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April 20, 2018

Five simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint

Helping the environment isn’t just about composting or planting a garden. There are many simple ways to make a difference without dramatically changing your lifestyle.

So, you’ve started bringing reusable bags to the grocery store and using LED light bulbs. But what else can you do?

You don’t have to start riding your bike everywhere or growing your own vegetables to make a difference. Here are five simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint without dramatically changing your lifestyle.

1. Pack litterless lunches

Many schools request parents send their kids with litterless lunches, which mean no disposable wrappers or containers. Adopt the same rule for the office to save money and reduce waste. Reusable stainless steel, tempered glass or plastic containers can hold everything from fruit to nuts to yogurt, and a good old-fashioned thermos will keep your soup hot on a cold day.

2. Forego paper forms

Go online to file forms such as benefits claims with your health insurance provider. Not only will you get your reimbursement quicker, you’ll save stamps, paper, envelopes and fuel. You can also arrange to have your cheque automatically deposited directly into your bank account. Just make sure you hold onto your receipts, as you may be required to produce them to verify your claim. Contact your benefits provider to see if this is an option for you.

3. Plug in the slow cooker

Cooking a dish over several hours in a slow cooker has benefits beyond coming home to a ready-made meal. Small appliances such as slow cookers, toaster ovens and microwave ovens use significantly less energy than traditional electric or convection ovens, even when in use for a much longer period. For example, a meal cooked in a slow cooker over seven hours uses .7kWh of energy, while the same meal cooked in an electric oven for one hour uses 2.0 kWh of energy. And the new multi-cookers use even less energy with the pressure cooker function.

4. Buy in-season

Even if you don’t make it to the farmers’ market every week for your produce, try to buy in-season fruit and vegetables at the grocery store. Out-of-season imported produce requires more fuel to transport and energy to refrigerate en route.

5. Beware of energy vampires

Most of us are pretty good about turning out lights when leaving a room, but what about unplugging the toaster or switching off power bars? Even when many electronic devices are powered down, they’re still drawing energy. It’s estimated the average Canadian home leaks about 450 kilowatts per year through these invisible or phantom loads. This includes TVs, computers, printers, digital clocks and cell phone chargers — even when they’re not charging. By unplugging such devices or investing in a power bar that can be switched off, you’ll reduce your energy drain and save money at the same time.

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