Do you measure your personal Environmental Impact?

Over the past few years, I have attempted to change my life to be less impactful. It has been a challenge to say the least. From transportation to energy, and this year waste, some of you have watched as I found ways to tackle and slowly chip away at solutions.

My journey has been incredibly rewarding, but also made me realize that each person who cares about the environment may not necessarily have tools to help them to quickly understand what aspects of their current lifestyle create the largest impacts, and how they too can make small changes towards big solutions.

I want to work towards creating a solution for this – and I need your help!

My Ask: 5 seconds to answer 3 questions, and share this post with your network (re-blog, facebook, LinkedIn, twitter, etc) – so that I can get feedback from as many people as possible to start moving towards.

Survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/5QJTFWG

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you!

STUFF Project: Accessories

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Accessories are a way to breathe life into otherwise yawn-able outfits. My particular addiction? Necklaces. Perhaps it was born back in university when I had a summer job beside a bead store and found myself spending countless hours designing jewelry.

Accessories, as I refer to in this blog, will be comprised of: bags, purses, glasses, belts, hats, jewelry and shoes.

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STUFF Project: How to create a wardrobe you love

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After attempting the first challenge of purging 5 items a week, I realized that being more systematic about my purge may be beneficial (with 5 items being an absolute minimum). I’ve decided to assess one category of stuff at a time. This past week, I have planned out a complete purge of my clothes.

Reducing the amount of clothes in your closet will help you to: get rid of what you don’t need, provide clothes to people who do (donation), breathe new life to old clothes that were previously hidden, and increase the ease at which you pull together outfits.

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STUFF Project: Purge 5 things a week

As I began to look at where to start in order to change my relationship with what I own, it didn’t take too much investigating to realize something glaringly obvious:

I have too much STUFF.

From a front closet bursting with bins, to a bedroom which boasts in functionality but lacks in peacefulness, to a storage unit which is filled to the brim (and occasionally overflows when some unsuspecting visitor opens it); impressive organizational skills are able to disguise but not truly address my problem.

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My Home Energy Project: Step 4 – Green Energy

Over the past two years, I have been working to reduce the impact of the energy consumed by my home. From creating an energy baseline, to minimizing heating/cooling and lighting loads, I have been able to reduce my energy consumption by over 20% for the household.

Plug loads were planned to be the next main area of focus for further reducing my energy consumption. However, there is a fine balance to be played between the waste created by discarding old appliances and the energy savings available. These trade offs should be weighed individually.

I lucked out that when I purchased my home as it came with recently replaced energy star appliances – and so, although there may be more efficient models available, I have decided to make responsible energy choices for these appliances only when they are in need of being replaced. Additionally, lets face it, new appliances can be expensive – and as someone who recently finished a MBA in September, my bank account is not prepared to make any major purchases unless it absolutely needs to.

In the meantime, I wanted to make progress on reducing the impact in regards to the source of my energy. My energy (including heat) comes solely from the electric grid. Depending on where you live, the energy fed into the grid can come from a variety of sources, including many heavily polluting one such as coal, oil or gas.

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The above table shows Canadian provinces and how their energy is generated. Provinces with more energy generated by higher polluting sources will benefit the most from switching to renewable energy – however all provinces will benefit.

Many people think about renewable energy being only onsite (such as rooftop mounted solar panels), but it doesn’t have to be. Options exist (such as Bullfrog Power) to purchase renewable energy remotely, allowing less upfront financial investment or ongoing maintenance with similar environmental benefit. Renewable energy certificates (REC’s) ensure that the same amount of energy you purchase is provided to the grid from a renewable source.  This money helps to fund new green energy projects increasing the amount of green energy on the grid, which helps to fight climate change and air pollution.

The best part? I was able to do this for less than $15/month. 

What are your thoughts on switching your home over to renewable energy? Do you have any experience with onsite or remote renewable energy? What do you think the largest road block for you would be?

Check out previous entries about My Home Energy Project.


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My new challenge for 2016? Get a handle on STUFF.

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The end of a calendar year is always a time of reflection for me – remembrance of the beauty hidden in small moments and what they have collectively taught me.

2015 was both challenging and immensely rewarding. However, it wasn’t the obvious things (such as achieving my MBA or P.Eng) that stand out when I reflect, but rather matters of the heart: relationships which helped me to grow, illness which made me aware of the fragility of life, and a happiness project which significantly altered the way I choose to interpret experiences.

This past year shook me, in the best way possible. I have emerged, I would like to think, stronger. My new challenge for 2016? Get a handle on STUFF. 

There are strong social narratives which have coloured our relationship with physical possessions. I want to explore these in depth, through examining their impact on my own life. I hope to make changes over the next year which will break this endless want for more “stuff” and to determine a strategy for reducing my home’s waste footprint.

I hope you consider joining me! What have you learned from your experiences in 2015? Do you have any New Year’s Resolutions? I would love to hear more about them in the comments below!


 

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My Happiness Project: Stage 4

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This is the final stretch of my Happiness Project – a resolution to explore happiness. I have been attempting  3 new tactics every quarter of 2015, and I invite you to join me!

After much deliberation, the final three happiness tactics are as follows:

  • Audit & Assess your life – Book an hour or two over the next week. Sit down with a notebook, and be realistic about what a current week looks like for you. Track how much time is spent on different activities. Which of these activities do you enjoy? Which ones do you not? Are there activities which you love or find meaningful which you aren’t currently making time for? Would you rather have more time with family and pay a company to upkeep your home? Could you negotiate a swap with a friend (ie. you fix things up in their home, they cook home made meals for you) to do more of what you love and less of what you don’t? Question long held assumptions. Get creative. Implement changes.
  • Meaningful work – Most people spend the vast majority of their time at work, so it is no surprise that there is a direct correlation with overall happiness. Every year staying in a job that doesn’t inspire you is investing 2,000+ hours in a draining experience. If you aren’t currently doing work you love, start taking steps to make a change.
  • Giving to others –  Research has shown that doing things to help others can bring meaning and increase happiness, the magic number is 100 hours/year (or ~2 hours/week). Organize a regular volunteering session at a local food bank, visit an elderly friend who doesn’t have family in the city, or help a family who doesn’t have a car to pickup a heavy item they need. Look ahead, and schedule it in.

Over the past 9 months we have focused on: identifying 5 things we are grateful for (daily), meditating, removing one negative thing from our lives, investing in 5 meaningful relationships, exercising daily, creating a happy music playlist, disconnecting one night a week, making time for what you love, and getting 8 hours of sleep.

As I reflect on the past year, and the initiatives I have attempted, I have come to realize that there is a distinct difference between happiness (feeling based, in the present moment) and meaning (the bigger picture, incorporates our internal narratives around past experience and future projections).

I believe a meaningful life can be achieved through consistent intentional choices – both in terms of personal action as well as (perhaps more importantly) personal perception.  

For those of you who have implemented happiness initiatives – have you felt a change in your perspective? Be sure to share them below! What did you find most rewarding? For those of you who haven’t yet, consider trying your own  Happiness Project as your 2016 New Years resolution! I promise you won’t be disappointed.


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