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Cities can be great places to live, especially if you are looking to reduce your environmental impact, as higher-density cities use less land per person, encourage methods of active transportation such as walking or biking, and offer pro-environmental businesses and services like carshare and cupshare.
Despite these benefits, cities are often missing a crucial element: nature! One of the biggest differences between rural life and city living is that nature is less accessible and less visible in urban areas. However, this doesn’t have to be the case!
As we have become more aware about the important role that nature plays in the human experience, it has become more common to include green infrastructure in our cities!
Green infrastructure can be defined as the natural vegetative systems such as green spaces and trees in towns and cities that provide us with environmental, societal, and economic benefits.
Different types of green infrastructure and their benefits
Green spaces in...
While you are likely quite familiar with the phrase “reduce, reuse recycle,” have you ever heard of the term “precycling”? If not, precycling is the practice of reducing the amount of waste you produce by avoiding certain items, actions, and activities that result in the creation of waste in the first place. Brilliant right?
Precycling is essentially the step you take before resorting to recycling, reusing, or landfilling an item, as it occurs at the point of purchase. By avoiding purchasing single use or disposable items, you don’t have to worry about finding the most environmentally friendly way to deal with your waste! Additionally, precycling is a great way to get into the habit of buying earth-conscious items!
In order to apply the concept of precycling to your life, it is helpful to first assess the areas in your life where you tend to produce the most waste. Then, you will be able to brainstorm different ways to precycle, therefore reducing your...
These days, it might feel like your entire world is online. When you’re not using your laptop or phone for work, you may often find yourself browsing the internet or scrolling through your social media news feeds. Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, dating apps, your favourite news website, or all of the above, there is a good chance you spend a decent-sized chunk of your day online.
Not only can this end up being a major waste of time, but you are actually consuming and internalizing this content whether you realize it or not! Have you ever noticed that you experience an influx of negative emotions after consuming certain types of online content? Perhaps you feel like your life isn’t as exciting as your favourite social media influencers’, your extracurricular activities aren’t interesting or “on trend,” or your achievements aren’t actually that impressive. Unfortunately, the list can go on and on.
When you hear the word “library” what do you think of? A building or room full of books, films, and magazines that you can rent or borrow? You’re not wrong…but that isn’t the only kind of library out there! Home and garden tool lending libraries are another increasingly common type of lending library. While formal tool lending libraries have been around since the 1970s, informal ones have been around for much longer. If you’ve ever borrowed a tool from a neighbour or lent one of yours out to a family member or friend, you’re already quite familiar with the concept of a tool lending library!
The only difference is that formal tool lending libraries are on a larger scale, likely contain a wider variety of tools, and are often run by a local government agency or non-profit organization.
How do tool lending libraries work?
Tool lending libraries generally offer annual memberships that may cost anywhere from 25 to 100 dollars, depending on the...
Buildings are an important piece of the sustainability puzzle, as residential and commercial buildings have significant environmental impact. For example, the United Nations Environment Program states that commercial and residential buildings are responsible for 36% of global energy use and 39% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions annually. This means that we need to change not only the way we are currently living, but the structures in which we are living, working, and visiting as well.
While there are ways to make previously built buildings more sustainable through retrofits and energy efficient upgrades, it is also important to consider alternative ways of building in the first place, as new design techniques set precedents for a more sustainable future.
Passive House (also called Passivhaus in German) is a high-performance building standard that puts an emphasis on energy performance. Passive Houses consume up to 90% less heating and cooling energy than conventional...
What is the Precautionary Principle?
Life can be unpredictable and sometimes the decisions we make end up causing unintended consequences. This is especially the case when it comes to the natural environment and the implementation of new science, technologies, and activities. The unintended consequences of these activities can result in severe environmental harm.
That’s why it is important to take an anticipatory approach in order to mitigate and avoid environmental harm. With the multitude of environmental issues such as climate change, plastic pollution, and biodiversity loss that we are currently facing, it is in our best interest to start taking this approach!
The Precautionary Principle is based on the idea that it is “better to be safe than sorry.” Opposed to a reactive approach which is concerned with resolving negative effects after they have already occurred; (think plastics polluting the ocean) the Precautionary Principle is preventative.
The Climate Illustrated project grabbed my attention on Instagram because they are doing something different than the other activists out there. First of all, they are using the platform to share stories. Stories from real people allowing us to glimpse into the richness and diversity of the human experience, and how that experience is being threatened by climate change.
The stories that they share are of real people and their concerns over environmental issues - how they overlap with climate justice, daily survival, and their deep connection to the natural world. It is an amazing way to glimpse snapshots of life around the world.
But more than that, the images that they are using to tell these stories are stunning and powerful at the same time. It goes far beyond the usual depiction of climate change issues with melting glaciers and threatened polar bears. Through illustrations, they depict scenes that could be snapshots of a life or a portrait of resistance.
Traditionally, businesses have determined their success by measuring their bottom line, otherwise known as, “show me the money”! Sure, I get it, profits are easily measured, but we know that there is a lot more to a business than just the financials. What about the people, community, the environment and the company’s impact in all of these areas?
Why do we need more than one bottom line?
In the past decade we have started to see sustainability mentioned as a goal or purpose of many businesses, non-profits, and governments. As more and more people become aware of the environmental and social issues we are currently facing, demand for sustainable businesses is increasing. Conscious consumers want to give their business to companies that are mitigating their harmful effects and making positive contributions. And, it turns out that more and more people want to work for those types of companies too!
However, claiming to be sustainable means nothing if there is no way to...
When it comes time to get a new mattress you are faced with not only the dilemma of choosing your new mattress, but also the question of how to dispose of your current one. In Canada, approximately 6 million mattresses are landfilled each year, and that is a LOT of waste!
The issue with landfilling mattresses
Mattresses are large items that take up a lot of space in landfills. While other garbage is compacted, the way mattresses are formed makes them extremely difficult to compress and may even damage the equipment.
They also take decades to decompose within a landfill. And to make things worse, when mattresses finally do begin to decompose, they release toxic chemicals into the environment, effectively causing land and water pollution. With the number of mattresses being replaced throughout one’s lifetime, we are able to see how the accumulation of mattresses in landfills is a serious issue that needs to be addressed.
What to do instead?
Well, reuse of a serviceable and...
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