What you put on your dinner plate can have a huge impact on the environment. When you purchase food that isn’t locally grown, or manufactured, it has to travel thousands of kilometres to reach your neighbourhood grocery store. This long-distance travel results in the unnecessary burning of fuels to get these products on supermarket shelves. You can use Earth Day thinking to purchase in-season and organic food from local producers instead. Not only will the food that you’re eating be fresher, tastier and more nutritious, but it will also spare the environment from extra pollution.
Adopting a thrifty approach to shopping and what you bring into your home saves you cash and eases the burden on the environment. Earth Day Canada, a national environmental charity, advises everyone to ‘buy what you need, not what you want’ and to rent or borrow items that aren’t used regularly. When you do need to buy accessories for your kitchen, books or toys for your kids, head to stores like Value Village where you can pick up secondhand items at an affordable price.
Small Changes Equal a Big Difference
You don’t have to adopt massive changes to your lifestyle to make an impact on the environment. Use reusable cloth shopping bags to cart home your groceries and in-store purchases, switch from incandescent light bulbs to LEDs, use cold water to wash full loads of clothes and then hang them to dry instead of using your dryer. Each small habit or behaviour change will save money and energy while helping the environment.
Want to do more? Earth Day Canada recommends installing programmable thermostats in your home (in the summer, set them at 25 degrees Celsius; in the winter, 20 degrees Celsius), walking more often, using public transportation or opting for a car-pooling arrangement with friends and co-workers. Skip harmful chemical-laden cleaners and make your own environmentally friendly versions – vinegar, water and baking soda can get your home polished and clean in no time!
Don’t Add to Landfills. Donate!
One of the easiest and most helpful ways to observe Earth Day every day is to donate items that you no longer use or love on a regular basis. Put a bag or box in your closet where you can add clothes that you never wear. Once the container is full, you’re ready for a visit to Value Village. They’ll accept all items of clothing including underwear, socks and hats on behalf of local nonprofits. Just be sure that all clothing destined for donation is clean, dry and in good condition (that means no holes, tears, stains, broken zippers or missing buttons).
Value Village will also accept electrical items (toasters, radios, CD players, lamps, DVD players, LCD and plasma flat screen TVs), exercise and sports equipment (skis, bikes, golf equipment), kitchen items (pots, pans, dishes, vases, cutlery, glasses, silverware) and small furniture (tables, chairs, bookcases, dressers).
Use a Solar Charger
Canadians love their cell phones and tablets, but our frequent need to charge their batteries can waste a lot of energy. Adopt the Earth Day way and use a solar charger. Often cheaper than a traditional charger, solar versions are typically lightweight and easy to use. Best of all, you can charge up your phone or tablet outside and away from home.
Be Water Savvy
Did you know that 5,500 litres of water is wasted per year by dripping faucets? Waterwise, a UK company that focuses on water efficiency, reports that by fixing your leaky taps, you can make a huge difference in the water that you save. Turning off the taps when brushing your teeth will also conserve water. According to Waterwise, leaving your faucet running while brushing wastes an average of 6 litres of water per minute! Want to take water conservation even further? Install high-efficiency toilets and showerheads in your bathroom, and choose short showers over long baths.
Value Village and other organizations won’t accept certain items due to safety and hygiene issues. Mattresses, box springs, refrigerators, washers and dryers, infant products (car seats, high chairs, cribs), automotive parts (tires, fenders, mufflers), items that operate with fuel (lawn mowers, barbecues, weed trimmers), and hazardous materials (paint, cleaning products and batteries) are not accepted for donation. If you wish to get rid of these items, don’t dump them at a landfill site. Call your local municipality to find out where they can be taken or picked up for safe disposal.