Written by Paul Krajewski (@PaulKrajewski)
Photos by deJourdan’s by Lifetouch
Environment Lethbridge was launched in 2014 to be the city’s foremost source of information on environmental sustainability. Its Sixth Street South office is now open and staff are ready to engage residents in our community and help us all learn what it means to create environmental sustainability in Southern Alberta. With that and the Home & Garden Show in mind, we’ve got 12 tips and hints to get you started.
Environmentally sustainable tips for your home & garden.
1. Let it Grow: Trees do much more than simply add aesthetic appeal to your home and yard. Not only does a tree provide you with clean air, it can also give your home shade and shelter from Southern Alberta’s abundant sunlight and infamous winds. Trees also help reduce soil erosion and provide shelter to local wildlife.
2. Get Dirty: The benefits to planting, tending, and harvesting a backyard garden extend far beyond environmental sustainability. Not only can you drastically reduce your ecological footprint, you can also improve the health of your family by providing them with nutrient-rich foods. Or take it a step further and build a greenhouse for year-round use.
3. Compost like a Pro: Avoid chemicals and pesticides in your garden by using all-natural compost to enrich the soil with natural goodness, or better yet, begin composting yourself. It’s an easy and efficient way of diverting waste while providing your garden with a natural nutrient-rich supplement.
4. The Three Rs: Apply the classic sustainability model to your life wherever you can. Reduce waste consumption by keeping track of what and how you consume, search for ways to reuse items before throwing them in the waste bin, and recycle anything that is labeled as recyclable. Doing these simple things will enable you to take control of how you consume and how much waste you produce.
5. Conserve Water: Reducing your water consumption is easy. Be aware of how much you’re consuming and why, then look to find ways you can do more with less. Installing low-flush toilets and water-saving shower heads in your home and adding rain barrels and sprinkler system timers to your yard are a few additions you can use to help manage your water consumption.
6. Xeriscaping: Turn your yard into a scene reflective of Southern Alberta’s natural habitat. Xeriscaping is a landscaping technique that incorporates foliage common to our region in order to minimize the need for excessive watering and irrigation. Native foliage is resilient to its climate and only requires as much moisture as the environment permits.
7. Light the Way: How we light our lives is one simple way we can reduce our eco-footprint. Replace outdated halogen bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs in your home and yard. LED bulbs last up to 50 per cent longer and provide a much cleaner, direct light. You can also install motion-censored light fixtures on your home’s exterior and solar powered lights throughout the property to further reduce your energy consumption.
8. Renovate & Build Responsibly: When renovating or building your home, it’s important to keep in mind what materials you are using. Find ways to incorporate energy-efficient or eco-friendly materials in your construction.
9. Containment: Heating and cooling your home efficiently requires a delicate balance between your home’s airflow and airtightness. To ensure your home’s air system is working effectively, improve or replace windows and doors and add caulking and insulation. This will reduce drafts and heat loss while improving your home’s ability to maintain its temperature.
10. Eco-friendly Overhaul: Replace your home’s heating and cooling systems, hot water tank, and appliances with energy-efficient products and equipment to greatly reduce your home’s overall power consumption. Look for EnerGuide and Energy Star labels on furnaces, stoves, fridges, and more to be sure you’re getting the best eco-friendly product possible.
11. Renewable Energy: If you can afford it, install a geothermal heating system or solar panel array to heat and power your home with renewable energy for years to come. The initial start-up costs are substantial, but the savings on the environment and your pocketbook are even greater in the long run.
12. Find Efficiencies: In everything we do, from recycling and water conservation to building practices and alternative energies, we need to find ways of making the most out of what we are already doing. Finding efficiencies is about maximizing our sustainability while minimizing our ecological footprint. Find a more effective way of sorting your recyclables, maximize your home’s heating ability by installing an electronic thermostat, or minimize your waste production by purchasing non-packaged foods from local farmer’s markets, are simply a few ways you can do what you do even better.
Read more about Environment Lethbridge in the March/April issue of Lethbridge living.