Thursday, January 26, 2012

Resolutions Part IV: Waste Less

Photo Source
Give up plastic, for good!

I know you’ve heard it before, time and time again, but it’s good to be reminded – plastic is bad!  We’ve become so reliant on using plastic in everything even though it is probably the worst man-made material we rely on.

This year, if there was anything to try giving up using it would be plastic. So why is plastic so bad?  Here are just a few reminders:
  • Endangered wildlife can accidentally ingest plastic materials loosely dumped in our landfills that eventually reach our oceans
  • Making plastic material contributes to global emissions, which pollutes our environment, the air and our land
  • Plastic is not biodegradable, so it never disappears! Every piece of plastic ever made still exists today, even just as plastic dust!
  • It takes about 430,000 gallons of oil to produce 100 million non-degradable plastic bags and we are using about 4-5 trillion worldwide annually
  • Plastic is made from petroleum and natural gases that are non-renewable
  • Of all the plastic materials that are made only a few are even recyclable!
  • Most of the plastic that gets thrown out usually makes it to our oceans, contributing to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The worst plastic of them all: bottled water!
  • North Americans still buy more bottled water than any other nation in the world despite possibly having the best water sources and regulated, clean and drinkable tap water

Bottled beverages may seem convenient when you're on the go but if more people truly understood or recognized the problems these bottles pose I think less people would be so quick to purchase them

For some tips to help get you started on reducing your plastic waste check out these sites:



Other Sources

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Resolutions Part III: Do More ...

... to Waste Less!

One great way you can reuse more, buy second-hand clothing!
A great resolution to make this year is to make a better effort to recycle.  It’s well known that recycling is important because it exte0nds the life and usefulness of products by making something new out of them without having to use too many raw resources.

Recycling benefits the environment and the planet by helping to save energy, reduce pollution, reduce the amount of waste in landfills, and most importantly, it prevents against global warming.

However, it’s important to know exactly what can actually be recycled.  Besides the usual recyclable items like paper, plastic, glass, and metal, other recyclable items include biodegradable waste, batteries and electronics.   For an extensive list of what you can or can’t recycle, visit your city’s website (For The City of Toronto)

As great as recycling is however, the better resolution you can make is to reuse and reduce – mostly reduce!  When you produce less garbage, you don’t have to worry about it getting dumped in landfills or using energy to recycle it.  On the plus side, besides saving valuable natural resources you can also save money when you reuse!

A fun way you can learn how to reduce and reuse is by becoming a do-it-yourself-er! Do-it-yourself or DIY is term used to describe projects in which you build, modify, or repair something with the help of experts.  It’s a great way to take something old and make something new out of it or to take something damaged and make something else out of it by re-purposing it.

DIY projects can help you with any home improvement tasks, clothing repair or gardening ideas.  For ideas on where or how to get started, check out these websites:

* Everything Etsy
* Instructables
* DIY Network
* DIY.ca
* Home Depot
* Do it Yourself
* Craftster


Good luck with your goals and happy 2012!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Resolutions Part II: Give Back

image source
To suggest such a vague New Year's resolution such as giving back, I realize it could really mean a number of things. Giving back could mean giving back to your community or donating money.  It could mean volunteering and giving up your time to help others. It could even giving back to yourself, to your health, and so on.

In any case, what I am suggesting is to giving back to the earth by cutting back on consumption and waste.

Reducing your carbon footprint

What is a carbon footprint?

In pretty simple terms, from carbonfootprint.com:  "a carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment, and in particular climate change. It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation," and so on.

So basically, everything we do from brushing our teeth in the morning to driving home at night, to cooking dinner or taking out the trash, can have a huge impact on the environment and effect global warming. 

Why it matters?

The most obvious reason, which was mentioned, is that it effects the environment.  And we live in the environment so really, it is effecting each and every one of us, especially our health.  But the not so obvious reason, the one we don't think about as we live our lives each day, is that our everyday actions consume energy that produces carbon dioxide emissions.  These actions include driving your car to work, heating your house, washing your clothes, even drinking a cup of coffee.

We can of course offset these emissions by making better choices to help reduce global warming and other environmental harms.

How you can reduce yours:

The first step to reducing is to first calculate your carbon footprint This is the best way to see where you stand and in which areas you can improve on.  From there you can develop a strategy or simply, start taking steps each day to make better choices.

If you drive to work, try car pooling.  If you heat your office or home, try reducing the heat and add some layers of clothing.  If you wash your clothes in hot water, switch to cold water.  Change the light bulbs in your house to compact flourescent light (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. The list really can go on and on.

For more information on how you can reduce your carbon food print visit:

Reducing your water footprint

image source
What is a water footprint?

Similar to a carbon footprint, your water footprint is defined by your actions and the impact they have on the environment.  Only in this case, it "is defined as the total volume of freshwater used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business" (Wikipedia).

For many, a water footprint is still a mystery, but when I first learned about what it was and got the chance to calculate mine, I was shocked at how much water I actually used in a day.  It is really surprising just how much water it takes to deliver every day items that we take for granted.  For example, from waterfootprint.org, the production of one kilogram of beef requires 15,000 litres of water.  Compare that to potatoes which only require about 115 litres or lettuce which requires about 55-60 litres, and you"ll know what I'll be eating for dinner tonight.

To learn more about the water footprint of everyday food items, check out Tree Hugger

To learn more on how you can reduce your water footprint, please visit: National Geographic

Volunteer for good cause

One of the easiest ways to give back this year, is to offer your time to others or to a greater cause.  Volunteering can benefit more then just those you help or your community, it can be self-rewarding too. But it's not just about that.  It's also about being part of something bigger and more important then yourself.

If you're not sure where to get started, here are a few websites that might help give you some ideas:
As for myself (and Mike), we will be volunteering at one of my all-time favourite places to visit in Toronto, Evergreen Brick Works.  Going green and giving back.


Good luck with your goals and happy 2012!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Resolutions Part I: Food, Not Waste

 Evergreen BrickworksFarmer's Market 2010
Recently, a friend of mine gave me some great advice on how to reduce food waste.  Once a week, every Saturday, let’s say, sit down with your partner and write out your meals for the week.  By writing down every meal, including breakfast and snacks, you can do your grocery shopping based on that menu and prevent over buying.  It’s a great idea to create and stick to a shopping list to help you avoid buying things you don’t really need.


One of the best things about this strategy is that you will save money! This alone is a great reason to consider this resolution but if you need a better reason, here’s one for you: minimizing your food waste will help combat global warming because composting food in landfills produces harmful methane gas which contributes to global warming (thedailygreen.com).

Some other great tips to help reduce unnecessary food waste from The Daily Green: keep a healthy fridge, eat smaller servings, plan ahead, buy only what you need and freeze what you can’t eat right away. And if all else fails, compost it.

Reducing food waste could possibly be one of the most important resolutions you will keep this year. According to UN Food and Agriculture Organization statistics, North Americans throw away about one third of the food they buy each week! (nationofchange.org)  And that number doesn’t even include food  manufacturers, restaurants, schools, grocery stores, etc.  So one can only imagine how much food is actually wasted in North America each year.  

If you're turning over a new leaf by eating healthier this year and plan on ridding your cupboards of unwanted food, don't just throw it away.  Think about donating your non-perishable items or ask a friend or family member to take the food off your hands. Bottom line, don't waste food!

And if you are planning a healthier lifestyle for 2012, why not try a week per month of eating vegetarian or vegan.  It's no secret that reducing your meat and cheese intake will greatly improve your health.  There is so much information out there today about how a vegan diet can reduce major health risks, such as heart disease and cancers, that it really seems like an obvious solution.

However, if you're not ready to give up meat and dairy just yet, but are willing to try it for just one day a week or one week a month that is still a very big step to take.   You'll not only be improving your health, you will be doing your part in helping the environment.


Good luck with your goals and happy 2012! 


To learn more about how meat production is damaging our environment, check out this article by The Guardian: 10 Ways Vegetarianism can Help Save the Planet.

More on Reducing Food Waste at these websites:

 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...