Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Week 45: Cool It!

 

Week 45:

Cool It!

Remember last week when we talked about how hot is too hot? We’re continuing the theme this week. How hot is it in your home? How about at your office or school? How hot should it be, for a normal, warm-blooded primate? If you are more reptile than mammal, you may like your thermostat turned up to Sahara. But, is it necessary for it to be this warm? What is ideal? Where can you find a happy medium between toasty warm and green-mindedness? It’s not a simple answer. Some people, like the elderly or the ill, will want warmer temperatures than others. Some people like to feel a nip in the air (especially when they sleep). So, what’s the right answer?  Let’s find out!

Challenge 45: Lower your thermostat by 1 degree.

No matter where you set your thermostat (Sahara or Arctic), you probably can get by with reducing your thermostat by one degree. It won’t make a significant difference to what you’re used to, but it will have an impact on your fuel consumption.

Estimates are that every one degree in temperature saves about five per cent on your heating bill. It goes without saying that you should have a programmable thermostat, that lowers the temperature of your home when you are away and asleep, and turns it up in the early morning, and again after work. Your “away” state should be about 10 degrees cooler than your “at home” state. So, for example, when you’re home, your thermostat is 70. When you’re away, it’s 60. You may find there are times when you are home that you can even turn down the temperature a bit. Same goes for sleeping. You’ll find that you get a better sleep too, when your bedroom is cool. 

Where your thermostat is located can make a huge difference. If it’s near a draughty front door, you aren’t accurately measuring the temperature. You may have set your thermostat for an economical 17c, but your boiler may be heating your house to 20c. It may only be 17c right beside your thermostat. Consider some thermometers in other rooms, just to make sure your temperature is accurate.

Just like you shouldn’t be wearing sweaters inside in the summer, you shouldn’t be wearing t-shirts and shorts in the winter. If you are, turn down your thermostat! It’s winter in Canada. Embrace the freeze. Bundle up instead of turning up. In our house, there is a pile of cozy blankets on the couch, just waiting for an invitation. In every room, someone is draped in a blanket from November until April. Slippers also make a tremendous difference. If you don’t have a wooly warm pair, invest in one. If your feet are warm, your body will be too.

There are many other easy things you can do, like, reversing your ceiling fans so they are pushing hot air down into the room. Use area rugs to heat up cold floors. Put on a sweater, or a lap blanket when you’re relaxing.

So, in essence, the most economical temperature for your home is the lowest comfortable temperature. It’s your money, and your planet. Treat them both with respect.

Yours in Sustainability,
Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood

52 Weeks of Climate Action was created by Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood. Sherri is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the candidate of record and communications coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Laurel Hood, is a retired secondary teacher, transportation lead for the Collingwood Climate Action Team, and volunteer coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Visit our blog or sign up at www.52weeksofclimateaction.com.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Week 44: You're in Hot Water!

 

Week 44:

You're in Hot Water!

I don’t know about you, but, when I feel the need for some extra comfort, I head to the bath tub. I know I’m not alone. There isn’t much that a good soak can’t wash away. If you’re feeling blue, or frustrated, or just exhausted, a few minutes with some bubbles, soothing music and a good book can make you a new person. 

But, how hot is too hot? When it comes to water, you may find the numbers surprising. Most households use about 170L of water per day. That’s a heck of a lot of water! On top of that, most people’s hot water tanks are set much too high. If you can’t run your hand under the water without hurting, it’s too hot. Experts recommend 120F to prevent injury, but, 112F is hot enough to kill bacteria, and eliminate dirt. Your water should feel pleasantly warm, not hot.

Your hot water tank runs between 3 and 5 hours per day. Newer models aren’t quite as inefficient, but you get the picture. You’re heating a lot of water, and it just waits around until it’s needed. Not the most economical approach.

Water heating makes up about 20-25% of the typical natural gas use in a gas heated house in our type of climate. Lowering the temperature setting can cut your overall natural gas use by 5-6%. On a regular heating bill, that can be $20 or so a month. Not bad!

Challenge 44: Turn down your hot water tank.

The default setting on most water heaters is 60C or 140F, but the best hot water temperature is 49C or 120F – this will save you about 25% of your hot water heating costs. 

There are other ways you can reduce your energy use when it comes to hot water. The easiest way is to use less (that’s a no-brainer). But, here’s a list of things you might try if you haven’t already:
  • Have shorter showers. 
  • Use low-flow faucets. 
  • Don’t let the water run while you’re doing something else (like while brushing your teeth, or doing the dishes). 
  • Don’t pre-rinse your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher. 
  • Wash only full loads, and choose shorter cycles. 
  • Use cold water for washing your laundry. 
  • Insulate and wrap your hot water tank.
  • If your water heater is older, consider buying a new, higher efficiency one. Old ones not only are less efficient, they are often bogged down by sediment.
  • Invest in an on-demand hot water heater.
So turn down the heat on your energy bill. You won’t really notice a difference in your day to day living, but you will notice a difference on your monthly bill, and Mother Earth will thank you for it.

Yours in Sustainability,
Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood

52 Weeks of Climate Action was created by Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood. Sherri is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the candidate of record and communications coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Laurel Hood, is a retired secondary teacher, transportation lead for the Collingwood Climate Action Team, and volunteer coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Visit our blog or sign up at www.52weeksofclimateaction.com.

Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Week 43: Show Me the Money

 

Week 43:

Show Me the Money

In the dead of winter, as the temperature plummets, we rely on our utility companies to keep us warm and cozy. But, many of our homes are not as energy efficient as they could be. 

Despite that, there are ways that you can tackle retrofits, and get support from companies who will pay you to do it. What, you ask? A company will give me money for improving my home? Why yes, they will. If you follow a few simple steps. 

There is a good amount of money to be recouped in partnering with an energy company. For instance, if you are an Enbridge customer, you can get up to $5,000 in rebates for making some changes, ranging from simple things like a programmable thermostat, to more complex, like adding insulation, or replacing your furnace. The program was suspended during Covid, but as of Feb. 10, things look like they are opening back up again.

Enbridge isn’t the only one, but the hoops you must jump through vary from company to company. So, your challenge this week is to find out where the money is, and get some for yourself while you improve your home’s energy efficiency. It’s a bit of a theme - save money, live more sustainably. Have we said that before?!

Challenge 43: Find grants from your energy companies.

Call your energy companies or go to their websites to find out about green energy or energy efficiency grants/programs that might be available.

Why is this important? Because up to 35% of a home’s energy is wasted. That means if you pay $100 per month in hydro, $35 flies out the window for no reason. Over a year that’s $420 for nothing. How does that make you feel? And, beyond that, the production of that wasted energy is cranking up the heat on our planet. It’s bad enough that we use as many resources as we do. But to manufacture them only to waste them demonstrates how unaware we are about what we do on a daily basis.

Phantom power is also a problem. 75% of the energy your home electronics use is consumed when they are OFF. Off, folks. Digest that for a second. Further, up to 10% of household energy used comes from appliances and devices that draw power when they’re turned off. If they’re plugged in, they’re using energy. So, unplug things you don’t regularly use (like toasters, coffee makers, phone chargers, computers), or, purchase a power bar that you can click off, which stops everything in its tracks. Make sure your office equipment and your home entertainment systems are also on power bars that you can turn off. 

Here’s a terrific room-by-room guide from Hydro One that will show you where you can make the most impact by simply turning things completely off. 

Retrofitting doesn’t have to mean thousands of dollars. It can be really simple. Here is some low-hanging fruit you can implement today, that doesn’t cost a ton, and can have a big impact:
  • Change out all your lightbulbs for LEDs, and install motion sensor light switches for lights someone often leaves on (hello children’s bedroom). They’ll turn off automatically.
  • Seal up your leaky windows, doors and baseboards with caulking or spray foam.
  • Beef up insulation in your attic and basement.
  • Install low flow shower heads, taps and toilets.
  • Turn off phantom power. 
For those who want to go the extra mile, try these tips:
  • Update your inefficient heating and cooling systems. Yes, it will cost you to start. But, if your furnace is more than 10 years old, its efficiency is probably no more than 80%. A new high efficiency furnace is 95% efficient. You could save up to 40% in energy costs overall, which translates into money in your pocket.
  • Replace inefficient windows and/or doors. If you can’t afford to do them all at once, do them a few at a time. Some is better than none.
  • Replace inefficient appliances with energy saving ones. And bonus, you may get an energy rebate for that too. Don’t buy ones with unnecessary gadgets - how many digital displays do you need? That clock is draining energy, even if it’s blinking because you don’t know how to set it.
If you are building, or you are ready to go hard core on your updates, consider renewable technologies like:
  • Installing a geothermal system.
  • Solar panels - even some on a south-facing roof can make a tremendous difference to your consumption, and by extension, your wallet.
  • On-demand hot water tanks.
Okay, so today we digressed a bit. But, you get the idea. No matter where you live, or what’s in your home, there are ways you can improve your own efficiency with very little pain, and a whole lot of financial gain. Companies may even help you, giving you a double bang for your buck. And, if you happen to make the planet a little better in the meantime, well, that’s a pretty good payback for buying a few power bars.

Yours in Sustainability,
Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood

52 Weeks of Climate Action was created by Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood. Sherri is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the candidate of record and communications coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Laurel Hood, is a retired secondary teacher, transportation lead for the Collingwood Climate Action Team, and volunteer coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Visit our blog or sign up at www.52weeksofclimateaction.com.

Wednesday, 3 February 2021

Week 42: Hey Big Spender

 

Week 42:

Hey Big Spender

Do you have a budget? I’m sure in a general way you know how much you spend monthly, and you probably know how much you owe, and what your fixed expenses are. But, do you have a budget? An informed projection of how much you will spend this month based on previous months’ data? 

If you do, do you follow your budget?

Getting a handle on our finances, and knowing where our money goes isn’t just good practical advice. Being aware of how you spend helps you manage not only your money but your life. And when you manage your money, and your life, you find that other things fall into place too. As we’ve said before, everything is connected. If you’re taking care of your money, you’re taking care of yourself, your health, your well-being, your family and by extension, the planet. Win-win again folks! Score another point for sustainability!

Don’t sweat it if you haven’t been really paying attention. You’re not alone. A lot of people cross their fingers as they swipe their cards, and if no red lights go off, they take it as a free pass to keep spending. There is so much misinformation and blind purchasing out there, that it’s really easy to just let the bank do everything, and carry on in oblivion as you tap your way to the poorhouse. Trying to sort out your finances can be mind boggling, especially if you’re not born with the pocket protector gene. But, taking the bull by the horns and roping that beast into submission is not as ominous as it may seem. This week, our challenge is to do just that. Get on your ridin’ boots Tex. We’re hitting the rodeo.

Challenge 42: Become aware of your spending.

See? That was pretty painless! But wait, let’s go deeper. How long could you go without spending on anything but groceries? For a day (good); for a week (better); for a month (best).

For an easy challenge, just avoid spending on anything except groceries for as long as you can. In a lockdown world, that might not be as hard as it is on a normal day (remember those?) 
Go ahead and pay your bills of course!

For a deeper challenge, take a look at your statements for the past number of months (you decide how many). Determine how much income you have monthly. If that fluctuates, take an average over a few months and use that. Then, categorize your spending into big chunks. How much are your fixed costs - things that you can’t get rid of: mortgage, insurance, taxes. Those you can’t do too much about unless you start renegotiating a bunch of stuff. If that’s in you, go for it. Godspeed.

Then, tackle your variable expenses. The things you buy that you don’t really have to. Like clothing, gifts, dining out and entertainment. 

Total up each of your categories, and determine what percentage of your monthly income goes toward each category. A pattern will emerge and that will help you figure out what you can live without, or where you can cut back. If your shoe budget eats up 60% of your income, you may need intervention beyond the scope of our expertise!

Once you have your shiny budget in front of you, start scratching things off the list. See if you can reduce those variable categories a bit. Can you get by on 75% of your clothing or take out budget? Probably. 

When everything is laid out in black and white (or red perhaps!), things become much clearer, and you’ll be able to decipher why your money seems to slip through your hands. It’s the same thing with living more sustainably. Once you recognize where the issues are, you can begin to address them systematically, and work towards a better future.

Limiting what you purchase and looking for ways to avoid purchasing anything at all is a terrific exercise in recognizing what’s actually important. If you find after a day you’re itching to surf Amazon, ask yourself what’s missing (not some thing) for you at that moment. Are you lonely? Bored? Angry? Frustrated? Sick of staring at the same four walls? Check. 

Finding ways to replace “things” is something we could all do more of. Maybe you could just talk to someone on the phone (please no more video calls). Or, play cards together online. Or, go for a long walk. Or, play a game with your family. Cook something new. Learn to crochet. Take your pick. Stir things up. There’s got to be something new you’ve never tried that you’ve wanted to.

As we’ve said before, consumerism is one of the main drivers of our climate catastrophe. Did you know that Canadians owe $1.71 for every $1 of disposable income? That’s a terrifying number. We are no longer a society that saves in order to buy what we want. We buy it, and worry about the aftermath. It’s exactly the same way we treat the planet. Abuse it, and then, we’ll deal with the consequences later. Well folks, it’s later. It’s actually about 10 past later. So, we are going to have to be the grown ups, or else watch our kids pick up the pieces. That doesn’t sit so well with me. Time to put our money where our mouths are. Sheryl Crow said it pretty well. It’s not having what you want; it’s wanting what you’ve got.

Yours in Sustainability,
Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood

52 Weeks of Climate Action was created by Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood. Sherri is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the candidate of record and communications coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Laurel Hood, is a retired secondary teacher, transportation lead for the Collingwood Climate Action Team, and volunteer coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Visit our blog or sign up at www.52weeksofclimateaction.com.

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Week 41: Everything Old Is New Again

 

Week 41:

Everything Old Is New Again

I’m not sure where the attitude came from that we need to upgrade everything on a regular basis. The first cell phone I bought was a MuchMusic motophone. When I upgraded it to a smart phone, the salesperson treated it like it was an antique. “Oh, I wanted one of these so bad when I was 10!” she exclaimed with delight. So, I am clearly not an early adopter.

But, there has to be some kind of reckoning between needing something and wanting it. Or buying because you’re bored. Or to keep up with your friend, whose new *whatever* is shinier and neater than yours. Let’s face it. There’s always a new gadget, and, if we keep replacing our old junk with new junk, we’re just going to end up with mountains of trash we can’t contain. Oh, wait a minute…

I am old enough to remember that things didn’t used to be disposable. There was a TV repairman, and a small appliance guy, and a small engine guy, and all were nicely busy fixing things that broke down. I think I’ve said before, last summer our chainsaw broke, and after searching for a repair guy, he informed us that it was junk and to fix it would cost almost as much as buying a new one. So, we bought a super duper battery-powered chain saw that is outstanding, and will probably last us for eternity (thank you Gillian at John Deere dealership!).

Why is consumerism a problem? Because a 2015 study found that 60% (yes six-oh) of gHgs were caused by the production and use of household goods. The more affluent a person becomes, the more things they buy. So the more money you make, the more gHgs you typically produce. You buy stuff because you can. 

On top of that, planned obsolescence is now a thing, meaning that your products may not break down, but the new version may have a few more bells and whistles they hope you just can’t resist.

One of the biggest culprits is fast fashion. Fashion used to change twice a year - spring and fall. Now it changes weekly. Why? Because we are suckers for it. Shopping is a pastime, especially when it comes to clothes. It’s appealing because everything seems so inexpensive. Old Navy, Wal-Mart, Joe Fresh...the list goes on. When you can buy a pair of shoes for $2, why not load up? Well, because you honestly do not need another pair of cheap shoes that aren’t that comfortable and you don’t really like that much. Yes, that t-shirt is only $5. But the person who made it works in deplorable conditions, makes $45 a month, and it is manufactured on the other side of the planet. The environmental cost of that t-shirt is significantly higher than $5, with dyes, chemicals, processing, shipping, and disposal. Because you know, that $5 t-shirt will be shoddy and useless after only a few wears. Buy better quality. Don’t waste your money on 10 t-shirts in different colours when you could’ve bought one really nice one that lasts you years. And, don’t buy what you don’t absolutely need. Do you need 10 t-shirts? No. You really don’t. And neither do your kids. Shopping should not be a hobby. Buying things when you absolutely need them? No problem. Until then, take up crochet. 

So, this week’s challenge is to reconsider your purchases. There are options that don’t involve a trip to the dump.

Challenge 41: Repair things instead of buying new.

How, do you ask? Well, surprisingly, there are a lot of things you can fix yourself if you have a few minutes, and an internet connection. YouTube is a wonder for finding how-to’s on just about anything. Yes, a lot of the instructions are quirky, but, in the end, YouTube has saved us many a repair cost. If you happen to be just a little bit handy, and not too afraid to try it, you may find a new skill you didn’t know you had. Often it only takes a small part that you can order from a local store or online, and you’re all set.

If you can’t fix it yourself, ask a farmer friend. Farmers can fix anything. Literally. Often I come outside to find my friend Dwayne and my husband standing on the driveway staring at some piece of equipment that needs another repair. But, in the end, they figure out a way to do it. If they can’t, Dwayne always knows a guy.

So, take advantage of the wisdom in the community. Try a hardware store, or a farm supply store. Ask questions, and someone will know the answer, and probably have the parts close by that will get you through. If they don’t, they will also Know a Guy.

If you need electronics repairs, especially phones, Mohammed at The Dollar Store on Hurontario St (Collingwood) is amazing, and reasonable.

Before all this Covid nonsense shut down the world, the idea of Repair Fairs was catching on. If you have something broken, you take it to the fair, and onhand were a wonderful bunch of people who could fix it for next to nothing, often while you wait. Got a lamp with a frayed cord? No problem. How about a busted toaster, or fan? Check. Maybe a shoe that needs a new sole, or a dress with a rip. Simple things that can be easily fixed in just a few minutes, if you have the know-how. Hopefully one day soon these kinds of gatherings can be a regular thing again.

Instead of buying something new, try to find a way to fix it. And if you can’t, look at buying higher quality items, preferably with an environmental mindset, so you won’t be replacing things so often. Buying one slightly more expensive fan is better than buying two cheap ones, and sending one to the dump after a few uses.

Adopting your grandmother’s savvy sense of frugality is the new sexy. Try it on. You wear it well.

Yours in Sustainability,
Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood

52 Weeks of Climate Action was created by Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood. Sherri is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the candidate of record and communications coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Laurel Hood, is a retired secondary teacher, transportation lead for the Collingwood Climate Action Team, and volunteer coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Visit our blog or sign up at www.52weeksofclimateaction.com.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Week 40: SpamALot

 

Week 40:

SpamALot

We’ve been together for 40 weeks now. I think I can share some deeply personal information with you. I have a pet peeve. Many, in fact, but, this one relates to this week’s challenge. When I am in a store, take my items to the checkout, and the cashier asks me for my email address. Now that might not bug some of you. Vive la difference. But for me, it’s right up there with “have a good one”. A good one what, I’m not totally sure, but thanks for the well wishes.

When someone asks me for my email, I smile and say no thank you. But, inside, I’m thinking about all the junk they’re going to send me, all the luring to buy cheap goods at low prices. The drive to consumerism, and the already too much stuff that I am lucky enough to have acquired in my lifetime (I vacillate between obsessive packrat and Swedish death cleansing). I know that this innocent request translates into consumer reports, data mining and ways to manipulate us into buying more.

In the spirit of a previous challenge where we began cleaning out our emails,  this week we’ll go one step further. We’ll avoid amassing all those emails in the first place. 

Did you know that 78% of all incoming email is spam? Spam is defined as any unwanted or unsolicited email you receive. About 62 trillion spam messages are sent annually. That’s not the bad news. The bad news is that it requires 33 billion kilowatt hours of energy to power, resulting in 20 million tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. Wow. Just to hear from a Nigerian prince in crisis, or to find out that Old Navy has jeans on sale (again)? 

So, what exactly do we do about it?

Challenge 40: Unsubscribe.

Unsubscribe from sites that encourage you to buy things.

Beyond the annoyance of unwanted email, most of these messages simply want you to buy more more more! Consumerism is alive and well. If we are going to break free of unhealthy habits, we need to consider how much we purchase, whether we need it, and why we want it. Being satisfied with what we have isn’t part of the human condition. In an age where having the newest gadget is all the rage, having offers sent to your inbox makes it all the more difficult to restrain. Compound that by being in lockdown, and you get the picture. You have done a good thing by thwarting temptation! 

Email addresses are a valuable commodity amongst companies trying to get their hands on your wallet. Why? Because they’re a lead. And, unlike the archaic “phone book” where you can look up a person’s name, address and telephone number, there isn’t an “email book” where you can find people’s email addresses. It requires asking directly, or more devious approaches. In essence, it’s harder to get, and when you have it, you have direct access to that person. 

There are very few places you can go, online or otherwise, that does not request you to “sign up”, “get free stuff” or “subscribe”. Why are they giving away such great stuff for free? Because they want your email address!

Handing out your email address willy nilly is not a wise idea. It clogs up your inbox, and leads to the data pollution we talked about before. It also leaves you vulnerable to a bunch of unsolicited information, and scams. Beyond that, there are people actively seeking your email, so they can send you garbage. 

Your email gets dispersed through online subscriptions, social media, online forms and scraping tools. This information is purchased by marketers who use it to target you. You can “unsubscribe” from these emails. There must legally be a link at the bottom so you can do this. If there isn’t, many providers (like Gmail) offer you an “unsubscribe” tool at the top of the page. Going through your emails and selecting the ones you really could live without (hopefully it’s not us!) will get the process started. 

All in all, junk mail is cluttering up our virtual world, and wasting tons of energy unnecessarily. You can be part of the solution with a few simple steps.

After you unsubscribe, here are some more tips from Norton on how to unclutter your inbox. In the article, there are steps outlined for most providers if you’re not sure how to go about it. 
  • Delete junk mail or messages from unfamiliar senders without opening them. 
  • Mark spam or advertising as “spam” and report it. 
  • Keep your email private. Don’t share it with anyone unless absolutely necessary. 
  • Use a third-party spam filter. There are lots of options out there, some free, some not (like McAfee, Norton, AVG). 
  • Change your email address or create an address solely for online purchases. 

Now that you’re spam free, you’ve done your part for the planet this week. Put your feet up and enjoy a job well done!
.
Yours in Sustainability,
Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood

52 Weeks of Climate Action was created by Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood. Sherri is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the candidate of record and communications coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Laurel Hood, is a retired secondary teacher, transportation lead for the Collingwood Climate Action Team, and volunteer coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Visit our blog or sign up at www.52weeksofclimateaction.com.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Week 39: Stay on Solid Ground

 

Week 39:

Stay on Solid Ground

This week’s challenge will be extremely easy for us after yesterday’s new lockdown announcement. We were going to explain to you all the reasons why we should limit travelling, but, the risk of spreading a deadly pandemic honestly wasn’t on our radar when we came up with these challenges a year ago!

Still, it seems some people haven’t gotten the message that we should be staying put. Exhibit A - the number of public figures who took international holidays in the past month, while the rest of us were deciding whether to change into clean track pants, or leave on the ones we’ve worn for the past week. 

The pandemic just adds an exclamation mark to our challenge this week. We’re talking about air travel and cruises, and the damage they do to our environment. 

I know you’re aware of all the amazing pictures of nature regenerating and healing. Fish in the canals of Venice. Clear vistas in India and New York. Wildlife in the streets. With all our machinations over how to heal the planet, the obvious answer is, stop doing damage, and then get out of the way. The reason we have seen an almost 10% decrease in planetary emissions in 2020 is literally because we are not doing as much damage. Less factories spewing chemicals, way less air flights and cars on the roads. More people working from home. And, significantly, less tourism. We’re not pumping as much into the atmosphere, and that’s a good thing. But, as we know, it’s short lived once the pandemic loosens its grip.

Studies show that emissions from tourism account for about 8% of the global total. Air travel makes up a good portion of this. Cruises do not get off so easily either - they are tremendous abusers, not only with huge emissions, but in general pollution of our oceans. 

So, once we are given the all-clear for business as usual, we need to reconsider whether that’s really what we want. Are we going back to the way we were, or are we going to accept the gift of this time to think, and change things for the better? 

Challenge 39: Analyze how you travel.

If you love to travel, review your travel plans. Commit to reducing your air travel and cruises. If you just can’t face (in normal times) a Canadian winter, here are some tips to reduce your impact when you do travel:
-Book direct flights. One flight is better than 2 or 3 connecting flights.
- Stay longer. I’m sure you don’t need convincing to do that (good option)!
-Go less often. If you normally take a distance holiday once a year, cut it back to once every second or third year (better option)
- Don’t fly (best option). Choose holidays where you can take a train or drive instead.
-If you do fly, buy carbon offsets - which is too little too late in my opinion but at least it’s something.

If you’re looking for some more tips, try this BBC article.

With many of us on limited holiday time, we’ve taken a Type-A personality approach to our holidays. Get in, get out as fast as possible. Fill the interval between with abundant activity to get your money/time worth. Take massive amounts of pictures to remind yourself you were away, because you didn’t actually have time to take in your surroundings. Sounds relaxing, doesn’t it? 

I read a lovely article by someone who had taken the train recently. She mentioned how wonderful it was to see the scenery go by, to have a pleasant meal in the dining car, to chat with fellow travellers. In essence, she was talking about how the journey is the destination. Getting there is half the fun, if you let it be.

I know if you have ever driven south with a car full of children, you may be cocking an eyebrow at that. You’re right. If you’re looking for perfection, I have bad news. It isn’t real. There is no way to have a perfect vacation. But, there are a million ways to have a really good one. And, all those things that seem like disasters when they’re happening turn out to be your funny stories that will keep on entertaining family gatherings for years to come. It’s all gold.

I am a fan of distant and exotic travel. I love a new culture, new language, new experiences. So, I was skeptical about the staycation until we tried it. We rented a cottage about an hour from home, on the water, with a sandy beach. It was a raving success. I felt like I had been away for a month. I read at least five books sitting with my feet in the sand, and my kids playing nearby. We ate all kinds of things that are terrible for us. We played crazy games and did puzzles. We went for sunset walks every night, and had a campfire on the beach with guitars and lots of laughter. Everyone could do what fit for them, without the stress of “where is your passport”, and “do you seriously have to pee, AGAIN!” We’ve revisited that cottage at least twice a summer for the past 8 years. Now, my sister and her family come too, and cousins enjoy spending long hours swimming, paddle boarding and building sandcastles together. We’re having a wonderful time, and also building family bonds that I hope will last long after I’m gone.

So while you’re stuck at home for the next month, review your travel options. You may find that being at home is actually the best place in the world to be. As T.S. Eliot said, 

...the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.


Be grateful for where you live, and what you have.
.
Yours in Sustainability,
Sherri Jackson & Laurel Hood

52 Weeks of Climate Action was created by Sherri Jackson and Laurel Hood. Sherri is a writer, speaker and musician. She is the candidate of record and communications coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Laurel Hood, is a retired secondary teacher, transportation lead for the Collingwood Climate Action Team, and volunteer coordinator for the Simcoe-Grey Greens. Visit our blog or sign up at www.52weeksofclimateaction.com.

Week 45: Cool It!

  Week 45: Cool It! Remember last week when we talked about how hot is too hot? We’re continuing the theme this week. How hot is it in your ...