Ottawa is blessed with an abundance of natural spaces, making it ever-more important to protect its beauty, resources, and nature that it boasts. With sustainability on the minds of more businesses and consumers, living an eco-friendly lifestyle has become an increasingly easier transition. It only takes one person to influence another; that’s why we’ve created this resident’s guidebook to keeping Ottawa beautiful.
Leave Your Car at Home
Reduce carbon emissions by switching up your commute! Ottawa has an excellent public transportation system that includes buses and the light-rail, making it easy to get around without a car. While many Ottawa residents take advantage of public transportation, walking and cycling, commuting by vehicle is still an area of opportunity to make the city more sustainable. Ottawa Insights reports that “In 2016, 82% of Ottawa residents who drove to work – a total of over 220,000 commuters – drove on their own. For a third of those who commute by car, the trip is longer than 30 minutes.” If transit stops are a bit out of your way, leave room for a walk in the morning, or ride your bike! You can even rent a bike on the Rideau canal bike path if you don’t have your own wheels. By getting creative with your commute, you can help keep Ottawa’s air clean, relieve traffic congestion, and get in a bit of exercise along the way.
Watch Your Water
Limiting your water usage is not only great for the environment, but it also saves you money over time. While using less may be the most straight forward way to conserve water, it’s also important to regularly check your plumbing for leaks. Leaky pipes, faucets, and fixtures significantly contribute to water waste, making it essential for homeowners and landlords to practice regular maintenance. You can also install low-flow toilets, water-saving and high-efficiency appliances, and other sustainable fixtures that don’t require a massive overhaul in your daily habits. If you have a yard, watering during the evening or early morning hours–especially during the warmer months–will reduce water loss through evaporation. You can also plant native vegetation, which will thrive with little intervention, while supporting a healthy ecosystem for bees and other pollinators!
Ease off the Electricity
Energy efficiency, like water conservation, starts with using less. Turn off lights when you leave the room, lower the thermostat when you’re away from home for more than 48 hours, and only run full loads of dishes and laundry. One of the biggest differences, however, can be made by altering your home heating and cooling practices. Maintenance is a big one; servicing your units before season changes is essential, as well as changing out filters regularly. Using your windows and shades to to let air and sun in (or keep it out) keeps the air in our home fresh while saving you on your electricity bill. Similarly, insulating hot water pipes reduces the amount of heat loss from the plumbing, making hot water heaters more efficient while also keeping your home cooler. You should also keep your freezer and fridge fully stocked to increase the efficiency of your food storage units. Just remember to watch out for food waste!
Green Your Garbage
Managing your solid waste takes time at first, especially if you aren’t used to it, but it is worth it in the long run! In order to keep Ottawa’s natural resources beautiful and thriving, it’s important to dispose of your garbage responsibly. Take time to rinse plastic containers, break down boxes, and process other recyclables before you take them out to the curb. Opt-in to green bin composting, and follow Ottawa’s disposal guidelines. Additionally, there are waste removal companies that will come to your home and remove larger items that are more difficult to dispose of, including mattresses, electronics, furniture, hot tubs, carpeting, appliances, and more. Most of the time, these companies have the resources to break down and recycle many of the components, while discarding the rest.
Be Intentional with Your Buying Power
While it is critical to dispose of your waste responsibly, it is even more important to reduce your overall consumption of plastics, electronics, toxins, and other harmful substances. Recycling is great, but avoiding products with excess packaging, opting for sustainable alternatives, and simply skipping out on your purchase significantly reduces consumption at the source. If you are in need of new clothes, shoes, housewares, and more, check out a local thrift store. When you can, purchasing local, in-season foods, reducing your meat consumption, and buying organic not only supports Ottawa’s economy, but it is also easy on the environment. When more people in your community are buying local, as well as limiting online ordering, it significantly reduces the need for large-scale shipping, lowing carbon emissions over time.
Spread the Word
Lastly, support community education! Start small and talk to your family and friends about what changes you’re making to go green. Arm yourself with knowledge by doing your research and organize a green event! You and your family, friends, or coworkers can come together to raise awareness, plant trees, or clean up a local park. Support legislation that funds environmental programs in schools and donate to Ottawa’s local non-profits. When individuals understand their own impact on their local environment, they are more inspired to make everyday changes and encourage larger change in the community as a whole.
Author Bio: Haley writes for a variety of brands, including 1-800-GOT-JUNK? in Ottawa. She covers topics on sustainable living, interior design, home ownership, business, and more. In her free time, you can find her enjoying the outdoors or reading a book.