You are a standup citizen, I mean you hold doors open for others, give your seat on the bus/metro to the elderly, you vote, file your taxes, have good work ethic, care about your community and your planet.. But, it’s Earth Day and you’re thinking “Hmm…I have no power over the mega corporations, I can’t single handedly slow global warming, stop the deforestation of rainforests or reduce our dependency on oil… what can I do? What’s the point of trying?”.
Okay, maybe you have neither the time nor the interest in becoming an activist, moving to the Amazon, protesting outside of Parliament, chaining yourself to trees, or going vegan. But look around! This is our beautiful planet and we have a responsibility to do what we can. Thankfully, there are things we can do; easy and simple changes we can make in our every day life that make a difference.
1. Recycle. Seriously, if you live in a place where the city collects garbage and recycling separately, you have no excuse. If you’re not doing it you’re just lazy. For those of you who can do composting (either at home or through the city), even better!
2. Buy environmentally-friendly products. We always look for the Eco-Logo at Walmart when shopping for our cleaning supplies, they are biodegradable and affordable, and probably better for our general health anyway. For you Montrealers, last week I picked up a GreatValue Bathroom Cleaner 765ml for 2$, and a GreatValue Toilet Bowl Cleaner 710ml for $2. For laundry detergent, we couldn’t find one with the Eco-Logo so we bought La Parisienne 3,04L (76 loads) which is biodegradable for $8,97. We also try to buy sulfate-free and natural soaps/shampoo…less chemicals going down the drain and it’s better for your skin and hair!
3. Conserve water. If you do not already own a low-flush toilet and don’t foresee doing renovations soon, you can improvise: Place an empty plastic bottle (e.g. a soft drink bottle) in your toilet’s tank which will prevent it from filling completely with water – creating your very own low-flush toilet! Install low-flow showerheads; They’re cheap, easy to install, and you’ll still get pretty good water pressure. Also, turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth. For those who aren’t sure why all this is important: we treat our water with a lot of chemicals, so the less water we use the less water we need to treat with chemicals which means less chemicals end up in the St-Lawrence.
4. Conserve energy. Change your lightbulbs to CFLs: They last longer, use less electricity, and are now widespread in various intensities (please dispose of your incandescent lightbulbs through the hazardous waste collection on your borough). Wash in cold water as much as possible when clothes aren’t too soiled. Use weatherstripping or plastic on the inside of your windows in winter to improve insulation (also lowers your heating costs, trust me!) In the summer, keep the blinds closed during the day to prevent your place from heating up too much and use blackout curtains (we sewed them behind our other curtains) to lower your A/C costs.
5. Carpool. When public transportation and cycling/walking isn’t an option, drive with someone else as much as possible. Plus, isn’t it more enjoyable when you’re with a friend?
You don’t need to have solar panels or an electric car to help the environment, these are just a few examples of manageable changes that can be made in every household. Each of us can make a small difference, together we can make a huge one.
This Earth Day I hope that some of these tips find their way into your home. If you have any other tips or alternatives please share 🙂