Color & Control:

Going green

Doing your part to save the planet

By Rick Lauber

Reduce, reuse, recycle—all simple practices that can make a sustainable contribution towards living an eco-friendly lifestyle.

Whether you’re helping to plant a community vegetable garden, sitting on the green committee at your local Legion or having a Saturday garage sale, there are plenty of ways you can make small steps towards big improvements.

Reducing: Consider greener transportation options for convenience, safety and energy savings. Taxis, buses, bicycles and even walking are good alternatives. Carpooling is another choice with a hidden benefit—the chance to connect. I remember my own caregiving years chauffeuring Mom and Dad and the interesting conversations we had along the way.

Unused food will spoil and end up in the landfill. Aside from wasting your hard earned money, your rotten food produces methane—a dangerous gas for the environment. Shop for smaller portions. Freeze food items in single portions for future use. Set up a plan to share pre packed items with family or neighbours.

Review the amount of energy and water you are using. Replace old light bulbs with newer more efficient LED ones. Turn off lights. Install high efficiency showerheads and sink faucet aerators. Check for heat loss at doors, the attic, and windows. (Cold air can come in and warm air can go out). If you don’t have funds for professional assistance, short-term solutions include rolling up a towel or two to place on the floor underneath a door to reduce cold air entering (one or two foam pool “noodles” can also do the trick), taping plastic sheeting inside of problematic windows and installing/replacing weather stripping around door and window frames.

Reusing: Downsizing is often the name of the game in our senior years. Instead of dumping everything, work to find new homes for these items. A grandchild moving out to their first apartment would likely appreciate previously-owned furniture. Second-hand stores welcome donations of items (in good condition).

Daily items like plastic bags can be reused or replaced with shopping bags, old clothes, sheets, and/or towels can be used as cleaning cloths and books can be dropped off at the community book share boxes or the library.

Recycling: Blue bin, black bin, and green bin. Leaf pick up etc. Get to know your neigbourhood’s garbage pick up program. They sometimes vary from region to region—or between houses and condos. Take a few extra minutes to separate recyclables. Newspapers, glossy magazines, cardboard, plastic products/drink bottles, and aluminum cans should all be recycled. Even electronics (e.g., cell phones and computers) can be recycled with a little research.

Living greener
Many of today’s product offerings are much more environmentally friendly and many corporations have changed their manufacturing processes and the ingredients they use. To help protect the environment, it’s worth checking everything from the dish and laundry soap you’re using to the types of storage containers and snacks you’re buying. Each one of us can make a difference!

Rick Lauber is a book author and an established freelance writer. He has written two books, Caregiver’s Guide for Canadians and The Successful Caregiver’s Guide (Self-Counsel Press).

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