EnviroTips: Planet-friendly ways to live comfortably

Do something every day – something big or something small – to protect our planet.

A good start is simply to remember that every choice you make, everything you do or don’t do, affects the planet. Think about the lifetime environmental impact – from production to packaging to use to disposal – of everything you use or buy.

Here are some things people have done to protect the environment. Do you have an idea that’s not on the list?

Save energy – Turn it down or turn it off!

  • Open your windows at night, and close them (and the curtains) during the day.
  • Turn off your computer when you’re not using it. It will save energy and extend the life of your hard drive.
  • Turn off the lights and your monitor when you leave the office. Have the office early bird and the last to leave turn the printer on and off.
  • Keep your house – and office, if you can – a couple of degrees warmer in summer, cooler in winter. You’ll be amazed how quickly you get used to it.
  • Use the stairs if you’re only going up or down a few floors.

Save energy – Make good choices!

  • Resist the temptation to open your oven door to check on your food.
  • Save money and energy with energy-efficient appliances. And keep your appliance filters clean!
  • Reduce air conditioning costs by planting trees to shade your house.
  • Tired of replacing those hard-to-reach light bulbs? Compact fluorescent bulbs last up to 10 times longer than incandescents, and use up to 75% less energy!
  • Learn to use your programmable thermostat.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water.
  • Insulate, caulk and weather-strip!
  • Do you know what drier lint is? Bits of your clothing! Hang-drying will use less energy and your clothes will last longer!

Save water

  • Treat your car to a drive-through car wash. You’ll save more water than you might expect.
  • Don’t run the water while you scrub vegetables or brush your teeth!
  • Get a good low-flow shower head.
  • Repair or replace leaky taps and hoses.
  • Collect rainwater for your lawn and garden.
  • Use a broom rather than a hose to clean sidewalks and driveways.

Air quality

  • How do you get to work, school or the movies? Take public transit or carpool or walk or cycle to save money and reduce emissions. Join the commuter challenge.
  • Use potpourri rather than aerosols.
  • Use a push lawn mower – burn calories and protect the atmosphere.  (Did you know that a gasoline-powered lawn mower pollutes three or four times as much per hour as your car?)
  • Have regular tune-ups and check your tire pressure
  • Paper, cardboard, yard waste and construction debris generate smoke loaded with carcinogens and other toxins. Don’t burn!
  • Don’t blow your leaves – rake them.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

  • Clothing swaps, garage sales and municipal recycling programs give household goods a second chance at life.
  • Feed the land, not the landfill. If your community doesn’t have a composting program, build or buy your own backyard composter
  • Turn old clothes into cleaning cloths and rags, and buy fewer paper towels.
  • Discarded plastic bags pollute and are a threat to wildlife. Always carry a canvas, cotton, linen or hemp bag.
  • Find recyclers or retailers who will accept your retired electronics.
  • Pack your lunch in reusable containers, instead of foil or cling wrap. Bring a reusable bottle or mug to the office.

Volunteer

  • Give to an environmental charity.
  • Help improve or clean up a municipal, provincial or national park.
  • Create YouTube videos showing ways to protect the environment.
  • Work with schools to sponsor nature walks and talks, and pick up litter as you go along.
  • Involve politicians and the media in your events.
  • Learn about species at risk in your area. Find a way to help.

Be good to the environment

  • Do you hate the smell of mothballs? Try cedar chips!
  • Using commercial cleaners and paper towels on your windows? Why not try 125 ml of vinegar, 4 L of water and a squeegee?
  • Avoid traditional household cleaning products in favour of baking soda, vinegar and water. They’re cheaper, healthier and better for the environment.
  • Use wild flowers, water and a bird feeder to create a wildlife sanctuary in your back yard.
  • Plant trees as part of an organized activity or in your back yard. Every time you plant a tree, register it at The Greenwave.
  • Don’t disturb spawning fish, aquatic plants and invertebrates with powerboats and personal watercraft.
  • Have a trash-free barbeque. Tell your guests to bring their own dinnerware. Hike or picnic in the woods or a meadow or on a mountain.
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