On a recent visit to Bicentennial School on December 12th, I met two engaged classes of grade nine students and we worked on ideas to help our community be more efficient with our resources. During the presentation, we touched on the topic of climate change as a top reason why it is important for us all to try to limit our greenhouse gas emissions. We hear about climate change and global warming on the news so often that the issue is starting to be seen as commonplace despite its magnitude. Some people may be feeling fatigued by the narrative and choose to ignore the severity and consequences of climate change like sea-level rise and extreme weather. However, climate change is as real as the world outside your window. The students at Bicentennial wanted to know, do simple choices we make really impact the environment? The answer is a great big YES!
The Green Schools NS program aims to help students and school communities across Nova Scotia to waste less and become more energy efficient. We encourage participants to pass their knowledge along to others, and in the process, increase the role of energy efficiency as the cleanest fuel source in Nova Scotia. We can make choices to shrink our individual carbon footprints by making some small but impactful changes in our lives at home, school or work. The steps you can take to do this are so simple and once you start practicing, sustainable choices become healthy habits.
This season we can offer ourselves and loved ones a gift that can boost our mood and improve our impacts on our environment. In 2019, I encourage everyone to make New Year's resolutions that matter and that will actually stick. Start with realistic goals that can be achieved, and followed throughout the year without causing too much difficulty. Here are a few simple suggestions:
- Turn off the lights when leaving a room for more than five minutes. This is something that sounds obvious, but many of us still forget! If all Canadians turned off two lights in our homes, we would be able to save up to two million kilowatt hours!
- Time yourself when having a shower. Five minutes is enough time to get clean and it saves a lot of water, and energy is also saved when we use less hot water. Take fewer baths because they use a lot more water than showers.
- Spend less time with technology like phones, tablets, gaming consoles, TVs, and computers. If we could cut down on screen time by just 30 minutes per day, we are using less electricity and doing more than staring at a device. Instead of playing video games for four hours a day, bring it down to three and a half hours. Then a few months later, try to reduce the time by an additional 30 minutes. I'm sure you will find other hobbies and activities that enrich your life, for example, being crafty with upcycled materials.
- Unplug your devices and chargers from wall sockets. Things that are still plugged in continue to use energy even when they are unplugged. This is called phantom power. As a class or school, you can try Phantom Fridays to bring down the invisible energy consumption of the school's idling electronics over the weekend when no one is even there.
- Try a green commute at least once a week. In Canada, transportation accounts for 24% of CO2 emissions, which is a close second to burning fossil fuels for electricity. (source, David Suzuki Foundation). Suggestions for different modes of transportation include your feet, a bicycle, and public transportation.
In 2019 we can make decisions to reduce our impact on the environment, and also save money in the long run. Good luck with your resolutions and let's all make 2019 the greenest year on record!
~Ruvi Mugara, Engagement Officer