The Vancouver City Council and Parks Board works hard to through on programs to support the Greenest City 2020 initiative by attracting green building projects, increasing staff commuting options, sourcing local food for city cafeterias, and planning community based events. While individual residents may not wield the same power and influence as the city government, individual lifestyle changes add up to improvements that will help the city reach its 2020 goal.
Small adjustments to bad habits yield big dividends. Make goals to switch over all lighting to the luminous efficiency of LEDs or compact florescent lightbulbs. LEDs and CFLs use a fraction of the wattage of traditional incandescents and also last much longer than their counterparts therefore creating less waste. Switch over to cold water washing to greatly reduce the amount of energy utilized to wash clothing. Winterize your home by replacing your weather stripping, sealing any gaps, and using storm windows or window insulation sheeting to keep warm air locked in and cold air out.
Consult your electric provider for further tips. In Alberta, we have a great website that breaks down our options when it comes to electric and power providers and allows us to compare rates. See if you have something similar in your area.
Consider alternative commute options like bicycling, SkyTrain, or even walking. If you must rely on a vehicle, consider building a carpool to reduce the amount of cars on the road. Saving greenhouse gases isn’t limited to your daily commute, keep your shopping and entertainment local as well. Spend money locally to reduce the impact of extended driving. Spending money locally also lessens the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by delivery trucks, encourage your local shopkeeps to source their goods locally as well.
With our natural rainy climate, taking measures to save water drops from daily practice quickly. However, water conservation is a big step in keeping Vancouver green. Limit your consumption by reducing time watering the lawn, reducing shower time, hand washing clothing and dishes, and fixing leaky faucets.
Take a conscientious approach to shopping. Bring your own sack to carry purchases and only buy items with minimal to no packaging. Be mindful at home to make good choices like reusable kitchenware and cloth towels and diapers. Consider buying items like furniture secondhand. Instead of throwing away organic waste, choose to compost or participate in the Green Bin program to dispose of food scraps. Be mindful of what can be reused–used coffee grounds make great fertilizer for instance. Opt in to electronic billing to cut down paper waste, donate unwanted furniture and clothing versus scrapping it, and take advantage of citywide recycling programs.
Beyond making personal adjustments to your lifestyle, consider volunteering for citywide initiative to green Vancouver. Opportunities exist for every skillset. Volunteer in community gardens, at farmer’s markets, to educate the community about green practice, or monitor recycling bins. The city thrives on the efforts and enthusiasm of its citizens. Reaching the goal of making Vancouver the Greenest City in 2020 requires the efforts and support of the whole city, so roll up your sleeves and dig in!