April 22 is Earth Day. However, I tend to agree with an infamous purple dinosaur who sings that, “Every day is Earth day.” There are many things individuals can do to reduce their environmental impact on the Earth. This month, in honour of Earth Day 2014, I will list 22 steps for improvement. I challenge readers to choose three items to focus on for improvement in their household. Many of the items provide the added benefit of saving money too; be green to save some green.
1. Lower your hot water temperature a couple of degrees.
2. Commit to using reusable grocery bags.
3. Empty your dryer’s lint-trap every load. A clean lint-trap allows for better air circulation and faster drying. Bonus: wash clothes in cold water when possible.
4. Turn your computers off overnight.
5. Save gas – follow the speed limit.
6. Clean out your car. Do you have extra junk in your vehicle? An extra 45kg of weight in your car will can decrease your mileage by 2%.
7. Garden. Start small. Try an herb garden or a window box or a small plot. Start with something manageable so the gardening is fun rather than being another chore.
8. Insulating your body is way cheaper and faster than insulating your house. Before changing the thermostat, layer up (or down for air conditioners).
9. Choose one thing to buy local (eggs, meat, and seasonal fruit are all options).
10. Think hard before buying battery-operated toys.
11. Make your own cards to give to others for special celebrations.
12. Put reminders in your phone for three months from now, and the months from then, and so on, to change your furnace filter.
13. Choose something to fix in your house that will also improve energy use (eliminate a draft, update dead light bulbs to more energy efficient ones, or fix a leaky faucet).
14. How do you wrap gifts? What about reusable gift bags? What about plain brown paper? What about other options?
15. Consider buying smaller quantities. My mother had six kids. We all liked jam. Mum pointed out to me one time that no matter what size jam she bought, it would be empty in about the same number of days. Sure enough, she was right.
16. Think outside “the box”… consider packing your television away for a week. Or dropping your cable package for the summer.
17. Be aware of your blinds and curtains. Closing them when the sun is on them cools your house. Opening them when the sun is on them warms your house. If you walk into a non-air-conditioned house during summer and it feels refreshingly cool, I bet they use this method.
18. Clean out your closet. Use the “one year rule”: if you cannot remember wearing something in the past year, pass it along to someone who will get more use of it.
19. Learn about the costs (financial and other) of using bottled water.
20. Take a twenty-minute tour of your house and unplug items that you rarely use.
21. How about purchasing a Growler of local beer? This purchase eliminates disposable packaging and keeps money in the local economy. Also, the transportation footprint is reduced. During a tour of Fernie’s brewery, I learned that, due to government policy, the local beer that you buy at the liquor store travels from Fernie to Vancouver and back before arriving on the self.
22. Get a library card. Fernie has an amazing library that offers so much more than books. Internet use, movie rentals, and awesome programs are a few of the perks. Plus, the staff is amazing.
Some of these things I am already doing. Some of them I am not ready to commit to. The three items I will focus on changing are #4, 12, and 18. Will you join the challenge?