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Sustainable wellbeing and green living

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Cleaning your home shouldn't dirty our waterways

Do you care about protecting and preserving your lakes? If so, this blog post is for you! Did you know that there are many different products that can negatively impact the health of lakes near you? Actually, it's not only the products themselves that can be an issue, but also their packaging as well.

While it’s true that lakes can sometimes be out of sight, out of mind. When you’re not visiting your cabin, camping, ice fishing, or partaking in any other fun lakeside activities, the health of your favourite lake might not be on your mind. But that doesn’t mean that your actions don’t have negative consequences.

The products we use, especially cleaning products such as soaps, detergents, and shampoos, have the ability to enter our sewage systems when they are rinsed down the drain and become wastewater. Now, sewage plants are supposed to treat wastewater and make it safe for reuse when possible. However, it is sometimes possible that wastewater can flow...

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Using nature to manage human wastes

So what exactly happens to the human waste that is flushed down our toilets every day? Well, for most of us, it goes to a wastewater treatment plant (unless you live in a city that still dumps human waste directly into the ocean - let’s hope not!)

These Wastewater treatment plants tend to be very large, very smelly buildings (yes, I have toured them with my students). Where garbage is removed, solids are settled out and oil is skimmed off and microbes get to work at breaking down the organics and nutrients until the liquid is clean enough to be sent back into a nearby river or lake or the ocean.

However, there are viable alternatives that actually mimic nature and do the same job - while also creating other benefits.

Water of Life

Water is one of our most valuable natural resources. In fact, a person can live for up to one month without food but only about one week without water. However, freshwater is not always easily accessible. While nearly 70 percent of the world is...

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How the economy can solve climate change

Is it possible that cold hard cash could be the solution to our environmental problems? More specifically, could it help speed the transition to greener and cleaner energy solutions? While many environmental solutions come about through community involvement, technology, Indigenous knowledge, and above all, teamwork, certain environmental problems just might need a different approach.

The benefits of carbon pricing

So, how can money discourage the use of carbon dioxide-emitting fossil fuels? By simply putting a price on carbon emissions! Carbon pricing is a promising approach to reducing carbon emissions that contribute to climate change and environmental destruction. Put simply, this approach passes the cost of emitting on to emitters.

Instead of paying only for the resource and the cost of extraction, which is heavily subsidized, carbon pricing ensures that consumers are paying for the external costs of carbon emissions as well. These external costs include both the direct and...

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What are Riparian Zones and why are they so vital?

Spending time outdoors is great for our mental and physical wellbeing. Whether you are going for a stroll by the river or having a picnic in the park, there’s nothing quite like getting some fresh air and being able to appreciate the beauty of the outdoors!

Of course, it is also very beneficial to be able to understand how our favourite natural environments function ecologically. Being able to understand the role and importance of these ecosystems not only heightens our appreciation, but incentivises us to protect them as well.

There is one type of ecosystem in particular that is worth familiarizing yourself with: riparian zones. These areas are the green ribbons of trees, shrubs, and grasses that grow alongside riverbeds, streams, and wetlands.

It is likely that you have spent time in a riparian zone. Perhaps you’ve walked along a riverside walking trail or simply admired their beauty from afar. But do you know about the many ways in which they positively impact the...

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Remember the ozone hole?

It is no secret that on a global scale, the world is suffering from issues such as climate change and its related processes, poverty, pollution, malnourishment and hunger, and lack of security and wellbeing. While it can be depressing to think about all these current global problems, I think it is really important to remember that we have actually succeeded on a number of similarly pressing issues.

Do you remember hearing about the “hole in the ozone”? Well, it is actually something that gives me a lot of hope! That’s because it was a global problem of pollution that crossed borders and affected human health, agriculture and ecosystems. Yes, sounds familiar right? But guess what we got together and are on track to have that problem solved in the next 30 years! Yes, I said SOLVED!

Doing it together makes it work

With these global, large-scale problems, we need countries around the world to work together on the same goals and targets in concert on these issues. While...

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#EarthOptimism

If you’ve noticed that mainstream environmental news tends to be increasingly negative and concerning, you’re not alone. And to be fair, there are lots of environmental issues to be concerned about – so it’s natural that these issues, such as forest fires, floods, and increasing carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, are being reported on.

It is true that this type of environmental reporting can be effective. Especially for those who may be unaware of how serious the issue of climate change is. But for the rest of us who are aware of these issues and are taking steps to live more sustainably, being constantly bombarded with negative news can be exhausting, and even depressing.

In fact, it might even be increasing your eco-anxiety. Eco-anxiety is often defined as a chronic fear of environmental doom which stems out of a place of deep caring for the planet and its inhabitants. To learn more about eco-anxiety, check out episode 5 from my Live.Well.Green...

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What does climate resilient housing look like?

Housing is a great place to start when discussing and remediating our environmental impacts, as residential buildings, in combination with commercial buildings, are responsible for 36% of global energy use and 39% of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions annually.

The good news is that thanks to the green building movement, people are becoming more and more aware of the different ways in which we can minimize our environmental impact through design. For example, we can employ green building techniques such as rammed earth construction, passive housing, and passive solar.

However, designing for reduced environmental impact isn’t the only thing we should be considering when it comes to housing. On a global scale, humanity is experiencing the consequences of our environmental actions – climate change. We are seeing unusual and unpredictable temperatures, changing weather patterns, and more severe storms and natural disasters, as there is more energy in the atmosphere...

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Another tool to reduce Climate Change: Afforestation

When discussing the various ways in which we can mitigate climate change and help heal the planet, reforestation is a popular suggestion.

Reforestation is the natural regrowth or intentional planting of trees in existing forests and woodlands which have been depleted. Reforestation is often used as a way to remediate the negative effects of deforestation or clear-cut logging.

For example, tropical forests in Latin America face extreme deforestation due to logging, agriculture, and livestock grazing. Replanting native tree species within these areas helps to conserve habitat for wildlife species and also helps stabilize the climate by increasing the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere by trees.

Trees have the potential to significantly impact the health of our planet (read all about why we need to celebrate trees here), so we shouldn’t shy away from climate solutions which utilize these magnificent plants! Yes – reforestation is one answer, but did you know that there are...

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Don’t wait, begin your Race to Zero

Now, more than ever, we must make a worldwide effort to reduce and even eliminate our use of carbon. Climate change is no longer a problem of the future…it’s happening now, and it has devastating impacts that are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

Look at Canada, for example. Canada experienced record-breaking heat levels in the summer of 2021. Within two days, the Canadian temperature record increased from 45°C (113°F) (recorded in 1937) to 47.9 °C (118°F). Not only was this the hottest temperature that Canada had experienced, but it was also the highest temperature ever recorded on the planet north of 50N latitude. Crazy right?

Rising temperatures have serious human health and environmental consequences. Just last year, air temperatures reached 38°C (100°F) in Siberia, causing the acceleration of permafrost thawing in the region. Permafrost contains a large amount of greenhouse gases which are released into the atmosphere as it thaws.

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Can road design reduce carbon emissions?

Reducing the prevalence of cars in cities is an important part of creating more sustainable cities. We know that automobiles emit harmful pollutants such as carbon dioxide and reduce walkability, so we need to ask ourselves, “what can we do to minimize their usage?”

While there are many methods of reducing automobile usage, such as the promotion of active transportation through the creation of urban walking trails, bike lanes, and the utilization of Transit Oriented Design, the reality is that vehicles will continue to be used for quite some time.

For one, they are practical when travelling long distances and can accommodate large groups of people (ie. busses). In addition, electric vehicles are gaining popularity which means that the overall environmental impact of automobiles will be reduced!

Prioritizing road safety

Photo sourced from: Streets for the People

This is why it is necessary to make our roadways as safe as possible. As long as vehicles are around, they...

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