In 1970 a network of environmentalists created Earth Day as a means to raise the national consciousness on issues affecting air and water pollution in the United States. Forty five years later, Earth Day is a global movement celebrated in 182 countries. It continues to grow as a powerful force in raising awareness about an environmental agenda that becomes more critical each year.
As topics like climate change, energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions dominate political debates, Wednesday’s anniversary marks an ideal time for you to renew your commitments to environmental sustainability. But going green doesn’t have to be chaining yourself up to a tree at the next pipeline protest. It can mean simple changes to your daily lifestyle and using your power as a consumer to push the pro-enviro agenda. Here are eight lawful ideas for lightening your carbon footprint:
1. Energy-Saving Home Automation
You know that awful feeling when you come home to find lights in every room blazing and the thermostat cranked? You feel like an energy-hoarding monster, who should be locked up in enviro-jail for your sins. Smart home automation has made huge strides in giving you the tools to correct such behavior. The Nest Learning Thermostat, for example, lets you control you home’s heating from anywhere in the world using WiFi. It can also figure out the most energy-efficient temperature in your home to keep you comfy, while saving you money on power bills in the process.
2. Lights Out on Burning Bulbs
You can also explore new smart lighting options. For example, the Belkin WeMo light switch lets you control your lighting remotely from a smartphone, meaning no more wasted wattage in an empty house. Don’t forget to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), which are ENERGY STAR qualified and consume up to 75 per cent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs.
3. A Bubbling Concern
This has to be the tastiest way to help the environment. Yes, pouring yourself a cool glass of cola can help reduce your carbon(ated) footprint. By using the SodaStream soda maker and creating your own carbonated beverages, you reduce consumption of plastic bottling from grocery stores. This also means less plastic manufacturing, less waste and less need for the fuel-guzzling transportation to get products to stores and your home.
4. Bottled Up Inside
And while we’re on the subject of refreshing ideas, a reusable water bottle is a highly recommended alternative to constantly buying bottled water in plastic containers. Not only are you saving money, but you’re cutting back on an incredible amount of waste, as well as the resources required to bottle water and get it to stores shelves. Plus, reusable water bottles, with all their various colours and design, just look smarter. The Full Circle models even have a function for adding a lemon wedge.
5. Time Out on Tumble Dryers
Unless you live on a large property with room for wide clothing lines and plenty of time on your hands, you’re likely drying your clothes the conventional way—using an energy-sucking dryer that takes nearly an hour to run a load. Dryer balls reduce drying time up to 25 per cent, and even come scented, so you can eliminate the use of fabric softener, which contains tons chemicals and toxins. Dryer balls also reduce wrinkles. Your hemp shirt will look smashing at the next “Save the Rainforest” rally.
6. Finding the Right Bin
With cities becoming increasingly sophisticated in their recycling programs, so too are the demands on citizens to properly sort their waste before pickup. It can get a bit confusing trying to figure out what goes in which bin, especially when you throw compost into the mix. The multi-compartment sorting bin can streamline the process by putting everything in one colour-coded unit with foot-assisted lids. You can even write out your local recycling rules and tape it to the bin for quick reference. No more excuses for mixing your cardboard with cans.
7. Common Sense Lunch Containers
The days of packing up your lunch in disposable Ziploc bags, saran wrap or tin foil are numbered with the advent of reusable lunch containers. Multi-compartment, BPA-free plastic containers cut down significantly on waste, and sets like the Home Presence Fuel Food to Go container even comes with reusable cutlery so nothing hits the trash.
8. Getting Charged on Electric Bikes
You would probably like to leave the car at home, cut back on carbon emissions and perhaps start commuting more often to work and around town. But that’s not always feasible because of distance or maybe a physical limitation. Electric bikes are growing in popularity because they give you a boost when riding, either by a twist throttle accelerator or assisted pedaling, which makes going uphill much easier. Ebikes are equipped with motors, but they work purely on an electronic charge, so no fuel required and no pain at the pumps.
As you can see, getting into the Earth Day spirit doesn’t have to mean renouncing all your materialistic possessions, fleeing modern civilization and living in a log cabin with no electricity. It can be small gestures that add up to a bigger contribution in looking after our planet year-round.
Earth Day photo courtesy of Halton Recycles