We all care about our planet, and there are a variety of things we can do around the house to embrace a “greener” lifestyle. In honour of Earth Day, here are some simple but meaningful changes that will make a difference to our planet’s health.
Small efforts can add up in a big way. For example, imagine the positive impact if everyone in your neighbourhood reduced their household garbage output by just one bag every week. You can be part of the solution by taking these steps:
Fill your blue box and green bin. Recycling has come a long way since Edmonton began curbside service in 1988. Visit your city’s website (click here for Edmonton) to confirm the available services in your area. This might be the right time to re-commit to recycling and placing organic materials like food scraps and pet waste in a designated collection bin (sometimes called a “food scraps cart” or “green organics cart”).
Build it in. If your new home is still under construction, take the opportunity to invest in energy-efficient solutions that will be permanently installed from the start. Ask your builder about environmentally friendly upgrades that may be available.
Embrace green cleaning. Spring cleaning will be a breeze when you try these do-it-yourself green cleaning ideas. You’ll be keeping harsh chemicals out of your house and will be truly amazed by the effectiveness of natural ingredients like vinegar and baking soda.
Get to know the planet. For the next family movie night, press ‘play’ on an earth-friendly feature. Check your TV listings for shows about wildlife, the ocean, or space exploration. If you subscribe to a streaming service, search the catalog for a nature documentary series such as Planet Earth, Life, or Welcome to Earth. Viewers of all ages will be captivated by the eye-catching visuals and discover a new admiration for the wonders of our planet.
Reduce and rehome. To ease the burden on the landfill site, donate items you no longer use (such as toys, books, clothing and household items) to relatives, friends, charities, community centres, daycares or thrift stores. You can also hold a yard sale or upcycle old furniture to serve a new purpose.
Outside the House
When you’re out in the community, you can still do your part to appreciate and protect the planet. Hopefully, your positive example will inspire others to do the same. Here are a few eco-friendly suggestions:
Pick it up. This spring, join a community litter cleanup or conduct your own at a nearby park, baseball diamond, sports field, or schoolyard. Remember, safety comes first: wear gloves, work in teams and keep kids away from broken glass or other hazardous objects.
Embrace reusable bags. Many stores are now charging for plastic bags or eliminating them entirely. Reusable bags (and plastic tote bins) are a terrific solution – the trick is remembering to bring them with you. Stash a set in your vehicle or designate a specific storage spot (such as a hook in the closet or mudroom) so you can easily grab them on your way to the store.
Walk the walk. Where possible, reduce vehicle emissions by walking or cycling within your community. Qualico Communities purposely designs its community layouts with paved multi-use pathways that make it easy to walk to the park or to a neighbour’s house.
Beautify your backyard. Appreciating nature can begin right outside your window. Consider planting trees and shrubs in your yard (we have some tips to help you choose the right type). If you’re feeling inspired, plant a colourful flower bed or start a small vegetable garden. To attract feathered visitors, add a bird feeder and watch for new species.
Seek out natural spaces. Make your next family activity an outdoor one. Take an educational visit to the John Janzen Nature Centre or University of Alberta botanical gardens. Head out for a forest hike and encourage everyone to take nature photos with a camera or smartphone. For an added challenge, try geocaching, an outdoor treasure hunt using GPS technology.
Earth Day is happening this month, but we will all benefit from adopting environmentally friendly habits every day of the year. Once you start a green routine, you’ll be surprised how easy it is to maintain – and how good it feels to know that you’re helping the planet.