Thursday, October 15, 2009

What our family is doing to combat climate change

Thanks to a Facebook update from the David Suzuki Foundation, I was inspired to join I pledged to post a blog today in the category "Mommy and Family". Kind of vague, but nonetheless, it got me thinking: What is my family doing on a very local level to combat climate change

That led me to the next question: What human actions contribute to climate change? Wikipedia says:
Of most concern in these anthropogenic factors is the increase in CO2 levels due to emissions from fossil fuel combustion, followed by aerosols (particulate matter in the atmosphere) and cement manufacture. Other factors, including land use, ozone depletion, animal agriculture and deforestation, are also of concern in the roles they play - both separately and in conjunction with other factors - in affecting climate.

While somewhat informative, the Wikipedia article gives me little guidance as to how I can be of influence, so I kept searching. Back I went to the source of this blog, The David Suzuki Foundation, which has a handy list of things we can do to help slow climate change. I read through them to see how we measure up. Here's my list of what we're doing and where we can improve:

1. Reduce your home heating and electricity use
- We recently completed a Home Energy Audit and spent 18 months upgrading our 50+-year-old home. We replaced our 40-year-old (!) furnace, insulated our roof, attic, and basement, caulked, weather-stripped, changed plumbing fixtures, fixed leaks. In all, we managed to bring our home above the best estimate of improvement of our auditor and got a nice chunk of cash back from the federal and provincial governments (not to mention all our savings in gas, electricity, and water). What else we can do: we didn't fully insulate the basement (couldn't afford it at the time and we were expecting a baby) and we could replace our other toilets and some very old windows and doors.

2. Choose energy-efficient appliances - When buying appliances for our home when we moved in, we did our best to choose energy-efficient ones. In hindsight, we should have opted for a gas stove and clothes dryer as they are more energy efficient.

3. Check the Canadian government’s Auto Smart ratings for the next car you intend to buy to make sure it’s fuel efficient and low polluting - Our cars - a compact and a station wagon - are used, one is made domestically, and both are as fuel-efficient as was possible in their class.

4. Walk, bike, carpool or take transit to get to one of your regular destinations each week
- We combine errands whenever possible to reduce driving. Where we can improve: In good weather DH can cycle to work, I can cycle with kiddies in tow, when going to events without kids I can carpool with others. Public transit within the city is not practical with two young children and DH finds the 20-minute bus ride down the road to work overly long and cumbersome to do on a regular basis. (He's on the bus for 20 minutes then walks for 10 minutes - compared to 10 minutes in the car.)

5. Consider vacationing close to home - That's an easy one since we don't have the funds to do otherwise

6. Choose a home within a 30-minute bike, walk or transit ride from your daily destinations - We chose our current house based on its proximity to DH's work as it shaves 20 minutes (and all the highway driving) off his commute each way. I've got no commute, as I am a stay-at-home-mom

7. Take care of your trash - We recycle, green bin, vermicompost, soon will backyard compost. We attempt to reduce the amount of packaging brought into our home, but it is a challenge. Our 3.5-year-old is toilet trained, our 11-month-old is in cloth diapers except at night. Heck, even our cats 'go' outside most of the time.

8. Eat wisely - If you've read any of my other blog posts, you'll know we're trying very hard in this regard.

9. Learn about how to plan a green, low-carbon wedding - We'll be celebrating our 8th wedding anniversary this Sunday, so this doesn't apply to us. However, our wedding was admittedly rather high-carbon, since we were married in Hawaii. It was a small wedding party (only 11 others attended), so that's something. Our reception (in Cornwall, ON) was within easy driving distance for the majority of attendees, but some had to travel from the Toronto area.

10. Take the David Suzuki Foundation’s Nature Challenge to learn more about other ways you can help protect the environment - On my to do list.

11. Go Carbon neutral - Not sure exactly what this entails, but will be reading more about it.

Hmmm, we've got a lot of bases covered here, but this is only part one of the Suzuki Foundation's "What you can do". In future blogs I'll be exploring the following areas: at work, food and climate change, go carbon neutral, take action, David Suzuki's Nature Challenge.

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