Earth Day Canada has grown from a small movement 25 years ago to an event six million Canadians participate in each year. Earth Day is celebrated annually on April 22nd by more than a billion people worldwide. However, the true power of Earth Day is its ability to prompt individual action and effect policy changes. With that in mind, let’s look at six eco-friendly ways to celebrate Earth Day this year.
Review Your Recycling Routine
Canadians generate 31 million tonnes of trash annually, recycling only about 30%. There are 10,000 landfills across Canada. Yet, many are nearing capacity. As the contents of landfills decay, landfill gases—like methane and carbon dioxide—are produced, polluting air and harming the environment.
Recycling is one of the simplest actions we can take to improve the environment. By complying with the convenient Blue Box recycling program available in most communities, we divert tons of glass, paper, plastics and electronics from being dumped in landfills.
Review your home and work recycling habits. Create a dedicated recycling zone in your garage, if you haven’t already. Community recycling guidelines change periodically. Re-familiarize yourself with the guidelines at least once each year to ensure you’re in compliance. Maximize your environmental impact by recycling as many items from the list as you can. For an even greater impact, reduce the waste your household generates. For instance, using a water filtration pitcher or a refillable water jug can significantly reduce the number of plastic bottles that end up in landfills each year.
Reduce and Repurpose
We all have a stash of items that have outstayed their welcome lurking in our closets, the basement or the garage. Combine your Earth Day celebration with your annual spring cleaning and purge items you no longer use. Recycle or discard broken or outdated items. Give new life to items that don’t work for you now, by repurposing them.
Organize the remaining items in your garage by installing a wall organization system. Maximize storage by making use of wasted vertical space. Enlist a garage renovation professional to safely install overhead storage racks.
Safely Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste
We often think of hazardous waste in commercial settings. However, the average home and garage are brimming with hazardous substances, like automotive fluids, solvents, pesticides and household cleaners.
Do your part to keep the environment clean. Check with community guidelines to learn how to safely dispose of household hazardous waste in your home and garage. Don’t toss household chemicals or old electronics into the trash or pour used automotive oil down the drain or into the ground. Automotive oil can contaminate the soil and up to two million litres of water. Visit your city’s website to find out how to properly dispose of household hazardous waste.
Make Your Home More Energy Efficient
You’ll reduce reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels, like natural gas, oil and coal by making your home more energy efficient. Start with small, inexpensive changes that quickly pay for themselves in energy savings.
Install energy efficient CFL or LED bulbs in your home and garage. LED lights are ideal for use in the garage. They are resistant to cold and you won’t have to wait for them to warm-up to reach full brightness.
Weatherize your home and garage. Temperatures are rising now, but it’s the perfect time to seal drafty spots in your home. Apply weather stripping around the garage door and to the entrance between the house and garage. Seal around electrical outlets on exterior walls to prevent heat loss during winter and cooling loss during summer months.
Reduce Carbon Emissions
Most households have multiple vehicles, increasing air pollution and the use of gasoline. If you live in a walkable community, bike to nearby destinations whenever possible. A brisk ride offers numerous health benefits, and you’ll have the added satisfaction of knowing you’ve reduced your carbon footprint. Keep your family’s bicycles neatly stored with a horizontal, vertical or overhead bicycle rack.
Keep tires properly inflated and perform vehicle maintenance, like oil changes and tune-ups, at regular intervals recommended by the manufacturer. When your vehicle is in top form it will run more efficiently, emit less pollution and use less gasoline. Store automotive accessories in a dedicated automotive zone in your garage. It will be easier to keep inventory of essential fluids and you’ll have everything at your fingertips when you need it.
Join Local Earth Day Initiatives
More than six million Canadians will participate in local Earth Day activities. Here are a few events happening in Ontario:
- Clean Your Commute – On Friday, April 22nd, look for ways to reduce the impact of your commute. Carpool, bike, take public transit or work from home.
- Earth Ball 2016 – Toast 25 years of Earth Day Canada at the Mill Street Brewery in the Distillery District. Celebrate Earth Day Canada’s impact on the environment through innovative campaigns and programming. Enjoy live entertainment and mouth-watering fare prepared by Chef Michael Stadtlander. Doors open at 7 PM on April 22nd.
- Toronto Botanical Garden – Looking for a low-key, family-friendly event? Bring the family to the Toronto Botanical Garden on Saturday, April 23rd from noon to 4 PM. Enjoy a stroll in the Edwards Gardens. Take a guided hike. Make a green smoothie with ingredients from the garden, blended with a blender bike. Visit the Teaching Garden and enjoy a scavenger hunt and woodland crafts. The event is free. No registration required.
In light of climate change and other environmental disasters, it’s more important than ever to adopt an eco-friendlier lifestyle. What we do individually may seem insignificant. However, when considered collectively, even small changes to our daily routines make a difference.
Review our past articles on green initiatives for your home and garage. Then visit EarthDay.ca to learn how you can join efforts with fellow community members to increase your positive impact on the environment.