I’m no environmentalist. I’ve done my fair share of wasting, just like the rest of ’em. Having grown up through the 80’s, which most recognize as the decade of decadent waste, I’ve had some bad habits, most of which my parents still have, despite my best efforts to stem them. But despite my past, I’m very keen on looking towards the future. Especially since I’m the father of two young sons who will inherit this planet when my generation steps down.
With that in mind, I’ve been doing some reading on simple ways to reduce my household’s carbon footprint and minimize waste, as much as a single household can. I am very much on board with the concept that big corporations need to be held to task and made to toe the line in terms of the waste they produce, but I also believe that if everyone starts by doing their own little bit, we can certainly improve things. Just to be clear, a carbon footprint refers to the amount of green house gases emitted by any individual, group or corporation.
I’ve recently read about how the current pandemic is having an unexpected positive effect, where air pollution is dropping, water is becoming cleaner and animals are beginning to reclaim some of the lesser frequented areas of the world. It was a good article and posted by a fellow blogger (TheEnlightenedMind622, I’m looking at you) and can be read here: https://theenlightenedmind622.wordpress.com/2020/03/20/coronavirus-shutdowns-have-unintended-climate-benefits-cleaner-air-clearer-water/
Although many believe that we’ve passed the point of no return, I think that some of this proves that it’s never too late and we can all do our part. With that in mind, here are a few easy steps I’ve looked up that you can all do from home:
- Have a Recycling Bin: This is a pretty simple and straightforward step, and should be in effect in most Canadian towns and communities. In fact, many locations actually have it legislated in their city bylaws that you WILL make use of a recycling bin, or face monetary penalties if you’re caught tossing recyclables in the refuse. The city we live in has a blue bin program, where they allow for all your recyclables (cardboard, paperboard, cans and such) to be piled into one bin and picked up every two weeks for sorting and sending to the appropriate locations for reuse. My wife is a champ at this, as she’s usually the one to identify the items that can be recycled that I usually overlook. She keeps me on my toes;
- Make Use Of Reusable Items: My family and I have a dozen reusable cloth totes and bags in the cargo area of our vehicle. Whenever we do groceries or run errands, we do our best to ensure we’re using our cloth bags as opposed to using the plastic bags provided by most retail outlets. If you must get the plastic bags, be sure to reuse them or recycle them back to the store. Most retail outlets have a bag collection bin, where the used bags are collected, melted down and recycled into new bags. One of the more popular reusable items are travel mugs and water bottles. I have an aluminium coffee mug, and it gets a lot of mileage (ah, me and my caffeine). Just about any coffee chain or restaurant will accommodate a request for your coffee to be served in a travel mug (except for right now, thanks to COVID-19). Aluminium water bottles are also fantastic. If you’re like me and need to consistently sip water throughout the day, a reusable bottle certainly make the job easier;
- Use Rechargeable Batteries: If your children are anything like my son, they love their games and tend to consistently burn through batteries. Although rechargeable batteries tend to be a bit harder on the wallet, they essentially pay for themselves in the long run as you don’t need to keep purchasing new ones. Plus, using rechargeable batteries helps to eliminate batteries in the trash, since batteries have their own whole recycling process and most people can’t seem to be bothered;
- Preserve Water: You would think this one would be pretty easy, but it’s surprising how much water the average household wastes. Shut the water off while brushing your teeth. It doesn’t need to run while you’re scrubbing. Put in the stopper immediately when filling your sink with dish water. Even if the first ten seconds is cold water, the hot water that follows will still provide the desired effect, and you can prevent wasting litres of water by letting the cold water run down the drain. Men, fill your sink with a couple of inches of hot water and use it to shave. Running the hot water over your razor after every swipe uses WAY more water and doesn’t provide any further benefit; and
- Shut Shit Off: Unless you live in a cave or underground, the majority of households can get away with using natural light during most of the waking day. As I write this, I’m sitting in a basement office with a small 1′ x 3′ window, and the Sun’s light is enough to visibly see and work within the office. So the same can certainly be said and done for the average home. Open up your drapes and curtains, lift your blinds and let natural light in, rather than turning lights on. Get into the habit of unplugging electronic devices that make use of a “standby” function, as these tend to use electricity even when not in use.
There’s ton more, and they can be easily found by Googling things like “recycle from home” or “how to reduce my carbon footprint”. Most of these can be done daily as an afterthought and require next to no effort on your part. So why wouldn’t you do it?
This is one of those scenarios where every little bit helps and one of the biggest challenges is teaching these habits to our kids. My son is the worst at leaving lights on, wasting food and walking away with his iPad still running (Damn Paw Patrol!). But it’s a work in progress and if we all do our part, we can mitigate the damage and hopefully even start to reverse some of it. Because I don’t know about y’all, but I rather enjoy drinking clean water and breathing. ☯