November 27, 2012
Tips for a low-stress, greener Christmas
Christmas may be a boom for the economy, but it’s a bust for the planet – from shopping road trips to disposable everything to low quality stuff shipped in from afar.
Here are a few ideas to help you go ‘stuff-less’ this year:
- For the foodie, a share in a local community supported agriculture operation that will provide a weekly box of fresh, local food
- Coupons for hair care, gym membership, home cleaning, snow removal, massages or dinner at a local restaurant
- For the driver, a printout of “10 Eco-Driving Tips For Everyone” (www.tinyurl.com/howtoimprovemileage2) that can help the average driver save at least 10% on their fuel bill every day
- Homemade items like knitted goods, baking, preserves and crafts
- Shop secondhand shops for nearly-new clothing, books, music, electronics, furniture and more at a fraction of their original prices
- Make commemorative donations to organizations that share your values: a homeless shelter, food bank, nature trust, animal shelter
- Purchase carbon offsets for your friends. Learn more at www.tinyurl.com/COffsetInfo.
Thanks to Alicen Thorne for this Green Idea!
October 2, 2012
One of the highlights of my year has been meeting Jim Merkel and reading his book, “Radical Simplicity: Small footprints on a finite Earth”. It’s a gentle, thought-provoking guide for living lightly on our fragile, limited planet.
Jim’s take on Radical Simplicity goes far beyond just living with less stuff. It’s also about learning to clear our over-stimulated minds of much of the clutter and anxiety of today’s frantic lifestyles, and instead focussing our mental energy on our core values. It’s about reconnecting with what truly sustains us: this planet and its beautiful, complex web of life. Jim describes once being on a team retreat where everyone, regardless of their personal spirituality, paused for a moment of gratitude, silent or otherwise, before each meal.
On this Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, perhaps that’s one of the best things we can do: pause before we eat for just a moment to ponder the people, plants, animals and planet that make our existence and nourishment possible. We live in a privileged part of the world, and it’s good to be conscious of that. Happy Thanksgiving Day!
December 27, 2011
A couple of years ago, I completed an on-line quiz about my footprint on the planet. It asked questions about how I live – house, vehicle, driving, food, waste and more – and then calculated how much land it takes to sustain my lifestyle. I was shocked when it told me that if everyone on the planet lived like me, we’d need four planets. I’ve worked really hard since then to reduce my footprint – but more recently I discovered that that ratio applies to all Canadians: if everyone on the planet lived like us, we’d need four planets.
Of course, there is only one: this fragile, beautiful, precious and irreplaceable planet.
So perhaps the best New Years resolution any of us can make is this: to strive to use less of everything, in whatever way we can.
December 11, 2011
A trash-free holiday
For most of us, Christmas is a wonderful time for family, friends and gifting. But unfortunately, there’s also a downside to Christmas: junk that’s often in the landfill by Easter, and the biggest pickup day of the year for the trash man. So this year, why not give the trash man – and your planet – a break?
The Clean Bin Project is a wonderful initiative by three young Canadians to try to produce zero trash for a year. Their website has many litterless gift ideas for the holidays, such as:
- Tickets to a theatre, music performance or movie
- Passes to a gym or museum
- Outdoor experiences such as snowshoeing or horseback riding
- Massages or other health and wellness experiences
- House cleaning services
- Homemade consumables
- Secondhand items
Read more great ideas here, to help you create more memories and less garbage this Christmas.
December 28, 2010
At New Year’s, three straightforward resolutions for a better planet
At this time of new beginnings, here’s a challenge: three resolutions to make your 2011 the greenest, most sustainable ever!
1. Reduce: there are more of us than ever, consuming evermore, on a planet that’s not getting bigger. The single best thing we can do is pause before we drive, buy or consume, and ask ourselves two simple questions. Is this really necessary? Is there a better way?
2. Collaborate: mutual aid and sharing of resources are just two of the many good reasons to know your neighbours. But collaboration within our larger communities, real or on-line, can be a great way to address larger issues too. Consider that Wikipedia, one of the world’s most popular websites, is a collaboration of volunteers lending their individual expertise to a collective good. Now imagine the possibilities if that sort of approach were used to tackle our planet’s biggest challenges.
3. Get involved: pledge to make your views known to political leaders at all levels. They can do more with the stroke of a pen than most of us can hope to do in a lifetime.
For more on these three resolutions – and some further imaginings of a better world – please check out my New Year’s column in the New Brunswick Telegraph Journal.
December 12, 2010
Just how much can those LED holiday lights save?
Most people know that LED holiday lights are more efficient – but just how much more efficient? Consider this:
- an old-style incandescent outdoor light bulb uses about 7.5 watts
- a minilight bulb uses about .5 watts
- an LED bulb uses about .03 watts
Put differently, one kilowatt-hour of power would light:
- an old-style incandescent outdoor light bulb for 133 hours or 5.5 days
- a minilight bulb for 2000 hours or 83 days
- an LED bulb for 33,333 hours or nearly four years
LEDs can save you 95%+ on your holiday lighting costs.
So what to do?
- invest in LED holiday lights; they’ll pay you back quickly
- discard your old non-LED light sets; or use them indoors (safely away from anything flammable) so all that waste heat they produce can at least help heat your home; or replace the bulbs with LED bulbs, available at hardware stores
December 26, 2008
Bah humbug – these days, it seems even Christmas lights can’t escape scrutiny. How green are your outdoor lights?
If they’re the old-style lights with the big 7 cm long bulbs, yikes: a string of 25 takes 175 watts of power – equal to 13 compact fluorescent light bulbs.
But if they are the new outdoor LED lights, phew: a string of 75 lights uses 3 watts or less. That’s right – three times as many bulbs, a fraction of the power.
In dollars, that means using 75 LED lights 5 hours a night for 30 nights costs just 4.5 cents, compared to $7.95 for 75 old-style big bulbs. And many of us put up a lot more than 75 lights.
Make LEDs a part of your green Christmas. They use 99% less energy than old-style outdoor lights, so you can light up the neighborhood guilt-free for pennies!