Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Climate Change

I tend to get pretty discouraged about climate change and wonder what can I possibly do to make a difference. But something in the sermon at church this week resonated with me.  We will all have to make changes and if we do, we can fight this.

There are some things that we already do to help the environment, but plenty of things we could improve on.  I'll start with the things we do right:

I take the subway or bike to work.

We bring our own bags/bins to the grocery store, and rarely use the produce bags.

We don't waste a lot of food; we eat what we buy thanks to meal planning.

We use our green bin.

We have reduced our meat consumption.

We use energy efficient light bulbs and appliances.

But things we could improve on:

Recycling. I am really lazy at cleaning our recyclables because I have been told that they all get sent to the landfill anyway so what difference does it make?  But what if that is not true?  What if the "good" recyclables, like the ones that are cleaned out and dry actually do get recycled but it is the dirty ones that get sent to the landfill?  In that case, if I clean mine out, then mine will get recycled.  See what is acceptable in Toronto's blue bins here.

Using less plastic ziploc bags and paper towels.  We have lots of plastic containers and cloth napkins so I should use those more often than we do.  Any ideas for how to freeze things using reusable containers? Right now I wrap things in plastic and then put them in a freezer bag.

Eating less meat, or at least trying to find local meat.  We get a lot of chicken, ground turkey, and salmon from Costco, but it's a little discouraging when you think of the volume of products they go through, that level of consumption can't be good.  We could do better to buy local meat when we can.

Order less online. There is so much packaging that comes with Amazon and other online places.  Sometimes it's unavoidable, but if we can buy it in an actual store, perhaps that is better. 

Consume less overall.  Buy less things, use what we have around the house, buy used items if possible. A little anecdote on this.  It was Q's birthday on the weekend and we invited 11 of his friends to his party.  They each brought a gift, obviously, but I kind of felt bad about that.  We have tons of toys, and although the gifts he got were awesome and he really enjoyed digging into them and playing with each one, we didn't really need more things.  I tried to placate my guilt by saying, shouldn't kids get to have tons of presents just for them, isn't that the fun of having a birthday?  I remember that feeling when I was little and it was one of the best parts of having a birthday party (or at Christmas too).  But I thought further on it, and realized that just because this is how it used to be, doesn't mean we get to continue like this.  Perhaps the new reality is that there are not piles of presents, along with their packaging and wrapping, and instead we get to enjoy one or two things, or experiences.  I know that Q would have been happy with the first present he opened, instead of all 11, plus the ones from family.  I hope I am not sounding ungrateful, rather trying to be conscious of the unnecessary consumption.

So instead, I will try to think twice about consuming something. If I can make a better choice than the one I've always made, then I should. We can recycle all we want, but the focus should just be on reducing and reusing. We may not be perfect but we don't have to be.  It's better for everyone to be trying and executing imperfectly than not doing anything at all for fear of not being perfect and wondering what's the point. 

It's also important to become educated on the topic.  These are just some ideas I've come up with off the top of my head, but I know we could do more.  In fact I saw an article today about how Toronto processes its organics that was very interesting.

Thinking about their future. 


  1. Good blog, Sarah. Like you I am good at using cloth bags when shopping. I finally got some of the mesh produce to see how they work, as I use plastic bags for all produce I buy. Good point you made, though, doing something better is at least something. And it all helps.

  2. Have you heard about 5’ver parties? It’s requested that if you planned on bringing a gift, to bring a $5 bill instead. The money contributes toward a larger gift the birthday kid is hoping for. Economical, and less stuff!

    1. Yes I have. We also usually do the Echoage parties for E, where half the money goes to a charity and half goes to a group gift. The problem with Q's birthday was that the invitations were sent out by the daycare (since I didn't have his classmates' parents' emails) and I didn't get organized enough for that.

  3. This comment follows along with Jen17 but right before Sam turned three, he was invited to a "toonie party." Every guest was asked to bring at least two toonies and then half were donated to a cause of the child's choice and the other half were used to buy one group present for the birthday child.

    This year Sam raised $75 for the Cheetah Conservation Fund and had enough "present" money to buy himself a new baseball glove. Rachel bought a huge stuffed dog from the Blue Jays gift shop and donated $42 to Strong Start -- a program which helps kids learn to read.

    The kids still get enough gifts from grandparents, us, and aunts and uncles so don't feel deprived by not getting gifts from their friends. And parents love the idea so much the kids often get $10 - $20 from their friends, not just $4. Also, we make sure the donation is made in the birthday child's name so we don't get a donation receipt for it. It's not supposed to be a tax break for us :)

    Also, my friend's daughter made re-usable produce bags out of curtains (the white, almost see-through stuff) and sold sets of them as a fundraiser. I've been using them for two years and they are still as good as new. I LOVE them.

    Ziploc bags -- I'd love to figure out good alternatives to those. I went to a Zero Waste Bulk store near us and I could buy a set of TWO reusable ones for $22. Boo. That's just not in our budget right now.