How will your New Year’s Resolutions be good for the planet and your wallet?
As the head of Friends of the Earth in Canada, Bea Olivastri, is often asked around this time of year about the most important things someone can do to help protect people and the planet.
Bee health is the issue closest to my heart. We know that Canadians are very concerned about the welfare of bees and this was confirmed early in the year when we conducted our national poll. What surprised me was how little Canadians knew about wild, native bees despite their role as the most important pollinators we have. To help save the bees, I hope more Canadians will join us in our Bee Cause campaign for a ban on bee-killing pesticides – it will take our combined voices to overcome the influence of pesticide manufacturers and save the bees.
And if, like me, you’ve already received your first 2018 seed catalogue in the mail and intend to pore over it during the holidays, I hope you’ll be considering native plants and how to develop your own “Bee and Bee” (Bed and Breakfast) for wild, native bees around your garden.
After the cleaning flurry to get ready for the holidays, your supplies may be low so it’s a good time to consider detoxing your kitchen and laundry room. Think about alternatives when you need new supplies. When you’ve used up a product, instead of repurchasing, try out a DIY version. Baking soda and white vinegar are great multi-purpose ingredients.
The food waste issue in Canada is heart breaking. At a time when demand on food banks is growing, we see food going to disposal in the order of $31 billion. All along the food chain from growers to processors to retailer and you and me, in our kitchens, there are step to take to reduce food waste. At a personal level, I will try harder to plan meals before going to the store. My mother instilled her list-making habit in me so I keep a running list in the kitchen for my next food purchases. We can use less meat and consider better ways to store food so it lasts longer. Why not take a few minutes to review the way your fridge works so that you store the food in the places designed to preserve it best.
While we’re thinking about kitchens, this is the time to move away from plastic containers. Life Without Plastic, a new book, provides just such a practical step by step approach to reduce waste and plastic consumption. You can learn about better ways to store your food and go plastic free! The authors, Jay Sinha and Chantal Plamondon, are the founders of Life Without Plastic. They live in Wakefield, Quebec, Canada.
The laundry room is a good place to make changes too – if you’re still hooked on a dryer why not unplug and start air drying your clothes. While clothes washers have seen a 70 percent drop in energy use since 1990, until now, dryers have largely remained inefficient. You finally can purchase an ENERGY STAR rated dryer. Still, Toronto Hydro estimates clothes dryers and ovens as the highest wattage household appliances – both at approximately 5000. So why not invest in a couple of collapsing clothes racks for drying your clothes – savings for the planet and your wallet.
Don’t forget air drying your clothes will make them last longer and stay in better shape as well. High heat can fade and shrink material and hasten the break down of elastic fibres. Washing with cold water and using less detergent will also help prevent fading and wear while being kind to your wallet and the planet.
Remember: you don’t have to do everything at once!
Why not make it a 2018 resolution to sign up for Friends of the Earth Canada’s e-mail newsletter?
And don’t forget: there’s still time to make a donation and receive your 2017 tax receipt. Thank you for all you do for the planet.