25 (easy) Ways to Save the Planet

Treehugger has a great post on 25 Ways to Save the Planet.

Now, I know many people like to stay away from environmental websites because some of them tend to be preachy, or they advocate expensive or very time-consuming projects. I recently stumbled across Treehugger, and it's a really great site. Each day, their writers post notes about interesting news, events and products related to the environment and 'green' living. It's kind of like Boing Boing, but for the environment. They also have a surprising amount of Canadian content, courtsey of Lloyd Alter, their Toronto correspondent.

Their post on 25 Ways to Save the Planet has some great, easy suggestions. You can read the whole list by clicking the link above, but here's a sampling of small changes that make a big difference:

  • Compost your garbage instead of throwing it all away; over 60% of solid household waste is fit for the compost pile, heap or bin (Check out Treehugger's picks for composters here).

  • A low-flow showerhead can save you gallons of water each time you use it. We've seen 'em as low as a half-gallon per minute, and for as little as $12 US.

  • Use eco-friendly household cleaners. It's never made any sense to us to use "dirty" chemicals and volatile organic compounds to try to get things cleaner around the house (Treehugger's website features many reviews of green cleaners).

  • Use recycled paper. There's no need to use virgin paper for things like computer printing, envelopes, paper towels, toilet paper or tissues; the best part is that it's all easy to find at office supply stores and grocery stores.

  • We can't emphasize this one enough: replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents. They're more energy efficient, last longer, and can even help clean the air in your home.

  • Use rechargable batteries instead of single-use batteries. It'll save you some bucks and the hassle of trying to recycle spent alkalines (for more info, check out Green Batteries).

  • When it comes to toilets, we've seen a lot of gadgets. They're all valuable in their own way, but rather than rushing out to buy one of them, there's an even easier way to save lots of water: make your own frugal flusher. Just place a brick or similarly voluminous object in the tank of your toilet; by displacing some of the water, there's less of it to flush each time, and less valuable wet stuff goes down the drain.

  • If given the choice, go for organic fruits, veggies, meat and dairy over conventional food. Organic food is becoming more widely available all the time in grocery stores across the world, and because it's all free of pesticides, herbicides and other chemical non-desireables, it's better for you and the planet.

I'll admit, I'm working on the list, but I'm not there yet. Now that we own a house, and we're planning a family, I've been thinking more and more about what kind of environment I hope to leave my kids, and what I want to teach them. So I'm trying to reform my own practices.

On the topic of what-kind-of-world-do-you-want-to-leave-your-kids-?, if you haven't watched the trailer for the movie 'An Inconvenient Truth', do it now.

Treehugger has also written lately on something called the 100 Mile Diet. Essentially, it's an experiment of a Vancouver couple that, for one year, is only buying food that is produced within 100 miles of their home. While that is understandably difficult to do in many areas, and it's unrealistic that we would all go to those lengths, it makes you think about purchasing locally. How often do you buy from farmer's markets, or look for local food in your grocery store? Apparently, for the average American meal, ingredients typically travel between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometres (I assume this is probably pretty accurate for Canada too). Isn't that crazy?!

The National Post recently wrote about Canadian chefs who took on the challenge of cooking a meal using a strict 100 mile limit (in April, no less!). They did it in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and St. John's, Newfoundland, and you can link to all of the articles here. I read the St. John's one, and it's an interesting read. On a side note, this quote made me chuckle:
"On the drive, we debated our menu. We'd been given lots of suggestions from family and friends, who found the concept of the 100-mile dinner intriguing. We considered scallops, mussels, shrimp or cod tongues sauteed in, um, something local as the first course. But in honour of Sir Paul McCartney, we concluded that seal flipper was a must to kick off the evening's festivities."

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  1. Great post!

    I do have to say that most of those environmental tips are pretty common sense these days though. However, I'm happy that there's a site out there giving the basics because in the grand scheme of things, we tend to forget the basics.


  2. There are a lot of good environmental sites out there but the extremists like the HSUS and Peta give all environmental causes a bad name and tend to turn people off from their causes. I know that after listening to the HSUS for the last couple months I feel like kicking the cat, buying a fur coat and calling Japan to see if anyone will deliver whale sushi.

  3. tony - lol!!

    stephen - I know I tend to forget the basics sometimes, but I'm trying to get better. :)

  4. actually, the biggest thing you can do to fight global warming isn't even on the list - go vegetarian. a recent UN report found that the livestock industry accounts for 18 percent of human-induced greenhouse gases (more than cars!), and a university of chicago study concluded that switching from a typical american diet to a vegetarian diet reduces your contribution to global warming more than if you switched from a regular car to a hybrid.