That's a question I asked myself not to long ago. We hear so much about global warming and climate change. We're reminded daily that we need to change to make a difference. But realistically many people aren't ready to scrap their gas guzzling SUV for a Smart Car. Many people go on with their lives believing that to live greener, you need to make significant changes.
So is it possible to lower your carbon footprint, without making any changes to your habits? Maybe not, but what if we make very small changes to our habits? Go ahead keep the huge SUV, Don't car pool, Don't take the bus, and still drive the V8 monster across town to buy milk rather than combining the trip with a commute.
I believe that even if you're major day to day habits aren't changing, can you tweak the little things to reduce your impact on the environment. More change is better, but there's a few things that anyone can do. In fact I think you can have a profound affect with some very simple changes that will barely affect your routine. Here's my list of how you can reduce your carbon footprint, with minimal changes to your comfortable suburban lifestyle.
1. Switch to green power/ be powersmart.
Depending on where you live, you may have an option to switch to green power for close to the same price. Here we are very lucky. With all of our power being hydro-electric or wind power, we're a green producer and efficient producer resulting in a cost of 5.94 cents per kilowatt hour.
2. Be Powersmart
Turn off lights when you're not in the room. Use fluorescent and compact fluorescent bulbs in your home. Turn off the computer when not in use. If you're going away for a few days or longer, turn down the heat, or turn off the A/C. Also turn down the Hot water tank to it's "vacation setting". Unplug your electronics if you're not using them for a longer period of time.
You're already bringing your garbage to the street once a week for garbage delivery. Get yourself a "blue box", and put your recycling out too. In many places you don't need to separate your various types of recycling. In some areas they don't even ask you to rinse your empty canned goods cans. Glass is the only item that we manufacture that is 100% recyclable so buy the ketchup in glass rather than squeezable plastic. If there's no recycling program in your area, contact your local municipal office and inquire about why.
Perfectly good items you have that you don't need, don't turf them. Clothes, furniture, toys, electronics etc. can be freecycled or donated. In many areas for example, the Diabetes Association, for example, takes donations for exerything from clothes to vehicles. These items are sold with the proceeds funding diabetes research. These items are re-used and kept out of the landfill a little longer. If you'd rather not donate to diabetes, consider the freecycle network, which is a network of individuals that give away useable items to others in attempt to keep things out of the garbage.
5. Buy local
This is such a no brainer when you rationalize the reasoning. Why buy potatoes that came from a farm 2000KM away, when you can buy local grown potatoes? first off you're supporting the local economy, and you're reducing your carbon footprint as these items aren't driving by 18-wheeler across the continent. Meat is another great example. Local slaughtered livestock means the product probably has less preservatives and travelled less to get to your plate. This holds true with clothing, and other consumer goods also. Often, if you shop smart, there's a negligible cost impact. For example. I know that Warehouse One has a local jeans factory. They're jeans are comfortable, and priced very reasonable. Before I finalize my selection, I look at the tag. "Made in Canada" Well there's a change at least that this was made locally, minimizing the shipping of the item, therefore less greenhouse gases spewed into the air during this item's manufacturing lifecycle.
6. Use e-Billing
This is really one that takes next to zero habit change. Contact your utility providers, and arrange for e-Billing. Pay your bills electronically. Canada Post offers e-Post services. If you've ever been in a mail room, you'll be shocked how many tonnes of paper are used to send bills. Using eBilling can save tons of paper. The carbon reduction is also significant. From heavy equipment that's doing the logging to the delivery to the paper mill. Then the paper process which uses bleach and other chemicals, through to the paper delivery. Then there's the final delivery of the mail.
7. R.O. rather than bottled water
Recently there's been a lot of discussion about how unfriendly the bottled water business is. Personally I enjoy the tast of the water out of my tap. I'm not disillusioned, so I know I'm probably the minority. But what if you could get the benefit of the bottled water taste, with less cost? all it would cost you is the fact that you wouldn't be walking around with the bottle of "Aquafina" or "Disani" when out in public. Instead you'll be walking around carrying the "Nalagene" bottle. In fact, over two or three years this could save you money. The solution. Get yourself an R.O. system at home. Reverse Osmosis, is the process many water cooler companies use to "make" their water. If you fill up your cooler bottles at the local grocery store dispenser, you're getting RO water already. This water isn't coming on a ship from Fiji, for example. An R.O. system can be purchased for as little as $500.00 making it a relatively inexpensive upgrade that will most likely give you a r.o.i of under 2 years, depending on how much water you purchase. Now get yourself a refillable Nalagene bottle and your good to go with a portable, re-fillable water bottle.