Winter is a good time to reflect. Reflect on our choices, lessons we learned, what we would like to change, think about our long-term goals.
Your reflections may not have been about how your choices affect our planet and how we can reduce our carbon footprint, but with the world population growing and an increased need to protect our environment, these are important things that you should consider, at least from time to time.
Every day we wake up and make approximately 35,000 choices. Of course every decision we make carries consequences with it that are both good and bad.
Some decisions may be automatic, such as letting the tap run while you are brushing your teeth or getting a cold glass of water to drink, while other decisions are more deliberate such as researching new appliances before making big purchases. Our decisions often turn into habits, such as plugging your car in the day before you have to go somewhere and then letting it run for 10 minutes before heading out.
The individual decisions that we make every day, may have a very minor effect on the environment and on the planet that day, but if you make the same decisions every day throughout every year of your life and you pass these same habits onto your children who also make the same decisions every day throughout every year of their lives, the positive effects of making environmentally friendlier choices adds up, like rain drops in a barrel.
As Kira Simpson shares, “We can sit back, do nothing and watch our planet be destroyed. Or we can take action, become advocates and start making lifestyle choices which are kinder to people and the planet.”
We scoured the internet and came up with a list of things that you can do this winter to help decrease your impact on the environment.
How many of the below can you say that you are currently doing?
We arranged them by easy (doesn’t require much effort to change), moderate (may require a bit of planning or an investment or a lifestyle change) and superstar (take planning and an investment but are worth it in the long run).
Please take some time to review the below, as some of the habits we have adopted are maybe not the smartest choices, and making a few changes could help the planet, our pocketbooks (by actually saving us money) and more.
1. “Unplug battery chargers once the device is fully charged or when the charger is not in use. A battery charger, such as a cellphone charger, may draw electricity even when the device it’s charging is removed. Up to 50% of the electricity drawn by a charger is wasted as heat.” (Source: UCA)
2. Shop local as much as possible. Side benefit: Supporting and investing in your community, helping create demand for local jobs and more.
3. Run full loads when washing laundry, drying clothes or using the dishwasher, and use the eco-warm setting or cold setting. Running a partial load uses the same amount of power as a full load. Side benefit: Decrease water usage and more efficient use of your time (saving you time to do more things you actually enjoy!).
4. Combine errands to make fewer trips to reduce gas consumption. Side benefit: Is a more efficient use of your time (saving you time) and lessens the amount of driving you need to do, during the winter, when the roads may be in poor condition. Plus saves time in warming up your car ahead of time during those really cold days.
5. Limit idling time. In the winter, your car’s engine doesn’t need to run as long as you think before driving. According to Canada Drives, “The process of warming up a car stemmed from carbureted engines that used a choke adjustment to get the air-fuel mixture right to keep a cold engine running. It required more fuel, but cars lacked the sensors to fine-tune the adjustment that today’s fuel-injected cars have.”
“The only reason you’d need to warm up an engine today is for lubrication. For your vehicle’s engine, it takes less than 30 seconds to circulate oil throughout, coating all the moving parts in oil. Once that happens, it’s safe to drive your car. To play it safe, you can follow Natural Resources Canada’s guideline of idling for two to three minutes to warm your engine.” Side benefit: Reduces CO2 emissions.
Please consult your owner's manual or your vehicle service advisor if you would like a recommendation specific to your vehicle or climatic conditions.
6. Natural Resources Canada also recommends, “As a practical guideline, balancing factors such as fuel savings, emissions and component wear, if you're going to be stopped for more than 60 seconds it's best to turn the engine off.” Side benefit: Eliminating unnecessary idling helps reduce fuel use, greenhouse gas emissions and as a result, slow the rate of climate change.
7. Use a timer on your Christmas lights so you don’t forget to turn them off at night. Side benefit: The neighbors may appreciate this as well if you have a bright light display that shines into their bedroom at night when they would prefer to be sleeping.
8. Use reusable shopping bags instead of plastic ones. In Canada, as of December 20, 2023, plastic bags will no longer be an option. If you are already doing this, then good for you! Side benefit: Reusable bags are stronger than plastic bags and their design often makes it easier to pack bottles and jars that used to fall over when placed in plastic bags.
9. In the winter, with the limited number of hours of sunlight, it is more important than ever to make smart energy choices and is a good time to double check that your light bulbs are LED.
10. Turn off the lights when you leave the room to save on electricity.
11. During the day, open the blinds to utilize natural lighting, rather than turning on the lights.
12. “To reduce your winter heating bills, close doors and heating vents in unused rooms, closets, or bays. Be sure the temperature in those areas remains warm enough to prevent any plumbing in the walls from freezing.” (Source: Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA))
13. When possible purchase concentrated product formulations that are environmentally friendly and add the water at home to save on packaging, plastics wastage, transportation costs and more. For example our Odour Eliminator dilution ratio is 1 part Odour Eliminator to 30 parts water. Our Multi-Purpose Cleaner is diluted 1 part Multi-Purpose Cleaner to 2 or 3 parts water.
14. Every year, before winter arrives, check your home’s heating system, to make sure it is in good shape and ready to run efficiently. “Regular check-ups will increase the lifespan of your system and lower your electric bills during winter, because a smooth-running furnace doesn’t have to work as hard to keep your home warm." (Source: Constellation) Side benefit: Increase the lifespan of your heating system.
15. Install a smart thermostat and program it to turn down the heat when you go to bed at night and when you are away at work during the day. “A smart thermostat is a high-tech way to save electricity in the winter. Programmable thermostat savings come from the ability to fine-tune and optimize when your furnace runs. You can program the thermostat to turn down while you’re sleeping or when you’re away and then set it warmer for just before your arrival back home at the end of the day. You can reduce your electric bill in winter without sacrificing comfort.” (Source: Constellation)
16. If you don't park your vehicle in a garage, then invest in an automatic timer for your block heater. In the winter turn on the block heater approximately two to four hours before you plan to start your vehicle. Enmax shares that “In general, block heaters aren’t required until the mercury drops below -15C.” Natural Resources Canada says, “At -20°C, block heaters can improve overall fuel economy by as much as 10 percent. For a single short trip at -25°C your fuel savings could be in the order of 25 percent.”
17. In the winter, if you use a remote starter, set a timer when warming up your car, so you don’t forget that your car is running.
18. Rather than automatically turning up the furnace during cold weather, wear layers and use blankets. Side benefit: All of our bodies seem to run on different temperatures. For those who run hot and complain when you turn up the furnace, they will be happy. And you wearing more clothes is often easier than those who run hot to wear less clothes.
19. Conduct an energy audit of your home to help “determine how much energy your property uses, where it is losing energy, and how to prevent it.” (Source: UCA) Also check to “Make sure your home has adequate insulation and energy-saving windows.” (Source: Biological Diversity)
20. Replace aging equipment with energy efficient products (thermostat, furnace, hot water heater, refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher).
When you cut down on fuel, electricity and water usage in the winter, you not only help the environment but you also save on gas, water and electrical bills.
For more tips, check out these wonderful articles, to name a few:
WWF Armenia Green Living Tips
Enmax, Energy Saving Tips
We offer a variety of natural environmentally friendly products. Please contact us or browse our product catalogue to learn more.
Thank you for making all the choices that you do every day that are environmentally friendly!
Government of Canada, Single-use Plastics Regulations – Overview
Canada Drives, This is How Long You Should Warm Up Your Car in Winter …
Government of Canada, Idling – Frequently Asked Questions
Centre for Biological Diversity, 12 Ways to Live More Sustainably
Constellation, 15 Ways to Cut Down on Your Home Electric Bill in Winter