It’s hard to believe it’s been 18 years since the David Suzuki Foundation introduced Canadians to the first concept of the Nature Challenge; a list of ten ways Canadians could help preserve nature for generations to come. David has been an advocate for green living tips for your home for almost two decades. Canadians committed to making changes in at least three challenges over the course of a year, using green living tips for their home, their health, and their environment. Let’s revisit the first four challenges from the list (the full list is linked below this article) because these are just as relevant today:
4) Buy locally grown and produced foods
Home energy consumption reduction
Revamp laundry time. BC Hydro’s Team Power Smart members have reduced energy consumption and saved money using the following laundry hacks:
- Switch to cold water wash, and if you have energy-saving cycles on your machines, use them.
- Use less detergent because BC has soft water. Go with half the recommended amount, and your laundry will be clean and still smell fabulous. This is also true for high-efficiency washers and dishwashers.
- Make every load of laundry count: by only washing full loads, you’ll be washing fewer loads.
- Hang items to dry using a folding, drying rack.
- Toss a large, dry towel in with wet items in the dryer and then press start. Drying time can be reduced by 10 percent (approx. $27.00 per year savings when doing seven loads a week). Or use wool dryer balls, as the will also reduce drying time.
- Buy Energy Star washer and dryers (and Energy Star appliances for the rest of the home, too). Plus, you can apply for a rebate from BC Hydro at certain times during the year (click here for eligibility).
Bonus Hack: Use BC Hydro’s search tool to help find the most energy-efficient appliances.
Green living tips for your home kitchen
More green living tips for the home that will ultimately reduce consumption and save you money:
- A full fridge uses less energy. Got extra space? Fill some jugs with water to fill in gaps on your fridge shelving.
- Match the pot/pan size to the burner on your stovetop.
- Small appliances use less energy. Pressure cookers, instant pots, and toaster ovens can cook just as well as full-sized ovens.
- Turn off lights, appliances, and heating when not in use,
- Replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-saving bulbs,
- Take shorter showers,
- Fix any water leaks,
- Only run tap water when you need it.
- Energy efficiency is the norm for new home construction. Homeowners looking for ways to reduce energy consumption in their current, older homes can visit a recently published, Reliance Insurance blog post, “Practical tips to reduce energy costs when heating a home”, for more information and more great tips.
Reduce, reuse, recycle…there are apps for that
Here are some green living tips for reducing the amount of garbage tossed into landfills and the oceans. Of the three R’s we often think first of recycle, but that should be the last R. The best place to start is reduce, reduce your consumption and acquisition of any products. Do you really need a new sweater? If yes, can you buy it second hand or upcycled? Next reuse or repurpose items you have around the home. Look to your local Zero Waste community and see if there is something you can donate or pick up for free. And last recycle. Think of the end in mind. When you buy something, ask yourself, “how will it be recycled?” The three R’s become much easier thanks to the following two smartphone apps.
Recyclepedia App and website
The Recyclepedia app is a terrific hack that helps take the mystery out of what to recycle and where to take it. The Recycling Council of BC (RCBC) developed this easy-to-use app that provides recycling options for over 70 materials and lists over 1000 drop-off locations around BC. If you have items that are still reusable and can be donated, the app will also direct you to the nearest thrift shops. This tool is also available on the RCBC website. For the website version and app download, click here
Recycle BC App and website
Recycle BC also has an app to assist homeowners with filing their blue bins and yellow bags. You’ll also find pick-up schedules and also drop-off locations for specific recyclables that aren’t acceptable for curbside pick-up. For more info and download, click here.
Visit Recyclebc.ca for video tours of each room, highlighting items that are recyclable, suggestions for how to prep items for recycling as well as free, downloadable print-outs listing what’s acceptable for each bin – place them on the bins or near the bins, then make everyone in the household read them.
Reduce packaging for greener living
Green living tips for your home and eliminate plastic cling wrap and single-use zipper bags once and for all with these inexpensive items often available in grocery stores, department store kitchen sections, or online:
Reusable, washable zip lock bags for school/work lunches, snacks on the run, or storing leftovers. They work just like a zip lock, are sturdier and better looking.
- Use reusable beverage bottles for water, coffee, tea, juice, and more.
- Reusable Bowl covers to keep food and leftovers fresh in the fridge.
- Reusable, machine washable “paper” towels: one towel can replace up to 18 rolls of traditional paper towels.
- Don’t save the cloth napkins for special occasions only. Use them with every meal, instead of paper napkins or a sheet of paper towel.
Be a green shopper
As single-use plastic bags continue to be outlawed, remember to bring your own shopping bags to the grocery store. Take it to another level by also bringing your own produce bags, too. Most grocery stores sell inexpensive mesh produce bag sets that are machine washable and can be reused over and over again.
Bonus Hack: Produce department
Grocery stores provide “country of origin” signage for the items in the produce section. Look for the produce grown as close to your home as possible. Who wasn’t shocked to learn that the average meal on your table traveled approximately 1500 kilometres to get there?
Use your reusable cloth bags while shopping at a farmer’s market, and you could check off two challenges at once. Number one: buying locally grown and produced foods. Number two: eat meat-free meals for at least one day each week. Your local farmer’s market is bursting with fresh, crisp vegetables and fruits. Plan some meat-free recipes, hit the market for the ingredients, and take them home in reusable bags. Extra points if you walked or biked to the market!
Every time we choose alternate forms of transportation like walking, biking, transit, or carpooling, we reduce our carbon footprint and save gas money at the same time.
The road to zero waste
If you are fortunate enough to live near a Bulk Barn, or any other local bulk store, take advantage of their “bring your own containers” policy. This is an excellent “zero-waste” opportunity that eliminates grocery item packaging. Bulk Barn carries over 4000 products – imagine all the packaging you won’t have to recycle.
Be on the lookout for more “zero waste” opportunities once the pandemic restrictions ease up. We already have Vancouver’s, Nada and The Soap Dispensary for all your sudsy needs, but did you know Canadian grocery giant, Loblaw’s is now testing reusable packaging? They’ve partnered with Loop, a company that offers consumers a new way to shop without waste with innovative, reusable containers. Loop is already in the UK, Europe, and the United States.
The David Suzuki Foundation’s Challenge has since morphed into the One Nature Challenge, inviting Canadians to commit to spending 30 minutes per day in nature, for 30 days to jump-start this healthy habit throughout the year, purely for our mental health and well-being. This challenge could also serve as a little reminder of the crucial part humans play in taking care of nature’s well-being, too.
Resources: Green Living Tips for Home
The original Nature Challenge
BC Hydro Power Smart program
The Recycling Council of BC
Bulk Barn reusable container program
The Soap Dispensary How to Shop Package Free
Loop and Loblaw’s
Suzuki Foundation One Nature Challenge
Farmers Market Photo by Shelley Pauls on Unsplash