A few different ways to live sustainable in the city and how to get involved with actions to promote sustainability in your community.
1) Buy local and use paper bags.
Now that the city of Toronto is banning plastic bags (yes finally one for the green team!)
2) Instead of grass or a flower garden, grow food instead.
Grass requires watering almost all the time in hot weather and doesn’t yield such wonderful sustenance as a juicy tomato or green pepper. If you grown fruit or cucumbers you can make excellent preserves for gifts.
3) Avoid purchasing products with plastic packaging, unsustainable products or products with packaging that is unsustainable, internationally shipped products that use cheap underpaid labor, products from untrusted or known sources etc.
4) Limit water use. Monitor shower time and try to limit it to 5 min or less. Washing your hair once or twice a week usually does the trick. Washing hair every day often dries out the hair and causes more damage then good. Try using biodegradable soaps, shampoos and products (not tested on animals of course).
– Avoid watering grass during hot droughts (usually there is no chance for recovery during heat waves the water is best spent somewhere else).
– Avoid washing your car (it’s a luxury to have one to begin with, washing it is not an every day necessity)
– Wash your dishes in one set, or if you have a dish washer, make sure it is full when you run it and run it on an eco cycle if it permits.
– Wash clothes, try using the cold cycle – there are lots of great cold water detergents that are now biodegradable to use. This saves on heat/energy. Try doing more full loads.
– Teach your family and friends about limiting their water use. Education is the best way to create sustainable behavior.
5) Travel – Transit, bikes, roller-blades, good old walking. Chances are, in your city, any of these methods are cheaper and quicker then driving.
Carpool for those trips to the cottage – think about smaller eco friendly vehicles for traveling together (although those SUV’s are comfy they are not gas friendly, gas is not sustainable)
Trains over planes – Living in Canada we have limited options, but the train is always a good one for direct travel and comfort.
6) Gifts – a lot of gifts can be made and they mean a lot more
– Re-gifting – sure it has some faux pas but there are some really great items out there that need a home. I particularly enjoy the free area designated in my apartment building for picking up used items. Often they are too good to throw out.
– Quilts – I have a friend who makes quilts from old t-shirts and jeans. Simple squares sewn together into a quilt make excellent heart felt gifts for family members.
– Preserves – Since you have that amazing vegetable garden, you can harvest and preserve those goodies for preserve gifts. Everyone loves consumables for gifts. Bundle it together with some homemade bread and you have an excellent picnic basket.
– Plants – give the gift of life and share plants with your friends and family. Great additions to your own garden if they share back.
7) Dining out – Sustainably this can be difficult. But living in the city, there are far more options then living outside of the city. Research your restaurants first to learn more about where the food is purchased and prepared. If you are thinking sushi, think about the fish sources and if they are sustainable, they rarely are.
Consider when you purchase fast food if the packaging was made from recyclable or sustainable resources. In recent news, it was known that KFC was packaging their food using rainforest timber. Feel free to ask questions and promote discussion about your favorite restaurants. Usually within 24-48 hours the customer service will respond back to you with your answers. This also helps restaurants provide better options based on consumer demand.
8) Clothing – Best resources now are thrift stores, lots of great options that are second hand, affordable and unique. If you are handy with the sewing machine, you can modify the garment further for custom fitting and style. My friend is value village – great repeat discounts with their stamp card and they offer a membership card now!
9) Green roofs and community projects – Encourage your community or building to develop a community green project for teaching kids and adults how to work together to be green and live clean. WWF Canada is a great resource to learn how to educate and start community groups for green living.
10) Advocate – When it comes down to it, the government is responsible to establish rules and regulations for the corporations, products, food, and laws that govern green living. Sometimes the government needs our help to show them how we really want to live. A life without disease, a future to raise our children, and a world free of pollution. Use your voice any chance you get with your government. Simple email or click to vote for campaigns against anti green solutions is all that is needed to make a difference.
One vote, one choice, one thought, one person can make a huge difference. Be one with a green movement that will help our kind last a lifetime not just another generation.