There are many ways to make a significant difference right at home by re-thinking and changing our daily habits and purchasing decisions. Start by making a small change and build on that. The changes you make will have an impact on your environmental footprint carbon emissions, and improving the health of the environment.
Make a Difference Today!
Every time you recycle an item, you are not only diverting that waste from the landfill, but you are also reducing the amount of new materials that would need to be extracted from the earth to make the next product, along with the electrical and fuel energy, and pollution involved in doing that. We have a finite amount of resources on Earth. We are currently depleting them at an unsustainable rate. Please do your part to reduce, reuse, and recycle as much as possible. Learn about recycling in Halton here.
Think Before You Buy
A great deal of waste is created as a result of buying things we simply do not need. Print off this easy-to-follow reference guide and stick it to your fridge for quick access, and review these important questions and considerations before purchasing anything new. You just might save money and save the planet too! When you do buy new, look for these common environmental labels, as explained by Industry Canada, to minimize your impact.
Put Waste In Its Place
Halton’s “Put Waste In Its Place” search tool is a great way to help you learn where your waste should go. You simply type a waste item into the search box to learn if it should go to your blue bin, compost bin, garbage or other. We’ll bet that some things will surprise you. Strive to use your blue bins and compost bins as correctly and as frequently as possible. Become your household expert!
Return Your Bottles & Cans
Did you know that when you return empty alcohol containers to The Beer Store, they can be reused and recycled? Yes, that includes your wine bottles, too – plastic or glass. Wine bottles get a $0.20 refund. For more information, please visit BagItBack.ca
Say NO to Plastic Bags
Where possible, bring your own reusable bags when you do your shopping. Plastic bags are mostly unnecessary and often end up in the landfill after a short use, or end up as litter in our community, where they can remain for many years. Some grocery stores have cardboard boxes for your groceries if you forget to bring your reusable bags with you. If you need small bags for other things at home, consider reusing outer milk bags, bread bags, or zipper bags, etc. Plastic bags can be placed in the blue bin for recycling.
Help Create Litter Free Communities
Keep your property free of litter and, on windy nights, wait until morning to put your blue bins out for pick-up. While litter and stray garbage in the city is a perennial problem, if each household or business simply kept their own property clear of litter each day before it gets blown around, it would make a big difference to benefit the environment.
If we all pitch in to help put litter in its place, we will all benefit from a cleaner, greener, more beautiful city. Be sure to sign up to participate in our popular annual Community Clean Up Green Up event.
Stop Receiving Unwanted Mail
If you are receiving flyers and other unaddressed admail that is not useful to you, then please place a notice on your mailbox requesting, “No flyers please.” It is a waste of many resources to have these produced and delivered, only to be thrown out without being read. You can find flyers from most of your favourite stores online now anyway on their website. As more people reject them, less will be printed.
For addressed mail that you receive such as statements and magazines, you can often switch to emailed versions or access them through an online account. Look for information within the item or on their website to find out how to make the switch.
Finally, for other addressed mail that you don’t want at all, email or write the company to have your name removed from their mailing list. Include all the details on the mailing label so they can locate you on their mailing list for removal.
Avoid Idling Your Vehicle
Did you know a City of Burlington bylaw prohibits unnecessary idling, such as while waiting for someone in a parking lot? You could be given a $120 fine! This also applies during winter months. It’s not necessary to warm up vehicles for 15 minutes in cold weather. Besides, vehicle compartments heat up faster once you’re driving on the road. Idling creates a lot of air pollution right where you live and breathe and contributes to global warming.
Reduce Your Car Travel
Do you have to drive across town to run an errand? Do you also have to go near the same destination tomorrow? Why not wait until tomorrow and do both in one trip? You’ll save money(gas), time, and reduce your carbon footprint. Better yet, consider if the trip by car is necessary at all. Do you need to drive to that store to see if they have what you’re looking for? Or, could a simple phone call answer your question and save you a trip? Do you need to stop at 3 different stores to compare items, or can you view products and prices online and then go to the one store that is offering the best deal? Avoiding or delaying trips is even more important on hot, humid summer days when air quality/smog alerts are in effect.
Multi-modal transportation like public transit, walking, and cycling are all much greener options than traveling by car. Learn more about Burlington’s Integrated Mobility Plan here.
Say NO to Bottled Water
Bottled water creates much plastic waste and litter and consumes a great deal of oil and energy in making the bottles and shipping the product to your point of purchase. If you fill an empty water bottle 1/4 full of oil, that’s about how much oil it took to get that one bottle of water produced and delivered to the store where you purchased it. In addition, it is estimated that twice as much water was used in its production. Thus, every litre sold represents three liters of water. All this is unnecessary as Halton has a high-quality Drinking Water Quality Management System and our water quality is tested continually.
Many plastic water bottles don’t make it to the recycle bin and end up in the landfill or on the side of the road. When they are recycled, they often get put to one more use, and that’s it. Few bottle manufacturers use a closed-loop bottle-to-bottle recycling system, where an old bottle gets turned into a new bottle. Please stop purchasing bottled water. You will save yourself some money and reduce your waste and carbon footprint. Get a refillable bottle to fill with tap water and take with you when you need water while out of the house. Encourage friends, family, and co-workers to do the same. If you are still concerned about lead and chlorine in your water, a simple jug filter system in your fridge will address this.
Make your Next Party or Event a Green One
Celebrating is an important part of our lives, whether it is a major holiday, milestone event or fun social gathering with family and friends. Unfortunately, many traditional parties and events are hotbeds for waste and single-use plastics. We can “go green” with our parties and events too and it doesn’t have to be challenging, but it does require some planning and preparation. Use these helpful Event Greening Guides to keep your next barbeque, dinner party, birthday party or special event green and environmentally friendly!
Ready for more?
Avoid running your taps longer than necessary. Repair leaks. Purchase a rain barrel to capture rainfall off your roof and use to water your lawn or garden. Take advantage of Halton’s toilet replacement rebate program, if applicable. Please visit Halton Region’s Water Conservation page and the City of Burlington’s page (at bottom) for some helpful tips. See also the 25 Best Ways to Conserve Water.
On average, food travels about 2,500 kilometres before it reaches our plates. Alternatively, it is quite possible to eat food grown, raised and processed that travels only 50-250 km. That food is a lot less dependent on fossil fuels that negatively impact our environment.
Buying local has a lasting impact on sustaining family farms, supporting our local rural and urban economies, encouraging agricultural diversity, and promoting sustainable environmental practices. It also secures a predictable and more stable food source for the future and provides a cushion against a vulnerable global food system. Check out this great video to learn more.
Meat Free Mondays
Reducing your meat consumption is one of the most significant changes you can make to lower your carbon footprint. Livestock production uses a large amount of resources and produces a great deal of greenhouse gases which contribute to climate change. The typical North American diet consists of more meat than is necessary or healthy.
Why not try doing Meatless Mondays? Or, cut back on meat portions a few times a week. Add legumes to your meals to for protein and iron (eg. red kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils). A simple 3-bean salad works well here. Or, make a tofu stir-fry, similar to how you would make it with chicken, but substitute extra-firm tofu, sliced into small, thin pieces (soy/tofu is a complete protein).
Please consult with your doctor first before changing your diet, or if reducing meat consumption in substantial amounts, as there may be potential health risks if not done properly.
Protect and Plant Trees
Trees help clean our air of pollution and give us oxygen to breathe. They provide cool shade on hot days and help prevent climate change. They add beauty to our communities and provide habitat for wildlife.
Learn more about Burlington’s Private Tree By-Law here and the role of private trees in increasing our urban tree canopy. Plant native species trees when you can. Refer to Ontario’s Tree Atlas for native trees that grow well in your location. Visit Tree Canada for more information on urban and rural trees. Help celebrate National Tree Day in late September each year.
There are many ways to cut down on your electricity use. Visit Burlington Hydro for energy-saving tips and strategies.
Green Homes: renovations & new construction
Learn about energy savings tips for your home, plus how to make your home green when doing renovations and new construction. This will not only reduce your home’s carbon and ecological footprint, but can protect your health and also save you money in the long run. Check out our handy checklist of some of the key design features of a green home.
Choose green vehicles
If you need to buy a vehicle, consider the environment carefully in your purchasing decision, focusing on low-emission and excellent fuel economy vehicles. ‘Make the Switch’ and purchase an electric vehicle or hybrid vehicle. Government rebates are currently offered on new electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles; you can view and compare electric vehicles here. You can also view a list of some of the most fuel-efficient vehicles of all types here.
When an electric vehicle life cycle cost, including capital and operating expenses, is compared to the equivalent gasoline vehicle, the electric is less expensive from the first day of ownership (based on an average of 20,000 km/year over a 5-year period, using conventional financing).
Use Green Energy
Consider having Bullfrog Power ‘green your energy use’ for you. For a reasonable fee, they will put green forms of energy onto the grid on your behalf.