We Have to Change

I am a culprit. I admit it. I’m not proud of it, but it’s a fact, and one I have to recognize before I can actively work towards change.

Here are my largest consumption challenges, and my approaches to change.

  • Gasoline

We are so dependent on fossil fuels. It’s to the point that a delay at the refinery stage causes gas stations actually run out of gas. Not to mention, the cost of gas is INSANE right now, with prices hovering around $1.30 per liter across Canada.

This summer has brought almost constant rain to Halifax. I always allow the rain to justify driving places. Squishing along in wet shoes gets old fast. Also, I’m pretty sure I don’t know how to correctly use an umbrella because, despite having paid a range of $2 to $40, they never last me longer than a couple of months.

To do: Suck it up. Walk. Ride your bike. Skateboard. Scooter. Remember, this is about more than being active.

Only walking is allowed on this Dartmouth trail.
Only walking is allowed on this Dartmouth trail.
  • Electricity

Honestly, I’m a little afraid of the dark. Being alone in my apartment at night, despite the company of two brave protectors, can be a bit creepy. To ward off the ghosts, I usually ensure my space is well lit, and filled with noise and activity. This generally means lights are on, radio or tv is streaming some noisy programming, and my computer is buzzing away in my lap.

To do: Just lock the door. Keep on the lights in the room being used and turn the rest off. Multi tasking is great but multi media is not always necessary. If you’re not actively paying attention, turn it off.

  • Packaging

Despite being hyper-aware of the amount of waste produced by my household, workplace, etc., it’s always there. At home, when containers are full or dirty, a roll of plastic wrap, aluminum foil, or a plastic bag is always in-hand for the tidying up, and putting away, of food and ingredients.

To do: Plan ahead. Stop preparing extra food for leftovers unless there is a reusable container available in which to store it. Or, get off your ass and wash a few. I know you have enough of them. I sure do.

Packaging bad. Packages good.
Packaging bad. Packages good.
  • Paper

At work, I try to only print when necessary, yet my desk continues to pile up with hard copies, post-its, note pads, and newsletters.

To do: Be paperless. This one is WAY easier said than done. I always have to take notes when I attend meetings or else I literally cannot recall a single action I’m supposed to take afterwards. I also just prefer to edit on hard copy as opposed to electronically.  I just seem to catch more. So, if any of y’all have any ideas to keep paper waste to a minimum at work, I’d be very interested to hear suggestions.

I know I’m not alone in these practices, and I can’t be alone in the want for change. This is my plea. Our practices are unsustainable and harmful. If we continue to be ignorant and apathetic, we all lose. We have to change.

Let’s do it together, Halifax. It’ll be worth it. I promise. (Everybody wins!)

4 thoughts on “We Have to Change

  1. Nah. I’d say it’s a clear winner over driving consumption-wise. I just excluded it because I was thinking about how walkable the peninsula really is. Personally, I need to stop letting the rain be an excuse not to walk or ride my bike, especially since it rains all the time.

    I also left it off because, while I think public transportation is great, I’ve already used this forum to air my silly grievances about Halifax buses (like on the first podcast). I’m trying to complain less. 🙂

  2. It took me awhile to learn, because I have a tendency to be cheap, but getting the right gear makes any situation easier. So if you live in a rainy place and don’t want to drive, then go out and get high quality rain gear so you can ride your bike without arriving to work miserable and soaking wet. There is a shop in Calgary that sells new gear but they also have consignment stuff. Most of it is still in great shape, people just get bored and want new things, so they put it on consignment. Which means you’re still getting good quality, but paying way less, and recycling! I have found a few great packs and jackets there. Maybe there is something similar in Halifax? Keep your eyes out for gear swaps, too. They usually happen in the spring and/or fall. Great place to get used gear that is usually still in good shape.

    I loathe packaging. It makes me sick to my stomach. Literally. I almost constantly think about the plastic pile up that’s in the ocean, getting bigger every day. So I do what I can. I keep glass jars for storing leftovers and taking stuff for lunch. I hate take out containers. I have one set that I use repeatedly. There are some products you can buy for reusable take out containers that you bring to a restaurant. I think it’s becoming a big thing on college campuses. I try to buy things in bulk, or chose an option that has the least packaging.

    For work, I only use recycling paper. I take paper out of the recycling bin, tear it up into note sized paper and that’s what I use instead of sticky notes at work. When a paper is printed on, and no longer needed, it goes back into the printer to be printed on the other side. We rarely print something that needs to leave the office, so it doesn’t need to be perfect. Also, my boss is 59. She doesn’t really get the environment thing, so she’ll print out a proof to show me one little mistake I need to fix. So I have started to ask her why she felt she needed to print it. She’s becoming more aware. When I first started, they used to print every single proof, which is mental. I have switched everyone over to emailing proofs around the office instead.

    Whew! That was a long comment!

  3. Good for you, Jess! Being the change! It really is ridiculous how many print outs are a complete waste of time. It seems like our generation is actually doing quite well in terms of awareness on the paper front. I always see that note at the bottom of emails, “Please consider the environment before printing this email.” It makes me happy. That being said, staring at my computer screen all day (and, let’s face it, most of the night) gets to be really hard on the eyes. I guess for now, it would help to keep print outs small, concise, and contained to as few pages as possible.

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