Making sustainable choices doesn’t have to mean making huge changes in the way you live. Resolving to live “greener” can be as simple as making day-to-day choices — about what we buy, what we eat, what we use or how we live — that are easy to do and better for the environment. Here are some ideas to help you keep the eco-friendly resolutions you make.
BYOB (Bring your own bag)
When you go shopping, use cloth bags instead of the plastic bags offered at stores. Plastic bags, while seemingly convenient, can wind up in oceans and forests, where they harm wildlife and clog ecosystems, or sit in landfills for hundreds of years before they biodegrade.
Use recycled-paper products
When it comes to toilet paper, tissues, napkins and paper towels, buy brands that are made from 100% recycled paper instead of those produced from newly cut trees. To be sure you’re buying wisely, check the packaging and look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) stamp of approval.
Buy in bulk
Cut down on excess packaging (and the energy and resources needed to produce it) — and maybe save on your grocery bill at the same time — by shopping for products in bulk. Many retailers now offer bulk sections, allowing you to buy as much or as little as you need, thereby helping to reduce excess waste.
Recycle more than just cans
Find new “homes” for the things you no longer use — instead of tossing them in the trash. Donate items like clothing or electronics to a thrift store or charity. Books, magazines and DVDs can be given to seniors’ homes or hospitals. Old sheets and towels are often appreciated by animal shelters and rescue groups. Check with organizations in your area for specific needs and ideas.
Soak up the sun
Consider installing solar panels or a solar water heater to your home to help offset the amount of electricity you consume. Using a solar water heater can also save the average Canadian home up to 1000 cubic metres of natural gas (or 2.2 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions) annually. Or chose a solar-powered lawn mower over one that uses gas or electricity.
Your trash can also be a treasure! Instead of throwing out your organic garbage — everything from vegetable scraps and coffee grounds to eggshells and yard trimmings — get a backyard composter and convert your waste into a nutrient-rich substance that will improve the quality of your soil.
Instead of buying chemical- and synthetic-based cleaning products — which can contain pollutants and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) — try more eco-friendly alternatives. Many companies now manufacture soaps, detergents, disinfectants and all-purpose cleaners from less-toxic, natural, plant-based sources.
Choose Energy Star appliances
If you’re replacing the dishwasher or the fridge or any other appliance in your home, buy one with an Energy Star rating and seal. That indicates a product operates with premium energy efficiency, which translates to lower energy consumption… and higher savings on your energy bills.
Use alternative-energy providers
Green your home on a larger scale by opting for alternative-energy providers in your city or province. Bullfrog Power (bullfrogpower.com) offers customers 100% green electricity using wind and hydro power instead of fossil fuels like coal or oil, and 100% green natural gas — a certified net-zero carbon dioxide emissions energy source created from decaying organic matter in landfills. Green natural gas does not release additional carbon dioxide into the environment when burned.
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