the dryer altogether. Use a clothesline for outdoor drying or an expandable drying rack for indoor drying.
Reduce water consumption and expenses by purchasing a rain barrel to collect water for outdoor use such as watering gardens and lawns, etc.
Plant a Vegetable Garden
If you haven’t already, consider building a backyard vegetable garden. If you have minimal space, there are a variety of raised garden planters designed for vegetable gardening. Growing your own vegetables helps you to reduce your impact on the environment by allowing you to control pesticide use and prevents emissions associated with food transport. Check out our short guide on Planning A Vegetable Garden to help get you started.
Small steps can lead to big changes, especially when it comes to sustainability and the environment. We hope this guide has given you some creative and helpful ideas on how to integrate more sustainable living practices into your everyday routine.