Environmental and Sustainability Habits:**


 Environmental and Sustainability Habits:**

When you think about your environmental impact, what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, it’s probably the things that seem tangible and concrete: recycling, using biodegradable trash bags, or eating less meat. But while these things certainly make a difference in your day-to-day life and are worthy goals to pursue for personal sustainability reasons, they are not the only ways that individuals can help the planet. In fact, you might be overlooking some of the most important habits that could lead to a greener future.

Predictably, you’ve probably heard a lot about how to be more environmentally friendly. But often, people’s efforts are misguided. According to a recent survey by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only 15% of individuals maintain a "typical" environmental profile and that number drops drastically among those in their twenties and thirties. Many may not even realize how many small choices they make every day that can have a big impact on the way the world is being impacted.

To help you think through your environmental habits, here are some of the small, everyday habits that could have the biggest impact on the planet.

Indoor Air Quality
You might be thinking "I've never really given indoor air quality much thought, so I'm in no position to start now." That’s okay—the point is to create awareness in yourself and others so that we can begin changing our behaviour. It's not an overnight change, but it's a change nonetheless. The EPA says one of the easiest ways to improve your indoor air quality is by cleaning up your cooking, eating and cleaning habits. Research shows that cleaner homes can help control odours and formaldehyde levels produced indoors.

Food Waste
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has found that about 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted every year. If this doesn’t seem like a lot, it translates into about one-third of all food produced globally, and it’s just getting worse year after year. Not only does this waste the water and energy used to grow the food in the first place (not to mention the fuel required to transport it from farm to table), but it also diverts valuable resources away from other uses. It takes around 8% of global water consumption to produce this wasted food, while using around 30% of global farmland as well. One simple solution to this is to set a rule that you will not be throwing away food—not out of fear, but because you know that it has value. It’s a lot easier to just put your leftovers in the fridge than it is to empty your trash can.

Paper and Plastic Waste
A lot of plastic waste comes from the packaging and wrapping of products. You might expect this kind of thing to come from grocery stores (and in fact, one study showed that only 1% of plastic waste comes from grocery stores). But we all use our paper products just as often—mailing documents and receipts, buying magazines and catalogues, taking photocopies, etc. Sixty percent of all plastic waste stems from the production and use of packaging. To avoid this, choose products that are packaged in cardboard or with recyclable materials. It can be as simple as bringing your own reusable container to the store for your purchases.

Even if you rarely think about waste, there is a lot of it that is created by everyday appliances. The biggest culprits are your refrigerator and freezer. One in five households have a second fridge or freezer (dinner guests? The barbie on the grill?) to deal with food-waste overflow from these machines. Leaks, condensation, and improper ventilation can all contribute to increased energy costs for refrigerators and freezers. For more efficient, greener appliances, consider buying energy-efficient compact fridges and freezers, reducing the temperature at which your fridge and freezer operate, or getting a new appliance that has built-in an energy-saving feature.

Furniture and Clothes
The average Canadian household produces nearly 240 pounds of waste annually from discarded furniture. It’s not just the size of your stuff that matters—materials used to make furniture have a huge impact. Whether you are looking for more sustainably made furniture or cutting down on cleaning supplies, try to use wood or bamboo instead of plastic products whenever possible. While it’s often an uphill battle to convince people to buy second-hand furniture (and clothes), reusing old items reduces pressure on the environment by reducing the need for materials.

Food Waste and Water Consumption
Did you know that one in six people in the world don’t have access to clean water? In our homes, we use around 20 gallons of water every day. This might not seem like a lot, but when you think about how many homes this represents across the globe (roughly 4 billion people), it adds up quickly. One way to help reduce your water consumption is to repurpose greywater and rainwater for non-drinking uses around your home. This might seem new to you, but it’s a technique already used by many homeowners. If you do need to get a new water-efficient shower head , look for the Energy Star label on your shower head.

We all make some lifestyle choices that have implications for the environment and our energy use. These range from buying a hybrid car (or giving up your car) to taking public transport, cycling, or walking every day. But riding your bike with others can be bigger than just reducing costs—it can have huge potential in helping to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution levels in major urban centres. It can also have you spending more time with your family and friends, which is just a nice bonus.

Reducing your carbon footprint isn’t just about the value of doing it for the environment—it's about being responsible with your tax dollars, too. The average Canadian household spends $1,082 per year on energy-related expenses. Reducing even a small part of this amount can have a big impact on the planet. So next time you're thinking about throwing that light switch, consider whether or not it's really necessary to have the lights on in the first place.


This story was made possible by our members. Become one today.


These are just a few of the ways you can help reduce your impact on the environment. The best way to make a change is to think about your diet first and then work your way up. It’s easy to see how all these things fit together. If you're eating locally grown food and composting your waste, then you're likely buying less packaging and shipping. If you’re eating more wholesome foods, then you’ll likely be spending less money on processed or prepared foods because they tend to be more expensive. By reducing the amount of waste in landfills, you're also releasing massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that would otherwise have been buried in them for good.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post