Thursday, January 12, 2012

Resolutions Part II: Give Back

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To suggest such a vague New Year's resolution such as giving back, I realize it could really mean a number of things. Giving back could mean giving back to your community or donating money.  It could mean volunteering and giving up your time to help others. It could even giving back to yourself, to your health, and so on.

In any case, what I am suggesting is to giving back to the earth by cutting back on consumption and waste.

Reducing your carbon footprint

What is a carbon footprint?

In pretty simple terms, from carbonfootprint.com:  "a carbon footprint is a measure of the impact our activities have on the environment, and in particular climate change. It relates to the amount of greenhouse gases produced in our day-to-day lives through burning fossil fuels for electricity, heating and transportation," and so on.

So basically, everything we do from brushing our teeth in the morning to driving home at night, to cooking dinner or taking out the trash, can have a huge impact on the environment and effect global warming. 

Why it matters?

The most obvious reason, which was mentioned, is that it effects the environment.  And we live in the environment so really, it is effecting each and every one of us, especially our health.  But the not so obvious reason, the one we don't think about as we live our lives each day, is that our everyday actions consume energy that produces carbon dioxide emissions.  These actions include driving your car to work, heating your house, washing your clothes, even drinking a cup of coffee.

We can of course offset these emissions by making better choices to help reduce global warming and other environmental harms.

How you can reduce yours:

The first step to reducing is to first calculate your carbon footprint This is the best way to see where you stand and in which areas you can improve on.  From there you can develop a strategy or simply, start taking steps each day to make better choices.

If you drive to work, try car pooling.  If you heat your office or home, try reducing the heat and add some layers of clothing.  If you wash your clothes in hot water, switch to cold water.  Change the light bulbs in your house to compact flourescent light (CFL) or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs. The list really can go on and on.

For more information on how you can reduce your carbon food print visit:

Reducing your water footprint

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What is a water footprint?

Similar to a carbon footprint, your water footprint is defined by your actions and the impact they have on the environment.  Only in this case, it "is defined as the total volume of freshwater used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community or produced by the business" (Wikipedia).

For many, a water footprint is still a mystery, but when I first learned about what it was and got the chance to calculate mine, I was shocked at how much water I actually used in a day.  It is really surprising just how much water it takes to deliver every day items that we take for granted.  For example, from waterfootprint.org, the production of one kilogram of beef requires 15,000 litres of water.  Compare that to potatoes which only require about 115 litres or lettuce which requires about 55-60 litres, and you"ll know what I'll be eating for dinner tonight.

To learn more about the water footprint of everyday food items, check out Tree Hugger

To learn more on how you can reduce your water footprint, please visit: National Geographic

Volunteer for good cause

One of the easiest ways to give back this year, is to offer your time to others or to a greater cause.  Volunteering can benefit more then just those you help or your community, it can be self-rewarding too. But it's not just about that.  It's also about being part of something bigger and more important then yourself.

If you're not sure where to get started, here are a few websites that might help give you some ideas:
As for myself (and Mike), we will be volunteering at one of my all-time favourite places to visit in Toronto, Evergreen Brick Works.  Going green and giving back.


Good luck with your goals and happy 2012!

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