Why saying you don’t have time to make sustainable choices simply doesn’t fly anymore
As we continue to slow things down, spend more time at home with the people we love, and find joy in things we may have taken for granted in recent years, there’s never been a better time than now to make time for prioritizing self-care, as well as care for our planet. We’ve been programmed to think it’s not easy being green—but we challenge you to think again.
Learning to live a green lifestyle and consciously making green choices is not only important for the planet and future generations, but it can also save you a whole lot of money if you do it right. Saying you’re too busy simply isn’t an option anymore. Swap that time spent commuting to work, binge-watching TV, mindlessly scrolling on social media, and try these four ways to become more sustainable at home. Let’s leave that 'I don’t have time to be green' mindset behind for once and for all. Bonus: these alternatives take less time and cost less than their more traditional counterparts.
Here are four simple changes you can make in your daily routine that have a huge impact on the environment...
1. Set up a compost bin
Photo by Markus Spiske on UnsplashAccording to Statistics Canada, Canadian households produced 12.9 million tonnes of waste in 2008. Of this amount, 4.4 million tonnes were sent for recycling or composting. Residential composting can reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, in turn reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions formed from organic material decomposing in these landfills. Whether you usually throw your food scraps into the garbage can or send them down a garburator, it takes the same amount of time to place them into a compost bin. If the thought of having food composting inside your home bothers you, place the bin on the patio or outside in an animal-proof container. If you don’t have outdoor space, there are plenty of odour-proof options that fit right underneath your kitchen sink.
2. Cut plastic out of your life
Photo by John Cameron on UnsplashDid you know that less than 10 percent of plastic used in Canada gets recycled? According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, globally, one garbage truckload of plastic waste enters the ocean every minute and that amount is increasing steadily. Plastic waste ends up in our landfills and incinerators, litters our parks and beaches, pollutes our rivers, lakes and oceans, entangling, injuring and killing over 100,000 turtles, fish and marine mammals. How many times have you bought the extra-large pack of Ziploc bags at Costco? Or wrapped your leftover fruit and veggies in plastic wrap?
According to a press release from Trudeau, Canadians throw away over three million tonnes of plastic waste. This represents up to $8 billion per year in lost value and wastes valuable resources and energy. When people say eliminating plastic from their life is too hard, we’re calling their bluff.
All it takes is a little planning and organization to move towards a plastic-free lifestyle. Forgot a reusable shopping bag? You can buy a new one from the grocery store and in the future always leave a couple in your car or keep a small one in your purse. Replace Ziploc bags and plastic grocery bags with reusable mesh produce bags and opt for reusable beeswax food wraps instead of plastic wrap. So the next time you reach for those plastics, you’re oh-so-used to, you have a back-up plan.
3. Borrow things or buy used
Photo by Prudence Earl on UnsplashEvery single product that we purchase has a carbon footprint and an impact on the environment—from the materials used to make it, the water consumption to produce it, the pollution emitted during its production and shipment, and all the way through to the final product making its way into our landfills. Shop a vintage clothing store, ask a friend, check out Facebook Marketplace, Varage Sale and other online classifieds sites like Craigslist and Kijiji.
4. Plant a garden (or a windowsill herb garden)
Photo by Bonnie Kittle on UnsplashWhen it comes to making green choices with your food, there are plenty of ways to make small shifts in your diet and lifestyle. According to Agriculture Canada, 10 percent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are from crop and livestock production, excluding emissions from the use of fossil fuels or fertilizer production. Take the time to ask questions: Where does it come from? Is it local? Is it in season? Is it sustainably farmed, fished and grown?
If you have the outdoor space, it doesn’t get much more sustainable—or rewarding—than growing your food at home. Plant some herbs and veggies and reap the benefits (gardening is great for relaxation and mental wellness as well!) Another great way to eat your way to a smaller carbon footprint is to get familiar with what’s in season—whether you’re growing at home, shopping at your local market, or eating out—choosing what grows locally and according to the season.