In Canada, we have become dependent on the burning of fossil fuels from the moment we wake up until we go to bed - and even while we sleep. But it is possible for us to live a more sustainable life that reduces our impact on climate change. There are many ways to do this. By making certain choices, we can make our lives simpler, more fulfilling, and more just for everyone around the world.
Create a sustainable home:
- Turn down the thermostat especially while you are out and at night. When you are home, wear a sweater. Heating makes up 60% of our energy use at home.
- Ensure that your home is well insulated.
- Turn off the lights when they are not needed, and choose LED lights, which use 90% less energy than incandescent bulbs.
- Wash your laundry in cold water.
- Each Canadian consumes, on average 335 litres of water per day, which is twice as much as the average European. Use less water during your shower and when brushing your teeth. Every time we flush the toilet, we consume 18 L of purified drinking water, which is no longer usable until we purify it again.
Getting around sustainably:
- Transportation is a major cause of greenhouse gases in Canada. Carpooling and public transportation drastically reduce CO2 emissions by spreading them out over many riders. One bus replaces 50 cars on the road.
- When possible, walk or ride your bike in order to avoid carbon emissions completely.
- If you drive, avoid idling your car, and keep your tires well inflated.
- Fly only when necessary.
- Eat local and/or organic. On average, the food we eat travels between 2,600 and 4,000 kms from farm to your table. One third of the trucks travelling on Canada’s roads are transporting food.
- Eat less meat and dairy. Beef production requires 28 times more land and 11 times more water than does pork or chicken, and creates five times more climate-warming emissions.
- Choose fair trade coffee, chocolate, bananas and sugar. According to the World Labour Organization, more than 246 million children are used as cheap labour, notably on cocoa plantations.
- Don’t waste food. Purchase in smaller quantities, and more frequently, if necessary. This will ensure not only less waste, but fresh food on your table!
Create less waste:
- Canadians produce more garbage per capita than any other nation, averaging 729 kg per person in 2010. Create less garbage by carrying reusable bags for shopping, your own reusable water bottle, and your own coffee cup. Bottled water takes 2,040 times more energy to produce than tap water.
- Reduce, reuse, repair, recycle.
- Share, borrow, and lend what you have, and buy less stuff.
- Compost your food and garden waste, which reduces methane gas, a greenhouse gas 20 times more powerful than CO2.
Change your community
- Invite your school or church to assess the ecological impact it is having and commit to making changes to operate more sustainably.
- Look into the Green Church initiative which aims to empower faith communities in adopting environmentally-friendly practices and rediscovering an eco-spirituality from the Christian tradition: http://egliseverte-greenchurch.ca/.
- Find a Green School certification program in your region which can guide you in making your school climate-friendly.
- Talk to your municipal leaders about how to create a climate of change in your community, by offering composting, supporting community gardens, improving public transit, or other initiatives.
- The Archdiocese of Ottawa has prepared a practical guide for parishes in response to Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment Laudato Si’.
- Reduce your parish’s carbon footprint, with the help of Greening Sacred Spaces (GSS), which assists faith communities with both the educational and spiritual dimensions of greening as well as the “how to” side of audits, retrofits and generally reducing a faith community’s footprint.