Seven Habits for Greener Living

It can be confusing. Where do you start when you are trying to green your household and your life? There’s so much information. There are so many things to do. Which ones matter the most? How do you make a significant difference? Here is Green Action Centre’s list.

1. Travel Active and Green.

Take the bus, walk, cycle, carpool, or telecommute to work. Walk with your kids to school. Make friends with your feet. Arrive healthier and happier by choosing environmentally friendly ways of getting around. It’s a great way to reduce pollution, ease traffic congestion, improve personal fitness and save on vehicle costs.

2. Save energy and money at home.

Live comfortably while keeping energy dollars in your own pocket. Simple things can do the trick — insulate, keep cool with fans, wash clothes in cool water, use a clothesline, turn off unused appliances, install a low-flow shower head. Start with low-cost and no-cost measures.

3. Buy local.

Eat fresh food from local producers. Buy products made in your community. Help create jobs and build our local economy by keeping your dollars circulating in Manitoba.

4. Be garbage-less.

Recycle and compost. Re-use or donate unwanted items to thrift organizations. Have a yard sale. Avoid excess packaging. Keep re-usable bags handy. Don’t send useful materials to the landfill.

5. Shop smart.

Stop and think. Do you really need it? What are the impacts of making, transporting, using and discarding the things we buy? Renting a car when needed, sharing equipment with neighbours, or buying used office furniture may make a lot more sense than purchasing something new. Look for durable and repairable items made from recycled and recyclable materials. Advertisers try hard to make you buy, but don’t let your stuff own you.

6. Choose healthy alternatives.

Use non-toxic cleaners, eat organically, avoid synthetic chemical pesticides, buy ecofriendly paints. There is increasing evidence that some chemicals in our homes, textiles, water, air and food are making us sick. Especially kids. Know what’s in the products you buy and use. Reduce your family’s chemical exposures.

7. Get together with others.

Join and support organizations that are working for environmental change. Volunteer and donate. Talk with neighbours and friends at work, at school and in your community. Set a goal (non-toxic cleaners at school, secure bike lockup at work, recycling at the community centre) and work with others to help make it happen. If you do that and don’t give up, it will.

One more thing …

Cut yourself some slack. Don’t try to take on everything all at once. Pick one thing to start. Can’t give up your car completely? Try taking the bus, cycling or walking to work just one day a week. If everyone did that, we could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from workplace commuting by 20 per cent right away … with no inconvenience, no increased costs, and no fancy new technologies. Check around the Green Action Centre web site for more ecologically conscious ideas.