TV host and real estate expert Todd Talbot shares his tips on living a more eco-friendly lifestyle

Todd Talbot, co-host of the HGTV hit show Love It Or List It Vancouver, knows a thing or two about sustainable living. The actor/realtor recently downsized from a 3000-square-foot property in Lions Bay, B.C. to a 1200-square-foot home in East Vancouver where he currently lives with his wife Rebecca and two children, Ashlyn and Kesler. Todd constantly challenges himself and others to be conscious of "how we design, build and most importantly live, in our homes and communities."

Environment 911 caught up with Todd to discuss how to create an eco-friendly home, how to live with less and how he feels about the future...Todd TalbotPhoto: Janis NicolayTodd Talbot poses in front of his East Vancouver home.

E911: What concerns you most about climate change and the state of the environment today?

Todd Talbot: In a word, deniers. Honestly, I find the climate change conversation can get very overwhelming. What do we take on? What can we change? Will it make a difference? Is it too late? For Rebecca and me, it's become important to confront our way of living on a daily basis. Will we find enough agreement fast enough to make the necessary changes? I sure hope so.


E911: Why is living a more eco-friendly lifestyle important to you?

Todd Talbot: Simply put, my kids. Looking into the future and wanting them to have the best life possible.


E911: What things do you do every day to live more sustainably?

Todd Talbot: We all know the obvious: reusable bags, cups, recycling, cardboard egg cartons, etc., which are all important, but let's kick it up a notch!

Rather than focus on the everyday items we, as a family, took a different approach. Three years ago when we looked at our home and the impact that space had on our life and the environment, we decided to start the process of 'right sizing' our life. We started with the actual house—from 3000 square feet in Lions Bay to 1200 square feet in East Vancouver—ultimately meant less stuff. We took on breaking the insatiable habit of over-consumption by physically limiting our space. We think the trickle-down effect has a big impact. Let me tell you, it's like going to the gym consistently. It ain't easy!

We are also building our first 'net zero' house, incorporating a grid connected Solar PV system. The system will generate power on the roof to offset the consumption in the house and export the excess energy out to the grid. We had Riverside Energy analyze our site and we are installing a 10 kW system. The motivation to install solar is three-fold:

  1. The environment: reducing our carbon footprint
  2. Long-term cost savings
  3. It's cool—you are making your own power! The technology has improved dramatically in the last five years. It’s really exciting when you can monitor your system and see how much power you are making. You are actively part of the solution! To follow along with this build and all the sustainable elements we are working with, go to Eh Frame.

On a smaller scale, use Craigslist or Kijiji to sell or give away things that you aren't using anymore, especially when it comes to renovations. It's amazing what people will come and pick up. Your leftover supplies are exactly what someone else needs. Pro tip: charge a six-pack of beer instead of free. You'd be surprised at what shows up!

Bonus idea: Installing the Lutron Smart Lighting system allows you to control your lights from your phone anywhere, anytime. It’s awesome to manage consumption and limit use, but also great for security. 

Look for opportunities to make an impact on the environment but also make life better. The win/win will be the only way we will actually win.


E911: What's your favourite eco-friendly hack?

Todd Talbot: Myth-busting that bigger houses are better. Don't believe the media, TV shows or the Joneses. We now spend less, use less and buy less. P.S. Don't tell anyone, but it means you actually save more money, have more time, and don't buy stuff you really don't need. For parents, it's a great excuse to limit the insatiable appetite of your kids who are always asking for more... at least mine are.


E911: How do you hope to see the world change in the near future?

Todd Talbot: I hope we put the focus back on local and slow down. I think the global pandemic has woken us up to what that means again and is showing it's possible. I want to see us growing and purchasing local food, curbing the race for more, bigger, faster, and empowering our kids to lead and then support their ideas for change. It will be obvious to them what needs to change and we need to make sure we aren't in the way.


E911: What do you think the world will look like in 10 years?

Todd Talbot: I am naturally optimistic, but I fear that we will actually be in a worse state in 10 years than we are now. The trouble I see with climate change is that we are so far behind the curve that by the time we realize what's going on, it'll be too late to actually address that problem. I think we are in for a big wake-up call, which hopefully triggers drastic action. We have the technology, and incredibly smart, passionate people who can lead, but we need to empower and follow these folks. It starts with individual action and also how you vote.