Christ Church 2020 Carbon Reduction Challenge
Our 2020 Carbon Reduction goal is to reduce, as much as possible, the amount of carbon that we release into the atmosphere either directly or indirectly through our daily choices. Collectively we would like to keep track of that amount.
Our Challenge will be broken down into themes. The World Health Organization states that globally, on average, people need to limit their yearly CO2 emissions to 1.8 metric tonnes per year. The global average is currently 4.4 metric tonnes per year and the Canadian average is currently 15.7 metric tonnes per year.
December 2020 Carbon Reduction Strategies
Focus on the Meaning of Christmas, not the commercialism
- Create new traditions that stress less gifting and more being together doing activities (ex. Board games, outdoor activities, etc.). My daughter’s family and her husband’s brothers’ families have decided not to purchase gifts for each others’ families at Christmas and instead plan a mini-trip or activity in which they all go, and their children spend an extended time with their cousins and create great memories!
- When possible, try and support local businesses with the gifts you do decide to purchase.
- Wrap your gifts in an environmentally friendly way (with wrapping paper, ribbons, and bows that are at least recyclable). Some people wrap gifts up in a new tea towel, craft paper, or old comics. Here is a blog that provides 10 creative wrapping options: Top 10 Eco-Friendly gift Wrap Ideas – https://ecobnb.com/blog/2015/11/eco-friendly-gift-wrap-ideas/
- Have Christmas conversations with the relatives and friends you want to reach out to instead of sending Christmas cards (or as many).
- Choose to purchase less food over the holidays to prevent food waste.
This article provides many solutions on how to reduce your food wastage during the Christmas season: Why Food Waste Should be Avoided this Christmas Holiday and Always – https://climatereality.co.za/why-food-waste-should-be-avoided-this-christmas-holiday-and-always/
November 2020 Carbon Reduction Strategies
Refuse the Status Quo – become politically active
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead, Anthropologist
Reading that quote makes one think that a small group of people need to do most of the work to see any progress on an issue. That doesn’t appear to be the case. Have you heard about the bystander effect research? The results of their research indicated that when there are more people available to act in a crisis situation fewer people step up to become involved (someone else can do it / it dissipates the responsibility). What actually can happen is that if you can commit one person to start acting in a crisis situation, others will join in the effort.
The bystander effect is complicated — here’s why | Ken Brown | TEDxUIowa
- Refuse to accept what is unacceptable – change seems rarely to happen unless politicians believe they may lose votes with inaction on an issue that really concerns the voting population – choose a specific environmental issue that you feel strongly about improving and figure out who (ex. a company, level of government) can solve the issue and focus your efforts, and those of your interested family and friends, to enact change. Face-to-face meetings, personal letters and phone calls I believe are the most effective. Expect to be responded to. Publicity can help to enact change – perhaps starting with your social media platform if you feel comfortable doing that.
October 2020 Carbon Reduction Strategies
Reduce Your Energy Consumption in the House
Although these are American statistics, I think they are likely reflective of Canadian consumption (https://www.visualcapitalist.com/what-uses-the-most-energy-home/). What I find disconcerting is the claim that 35% of the electricity we pay for is wasted energy – wow! How do we stop doing that?
- If not in a room, make the habit of turning the lights off.
- Turn your water heater down to 120˚F (49 ˚C) if it is currently set higher. (https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/water-temperature-burns-scalds.html).
- Heating and cooling our homes are most homeowners largest expense. Program your furnace to turn the temperature down at night and when you will be away. The Article: “Common Heating Myths that can Raise Energy Bills” states that “you save up to 1 percent per year on your heating bill for each degree you set back the thermostat for eight hours, such as when you’re sleeping or at work” – heat pumps may be the exception.
- Yes, it is convenient to dry our clothes in a dryer, however they use quite a bit of energy and the mechanical action is hard on fibers. If possible, install a clothes line or use a clothes rack to dry your clothing. In the winter it will add moisture to your air and in the summer if you cannot do it outside, perhaps use a small fan to help speed up the process inside. I would add to the article: 8 reasons Why You Should Air-dry Your Clothes (https://www.cleancult.com/blog/8-reasons-why-you-should-air-dry-your-clothes) that it helps to shake the clothes out prior to placing on the line and that a day with at least a gentle breeze helps remove wrinkles. My mother places her clothes in the dryer on “air” for 10 minutes prior to hanging outside when the breeze is quite light.
September 2020 Carbon Reduction Strategies
This month we have a Wardrobe theme
- Assess how many clothes you really need (reduce ‘shop therapy’). I believe most people have favourite clothes that they wear again and again. Here is an article which includes deciding on how often you want to wear an article of clothing in a year (season?) and strategies for paring down your wardrobe:
- How Many Clothes Do I Need? A Practical Guide to Owning Fewer Clothes https://www.becomingminimalist.com/a-practical-guide-to-owning-fewer-clothes/
- Buy fewer clothes of higher quality that will last longer. “How to Buy Clothes that were Meant to Last” is a good article on what to look for when purchasing clothes to extend their life. I was once complimented on a black turtleneck sweater that has miraculously has never pilled and I was asked where I purchased it. At that point I had been wearing it for over ten years and couldn’t remember where I had bought it!
- Choose to purchase additions to your wardrobe through “New-to-You” options. When my mother-in-law passed away, we donated her wardrobe to various local charities such as the Markdale Hospital’s Auxiliary Penny Wise. She had excellent quality clothes, many that were infrequently worn and some of the shoes were still in the box with the tags still on. I personally have been complimented on clothing items that I have purchased “New to You” stores. It is a win-win as the cost is a lot less, and it extends the life of the garment which delays its entry into our landfills.
- Many of your laundry loads can be cleaned effectively when using cold water with cold water detergent which reduces your hot water energy consumption.
Article: 6 Reasons to Wash in Cold Water and 3 Reasons Not To
August 2020 Carbon Reduction Strategies
COVID-19 has certainly reduced our summer travel plans leading many of us to consider ‘staycations’ – local day trips or camping within Ontario. Many small businesses are struggling financially due to many COVID-19 health restrictions, so staying close to home and trying to support our local economy instead of travelling great distances which typically uses fossil fuels is a win-win for the environment and for our local economy and community members who earn a living for their families by being employed by our local small businesses.
Here are some suggestions:
- Support restaurants that use real cutlery, and china plates, & mugs for sit down meals and for take-out support those who use biodegradable cutlery, plates, and cups. If your favourite take-out restaurant doesn’t yet use biodegradable material for take-out, perhaps gently suggest it to the owner. I believe we need to transition to a more biodegradable way of consumerism versus recycling which takes a lot of energy to make to product in the first place – often with fossil fuels as the main component — and then the energy required to repurpose it.
The article: Compostable packaging laid bare: Is it really the industry’s future? https://www.nspackaging.com/analysis/compostable-packaging-benefits/ This is an article that is discussing Britain’s current use of both types of food packaging.
- Choose restaurants that support local farmers’ produce. Perhaps you have never asked where the food on your restaurant plate originated from, but it is a conversation I believe we need to start having. If owners know patrons want to support local food producers they may start sourcing more and more from the local community. There is one restaurant near my son’s place in Hamilton that has a chalk board which states where the food of the day originated from – mostly local!
- If you are not comfortable eating out, you can still support our local food producers through http://eatlocalgreybruce.ca/. Local produce and produced food can be delivered to your door on a weekly basis.
- When visiting local sites within Bruce and Grey Counties or when going camping, perhaps try and travel together with members of your ‘bubble’ to reduce fossil fuel consumption.
July 2020 Carbon Reduction Strategies
As July is typically a month with less rainfall, it is a good time to consider water conservation.
Here are some suggestions:
- Use a low-flow shower head, limit shower times, and limit baths which typically take more water.
“Judge your present shower head’s flow rate by holding a gallon container under the head and clocking the time it takes to fill. If it fills in 15 seconds, the flow rate is about 4 gpm. If it’s full in 10 seconds, the flow rate is closer to 6 gpm. A low flow shower head should take 24 seconds or more.”
- Choose not to water your lawn.
- Water your garden in the early morning to allow the water to penetrate the root system and avoid evaporation. (Watering in the evening may not allow the leaves to dry and may cause mold issues.)
- Use rain barrels to water your vegetables and flowers.
- Wash your vehicle less frequently and use a commercial car wash.
“Most commercial car washes use 60 percent less water for the entire process than a homeowner uses just to rinse the car. Among the many impacts of motor vehicles on our environment, car washing has been noted by water quality experts as a serious contributor to water pollution.” https://cfpub.epa.gov/npstbx/files/KSMO_CarWashing.pdf
June 2020 Carbon Reduction Strategies
This is our last month with food as the focus and the emphasis is in on having our voices heard to create positive change in the food industry.
- Please ask if the grocery stores you patronize will allow you to bring in cloth bags to pack your groceries – some will allow them, however the cashier will probably not touch them, so you will have to pack your own groceries. Some stores will not allow them which poses the problem of regressing back to plastic bags. Some people (if the weather is conducive) will place their groceries back in the cart and bag them at their vehicle. I think we as consumers need to push the issue of stores providing paper bags – especially during this COVID-19 pandemic. If customers start requesting this option, it is more likely to happen.
- Along the same line of thought is the incredible amount of plastic packaging that is being used by the food industry – I don’t believe a cucumber or broccoli needs to be plastic wrapped. I feel that unless we become vocal and contact the companies we purchase from and start to ask that they only use the minimum amount of packaging and that they start to phase out single-use plastics with sustainable alternatives. They do not have to wait until legislation is enacted. In June 2019 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that, “less than 10 per cent of plastic used in Canada gets recycled. Without a change in course, Canadians will throw away an estimated $11 billion worth of plastic materials each year by 2030. We’ve reached a defining moment, and this is a problem we simply can’t afford to ignore”. https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2019/06/10/canada-ban-harmful-single-use-plastics-and-hold-companies-responsible. In addition, Jo-Anne St. Godard, executive director of the Recycling Council of Ontario, stated that “plastics that have the mobius loop number one and two have the best chance of getting recycled” (In your blue box, not all plastics are created equal, Jennifer Chevalier CBC NewsPosted: Sep 12, 2018). Many restaurants are opening for take-out – patronage those who are using compostable containers or speak to the owner/manager about switching to them.
- The last challenge is to try and compost your kitchen food waste, if you are not already.
Wasted food that ends up in the garbage, and ultimately the landfill, produces methane—a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It’s estimated that 7% of greenhouse gases produced globally are due to preventable food waste (changeforclimate.ca). Stats Canada reported in the 2011 Households and the Environment Survey that 60% of Canadians compost their kitchen waste with a curbside collection program. Ease of composting seems to be important. If you have the yard space to compost, the Municipality sells plastic compost bins. Southgate has had a successful curbside organic program for over 10 years, perhaps that is something that would benefit Grey Highlands. If you think that would be beneficial, please contact a councillor.
May 2020 Carbon Reduction Strategies
- Now is the time to think about vegetable gardening – a lot of Canadians seem to question how robust our food supply system will be due to COVID-19 and many Canadians are starting gardens for the first time. If you are able and have a small plot of land or space for container gardening, please consider it.
“Will COVID-19 Change our Eating Habits” – an article in the CBC weekly “What on Earth” newsletter http://newsletters.cbc.ca/q/142XPIdpHq2KXuQQY09h8/wv
I have included a short interesting article based in the US during WWII on the promotion of Victory Gardens: https://livinghistoryfarm.org/farminginthe40s/crops_02.html
- To reduce our environmental footprint and to assist our community members who are part of the agri-food sector try eating locally produced food as often as possible. For example, perhaps our eating habits may need to change from having fresh tomatoes all year around (well at least they LOOK like fresh tomatoes) to really enjoying fresh tomatoes while they are in season. Another example is meat consumption. It may cost more to eat a locally grown grass-fed steak, so perhaps we chose to eat red meat less often.
- Consider consuming most of your foods from low on the food-chain such as vegetables, grains, legumes and fruits. There is quite a high environmental cost with large scale meat production and consumption.
The Environmental Impact of Meat Production: https://cases.open.ubc.ca/environmental-impact-of-meat-consumption/
April’s Carbon Reduction Challenge: Spring Focus – Food
As we are in unprecedented times with COVID-19 I have included the following disinfectant reference.
Note: If you are 70 or older, or have a compromised immune system, please try and have a friend or family member go grocery shopping for you. When arriving home wipe down with a disinfectant (ex. 2 tsp. bleach per 2 cups water) solid surface packages and wash all fruits and vegetables. COVID-19 can live on hard surfaces for 72 hours. Then disinfect the counter and wash your hands.
“Disinfecting your Home if Someone is Sick” – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/disinfecting-your-home.html)
It takes a lot of carbon to produce and deliver the food we eat, so we need to be diligent to not waste food. Approximately 40% of food produced yearly in Canada is ultimately wasted with over 50% of that food being vegetables and fruits. Almost 50% of Canada’s food waste occurs in our homes. https://tfpc.to/food-waste-landing/food-waste-theissue.
- Plan a week’s worth of menus ahead of time and purchase only those groceries.
- Monitor what foods typically spoil in your kitchen and purchase less of them. If you have freezer storage perhaps some of those foods can be purchased frozen (ex. berries).
- Read the best before dates – especially on meats and dairy. The oldest stock is placed at the front. If you have a large family that may not be an issue, but if your household is small you may want to take one with a date farther into the future.
March 2020 Carbon Reduction Strategies
This is our last month focusing on transportation. As CO2 emissions are created in the manufacturing of vehicles as well as in their usage let us consider:
- Reduce our trips and thus kilometers driven. Try to book errands for one trip.
- Share rides with friends and family whenever possible.
- Reducing our families’ vehicles to one (or none!) if possible.
- Really consider a hybrid or electric vehicle when it is time to replace your existing vehicle. I read recently that the cost of electric car ownership should be comparable to gas fueled cars by 2025. https://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonyeggert/2019/06/12/yes-electric-cars-will-be-cheaper
February Carbon Reduction Strategies:
- Avoid high speeds
Most Vehicles are the most fuel-efficient when travelling between 50 and 80 km per hour. Increasingly more fuel is used the faster they go above this average speed.
- Maintain a steady speed
Tests have shown that varying your speed up and down between 75 and 85 km per hour every 18 seconds can increase your fuel use by 20%. Where conditions permit consider using cruise control for highway driving.
- Accelerate gently and coast to decelerate
The Harder you accelerate the more fuel you use. To be as fuel-efficient as possible, take 5 seconds to accelerate your vehicle up to 20 km per hour from a stop. In addition, every time you use your brakes, you waste your forward momentum. (www.nrcan.gc.ca)
January Carbon Reduction Strategies:
Vehicle ownership and usage creates our greatest CO2 emissions. For example, a 2014 Jeep Cherokee driven 20,000 km/year emits 5.55 metric tonnes/year. However, we can reduce our vehicle emissions as much as possible with employing different strategies. Therefore, our Challenge Theme for the first three months of 2020 is Transportation. You will be provided each month with a few strategies to chose from. You decide which strategy(ies) you are most likely to be successful attempting. Any change is a positive change for our environment.
You can figure out your carbon footprint at: https://carbonfootprint.com/calculator to give you a better awareness of your yearly CO2 emissions. (you can also find the calculator below)
- Reduce your idling time to a maximum of 60 seconds unless you are in traffic.
“Canadians also spend a lot of time idling their vehicles while waiting for passengers. We also idle when we run quick errands‚ sit in drive-through lanes, stop to talk to an acquaintance or friend‚ prepare to leave the house‚ wait at railway crossings‚ to park or to get gas‚ – even when waiting in line to get our car washed.” And, “In Europe, the recommended guidelines for turning engines off are 10 seconds in Italy and France, 20 seconds in Austria, 40 seconds in Germany and 60 seconds in the Netherlands. In the United States the Environmental Protection Agency’s Smartway and DriveWise programs recommend turning the engine off if you’re stopped for more than 30 seconds.” “The (Canadian) change was made to balance factors such as fuel savings, emissions and component wear. From this perspective, 60 seconds is the recommended interval.” (www.nrcan.gc.ca)
- Please take only 2 to 3 minutes to warm up your vehicle (or to cool it down in the summer).
It is better for your engine to warm up by driving it. “Contrary to popular belief, excessive idling is not an effective way to warm up your vehicle, even in cold weather. The best way to warm it up is to drive it. In fact, with today’s computer-controlled engines, even on cold winter days no more than two to three minutes of idling is usually enough warm-up time before starting to drive.” (www.nrcan.gc.ca)
- Use a block heater on cold winter days to warm the engine before you start it.
Use an automatic timer to turn on the block heater two hours before you plan to start the vehicle.
This website can help you easily calculate your CO2 idling emissions: https://www.e3fleet.com/idling_calculator.html.