Make a Difference this New Year’s: 10 Ways to Live More Sustainably in 2021
2020 was a crazy year, but in all the pandemic pandemonium, the fight against climate change understandably got put on the back burner. Luckily, vaccines are on their way and hopefully we can beat this virus and pick up the reigns again on the fight against climate change. To get started, here are 10 things you can do in 2021 to reduce your environmental impact.
If you are interested in finding out your carbon footprint use this calculator: https://www.nature.org/en-us/get-involved/how-to-help/carbon-footprint-calculator/?redirect=https-301
- Keep your vehicle maintained
By keeping your vehicle maintained, you avoid excess wear and tear on critical components. For example, if you were to skip an oil change, that oil would breakdown overtime and could start burning, releasing more harmful emissions than usual. So, make sure you are getting your car serviced at the suggested intervals to avoid this.
- Drive Efficiently
This is often not considered by many drivers, but how you drive greatly influences how much fuel you use and how often components will need replacing. Accelerating and stopping smoothly can save you fuel and extend the lifetime of your brake pads and rotors. To do this try to drive proactively rather than reactively by paying attention to traffic further ahead of you so you can react earlier and avoid slamming on the brakes at the last minute.
- Avoid Flying
Airplanes are the most carbon intensive mode of transportation. To put this in perspective, consider this quote from the David Suzuki Foundation:
“If the aviation sector were a nation, it would be among the top 10 global emitters. It is responsible for 12 per cent of transportation emissions”
So, if you need to fly, try to schedule your trip so you can stay longer or buy quality carbon offsets to make up for the emissions.
- Be mindful of your home’s energy usage
Overheating and overcooling your home can waste a lot of energy. If you are sweating in the winter and wearing sweaters in the summer, you are probably overdoing it. Try investing in a smart thermostat that can keep your homes temperature stable and allow you to schedule when you need your heat or air conditioning the most or when those systems can be turned off.
- Ensure your home is properly sealed and insulated
Drafty doors and windows wreak havoc on your home’s climate control. No matter how hard your AC or heat is working, that air is escaping and with it, your cash. So, make sure you check your windows and doors to ensure that they are sealed properly. Check out this article for two quick tips to test these!
- Invest in energy efficient appliances
Energy-efficient appliances are fantastic investments that can save you big in the long-run and lower your environmental footprint. Buying Energy Star certified appliances is estimated to save you up to 30% on your electricity bills, a return that you will realize immediately.
- Avoid throwing things out that do not need to be thrown out
We have all heard the phrase reduce, reuse, recycle, but most of us think that it only applies to putting things in the blue bin, and kicking it the curb. If you are serious about lowering your environmental impact, consider finding new uses for things you are going to throw out. For example, yogurt and sour cream tubs can be cleaned and used the same as any other plastic container. The same can be said for plastic takeout containers. So, remember to think twice before throwing something out.
- Be conscious of the food you eat
This next tip may be a large lifestyle shift for some, but even making small changes can make a big difference. The raising of livestock for human consumption uses 75% of the agricultural land on earth and produces more GHG emissions than all transportation methods combined. So, if you want to reduce your footprint consider practicing meatless Monday. Check out the Meatless Monday campaign website for more info!
- Shop for sustainable products
Canada has a number of labels and certification for products that are produced or sourced sustainably. Be sure to check for them when you are doing your next shopping trip. You can find out what they are here.
- Install a Microgeneration wind turbine
If you want to lower your carbon footprint, while also saving on your electricity bills, this last tip is for you. When you install a microgeneration wind turbine, it supplements part of your home’s electricity usage so you won’t be pulling as much power from the grid. Generating your own power also improves your resiliency to blackouts by providing a back-up electricity source.
So, there you have it. 10 ways to reduce your environmental impact this year. And remember, you don’t have to do everything (although we would love it if you bought a turbine), but trying a few of these tips will still help in the fight against climate change.
Happy New Year!
If you liked this article, check out this one on Climate Change in Canada.