Saturday, February 23, 2008

The Green Life Challenge

The Toronto Star has created a blog written by its two environment reporters. This week is the sixth challenge and the one I'm most working on for 2008. But before I elaborate on this challenge, here is what I've done so far to become more environmentally friendly.

1. I take the bus everywhere I go. So it helps I don't have a licence as of yet to drive a car. But taking the bus not only cuts down on the cost of owning a car (e.g. insurance, gas, etc.), it also reduces by a significant amount the amount of greenhouse gases I'm responsible for. Also, for the 12 monthly transit passes I bought last year I'm getting a tax rebate of $150.

2. Wherever possible I've converted to using CFL bulbs. Sure I still have a couple of CFL bulbs still to go, but these are for light fixtures that are trilights or have weird size of bulbs that I haven't been able to find a CFL for as of yet.

So for this year, challenge number six issued by the environment reporters of the Toronto Star, is perfect for myself. Along with my girlfriend, we have taken up the challenge of removing as many plastic bags from our lives. Since we shop at No Frills anyway, we invested in a single President's Choice cloth bag and bring a slightly larger cloth bag as well for our groceries. This means we not only don't have to pay a nickel a piece for a plastic bag, we also receive one hundred bonus PC Points for using our two cloth bags. This adds up to twenty dollars off our grocery bill once we accumulate 20,000 PC Points. We've found it takes about at least a year to accumulate twenty thousand points.

We also have a large collection of cloth bags from other sources. The federal government seems to like to hand out cloth bags as SWAG during job fairs. We have one from the National Defence Department which is the perfect size for us to take library books to and from the library instead of using a plastic bag.

If we do receive plastic shopping bags, we store them in a kitchen drawer. We use the bags for our garbage. Sure this isn't the best use of these bags, but at least we are filling them up before throwing out our garbage. If there was another way to handle are garbage after recycling and green bin, please let me know!

So we are well on our way to reducing the number of plastic bags we come accross and are continuing to reuse plastic bags in any way possible. Challenge six will be an ongoing issue for this year as sometimes I forget and accept a plastic bag from a store despite: A. Being able to take my purchase home from the store without a plastic bag or B. have a cloth bag with space in it after visiting another store with it. But then again, saving the environment will be an ongoing challenge.

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