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It’s Easy Being Green

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I didn’t win the $40 million lottery this weekend. Thankfully, no one won it, which means tomorrow’s jackpot is $49 million. I’m not normally a lottery player, but it’s fun when the jackpots are big and hey, if you don’t play, you can’t win.

If we ever won the lottery, we already know how we’d spend our winnings. There’d be the obligatory and celebratory sharing with family, but after that, we’d dedicate ourselves to causes that are particularly important to us. My cause of choice is nurturing the movement to repair the environment and encourage humanity to be more sustainable. Even without winning the lottery my wife and I are conscious of our impact and are evaluating everything we do through a green lens. I think we can all do more to take less from the environment, just by being more considerate of our actions.

Sustainability is a word that an organic farmer once told me was irrelevant because of its open-ended-ness, but I disagree. I think it’s the most important word in the world, because it blends what is thought to be hard-core environmentalism with maintaining a traditional lifestyle that the masses find hard to part with. It recognizes the varying degree of compromise that people make when they do something (but not everything) to save the environment. I disagree with the idea that some people think David Suzuki and Al Gore are hypocrites for taking airplanes to their speaking engagements, because they’re doing something and doing something is better than doing nothing at all. If everyone changed their light bulbs to CFLs, or replaced their toilets with low-flow models, or used public transit a bit more, I think we’d be a lot farther down the road to recovery than we are now. The divisiveness that exists between the do-nothing majority and the environmental movement is due in part to people feeling forced to decide between changing their lifestyles entirely or doing nothing whatsoever. Championing sustainability means that no effort is hypocritical; every effort is valid.

My wife and I have taken many steps to become more environmentally conscious and less impactful. It’s really just a matter of adjusting your thinking – you needn’t necessarily sacrifice your quality of life one bit. In fact, many environmental decisions improve quality of life by saving money and providing healthier options. As discussed in previous posts, we are currently enrolled in the federal and provincial government eco-energy audit programs as well as the CBC/Cisco One Million Acts of Green.

Here are some of the contributions/decisions that we think make a difference. I hope I haven’t missed any! This isn’t a pat-on-the-back exercise, but it ought to provide some perspective and relevant ideas. What are you doing to lessen your impact on the world, and how are you otherwise making a difference? If you do something that I could be, please let me know! I’ve added a ‘green’ category to my blog, and relevant posts will be categorized under it from this point forward.

House improvements:

– installed a 94.5% efficient high-efficiency furnace

– toilets are all 6 litres per flush low-flow toilets

– shower heads are low-flow

– all light bulbs not on dimmers are CFLs

– improved our attic insulation to R-50 (12 cm. settled depth)

– installed a programmable thermostat

– installed a direct-venting 80% efficient hot water tank

– walls repainted with low-VOC paints

– front yard is xeriscaped

– installed a rain barrel

– use a composter for organic materials

– do not use garbage bags in trash cans; reuse shopping bags for individual garbages inside the house

Lifestyle:

– only have one car, and live centrally to minimize driving

– ensure lights are off in rooms that are not occupied

– use a human-powered lawn mower for back yard

– keep blinds drawn on cold days and during night time so when furnace is active, hot air circulates through house and not against windows

– use reusable shopping bags for groceries; decline bags for small purchases (and especially bags for produce!)

– use reusable lunch bags and water bottles for work

– buy tissue and bathroom tissue made from recycled paper products

– never accept or purchase bottled water

– switch off and unplug most small appliances when not in use; larger appliances when we go away

– keep hot water switched to a lower temperature at all times; ‘vacation’ setting when away

– use environmentally friendly cleaning products such as Biovert and Seventh Generation

– look for groceries and goods that use less packaging

– recycle all paper products, even liners of plastic packaging

– recycle all tin, glass, milk jugs, beverage containers

– seek glass or paper packaging wherever possible

– buy only organic produce; free range meats, fish (never farmed) and eggs and everything as locally-grown as possible

– support companies with a positive environmental conscience and track record, including SPUD, Patagonia, Husky, Planet Organic, local farmers’ markets, and small businesses supporting renewable energy efforts such as Bullfrog Power

Did you know that being environmentally conscious invariably means you’re supporting local business? The more local you shop for goods and food, the more you’re supporting your local economy, which is win-win. The more local your food is, the fresher it is, and that’s better too, isn’t it? And buying organic produce means your food hasn’t been sprayed over and over with chemicals – I’m not sure where the disconnect is with that common sense thinking.

I’d like to see what changes we can make in more peoples’ lives and greater efforts within our own lives to make a difference. Cheers everyone!

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About the author cdub

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One Comment

  1. […] My wife and I worked very hard in 2009 to continue nurturing our eco-consciousness and reduce our environmental impact. Yes, I know that’s somewhat hypocritical given the miles I’ve travelled, though an incomplete effort cannot be deemed hypocrisy in my opinion (otherwise why would any of us try at all). A nearly complete list of our accomplishments can be seen here. […]

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