“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”
~ Jane Goodall
What can we do differently in our homes and communities to protect the environment? Beach United’s Environmental Action Group came up with this list of ways to care for creation.
There are 31 suggestions here, one for each day in August, but you can start any time you like!
We encourage you to see how you can add these habits to your life. (Maybe you are doing some of them already. And maybe some are beyond your reach at the moment, but will inspire other ways you can make a difference.)
Together, the changes we make will have a beneficial impact on the world we share.
Food & Water & Getting Around
1) Reduce food waste. This step has a significant impact on our carbon footprint, because it takes a lot of resources to grow, package and deliver food to our kitchens. Check out Love Food Hate Waste for ideas. Here are some tips:
- Plan ahead so you know what meals you need to prepare
- Use up what you already have in the fridge, pantry & freezer
- Buy only the food you need
- Learn recipes for soups, smoothies & casseroles to use up leftovers
- And if you have too much food, share it!
2) Eat less meat. It takes a vast amount of resources to raise animals for meat. Eat more plant-based meals, and when you do eat meat, choose meat that was raised and fed sustainably.
3) Save water. There are lots of small ways to reduce your water use, and they can add up to a lot. Take shorter showers. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth or shampooing your hair. Boil only as much water as you need for your coffee/tea. Keep a pitcher of water in the fridge instead of running the tap until the water gets cold. When you wash the dishes, save the rinse water and use it on your plants. Don’t use the hose to clean your driveway. Install a rain barrel to collect water for your garden. And fix any dripping taps!
4) Compost! Keep food scraps out of landfills by using the city’s Green Bin service or start your own compost in your backyard. If you live in an apartment, consider vermicomposting.
5) Plant something. Herbs on your windowsill, a vegetable garden, a tree….do what you can to add more green to the world. No space for more plants or trees? Support the work of 1000Trees to help restore natural habitats.
6) Get around in a green way. Walk, cycle or take public transit when you can. If you need to use a car, consider auto-share programs or electric/hybrid vehicles.
Shopping & Stuff
7) Refuse single-use items. Takeout containers, water bottles, coffee cups, plastic cutlery, paper napkins and other throwaway items are a wasteful use of resources.
8) Avoid buying things with lots of packaging. You can buy many food, toiletries and household cleaning products in bulk shops, and may be able to supply your own containers for what you purchase. If bulk items aren’t available, consider buying large quantities of packaged items and sharing them with your friends and family, to reduce the number of packaged smaller items. Check out these bulk shops in east Toronto:
Urban Bulk & Refill (Queen & Greenwood)
Bare Market (1480 Danforth near Cowell)
Moberly Natural Foods (2044 Danforth near Woodbine)
Green & Frugal (2432 Kingston Rd near Midland Ave)
Strictly Bulk (Danforth at Pape)
9) Refuse plastic bags. Bring your own reusable bags when you shop. Many stores have changed their COVID-19 precautions and now allow you to use your own bag for your purchases.
10) Buy second-hand first. Thrift shopping can be a bargain and it’s also good for the planet. It reduces the drain on resources to make new things, and it keeps discarded items out of landfill. Check out these local second-hand shops:
Pegasus (931 Kingston Rd at Silverbirch)
St. John’s Thrift (2155 Danforth at Woodbine)
Habitat ReStore (3 Carlaw Ave at Lakeshore)
Salvation Army (60 Overlea Blvd)
And don’t forget the online marketplaces like Kijiji & Freecycle too!
11) Buy local. When you can, buy products that are manufactured or grown close to home. This saves the energy and pollution created when goods are shipped long distances.
12) Fix it, don’t nix it. If an item is broken or damaged, see if you can mend it before you throw it out.
13) Recycle smartly. Use Toronto’s Waste Wizard website to see what belongs in your recycling and green bins. Re-purpose or donate old clothes to thrift stores instead of throwing them out. And some businesses may recycle items like dead batteries, dry pens and markers, toothbrushes, etc.
Cleaning Up & Powering Down
14) Be green when you clean. Use vinegar, castile soap, lemon juice and baking soda as climate-friendly alternatives for most household cleaning jobs. Or buy refillable cleaning products to avoid unnecessary plastic packaging. And instead of paper towels, use fabric or microfiber cloths.
15) Use a clothesline. Save power by hanging your laundry to dry instead of using the clothes dryer. To save even more energy, wash your clothes in cold water.
16) Go commercial for your car wash. When you wash your car in your driveway, you rinse grease, oil, cleaning products and other toxic chemicals into the stormwater drainage system, where it can pollute the water. Instead, use a commercial car wash. These facilities are required by the city to treat dirty water safely.
17) Turn things off. Save energy by unplugging appliances that aren’t in use (including computers) and turning out the lights when you leave the room.
18) Offset your electricity and gas. You can sign up your home or business with Bullfrog Power to support green energy. The fee you pay to Bullfrog will ensure that electricity and gas from climate-friendly sources are put into the system to offset the amount you use.
19) Keep your electric water heater cosy. Wrap it in a CSA-certified insulated blanket to reduce energy loss by up to 40%.
20) Plug the leaks. Add weatherstripping to your windows, doors, outlets and vents to keep your home energy efficient.
Make A Switch
21) Break your plastic habits. Examine how you use plastic in your life and think about ways to do it differently. Jars or beeswax wraps instead of saran wrap. Bamboo toothbrushes. Pencils instead of ballpoint pens. Soap and shampoo bars instead of bottles. Metal or wooden utensils. What other replacements can you think of?
22) Use less paper. Switch to online magazine and newspaper subscriptions. Use scrap paper instead of buying sticky notes and notebooks. Print on both sides of the page. Limit your use of paper towels and tissues. Reuse wrapping paper or use fabric to wrap gifts.
23) Green your investments. Consider moving your money to ethical funds that support sustainable energy instead of fossil fuels.
24) Look for energy-efficient appliances. If you’re buying a new fridge, laundry machine, stove etc., look for the “Energy Star” rating to ensure your new appliance is as energy efficient as possible.
25) Recharge your batteries. Switch to rechargeable batteries and if you need to dispose of old batteries, recycle them instead of sending them to landfill.
26) Switch your light bulbs to LEDs. They’ll last longer and use less energy than conventional bulbs.
27) Drive electric. Getting a new car? Look for an electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid.
Keep The Momentum Going
28) Talk about it. Your family, friends and neighbours are probably also thinking about what they can do to help the environment. Discuss ideas with them and see what solutions you can work on together. And watch this TEDTalk: The Most Important Thing You Can Do To Fight Climate Change: Talk About It.
29) Keep learning. Books, blog posts, documentaries and podcasts – there’s lots of information out there to help us understand solutions to the environmental challenges we face.
31) The next step is yours. What other changes can you make in your home and your community to care for creation?