It’s Earth Day today! In honor of Earth Day my office participated in Clean Toronto Together last Friday. We spend 20 minutes cleaning up the public spaces around the office, and what a difference it makes. My lunchtime parkette is no longer habitat for beer bottles and soda cans, and there’s no longer grocery bags trapped in the shrubs and bushes. Its great to see some progress, but sadly it will be exactly the same next spring.
I think we all need to pay a bit more respect to the planet we call home, and I am talking every day, not just on earth day. So what can you do to save some energy, and maybe even some money around your home and DIY projects?
Insulate! In older homes there is very little (or sometimes no) insulation in the walls. In the winter you are essentially heating the outside, and in the summer you are air conditioning it. If you are opening up your walls, take the time to install a good quality insulation. Remember the higher the “R” value the more insulating its going to be. Consider spray foam, which also works as a moisture barrier. While you’re at it, take a good look at your house and fill any exterior gaps with caulking.
Smart Thermostats: Use a smart thermostat to optimize your energy usage. We have a Nest, and LOVE it. It has an auto sensing feature that knows if you’ve not been in the house for a while, and will turn the heat down. It will also utilizes the wasted energy from your ac unit. We have seen our energy bills go down, which is good for our pocketbooks and the environment.
Energy Efficient Appliances: Appliances can be a big suck of energy. If you have an old “beer” fridge in the garage or an ancient dryer, you may be costing yourself an awful lot to run those appliances. Look at Energy Star models and ensure you recycle your appliances in the proper manner.
Re-purpose when possible: I know everyone loves new things, but if something is in good shape, an it’s just not the style you like, why throw it out? Can you give it a coat of paint, add new hardware or fix a broken piece to make it new again? If not, maybe someone else can. Consider donating to the ReStore, or local thrift shop. If you need the cash, try selling it in Craigslist or Kijiji. One mans junk is another mans treasure. Heck, Rona has created a line of paint made from recycled paint.
Buy local: This seems simple but it makes a huge difference. Why buy fruits & vegetables that have been trucked here from Mexico when you can buy from a farmer down the street? My city (Toronto) has an excellent array of farmers markets, which we love visiting (especially in the summer and harvest months). Its also great to support local businesses as you’re investing in your community. Also remember to buy only what you’re going to consume. Make a meal plan ahead of time and stick to it. There’s nothing worse than throwing out half the food in your fridge come garbage day.
Grow your own! You can get a lot of return from a small square foot garden or even a few pots on a patio. Grow the items you regularly use, and you’ll get so much enjoyment and use out of them. It really is the best feeling to go pick something from your garden for that nights meal (and it saves you a trip to the grocery store!) If your city allows it, you can go buck wild and get your own chickens like Karen.
I think we can all do things in a bit more conscientious manner each day. You dont have to give up your home and live in a yurt, but you can also not be the guy who pours paint down the sewer (Yep, we’ve really seen a guy do that.)
Get your hippie on!