Buzz words and phrases such as 'GREEN', 'SUSTAINABLE', 'CARBON FOOTPRINT' are incredibly popular and trendy, and very hard to avoid. And yet we still seem to manage.
While our cars, industry, and food choices remain top contributors in the battle against global warming, few of us seem to be willing to make changes to our houses - another offender. Major renovations are expensive, and few of us have thousands of dollars to make all the desired improvements. But by becoming aware of our bad habits, we make positive strides.
My neighbours leave their bathroom window open 24-7, 365 days a year. Other than some debilitating illness that warrants such a huge fresh air intake, I can think of no reason why such a gross waste of resources is required, especially when their A/C is running at the same time. Maybe they like fresh air? Maybe. But if we all exhibited such entitlement, imagine our predicament.
Many of my friends have old fridges in the basement for cooling beer. These energy-guzzling relics are definitely drawing on the beer slush fund, and not great for our planet.
All of us impact groundwater with the run off from our houses. Salt used to clear ice on sidewalks and driveways mixes with pet waste, fertilizer from lawns, and cleaning chemicals, combining to form a delicious sludge that oozes its way into our storm management ponds. A portion of this is treated, and then we drink it. Mmmmmmmmmm...
Correcting environmentally damaging behaviours can be cheap and easy, and as home-owners we can all do our part. As a first step, I recommend a visit to REEP house at 20 Mill Street, Kitchener, or www.reepgreen.ca. REEP is a not-for-profit home demonstrating sustainable home construction. Their website is filled with useful information for sustainable home renovations, and also gives important details abut REBATES from the government. They also offer free courses, such as one on how to select good windows, which is coming up in March.
Building energy-efficient homes is the ideal. And in older homes we can replace old furnaces, add new roofs, new windows, new insulation - the list goes on. These are all features today's buyers value in a house. But the small changes are equally significant, and can be done with little to no money. If we all take baby steps together, by making some small manageable changes, we will all be better off.