The third Monday in January is said to be the most depressing day of the year. So what causes this? I’ve explored a couple options and solutions below! If you’re feeling a little extra down… More
Between the OMEGA project and Plastic Free July, I have spent the past few weeks trying to kick-start my eco-friendly living into overdrive! What I’ve discovered, this is a lot harder then I initially thought!
The goal of Plastic Free July is pretty self explanatory, but I can’t believe the amount of items with plastic in them! The Top 4 Plastic Items (lids, straws, bags and bottles) is a much easier challenge because we already have the alternatives in place. Reusable cups and coffee mugs exist for your beverages and reusable bags for your groceries and purchases. I found by keeping a compact reusable bag in my purse led to less unintentional plastic bags when I had to stop in and pick something up outside of my usual shopping.
This same thinking has also helped with the OMEGA project; completing little eco-acts everyday in every aspect of our lives. The act that gotten me the most points (it is a friendly competition after-all!) is being vegan! Plant based living is definitely easier on our environment than relying on animal agriculture for our food. The next biggest act for me has been general waste reduction: using reusable items, recycling instead of tossing, and preparing food instead of getting take-out or opening up a packaged snack. On average, we have to empty our recycling bin over twice as often as our garbage per week; and they’re the same size!
My biggest challenges this month have been reducing water consumption and plastic in packaging; so that’s where my focus for the next couple weeks is going to be! Plastic packaging really surprised me. I figured it would be easier to opt for non-plastic options when shopping, but when I really starting analysing what I was buying, I realised that most of the packaging is at least part plastic. Working on a spotlight post for each of these issues shortly so I can start to tackle these areas in every other month of the year too!
What’s your biggest challenge to living eco-friendly?
The title basically says it all! This July, join me and countless others at www.plasticfreejuly.org and reduce our use of single-use plastic items!
Coffee lids, straws, plastics bags and much much! These plastic items are made to be used once (for a half an hour mostly) and thrown away! Plastic lasts in our environment longer than we do and much of it winds up in our oceans where wildlife ingest it.
First step, identifying all of my common single-use plastic items! It was honestly surprising realizing how many items are ingrained in our every day lives.
Second step, replacing all of these items with a plastic free alternative (or at least a multi-use plastic alternative).
So here’s my starting list:
- Coffee Lids. The best option is to just avoid getting beverages to go in the first place. it’s better for the environment and better for your pocketbook! If you’re still stopping at your local Tim’s or Starbucks, use a reusable mug instead. Lots of places actually offer discount if you bring your own mug, so there’s another incentive. I’ll be leaving a mug in my car for those spontaneous trips!
- Plastic Bags. Whether its your grocery bag or sandwich bags, both are meant to have a very short life span. Luckily however, you can substitute both for reusable options! Take canvas bags when you’re headed for groceries. The bags hold more, and you can avoid the 5 cent charge for plastic bags too. Packing a sandwich for lunch, opt for the Tupperware containers instead.
- Plastic Straws. If the liquid is in a glass, you don’t require a straw. If you’re at a movie theater though, it’s a little harder to drink from your cup and you still get the unavoidable plastic drink lid. Here’s another option that’s also cheaper; sneak in beverages in reusable drink containers or at least bottles that you can recycle.
- Water Bottles. Another reusable option that happens to be cheaper (there is a trend here)! Fill a reusable water bottle at home before you go out and keep it in your purse, car or backpack. Lots of places have fountains where you can even refill your bottle.
- Packaging. This one is trickier! Look for alternatives to the plastic packaging. Examples include buying pop in cardboard cases instead of plastic rings or using paper bags instead of plastic bags for your bulk items.
I’m off to a rocky start today already since we decided to order in food for Canada Day. My current tally is:
- Two forks
- One bag
- One straw
- One lid
Everything got recycled at least, and now I got my game face on! The point of this is to try and reduce your plastic, not beat yourself up over a straw. If you get stuck with some single-use plastic items, make sure you’re reusing or recycling them to keep them out of our landfills.
I tend to put documentaries into two categories – ones that make me feel bad about humanity, my contribution, etc. or ones that inspire me or make me feel good. It’s kinda silly, but I guess I’m just emotional like that! So here’s an inspirational one!
I have to give it to Netflix for all the amazing documentaries they available to watch, and tonnes of them are related to the environment! My List is always full of new documentaries to watch and this weekend I got around to watching “Catching the Sun“.
We are far from perfect when it comes to implementing sustainable, renewable energies in our cities and homes, but the trend is starting! I feel like, since the Paris Agreement especially, I’ve been reading more and more about people and cities adopting renewable energy in an effort to reduce greenhouse gases and slow down climate change. Like I said, it’s taken a while, and will take a lot longer, but its starting! And that is inspirational.
This documentary really showcased the start-up companies that are getting their foot in the door and making things happen, against all of the push back of oil-loving society. All they require is the demand! So go ahead, get solar panels, or write your local government or any major corporation and let them know how much this means to you. We still live in a supply and demand society, so let’s get demanding!
If you’re like me and can’t afford to outfit your whole home in solar panels just yet, you can still make a difference by reducing your power consumption and therefore reducing your greenhouse gas emissions.Every little bit counts!
Got a favourite eco-documentary? I want to hear about it!
Earlier in the week I decided to challenge myself to incorporate more daily “Little Eco Acts” to become more aware of the impact I’m having and find ways to reduce my footprint. Funny enough, the next day OMEGA (One Million Everyday Green Actions) started in Alberta!
I of course signed up immediately, as it has a wonderful way to track your green actions and gives you points for each one completed. I love games, so I’m already hooked on trying to beat myself every day!
If you’re in Alberta, you should definitely get set-up on OMEGA at Calgary.verdigo.com and play along with me.
Part of my personal challenge was to share these little eco acts and hopefully bring more green actions into my lifestyle and inspire others to do the same. So here are my favourite eco acts of the week:
- Picking up some paper and plastic trash in my alley and putting in in the recycling bin
- Mixing a new chemical free fabric deodorizer (we have a few cats, this comes in handy!)
- Opening windows, shutting blinds, and turning off lights to cool the house instead of opting for a fan (also cuts down on your electricity!)
- Focusing on taking shorter showers, running the tap less and using grey water to water my plants
This is also my 2 month anniversary of being vegan! So I’m excited to be contributing to our planets health in a whole new way. I’ve been vegetarian since I was 12 years old, so I honestly don’t know what took me so long!
So that’s week 1 of my Eco challenge! I hope I can inspire some of you to add some eco-friendly actions to your daily routine as well
This Earth Day I set up a Shoreline Cleanup through the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup and it was a spectacular success! If you’ve never heard of the event before, I highly recommend checking it out. Events are available all over Canada and you can either join a public cleanup or coordinate your own event.
The event was a success in that we cleaned up bags of garbage from the shoreline of the Bow River, but also as a personal success. There are times I don’t feel like I do enough “on the ground” environmental work, which is actually funny since I work on the ground in the environmental industry. But literally picking up garbage from shoreline makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside and really gives me the sense that I’m contributing to the health of our Earth.
In total, we removed 3 large bags of garbage! The most common items were cigarette butts, food wrappers and little bits of plastic. When you look at the common garbage that winds up in our rivers, its plain to see that humanity has a dependence on plastics and convenience items.
So if you’re ever struggling like me and not feeling like you do enough for our planet, just step back and think of all that you do in fact do. Every time you “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”, you are keeping garbage out of our landfills and out of our natural areas. Every time you pick up a piece of garbage from the sidewalk or opt for low waste packaging, you are making a real difference in our world. Together, lets just focus on taking these small steps toward eco-friendly living and over time, you will see a difference!
On April 22, 2016, we celebrate Earth Day and it’s 25th anniversary! This April, let’s celebrate Earth Month and pledge to live more environmental friendly.
EarthDay.ca has a wonderful event planned this year with their #ROOTING4TREES campaign. You can visit their website and pledge money to plant trees, either in spirit or by physically signing up to plant a tree in one of our major cities.
Planting trees is an excellent way to combat climate change as trees literally suck carbon dioxide out of the air and exhale oxygen. Forests are the lungs of our planet and I’m so excited for this event to shine some light on their importance.
If you can muster the money, or want to get your hands dirty, let’s celebrate our beautiful country this Earth Day and grow our wonderful forests ❤
Earth Hour is fast approaching! The event, put on by the World Wildlife Fund, aims to promote awareness of climate change by coordinating a “black out”.
This years event is this Saturday, March 19th from 8:30 to 9:30 pm at your local time.
All you have to do to participate is turn off your lights! The coordination of so many people turning their lights off at night, has a very beautiful effect ❤
So what can you do to keep entertained while the lights are out? Here’s a few ideas!
- Grab your candles! Read a book or play a board game, all by candlelight! It’s actually quite peaceful and relaxing. Bump your relaxation up a bit with a nice cup of tea!
- The event aims at turning off lights, but go a step further and turn off your computer, tv, and cell phone. Disconnect from the grid in every way to make an extra impact!
- Spend quality time with your kids or pets! Grab some toys, get those candles burning, and reconnect with your loved ones.
- Get outside for a walk! Street lights are still on for safety and security, so grab your family or pets and go for a nice long walk in the park.
- Have an early bedtime! With the recent time change, I know I’m feeling a little behind on sleep. So get a good nights sleep and an early rise on Sunday.
- Do some crafts! Painting, knitting, writing … We all spend a lot of time watching tv and browsing the internet, so light some candles and spend some time working on your crafts!
- Star gaze! Grab a blanket and take a walk to the park for some star gazing. Hopefully there is less light pollution in the cities, so you’ll be able to see them better.
Have some favourite “no-power” activities? I’d love to hear them! Enjoy your Earth Hour!!
If you’re looking to cut back on the amount of water you’re consuming, one of the first places you should be looking is your grocery list! Taking shorter showers and using a dishwasher definitely helps reduce your consumption, but most of our water use actually goes toward making our food!
Animal products such as meats and dairy, and other crops such as nuts have the highest water consumption for the amount of food produced. Reducing your intake of these kinds of foods can go a long way to helping reduce your personal water use. These foods are also quite high in fat, so there’s an added bonus to reducing consumption!
Unfortunately, chocolate also has a very high water footprint, so it’s a good idea to stop binge eating chocolate during every holiday (or weekend :P)!
Food to increase include fruits and vegetables, sugar crops (with moderation!) and starchy roots such as potatoes! These foods have the lowest water use and therefore have a much lower footprint on the earth.
Pulses, cereals, and oils hang out in the middle of the spectrum. Their water consumption isn’t terrible, but it’s definitely higher than the fruits and vegetables.
So if you’re looking to lessen your impact on the environment, try starting at the grocery store! You’ll also notice a cheaper grocery bill as the foods high in water use come with a higher price tag!
Looking for more scientific info, check out this paper!
Invasive species, or weeds, are plants that are not native to a certain region and can serious ecological damage. Unfortunately, a lot of these plants are introduced as ornamental flowers due to them being pretty. It’s easy for these species to move from the garden to our natural regions and interfere with native plants.
The first step: Identification! A lot of weeds are actually sold in greenhouses, so it’s up to you to make sure you aren’t helping them spread!
Here are a few common invasive species in Alberta to keep an eye out for!
Each area usually has a list of invasive plants to watch out for, so check with your city and help stop their spread!
The best thing you can do when planning your garden is to incorporate native species! Plants native to your area aren’t going to harm other species and usually have a special resilience to the climate. Here are some great garden plants native to Alberta (bonus: they’re also really pretty!):
Weeds from Alberta Invasive Plant Identification Guide
Native Plant Photos from Sunnyside Greenhouse
Between the low Canadian dollar and droughts, now is the best time to start looking at buying locally! When you buy local food, you not only pay less, but you’re helping the environment. Every head of cauliflower that makes its way up here in the dead of winter comes at the expense of a lot of fuel.
The Government of Alberta actually keeps this wonderful availability chart to show which Alberta grown crops are most available in any given month. If you’re buying something in the supermarket which isn’t showing “Available”, that means its getting shipped here. Click the image below for the full chart!
When we stuck to this chart on our last grocery trip, we noticed a $20 reduction in our grocery bill!
Not from Alberta? Your own province might have something similar! Look around on your government websites. Taking a trip to your local food market is also a great way to judge what is grown locally in your area, and is a great way to support local farmers!