Posts Tagged ‘change’

Top ten easy changes you can make towards sustainability

Change can be hard. Trying to break old habits and form new ones does not come easily. But it can be done! Here are my top ten changes everyone can make on their journey towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

1. Make smart commuting choice

  • Do you really need to drive there?

    Biking on Salt Spring Island

  • Try walking, taking the bus, biking. It might take a bit longer, but you get exercise, it’s cheaper, and no road rage.
  • When you’re ready, try giving up the car entirely. If you live in Vancouver, it is so easy to get around by public transit and bicycle, and when you really need one, there are loads of car shares available (car2go, Zipcar, etc)

2. Switch to 100% recycled products

  • You might be really proud of yourself for recycling, but if you don’t buy recycled products, then where do you think all of that recycling is going?
  • Toilet paper, paper towel, notepaper are easy examples of paper recycled products that are just as good as the non-recycled kinds. And no rainforest gets cut down.
  • Some clothing is made from recycled plastics. MEC carries such products. There are also things such as chairs, tables. This leads into my  next point:

3. Reduce! Stop buying things in plastic!

  • Do you still drink bottled water? Here is an excellent video stating, in 3 minutes and 30 seconds (in an entertaining way), exactly why you should NEVER DRINK BOTTLED WATER. Ever.
  • Besides that, look to buying things in bulk, like beans, rice, nuts, and all sorts of other things. Save-on-Foods usually has great bulk sections. So do some of those mom-and-pop shops on Fraser Street.
  • Bring your own containers and bags. You do not need styrofoam containers for that little bit of leftover Chinese. You do not need that plastic bag for those 3 products. Get one of those little pouch bags you can keep in your purse/pocket, and have containers every time you go out for food.

Not good for turtle digestion

4. Support local food systems

  • Some potatoes and greens grown right on our tiny patio.

    Buy from your local farmers market or food that is locally grown. It reduces food miles, and thus carbon footprint.

  • It supports people who work pretty damn hard.
  • Food tastes better when it’s picked and consumed within days, instead of traveling across the globe.
  • When you can’t buy local – and I know, it’s tough – choose organic and fair trade.

5. Give good gifts

  • Give experiences. Tickets to a sporting event or theatre, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.
  • Choose things that last a long time, not something that will break right away.
  • Get things that people actually want and need, not just something random because you feel like you’re supposed to get them a gift (no one needs another bath set or scented candle).
  • Edible or otherwise consumable gifts are great – a bottle of nice local wine, some excellent fair trade organic chocolate, some homemade cookies or candles show that you spent more than just money on the person.
  • Don’t wrap it! Seriously, how pointless is wrapping paper and ribbons?

Green Angel campaign from Metro Vancouver


6. Save power

  • It’s good for the environment, and it saves you $$.
  • Turn off you computer, turn off the lights. Seems so simple, but it can make a big difference.
  • Did you know that your electronics still draw power, even when the power is off? You cell phone charger, your laptop, your TV, are all drawing vampire power, even if you think you’ve been diligent and turned everything off. Easiest thing to do is plug everything into a power bar, then turn that off at night. BC Hydro tells us, “Standby power can use up to 10% of a home’s energy consumption.”
  • Hang dry your clothes. A dryer is a serious waste of energy.

7. Save water

  • In a rainy city like Vancouver, water seems endless. But we don’t harness the power of the rain in most places, so it’s important that we are conserving water, so that we have clean water sources for generations to come.
  • Take shorter showers, and lower water use in toilet by putting something solid in the toilet tank (i.e. a filled water bottle), which will reduce the amount used when flushing.

8. Compost

  • Food waste rotting in landfills is a major source of greenhouse gases.
  • You might be thinking this isn’t very easy. But it actually is. If you’re lucky, you live somewhere with curbside pickup. But most of us don’t.
  • You can get a worm composter, which is small enough even for small apartments. The City of Vancouver even offers subsidized bins for residents.
  • Drop off your food scraps at the Farmers Market. The Winter Farmer’s Market at Nat Bailey Stadium collects them, and I hope to see all the farmers markets this summer doing food scrap collection.

9. Eat less and choose better animal products

Happy cows in Agassiz, BC

  • Raising animals for food has huge impacts on the environment, considering everything from waste, land use, feed, and greenhouse gasses.
  • Eat less meat (try Meatless Mondays)
  • When you do eat meat, try to choose happy, healthy meat – grass fed beef, organic free-range eggs and chicken, oceanwise fish. Why? Watch this fun video.

10. Support green initiatives

  • Lots of local and international businesses are trying to reduce their carbon footprints. Support businesses that are doing that, and tell them that’s why you’re supporting them.
  • There are lots of great local green businesses in Vancouver. The Soap Dispensary lets you fill your own shampoo and detergent bottles, and Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. offers sustainable food and social initiatives (not to mention fantastic pizza), to name just a couple.

Soap nuts are my own choice for laundry detergent


So, to sum up, there are lots of things you, as a single person, can do to make small changes. And once you start to make a few, you will start to realize it’s not so hard, and we can all create a wave of more sustainable lifestyles!

Letting go of vanity

Every time I see a movie or read a book on environmentalism, I get convinced of one more thing I need to give up or stop doing. Over the past couple of years, I’ve been convinced to give up mascara, to buy sunscreen without parabens (amazingly difficult to find!), to buy only organic, non-GMO soy milk, and many other small changes.

A combination of the Clean Bin Project and David Suzuki Queen of Green’s Dirty Dozen convinced me to finally give up dyeing my hair a while ago. And I have to say, I miss it. I have always had a very blah kind of hair colour… light brown, very nondescript. Since I was 13 years old, I have had blond, black, blue, bleached, red, purple, and auburn hair, to name a few. I love how hair is an impermanent thing that’s easy to change, and colouring my hair often gave me a whole new look.

But I knew that it was bad. Even with no knowledge of how it was bad, how can letting all those chemicals go down the drain possibly be a good thing? I couldn’t, in good conscience, let these chemicals pollute our water any more just because I didn’t like my hair colour. So I gave it up. Now my hair is boring, and healthy.

But one of my favourite blogs, David Suzuki’s Queen of Green, posted this week on eco-friendly hair dye. As part of my Social Media Marketing course assignment, I dugg her article, because she always gives great, accessible tips that are relevant to a wide audience. Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green, is a wealth of information on Do It Yourself projects and lifestyle-greening tips.

For a lot of people, who care about the environment but aren’t as hyper-aware of their own footprint, the kind of accessibility that Lindsay provides is invaluable. There are many things that I have been surprised to discover, and for me, new information has a strong impact on my future behaviours. The Queen of Green blog provides easy information on everything from what can be recycled to how to care for Mason bees.

Navigating a more sustainable world can be pretty tricky, when the norm is the opposite of sustainability. It takes more awareness and a little more effort to seek out the most environmentally friendly options for toilet paper, window cleaner, deodorant, laundry. It’s more time consuming and arguably more expensive (although I guarantee I spend less on things than most people) to shop at the farmer’s market, buy organic, local foods, make pasta from scratch. But for me it’s totally worth it.

Hair dye was a tough thing for me to give up. But it’s only vanity. I’m not sure yet whether I’ll seek out the eco-friendly dyes. Maybe I should just make peace with my natural hair colour.

Most people have something important to them that’s caused them to give up something or other. For some, the passion is fair trade, fair wages. For others, cancer has hit close to home, and cutting out toxins is key.

Have you ever given up something that you loved, on principle?