Top 10 Things You Can Do to Help
- Reduce energy use
Adopt energy-saving habits. Make it a habit to turn off the lights as you leave a room. Also, replace standard light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. Turn off your computer and unplug electronics when they are not in use.
- Change the way you think about transportation
Walk or bike whenever possible. Not only will you reduce your carbon footprint, but your overall level of health will improve and you will save money on parking and gasoline.
Take public transit or carpool whenever possible.
When purchasing a vehicle look for one with better mileage. Increase your fuel economy when driving by sticking to posted speed limits and avoiding rapid acceleration and excessive braking. Plan and combine trips and errands. This will save you both time and money as well as reduce wear and tear on your vehicle. When travelling long distances, try to take a train or bus rather than flying or driving.
- Insulate your home
Insulate yourself and your home. By properly insulating your home, you can ensure that heat stays in or out depending on the season. You can do this by purchasing windows and window coverings that will block out or keep in warmth, and by sealing any existing cracks. In winter, reduce your thermostat by 2 °C to enjoy energy savings and a cozy sweater. In summer, use fans to circulate air, and set air conditioners to make your home a comfortable temperature. Lowering the temperature on your water heater to between 55 and 60 °C and insulating your pipes also makes a difference. Federal government programs such as the ecoENERGY initiative provide incentives for energy-saving home upgrades.
Information about the ecoENERGY initiative can be found at www.ecoaction.gc.ca/ecoenergy-ecoenergie/index-eng.cfm.
- Make every drop count
Conserve water by fixing drips and leaks, and by installing low-flow shower heads and toilets. Challenge yourself to a speed shower. Turn off water while brushing teeth or shaving. Treating and transporting water requires energy, while water conservation results in reduced energy requirements and carbon emissions.
- Cool wash and hang to dry
These are not just washing instructions on a label anymore, but an equation for energy savings. Wash clothing in cold water and hang clothing to dry outside, or indoors on a drying rack. Taking these steps will reduce your electricity bill and also prolong the life of clothing by reducing wear on the fabric caused by dryers.
- High efficiency appliances
When replacing appliances, look for high efficiency units. Appliances with ENERGY STAR ratings, an international standard for energy-efficient consumer products, typically utilize a minimum of 20 % less energy. This means savings for you and the environment.
- Switch to "green power"
Research where your power is coming from - wind, water, coal, or solar - and talk to your power provider to determine if a greater percentage could be coming from renewable resources. Encourage power providers to switch to green power and, if possible and/or economically viable, switch to a company offering power from renewable resources.
Make recycling part of your daily routine. Recycle all packaging and consumer goods that you can. Aim to purchase items with minimal and recyclable packaging. For certain items with large amounts of packaging, ask retailers if they can recycle or re-use it. For electronics, facilities now exist that can dispose of electronics in an environmentally responsible manner. Encorp Pacific Return-It programs recycle "broken" end-of-life electronics. For location information, go to www.encorp.ca/electronics.
Rather than discarding or recycling clothing and household goods, give them a chance at a second life. Gently used clothing can be donated to charity or exchanged with friends and family. Old T-shirts can be repurposed into rags for cleaning. Household goods can be donated to charity or sold at a garage sale. Through repurposing, the amount of waste being sent to landfill sites is reduced, there is no need to use energy for recycling, and others can benefit from your used items.
- Plants, our new best friend
When gardening, select plants that are well suited to your climate and require minimal watering and attention. Better yet, plant a tree, and it will provide shade and soak up carbon from the atmosphere.
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