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Green living beyond Earth Hour


Earth Hour is a great movement -- but what about every other hour? Click to hear experts weigh in on ways to live cleaner and greener everyday
Earth Hour is a great movement -- but what about every other hour? Click to hear experts weigh in on ways to live cleaner and greener everyday

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

Since 2007, Earth Hour has grown into a successful global movement, motivating millions of people to reduce their energy consumption. But experts say people can and should practice planet-friendly behaviour every day, not just once a year for 60 minutes.

Urgent action is needed to reduce our global greenhouse gas emissions
Urgent action is needed to reduce our global greenhouse gas emissions

Dr. Quentin Chiotti, a climate scientist with the Association for Canadian Educational Resources, says current climate data shows a “huge urgency” when it comes to reducing global greenhouse gas emissions.

“We need to bring them drastically down (and move to) a virtually carbon-free economy in the next 50 years ... to avoid a dangerous interaction with the global climate system.”

Annually observing Earth Hour by shutting off lights and powering down appliances for an hour is a good start, but Steven Price with the World Wildlife Fund-Canada says Earth Hour is just “New Year's Eve for environmentalists.”

“You should make a resolution: what can I do within my household through using less, through having more efficient appliances, driving less, biking more, walking more,“ Price says.

“You can lower your impact on the environment, save money, and probably be healthier too. I see it as a win-win-win, and that's the resolution everyone should make the day after Earth Hour.”

Driving less is just one way to live a healthier life and contribute to a healthier planet
Driving less is just one way to live a healthier life and contribute to a healthier planet

What can you do?

Angela Bischoff, outreach director for the Ontario Clean Air Alliance, says there are lots of small changes people can make to live cleaner and greener every day.

  • Transportation: Cars are a significant source of greenhouse gas, and just reducing the amount of fuel we burn each week can make a big difference, Bischoff says. “Taking the bus once a week or riding your bike to the local grocery store rather than driving ... can really have an impact.”
  • In the home: Bischoff says there are lots of ways to make our homes more energy-efficient, lessening our ecological footprint. She recommends lowering your home's hot water heater by a couple of degrees -- “There’s no need to have your water heater so hot that it’s scorching.” You can also insulate your hot water heater to keep the heat in longer, buy high-efficiency appliances, install a programmable thermostat that automatically lowers the temperature when no one is home, and weather-strip or caulk doors and windows to keep heat in your home.
  • Get involved: While you're doing your part, encourage your leaders to do theirs by moving away from coal-fired power generation towards renewable sources, Bischoff says. “Writing a letter to your local politician telling him or her that you care about how our electricity is produced ... is a very valuable action.” She also suggests writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper expressing your views on environmental issues and sharing your tips for more efficient living.

Even if you incorporate one of these tips into your daily routine, you'll be contributing to a significant reduction in the amount of energy used and wasted worldwide, Bischoff says.

“Doing something is better than doing nothing.”

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