We can truly make a huge change – a reduction – in the global footprint we leave behind if we do it collectively.
If we start now by implementing small changes in our lifestyle, the result of our combined actions can definitely have a positive impact. As I stated last week, the key is to first identify areas where we can make a change and then begin experimenting to make it practical and sustainable.
For example, it is difficult to reduce the amount of fuel a vehicle requires, but we can reduce emissions by simply driving less. There are driving techniques that improve fuel economy such as accelerating slowly and not exceeding the speed limit. Round-abouts are becoming more popular for that reason and the fact that they also move traffic faster than a traditional intersection with multiple stop signs.
Much of the time we use a vehicle simply out of convenience and not necessity. It is faster to jump into an automobile than walk to a store, so that is the course of action we tend to take even if we only require a small item.
Vehicles require a warm-up period during cold Canadian winters, but often they are left idling for excessively long periods of time. On several occasions I have observed automobiles that were left idling for one to two hours. Cars and trucks are also left idling for long periods of time in the summer when the occupants want the comfort of air conditioning. I really enjoy having an air conditioner when the weather is hot, but it bothers me when we do not use them responsibly and needlessly generate greenhouse gases.
It was my grandmother who set the example for environmental standards in our family. She composted which was not difficult since she lived on a farm where space was not an issue and also kept an eye open for anything that might be spared from the landfill and granted a second life as a recycled product. My grandmother was one of the first individuals to adopt the concept of not using soap that contained phosphates, even though there were no bodies of water anywhere close. She rarely let a vehicle idle and drove with a light foot which made us laugh when we were young, and her air conditioning consisted of leaving windows open at night and sleeping in the basement if a prolonged hot spell occurred.
She also recycled as much as possible back in the day and made gifts for all her grandchildren that did not come with plastic packaging. Granny took great pride in all her canning and taught us about environmental stewardship before it was an issue. My grandmother made the leap to a socially responsible lifestyle as much as possible at the time. We all thought she was a little extreme, but in hindsight she was a trailblazer. I try to follow in her footsteps.
Making the transition to a more sustainable lifestyle isn’t difficult, but it typically takes a little adjustment time. The most difficult part is initiating the leap. I was reminded of that by the photo of an enthusiastic (young) man who made a spectacular leap off the Niagara escarpment into Georgian Bay on the Bruce Peninsula which we visited while on holidays. My wife tells me his swim trunks needed recycling after he made it to shore.