Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? To lose weight, exercise more, or take more time for yourself, perhaps? Why not start the year with some new habits that will help to reduce your ecological footprint all year long, both at home and at the office? Here are a few ideas:
- Turn down the heat 3°C at night and get out your sweaters and wool socks!
- Install electronic thermostats, they are more precise and can help you save up to 10% of the energy required for heating.
- If you don’t already compost, install a home composter as soon as the snow melts!
- Spring cleaning? Before throwing anything away, consider reusing or repurposing. If your items are in good condition, donate them to local charities or take them to the eco-centre in your municipality. For clothing and other textiles, drop them at one of the drop-off points of an organization in your area.
Install low-flow faucet aerators and place a water displacement device in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used per flush.
Try to buy local or fair trade products as often as possible. It’s good for the local economy and reduces the carbon footprint resulting from transportation.
Opt for innovative and/or energy efficient products that will help you reduce your energy consumption. If you are replacing household appliances, look for Energy Star products. There are a number of purchasing guides available; the following guide is on electronic devices.
Before buying a product, ask yourself whether you really need it. Reducing consumption is the first of the 4Rs!
- Make a suggestion for how to better manage waste and recyclables. Install a recycling bin under each desk, and a small waste basket. That way, people will be more likely to place recyclables in the bin!
- Use both sides of the paper when printing, and use recycled paper.
- Drink your coffee from a reusable mug.
- Prepare waste-free lunches using reusable containers and water bottles, and metal utensils.
- Look for colleagues you can carpool with. Even if it’s just once a week, it’s pleasant and economical!
- Try to motivate a place that you visit regularly to adopt better environmental practices. For example, ask a restaurant to recycle, or a fitness centre to install shower timers to reduce the use of hot water.
- Try to convince someone you know to change an annoying habit, such as your neighbour who hoses off his driveway in the summer (lend him a broom!) or your co-worker who starts her car remotely 10 minutes before the end of the work day.
Think about volunteering and getting involved in your community. Give some of your time to an organization you believe in, or get together with colleagues and organize your own community activity. Everybody will benefit!