All of us can have a large impact on moving the planet towards a greener future simply by paying attention to the choices we make every day. You would be surprised how much can happen if every one of us made a few small changes in our day to day routines.
Canadians are the largest consumers of energy consumption. We consume more energy on a per capita basis than any other country in the world.And that’s not all… we are the second largest producer of green house gases, with the United States leading the way. Energy is expensive environmentally, with negative consequences to the planet and to our pocketbooks. If we can reduce our consumption, we will save money plus have a major effect on helping to keep the planet green.
USE LESS ENERGY
Reducing emissions that cause climate change can be achieved by simply cutting back on the use of home heating fuels and electricity. Program or manually turn the furnace down at night or when you are not going to be home fora while. Consider supplementing your existing home heating system with heaters that solar heat air or alternatively heaters that use solar energy. Consider investing in a geothermal heating system or installing solar panels on your home to produce energy, the initial cash investment will translate into lower long-term monthly energy bills. Turn off the lights when you leave a room and switch to high efficiency light bulbs. You can get plenty of information from your heat and hydro providers. Check their website, for all kinds of energy saving tips. Not only will you be helping the environment, you will help to reduce your bills.
If you can afford the upgrade, switchingto energy-efficient appliances is another way to reduce your energy consumption. New refrigerators now use 40% less energy than their predecessors manufactured just 10 years ago.
Buy yard tools that are not electrically or gas powered. The savings accrued from a manual lawn mower will more than pay for a gym membership and you will be less likely to need one.
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT….AND SO IS THE EARTH
Food consumption is another area that can have a considerable negative impact on the environment. Food production can cause pollution of our air and water, and affects the loss of soil and reduced biodiversity. Simple changes in the way we purchase and consume food items can greatly effect our impact on the planet, such as choosing to purchase locally grown organic foods and seasonal foods. Plant a garden in your backyard for summer eating; even planting herbs in containers on your apartment balcony, provides less expensive and healthier options to season your food and less waste. The less distance products need to travel to market means less fuel consumption used. If you have space, composting all of your organic waste is another way to reduce garbage and provides the ability to put healthy nutrients back into your soil.Many communities have great recycling programs available in which you can recycle all your plastic, bottles, paper and cardboard. By making some small efforts and taking advantage of these programs, you can help to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions which are generated by land fills.
CONSIDER LOWERING YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT WITH YOUR FEET
All of us have places to go and things to do, which means we rely heavily on our daily modes of transportation. Whether you need to drive your car, take a bus or subway, or areflying to another city, transportation creates almost half of all noxious air pollution. It contributes toa quarter of all common air contamination, a third of greenhouse gas emissions and a fifth of water toxicity. The biggest polluters are our automobiles, which produce the most carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, as well as traffic congestion and pollute our water and air through exhaust and road runoff.
Choosing not to drive your car to work every dayis not an option for all of us, but if you are able to carpool with a few others who live in close proximity, that can take one or two cars of the road five days of the week. Small changes can make big differences.
When it is time to purchase a new vehicle, why not consider shopping for something more fuel efficient. It is worth checking with the local government’s Auto Smart Ratings, where you can find valuable information on fuel efficient and low polluting options. Did you know that the average SUV uses almost twice the fuel and releases almost twice the emissions than that of a modern station wagon, and yet they both seat the same number of passengers?
Even small changes in your daily routine can have impacts over time. Pick one of your regular destinations you visit each week and ride your bike or transit once a week just to see how convenient it is not having to gas up your car or pay for parking, or walk there, because every step, is a step in the right direction.
Air travel is increasing more and more each year, and jet fuel is a major pollutant. Next vacation plan a staycation and explore your own city on bike or travel a shorter distance by another mode of transportation.
All of us would prefer a shorter commute to work or school. It’s not always easy or affordable to live where you want to, but if you are planning to move, consider neighborhoods that are closer to your place of work. Many neighborhoods are being developed in which people can live, work and shop within them, and walk to most of those destinations. Not only will you be healthier by walking more places, but by reducing the use of your vehicle you will belowering your greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. Start becoming part of the solution!
All of us can make an impact, even by making only one or two simple changes in our daily routine. If every single one of us took a little time and thought about the impact we have on the environment every day, and made the effort to make a ‘change’ for the better, imagine what the effect could be globally! It really doesn’t take much…but
it all starts with you. Talk about it, tell your friends, be part of the solution. We all benefit from a greener, healthier planet.