With Earth Day fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to take a look at the impact we’re having on the earth and our environment. Reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the environment might seem like overwhelming tasks to take on. However, even the smallest changes can have a huge impact when incorporated daily. When those changes are made as part of a larger, environmentally-conscious community, there is a ripple effect that can have a measurable impact on our environment.
Not sure where to begin? Well, here are five simple ways to go green, starting in your own garage.
Revisit Recycling Habits
Recycling glass, plastics, paper and other materials keeps tons of trash out of the landfill and diverts it to centers where it can be reused. The Blue Box recycling program in most communities makes recycling quick and convenient. Review the recycling guidelines for your community and recommit to recycling as much as you can. Keep the guidelines posted in an accessible area, near your recycling containers. This will make it easy for family members to consult the guidelines, whenever in doubt.
Purge and Re-purpose
Earth Day is the perfect time to reduce the items you currently own, repurpose whatever you can and recycle the rest. Attack the spaces where junk tends to accumulate: the garage, attic and basement. Eliminate items you no longer need. Re-purpose items, like an old dining room table, that might serve another purpose, like a craft space in the basement or garage. Sell or donate items that are in good shape, but you no longer need or want. Properly dispose on damaged, out-of-date or otherwise unusable items.
Park the Car and Use Pedal Power
Even in communities where everything is conveniently located, we often hop into the car whenever we need to zip to the convenience store. However, walkable communities were created to help reduce the carbon footprint of each resident and the overall community. Ride your bicycle or walk to neighborhood stores and restaurants, whenever possible. You’ll reduce your gasoline usage and improve the environment. The additional exercise will also help boost your health.
Increase the Fuel Efficiency of Your Vehicle
Keep your car in tiptop shape, and you’ll increase the efficiency with which it uses fossil fuels. Even something as seemingly inconsequential as properly inflating your tires can increase your mileage. Get regular tune ups and change the oil at the manufacturer-recommended intervals. If you change your own oil, be sure to use the type of oil recommended for your vehicle to get the best results.
Properly Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste
The garage often becomes a collection reservoir for a wide range of household hazardous waste, including automotive waste, pesticides, solvents, household cleaners and unwanted electronics. These items don’t belong in landfills. They should be disposed of properly.
For instance, used engine oil should never be poured oil down the drain or in your lawn. According to Environment Canada, if a single litre of oil leaches into our waterways, it can contaminate up to two million litres of water. Protect soil and waterways by properly disposing of engine oil drained from your vehicle, oil containers and used filters. Visit your city’s website to find out how to dispose of the household hazardous waste (HHW) lurking in your home and garage. (See Toronto’s HHW guide here.)
There are countless ways, big and small, to be more environmentally-conscious every single day. Check out some of our past recommendations for living greener on Earth Day and beyond. Visit EarthDay.ca to learn about local events and initiatives designed to help improve our environment.