By: Aliocha Perriard-Abdoh
June 5 was World Environment Day and as this year’s host country, Canada got to choose the theme to help raise awareness of various environmental issues such as sustainable consumption, marine pollution, and global warming. This year’s theme, ‘Connecting People to Nature,’ explores our relationship with the environment and urges us to appreciate its beauty, its importance, and to take it upon ourselves to make a positive change in our daily routines to help protect the earth we all share. In honor of World Environment Day and World Oceans Day, I have assembled a list of minor things you can do to help take care of the earth so that we may all enjoy Earth’s beauty with the guilt-free happy feeling we get when we know we are always striving to be better inhabitants of Earth.
Pay attention to your usage of water:
It’s the little things that really do make a difference: think about how often you waste water during mundane, everyday chores and activities. Consider these options to make your daily water use a bit more environmentally conscious:
Turn off the tap when you can
When you brush your teeth, clean your hands, or most importantly, wash the dishes, consider turning the water off between actions that don’t require water. When you turn the water off when brushing your teeth or shaving, you could be saving 10 gallons of water per day, and approximately 2,880 gallons of water per year!
Get good at taking speedy showers
Showers that take up to five minutes in duration could save you 12.5 gallons. If you’re more of a bath person, that’s OK; you can still make an environmentally-conscious decision by not filling the tub past the midway level which saves 12 gallons per bath.
Buy a reusable water bottle
Invest in a quality water bottle that you’ll actually want to use. That way you won’t just forget it at home and buy yourself a plastic one at the convenience store. Seven litres of water are wasted to produce each one-litre plastic bottle.
Choose a different form of protein
I know this one may be a tough one to swallow for some of you who just love the taste of a juicy piece of meat . . . but by substituting one of your meals every week with a vegetarian option, you can save more than 3,000 gallons of water per week. Over the course of a year, that’s 171,704 gallons of water saved. Chew on that, SFU!
Fix your leaks
Lastly, I know we’re all busy, believe me, but if you have a leaky toilet, get that fixed ASAP. Mother Earth will thank you for it.
Ride the bus:
This one should be easy for all of us to do. Waiting for the bus can be a hassle and getting into a bus that feels like a can of sardines and smells like one, too, during the summer can be a little daunting and frustrating. But just cheer yourself up by thinking of how you are reducing your environmental footprint. If you are an avid driver to school or work, challenge yourself by leaving the car at home at least two days a week. You will be reducing greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 1,590 pounds a year.
Sort your waste:
We’ve all spent at least five minutes in front of an SFU colour-coded recycling bin, debating whether or not to toss our used Tims cups in the green bin or the yellow bin, before hastily tossing it into the grey bin and rushing off to class. The aim of these bins is to divert 70% of all waste into recycling. So, in case you still don’t know what goes where, here’s a refresher course on how to properly recycle your waste.
- Green — Food waste and compostables. Here’s the tricky thing for this one: paper products are also biodegradable, so if you have a paper product that has food on it or that held your beverage (like a non-waxy paper cup), you can toss that in the green bin.
- Yellow — Paper. To make that clear for you, that’s all clean paper. If it isn’t clean, toss it into the green bin.
- Blue — Recyclables such as plastic and glass.
- Grey — Landfill. Consider this the least-desirable option.
Macklemore even wrote a song (“Thrift Shop”) about this next tip for being more environmentally-friendly. Hit up some local thrift stores to score yourself some cheap and one-of-a-kind finds. By thrifting, you can buy yourself some pretty sweet jeans for around $6.99, which sure beats buying a brand new pair for $30. Sometimes you can even find items of clothing that still have the original tags on. The reason that people often donate their unused and gently-used items is because their sense of style changes over time.
So here’s a tip: unclutter your closet by freeing yourself of clothes you won’t wear anymore and whenever it’s time to revamp your closet, visit a thrift store. There are also various Facebook sale groups that run with the sole purpose of buying and selling used clothes. There is a Facebook page for almost every single subsection of the Greater Vancouver area, and most members will agree to meet at any skytrain station or mall in the area, so it really is quite convenient. Get on out there and buy (or sell) ethically-recycled clothing.
This one is similar to number four. It’s called DIY or life-hacking, and it basically involves the practice of getting good at life. It involves the second ‘R’ of the three ‘Rs’ (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle). If you stop and look at an item, you see that you could probably reuse it multiple times before recycling it. My all-time favourite is taking glass jars and repurposing them as lunch containers or soup jars. Nothing beats eating your soup out of an old glass peanut butter jar. The list of DIYs goes on and on, so get out there and have fun saving the environment!