Six Steps to a Smaller Carbon Footprint
Simple and effective ways you can go green.
All transportation produces large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, but air travel is particularly damaging to the planet in the short term. Solution: vacation closer to home. If you must get airborne, consider balancing out your carbon emissions with programs such as Offsetters or ZeroGHG.
Although our digital gadgets are ever more prevalent, the average Canadian uses more than 8,000 sheets of paper every year. To lighten your impact, switch to email billing, read retail catalogues online and sign up for the Consumer Choice Program through Canada Post to keep advertising mail from being delivered to your door.
The benefit of switching your home to natural gas-the most common household heating fuel in Canada-is about 25 to 40 per cent fewer greenhouse gas emissions per unit of electricity generated by coal or oil. But to reduce your footprint even further, turn down the thermostat. Bonus: a drop of five degrees at night means you’ll save up to 10 per cent on your heating bill.
Invest in Green
Your money is worth more than its face value. Eco-friendly outfits like the Responsible Investment Association and Shareholder Association for Research and Education promote financial strategies that take the environment into account. Canadians are becoming increasingly eco-conscious with their savings: at the end of 2011, responsible investments totalled $600 billion; by 2013 the figure had risen to $1 trillion, which accounts for 30 per cent of the country’s investment industry.
Get Back to the Land
Community-supported agriculture groups provide cash directly to farmers-just before the growing season-which helps them mitigate seasonal cash-flow hiccups. In return, members get local, farm-fresh food without the cross-continental travel carbon.
An independent research agency, the Conference Board of Canada, gave our country a disheartening D grade for its greenhouse gas emissions. Our garbage output is also 35 per cent higher than other similarly developed nations, and our marine biodiversity is shrinking. Your voice can help. Support action groups like Friends of the Earth, who ensure environmental law is enforced, the David Suzuki Foundation, which studies and promotes solutions for climate change, or Food Secure Canada, which works to build sustainable food systems.