Decreasing Your Environmental Footprint
Ten Things That You Can do to Decrease Your Environmental Footprint
Reduce the amount of Earth’s resources you use.
The first, and sometimes most overlooked R of the 3R’s is REDUCE. Think twice before making a purchase. Is it something you really need? Would a reuse item do the job just as well? And when you must buy something, make an ethical and/or organic and locally produced purchase whenever possible. But items that are easy to repair, with replaceable parts, instead of disposable units.
Recycle Everything You Can to Decrease the Amount that Goes to Landfill
Landfills generate methane gas, which is 23 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) as a green house gas (GHG). In Canada, landfill sites account for about 38 percent of our total methane emissions. Everything that you recycle can be made into a new product and that in turn saves energy. For example, manufacturing aluminum from virgin inputs expends 64.19 GJ/tonne of energy, while making aluminum from recycled inputs expends only 6.18 GJ/tonne; an energy savings of 90 percent!
Think Global and Buy Local
Buy locally produced goods rather than something shipped from the other side of the planet as that generates GHG through its transportation. Several studies have shown that the average distance of a North American meal travels from farm to plate is 2,400 km. Food grown in your own community was likely picked within the past day or two. It's crisp, sweet and loaded with flavor.
Change Your Diet
Eat less meat as livestock contributes to enormous amounts of GHG. According to the UN report Livestock’s Long Shadow, livestock are responsible for 18 percent of the greenhouse gases that cause global warming, more than cars, planes and all other forms of transport put together.
Switch to Energy Efficient Appliances and Light Bulbs
New refrigerators use 40 percent less energy than models made just 10 years ago. Standard light bulbs give off 90 percent of their energy as heat. New compact fluorescent "spiral" bulbs are 75 percent more efficient and fit in standard sockets. For a list of energy efficient appliances visit: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/products/energystar/12519/.
Make Your Home More Efficient by Installing Insulation, Weather Stripping
If you combined all the little "heat leak holes" in an average Canadian home, you would have a hole the size of a basketball! Proper weather stripping and caulking of doors and windows can reduce heating bills by up to 25 percent.
Drive less, Use Transit, Ride a Bicycle or Walk
A typical car produces three times its weight in carbon dioxide emissions, a major GHG. Walk, cycle, carpool or take public transit even one day a week and you can reduce your vehicle emissions by up to 20 percent.
If You Do Need to Use a Car, Join a Car Share System such as the Cooperative Auto Network
The typical cost of a vehicle driven in the Lower Mainland is 56.4¢ per kilometre or about $8,000 per year. On average Cooperative Auto Network members pay an average of $1,400 per year.
When You Purchase a Vehicle, Buy a More Fuel Efficient Model
Better mileage not only means more money in your pocket, but also means fewer emissions and better air quality. Light cars produce fewer emissions and cost less. Click here to see how your car rates on Natural Resources Canada’s Fuel Consumption Ratings.
Invest in Funds such as the Clean Power Income Fund and Other Green Investment Funds
Clean Power is the first income fund to be certified under Canada’s Environmental Choice Program. The Fund’s assets and operations are offsetting harmful greenhouse gas emissions in North America by approximately 6,000,000 tonnes (CO2 equivalent) each year.
Articles and Documents
- The 20/20 Planner: A Practical Guide to Reduce Energy Use by 20% at home and on the road, City of Toronto
- Twelve clever ways to save lots of electricity and money (and, by the way, also the planet), GreenPeace Canada
- Energy Saving Tips, Sierra Club
- An Inconvenient Truth.
- BC Hydro: Power Smart.
- The BC Sustainable Energy Association.
- Carbon Zero Emissions Calculator.
- David Suzuki Foundation.
- Ecological Footprint Quiz.
- Enlighten Canada with Green Power.
- Environment Canada. What You Can Do: Small Changes Make Big Differences
- Government of Canada. The Green House Gas (GHG) Calculator
- Global Footprint Network.
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change