Sunday, February 19, 2012

Going Green?

Here are some thoughts I have on the subject of going green and lowering your impact on the environment. Everything I mention are all things I do, and have been doing for years. Not sure if I am forgetting anything. Please leave your comments or questions at the bottom of this article!  

1) Reduce Garbage:
Shop consciously; avoid buying things that come in packages, or look for products that come in as little packaging as possible. Buying in bulk, using your own bags (either reusing old plastic bags or finding or making small cloth bags) is ideal whenever possible.

2) Compost:
Which of course also reduces your garbage and it's a great fertilizing for your plants the following year! There are many ways you can compost, including in city environments. Many cities have a limited amount of community composts that you can register to use (you take it down there), a few cities even have compost pick-up now available (much like your garbage or recycling pick-up); I hope the City of Montreal gets a city compost pick-up system going soon.
3) Recycle:
Most cities have recycling collection set-up. If they don't, I recommend you send a letter your city every so often requesting one. Unfortunately the biggest issue with recycling is that most cities don't process their own recycling into new materials. Such as Montreal, which collects it for sorting, then for now it gets stored. In the past most recycling produced in North America gets put up for sale, clean recycling costs more, dirty recycling is sold for less (which is actually hard to sell, but our municipality does not clean the recycling, they just sort it, so it's up to the household it originated in to wash it). China and India, as far as I know, are the two countries most likely to buy it, up until they had bought more recycling then they could process since they can't sell the final product fast enough compared to our rate of producing recycling. So as a result, Montreal has a recycling crisis because no one wants to buy the recycling anymore (they have too much of it overseas), hence it ends up just being stored, except rumour mill is that they are running out of storage space.

4) Change Your Light Bulbs:
Ok everyone says change your light bulbs. But my concern with the compact florescent lights is that they have mercury in them, if they break you have a mercury contamination, which is dangerous. They also should not be thrown into the garbage, ideally they should be recycling by a plant set up for handling mercury. LEDS are good, but also have their issues. There is no perfect answers, but living on the sun's rhythm and having lots of windows & skylights will definitely help. I think it's just important that we try our best to make the best possible decisions with the choices we have and always look for new and better ways to do things.

5) Shop & Support LOCAL:
Shop and support locally is easier then you think, though unfortunately not everything is available from a local producer, I am still often happily surprised at how much I can find locally. I also encourage you to shop organically if you can.

6) Carbon Foot Print:
Try to walk or ride a bike as much as possible, take city transportation and avoid using a car whenever possible. Try to avoid buying things that are not local for this reason.

We don't need to buy all the latest greatest gadgets and fashions. It's crazy and unsustainable. In my opinion, if it isn't broken don't replace it. Avoid buying plastics, especially new plastics which mostly come from the oil industry. There are alot of alternatives to using fossil fuels for producing plastic such as hemp, corn, or potato. I don't know alot about the subject of plastic sources,  but I do know that potato and corn based plastics are used to produce compostable containers for take-out food!

8) SOAPS & Household Cleaning Products:
I use only biodegradable, healthy products (healthy for you, healthy for the environment) no matter what I am doing. The simplest solution is often the most environmentally friendly, cheaper and easier way to clean things. It's important to understand that the water you send down your drains does end up back into the ecosystem, into mother nature's water systems.

Here is some more information from Concordia University Building Engineering Society, written by CUBES President - Agnieszka Koziol:


  1. Great article!
    I would also like to suggest going 'no poo' (no shampoo) its a great way to reduce consumption of water and shampoo bottles.
    I don't wash my hair more than one a week and when i do its with water only since my hair doesn't produce a lot of oils anymore.

    1. Thanks for sharing the link! I have heard about using baking soda... Right now I use "Kiss My Face" shampoo, small amount of condition and some olive oil (which is the oil closest to what your body produces). I have a girlfriend who is a hairdresser and I have been meaning to talk to her about home-made shampoos that make your hair feel good while being good for the environment (baking soda would not be my preference, although I realize many women like it). I know that in terms of how frequently or infrequently that approx. every 4 days up to a week at most because somewhere after the 5 day point (different for everyone) the natural oils in your hair will start fermenting, which you don't want if you want a healthy scalp & roots.

  2. Superb post April-Anna. You make a vid. of the key points and put it up on your YouTube channel.