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Every action counts

Healthy actions for a healthy planet

Aside from being kind to yourself when considering what often feels like a daunting task, here are some suggestions of things that can be done. This list is not intended to overwhelm so take it in stride.  It can be used to reinforce what you are already doing or as a way to see what you might be able to do next, or where to start. You and your family will need to decide what is sustainable, realistic, affordable and timely for you.

 

Activism

  • Vote at all levels of government.

  • Sign petitions. Do your homework by fact checking first so you know what you are signing; this can be done quickly on the internet. You can protect personal information by ensuring you read the smaller details down the webpage or email and/or by copying links to send to friends instead of having their emails bombarded by the third party without their permission.

  • Climate Action Newmarket Aurora sends out important information and action items without flooding your inbox on a daily or weekly basis.

  • Keep a tab open on your device that you can check once a week or month for updates on town halls or local meetings.

  • Join or follow an activist group either locally or an online organization; this can just be to get petition and survey links from them as actions arise. There are many that can appeal to every age range. While some may request donations, this is completely voluntary.

  • Watch weekly event updates for online news sources like Newmarket Today and yorkregion.com for local rallies 

  • Create a generic ‘email of concern’ and save it for repeated use so you don’t have to reinvent the email every time you want to voice your concern about an issue; simply insert the new topic and send to the appropriate person/office;

  • Use your strengths if you join a local group if you wish to volunteer and be mindful of how much time you are able to contribute to avoid burnout 

 

Finances

  • If you are an investor, look at portfolios that are fossil fuel free; the options are available though still limited right now but things are changing over the past 5 years; the more people who request/demand them from financial institutions, the more rapidly we will see that shift to green, clean investment. 

  • Donate to non-profit organizations that do a lot of the advocating on the front lines of climate change and look for times you can donate where your donation might be doubled by other contributors, like ‘Giving Tuesday’.

  • Place a reusable message lawn sign at your location. Climate Action Newmarket Aurora has them.

  • Plan steps to help against climate change that are financially doable and sustainable for you personally and family.

 

At home

  • Lower your heating thermostat by 1-2 degrees Celsius and upwards for the air conditioning. Smart thermostats will also show you when you have hit a ‘green’ range. 

  • Insulate your home - draught excluders, window coverings, new windows and/or insulation with available rebates if needed. R60 is the current standard for attic insulation. Many older buildings have R25. It makes a significant difference in your energy bill over time and the general heat distribution in your home.

  • Consider an energy assessment of your home for variety of ways and costs involved (government rebates for this also).

  • Consider government and company rebates when it is time to replace furnace and/or air conditioner. Investigate an air heat/cooling pump system.

  • Detached homes may want to consider the use of solar panels or rooftop “flower” wind turbines, if not for the main building, than for greenhouses, garages etc. 

  • Federal rebates are also often available for windows and doors - any of the above mentioned energy upgrades may qualify for a rebate 

  • Monitor your electricity use. It takes a little shifting in daily practices but if you haven’t already, after 7pm gets you better saving too for things like the dishwasher and laundry. Your service provider can give you details.

  • Turn off lights as you leave a room unless returning directly and turn off electric items that aren’t necessary.

  • Avoid single use plastics. 

    • Reuse any plastic bagging and packaging; it may mean more trips to your garbage pail but consider using bags that frozen items like vegetables for waste instead of throwing that empty bag in the waste

    • Use reusable cups/thermos/containers

    • Use metal cutlery for packed meals

    • Purchase jarred or tinned products. Glass jars can be reused in the kitchen but also around the house - cute vases, storing nails etc. these materials can be recycled many times.

    • Look for an alternative food option that has less packaging,  has compostable packaging or can be refilled or recycled by the producing company.

    • If you can afford it, consider specialty storage bags, beeswax wrapping etc.

 

Purchases

  • Treat yourself to a nice coffee machine or kettle and save. Business Insider reported a cup of coffee at home ranges from 16-18 cents as opposed to $1-$5 at a cafe or  brew chain. if that is daily, that amounts to $45 versus $1,200 a year and saves 365 cups in waste - per person. You also have more control of the caloric intake and the sustainable, equitably sourced coffee beans that aren’t depleting the rainforests. 

  • Insist on reduced, environmentally friendly packaging and shipping materials.

  • Keep reusable bags in an ‘easy grab’ spot in your car; a little fold up reusable bag for purse or clipped to a belt when shopping for little items or multiple stores.

  • Contact the Post Office and request that mass mailing and flyers be stopped for your address.

  • Use digital advertising flyers and contact companies to stop any hard copies of catalogues etc.

  • Special Events: Use environmentally friendly decorations 

    • Throw flower petals, dried lavender and fragrant herbs for the wedding party. 

    • Consider cloth gift bags or wrap - you can often find ‘ends’ at a great price.

    • Reuse gift bags and boxes.

    • Reuse gift tags for the same people when it might be an annual gift.

    • Take the front of cards and use them for gift tags or like a postcard.

    • There are ‘compostable seed cards’ - approximately $5-8 which can be just as cheap as traditional cards but they are completely compostable and some contain seeds for the garden - two gifts in one!

    • Potted evergreen trees with roots intact for seasonal displays; trees can be planted or donated to a local forest, park etc. Potted trees if placed underground over the winter will survive and can be used again for next year’s display. (Pre-dig the hole before the ground freezes in preparation and have soil on hand.) 

    • Make a Do-it-Yourself ornament tree, ornament hanger and/or advent calendar.

    • Use compostable items for parties instead of plastic.

 

Household items and products

  • Try combinations of natural items first before using harsh chemicals - vinegar is excellent for mirrors and contains no ammonia; many ‘eco-friendly’ products may not be as friendly as we think so check labels and contents, often water is the biggest ingredient too in these products.

  • Beeswax candles tend to be locally made; they may cost a little more but last longer and aren’t made from paraffin, a fossil fuel-based product; soy is also a better option.

  • Look for biodegradable-based soaps and cleaning materials.

 

Water usage

  • Turn off the taps while soaping up or brushing teeth before rinsing.
    Have a family conversation about how many showers/baths are necessary per day/week.

  • Consider how much water is reasonable for a shower or bath.

  • Use a clean bucket to capture the running water while you wait for it to run warm - this can be used for cleaning later, boiling in the kitchen hand laundry or watering plants.

  • How often and when you need to wash the car.

  • Consider a membership to a fitness centre that has a pool rather than building one in your own backyard. The average membership runs $60-80 a month; at $70 that’s $8,400 in 10 years whereas a pool can cost $20000-$50000 to put in and then about $1000-2000 to maintain.

 

Food

  • Use reusable storage bags; even perforated vegetable produce bags can be rinsed and reused to keep other vegetables longer in the fridge.

  • Seek less packaging - alternative and similar priced option.

  • Look at labels - how local is it?

  • Enjoy seasonal menus that are sustained by more local produce.

  • Buy electric appliances when replacing; research out now also indicates gas appliances in the home contribute to childhood asthma and some forms of cancer.

  • Buy electric BBQ style equipment rather than gas.

  • For health reasons as well as for climate change, monitor how much meat, especially red meat, you are consuming.

  • Consider which vegetables and herbs in your garden as in some cases it is more environmentally friendly and cheaper to buy the product and dry or freeze it when it is in season than grow it yourself; potted perennial herbs or annual ones that reseed are better; and vegetables that grow easily in limited space with limited ; soils that retain water better.

  • Plant edible flowers or plants that can be dried or used for medical/first aid properties - like aloe, sage and peppermint.

 

Garden

  • Buy rechargeable lawn mower and tools when replacing if not manual ones.

  • Perennials and annuals native to the zone will flourish with less water and feeding.

  • Help save pollinators by planting bee-friendly flowers (if no anaphylaxis allergies). 

  • Dig weeds up rather than using chemicals. 

  • Allow some fallen leaves to stay for the biodiversity of the garden and protection of roots. 

  • If using a lot of soil, have it delivered loose or in one large reusable container.

 

Travel

Again, it takes a mindshift and to allow time to get into the habit especially with a busy lifestyle so be kind to yourself on what you can manage:

 

  • Consider daily/weekly travel.

    • How many times a week do you go to the grocery store/s or shopping?

    • Can you make combined stops instead of back and forwards?

    • Is there a coffee place close by so you can walk?

    • Is carpooling an option?

    • Does the local transit system meet your needs, and if not, let your municipality and region know.

    • Is walking an option - for example,  when it's for 1-2 items at a local store?

    • Bicycle lanes make getting around town more safe so are this or scooters as options. 

  • When a new vehicle is an option, consider all the options and make a decision on what is better for the environment at that time but also what you can afford.

    • Look at long term savings and rebates of vehicles even though they might initially cost more. 

    • Consider smaller vehicles.

  • If you are fortunate to do so, extend holiday plans so you can travel some portions by bus or train; though Canadian trains still aren’t lower emissions, most in Europe are.

  • On a cruise

    • consider the amount of waste through daily activities.

    • investigate which cruise lines dump their waste into the ocean less than 200 km from shore.

  • When flying 

    • consider trip planning of multi destinations where possible so less flights are used.

    • Long haul flights are better than multiple short haul flights. 

    • offsetting flight through donations to tree planting charities or green energy

    • offsetting companies

Remember, hope and balance. ‘Let the beauty of what you love be what you do’. - Rumi

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