9 eco-friendly resolutions for a greener year!

Have you made resolutions to reduce your ecological footprint?

Have you made any New Year’s resolutions? To lose weight, exercise more, or take more time for yourself, perhaps? Why not start the year with some new habits that will help to reduce your ecological footprint all year long, both at home and at the office? Here are a few ideas:

Energy: turn down the heat 3°C at night and get out your sweaters and wool socks! Install electronic thermostats, they are more precise and can help you save up to 10% of the energy required for heating. (More tips here)

Waste: if you don’t already compost, install a home composter as soon as the snow melts! Spring cleaning? Before throwing anything away, consider reusing or repurposing.  If your items are in good condition, donate them to local charities or take them to the eco-centre in your municipality. You are welcome to leave your clothing and other textiles in one of the Certex donation bins located on site at seven of our plants.

Water: install low-flow faucet aerators and place a water displacement device in the toilet tank to reduce the amount of water used per flush. (More tricks for reducing your water consumption here)

Shopping: try to buy local or fair trade products as often as possible. It’s good for the local economy and reduces the carbon footprint resulting from transportation.

Innovation: opt for innovative and/or energy efficient products that will help you reduce your energy consumption. If you are replacing household appliances, look for Energy Star products. There are a number of purchasing guides available; the following guide is on electronic devices.

For help deciphering the multitude of green labels on products, consult the following blog.

Finances: before buying a product, ask yourself whether you really need it. Reducing consumption is the first of the 4Rs!

At work: make a suggestion for how to better manage waste and recyclables. Install a recycling bin under each desk, and a small waste basket. That way, people will be more likely to place recyclables in the bin! Use both sides of the paper when printing, and use recycled paper. Drink your coffee from a reusable mug. Prepare waste-free lunches using reusable containers and water bottles, and metal utensils. Look for colleagues you can carpool with. Even if it’s just once a week, it’s pleasant and economical!

Influence: Try to motivate a place that you visit regularly to adopt better environmental practices. For example, ask a restaurant to recycle, or a fitness centre to install shower timers to reduce the use of hot water. Try to convince someone you know to change an annoying habit, such as your neighbour who hoses off his driveway in the summer (lend him a broom!) or your co-worker who starts her car remotely 10 minutes before the end of the work day.

Get involved: Think about volunteering and getting involved in your community. Give some of your time to an organization you believe in, or get together with colleagues and organize your own community activity. Everybody will benefit!

Do you have any “green” resolutions you’d like to propose? What will you do to reduce your eco footprint in 2014?

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About the Author
Marie-Eve Chapdelaine

Marie-Eve Chapdelaine is a specialist in sustainable development and has worked at Cascades since 2006. She is particularly interested in building public awareness and changing attitudes regarding social and environmental issues. In her role at Cascades, Marie-Eve uses her expertise to inform, guide and support her colleagues in maintaining the company’s leadership position in sustainable development. She has earned an undergraduate degree in public communications from Université Laval and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in environment at Université de Sherbrooke. “I’ve always been interested in environmental causes, but also in social issues. Sustainable development allows me to pursue both interests at once. What better than to work at Cascades, a beacon in this area, and a company that is open to implementing all sorts of measures to improve performance and maintain its leadership position.” Because she believes every citizen needs to take responsibility for improving their living environment, Marie-Eve is also socially engaged, sitting on several community boards and committees.

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