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Sustainability

5 things to do this week to reduce your impact

Instead of posting everyday this week, and to open up some space for some other posts I’ve been thinking about, here are 5 things that I am going to do this week, or have already done, it is Monday after all, to be greener.

Meatless Monday (or whatever day)

I’ve had a lot of kids in programs I have taught ask about being vegetarian. There are a lot of factors that go into making a choice like this but it is extremely easy to make a few meatless meals a part of your repertoire. I am not vegetarian as a result of choice and health concerns but I love our veggie lasagna, tofu burritos, and quinoa salad. It is quite often cheaper to make meatless meals, has many health benefits, and is generally thought of as reducing environmental impacts. One thing to remember though is that if you are focusing on the environmental side of things you still need to make choices about where your food is coming from and how it is grown. There are some pretty nasty crops out there that can be just as important to avoid; or food items that come from way outside the local food boundary. For a ton of resources visit the Meatless Monday website.

Save a creepy crawly

Yesterday, as I was leaving a fairly large outdoor event, I spotted two earth worms on the sidewalk. I was surprised that they had not been stepped on already but given the mass exodus that was about to happen I decided to take a moment and move them over into a garden on the side. I’ve been known to do this on a fairly regular basis, including at one point, very carefully moving an injured mouse into the grass so that it did not meet it’s end under the tires of a bike. But as a recovering arachniphobe, who has also taught invertebrate zoology for a few years, I really try not to kill or contribute to the death of these creatures. Admittedly, the wasp that crawled up my pant leg as I was washing dishes and bit/stung me repeatedly did meet an untimely end. But here is my favourite bug catching tool, available from Lee Valley Tools. It keeps them at arms length so that, regardless of what they are, I can safely remove them from my house.

Donate things you don’t need

You can generally find someone to take almost anything that you are done with. Through different agencies and a number of online boards you can get rid of all the stuff you don’t need. But here is one you may not have thought of. Eye glasses. I recently had corrective surgery on my eyes, so what do I do with my old glasses. I found three pairs plus a pair of prescription sunglasses. And that is ignoring the two most recent pairs that I’m keeping due to a hopefully unfounded fear that the surgery will still fail and I’ll have to go back to wearing my very high prescription. So I looked it up on the good ol’ internet and found that many optometrists as well as other organizations like CNIB will happily accept old glasses which they can then donate to people who cannot afford to get them. With, as I said, a very high prescription, I could barely afford my glasses so turning them over to someone else is a great feeling.

Four pairs of glasses

Old pairs of glasses heading for donation

Get rid of waste properly

So this is things like chemicals and electronics. Make sure you know what your local municipality has in place for safe disposal. With a world leading waste program in Edmonton we are lucky to be able to take a lot of this to the Eco Stations which deal with everything properly. But what about medications. Between all the eye drops I had for my eye surgery and the fact that I have to purchase brand new epi-pens almost every year I have quite the collection of expired medications. There are mixed messages about what to do with medications. A few of them are okay to be flushed but if you send something that isn’t okay into the water system it can result in these chemicals pervading our water and causing a wide range of harm to both humans and the ecosystem. The best strategy, and the one I’m going with, is follow any instructions that were provided with the product regarding disposal and take everything else back to a pharmacy that has a take back program. They can then address safe disposal so that none of those chemicals end up where they shouldn’t be.

Green your pet

I tried to switch my cat onto what was supposedly a better for the environment, better for her, kitty litter. It failed and I’m back to using the clay based stuff. Why did it fail? My cat tried to eat the new litter. Didn’t matter what I did, I would see her with her nose and tongue buried in the litter. So until I come up with another solution she is back on the old stuff. But I did get her to stop requiring her electricity powered water fountain. She kept asking for water in the bathtub and I didn’t want to leave the tap running so I just moved a regular food dish into the bathtub. She doesn’t go to the fountain anymore so I have unplugged it, which will hopefully show up on my power bill, and she tends to meow a little less when she wants water at 4 in the morning.

Extra: Get Involved

This week is the lead up to the United Nations Climate Summit 2014. There are lots of opportunities to get involved or just listen to the conversation. @Upworthy hosted a twitter chat this morning and will be hosting another one on September 23. There is, what is shaping up to be a huge climate walk planned for New York City on September 21. September 16 is Ozone Day. Park(ing) Day is the third Friday in September. David Suzuki’s Blue Dot Tour begins in Canada on September 24.

I’m sure I could go on finding and listing different events and days. But the important thing is just to share, with someone about something you did.

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About Peyto

I am passionate about making science, sustainability, and sport accessible through engaging information and activities. Peyto is a reference to Bill Peyto who was an outfitter, trapper, and eventually a park warden in Banff National Park. Peyto Lake and Peyto Glacier are both named after him. He is also a distant relative of mine.

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