Earth Matters by Jacqueline Milner – Hints of Fall – Inspiration for Opportunities to Help the Environment – August 10, 2011

It’s that time of the year again when signs of fall are beginning to show, leaves are beginning their transformation to orange and red and the blooms of goldenrod are beginning their show of yellow.  The time when readying the children for the upcoming school year is high on the priority list of “things to do”.  There are simple things that can be incorporated into this mission which are kind to the household budget and to our environment.

Think about using public transit or school busing services.  Often parents choose to drive their children to school instead of employing one of these services which are often available to them close to the front door.  The bus is on the road whether they stop for your child or not.  Using this service can save you considerable time and money and eliminate the additional exhaust fumes to our city or town air. The new school year often is the time that people take on new learning and social activities such as classes and committees.  Think of methods available to you to accomplish your goals with consideration to your pocket book and planet.  Carpool to that event, use Skype for a meeting or take a class on line.

Eliminate the use of one time use plastic bottles.  Juice, soda and water are often packed in 500ml containers for student lunches.  Often these containers end up in the garbage and consequently our landfills.  Purchasing or reusing a container that can be easily cleaned and refilled is one of the single most economical and earth respecting “to do’s” that we can incorporate into our daily activities.  Whether it is for a picnic, work or children’s lunches, this small change will save the space, energy and dollars necessary to purchase, manufacture, recycle or land-fill approximately 40 one use containers per person, per school year.

Many people including students will purchase takeout food a couple times a week.  Much garbage can be eliminated on this occasion by taking a container to the establishment to pack your food and to have reusable cutlery available at your desk, in your car or purse to use instead of the disposable utensils.  This eliminates a lot of garbage.

With harvest time upon us, think about foods in season that may be purchased for canning, freezing or drying.  This provides you with the opportunity to prepare your own food without additives such as colouring and chemicals and eliminates all the packaging that goes along with making the purchase at a grocery store.

Think about reducing the packaging on your next purchases.  Passing on the individual servings of foods for the family containers of food allows you the option of doing your own portion control and saves our landfills from a lot of waste which can be easily avoided.

Think about recycling clothing that is no longer being worn or that your family has outgrown.  There are many businesses that take, distribute and/or resell used clothing.  This is an amazing opportunity to support a local business or organization, buy clothing at significantly lower prices and to reuse an item which is no longer of service by someone else.  This method of donation and purchase also respects and takes full advantage of all the materials and energy that have gone into making this product in the first place.  This is a “façon de vivre” that sustains us and our planet.

Words for thought.  Before putting anything into your shopping cart, consider asking yourself some questions.  Do I need this item?  Is this item earth friendly?  If the answer is no, look for an alternate product that supports your need to sustain yourself and the environment.  A big thumbs up for my local Grocery Store (Baxtrom’s Independent in Cornwall Ontario)  for packing my lunch meat in paper rather than plastic when requested.

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