It has never been easier to consider taking steps towards a sustainable lifestyle and what a better place to start than in your home. Going green (or at least a shade of green), at home, is often one of the first steps to minimizing your ecological footprint. It’s where we eat and sleep, where we connect to our loved ones or center ourselves. It’s only natural that it be the first thing to which we turn our attention and the list of action items is a long one. We have chosen a few key steps to get started- pick just one or two and you may just be inspired to do more!
Reduce Energy Use, Chemicals and Waste in Your Home
- Install energy efficient appliances/ furnaces/air conditioners
- Have adequate insulation and good quality weather stripping around your doors
- Use compact fluorescent or LED bulbs in lights (stay tuned for an upcoming Who To Call blog on deciphering light bulbs!)
- Purchase energy through Bullfrog Power – 100% green energy
- Install solar panels: Enmax provides a free consultation to determine if a home is solar ready, they will then install and lease the panels to the homeowner. Electricity generated will offset supplemental energy from the grid. Private solar panel suppliers will also do a free evaluation.
- Use natural cleaners: there are a huge variety available for purchase if you don’t want to make your own. If you are in need of a cleaning Service that uses all natural cleaning products, Aspen Clean may be exactly what you’re looking for.
- Introduce houseplants to your home- certain plants naturally filter toxic chemicals from the air!
- Use water based low Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) paint: in Calgary these can be purchased at Mari Tomas and Farrow and Ball Paint
- Check out Riva’s Eco Store for green building and renovating materials such as carpet and flooring, green insulation and much more!
- Cut back or eliminate the purchase of bottled water and other items that create large amounts of waste. (This is an easy one!)
- Have useable containers readily available: avoid plastic ones and opt to using glass or stainless steel ones instead.
- Another idea my be to purchase a natural wrap that can be washed and reused or to use BYO-go containers for coffee, water and food
- Recycle Right: dispose of items, such as electronics, paints, household chemicals in a responsible way. It you don’t have the time or energy to do this, call YYC Junk or tuck your items away for September when the City of Calgary holds its annual Hazardous Waste Collection weekend
- Recycle through repurposing: this requires a little time and research but the options are endless. Here is a good resource for a few ideas: Who To Call Blog.
- Compost: afraid to compost in the city because of unwanted critters? Don’t be! Composters, like everything else, have come a long way and are designed to keep them out of your compost.
- Install low flow toilets and water wise appliances
- Capture storm water through rain barrels, cisterns and redirection of downspouts. Many downspouts, especially from garages, drain right into a paved alley, this water then goes in the storm sewers and back out into the river system. Redirect downspouts to tree beds or turfed areas where possible. You can purchase a rain barrel from Green Calgary, either at one of their many events being held throughout the year or pre ordered online.
- Update your irrigation systems to a more efficient drip or add a rain sensor to your system that suspends watering based on rainfall. Find your local irrigation specialists, such as Prestige Pop Up Sprinklers, Regency Irrigation or NAIAD Irrigation to help you install such a device.
- Install plants in your yard, which are drought tolerant. For instance, replace a traditional grass lawn with a sedum or thyme lawn.
- Hire a professional, such as Deb Clark-Burgoyne of Just Gardens, to evaluate your yard and garden to look for ways to make your landscaping water wise.
Photo: Statesboro Landscape
Food-Buy Smart + Local
- Buy local: this can include farmers markets! Also you can invest in shares in CSA Alberta or YYC Growers and enjoy fresh produce all summer.
- You can also sign up for Spud and YUBA– Urban delivery services of local and organic produce
- Eat: be observant about where food is sourced. More energy and resources are used to produce grain fed stock, than grass fed stock. Ask questions about the use of pesticides and practices of the producers- you should be asking these for your own health benefit as well!
- Food scraps: start a compost or use a Recycling/Composting service like BluPlanet Recycling. If you are having a party, buy compostable plates, cups and cutlery from Tiffins ‘N Things online, or other party supply dealers. Get BluPlanet to install bins for the event- they will even pick up the bins afterwards!
Support Local Business + Long Lasting Good
- Check out REAP Calgary for local Calgary companies that care about the community and the environment, offering goods and services to Calgary in a sustainable and socially conscious way.
- Check out Who To Call before hiring home service pros to see who supports local and uses environmental practices in their business
- Join the “Slow Goods” movement: purchase long lasting everyday objects that will outlive you, instead of mass-produced ones that will break and need replacing within months. These reliable, well made objects are typically far more beautiful and interesting. Find items at Curate, Calgary Farmer’s Market and on line at The Old Faithful Shop.
This is a great source for general ideas on sustainable living: David Suzuki What You Can Do
Thanks to Deb Clark-Burgoyne of Just Gardens for sharing her ideas and insight on sustainable practices in our Calgary homes.