As the end of the year quickly approaches, I have realized that my goal of reducing my STUFF is far from complete. At the start of the year I was giddy with enthusiasm, reading great resources, tackling small projects, but the energy quickly dissipated.
As I spend the largest percentage of time in my bedroom, I figured it would be the best area to begin. Over the past few weeks, I have gone through absolutely everything in my room – from boxes to books, cosmetics to art, you name it!
Creating room in my bedroom has created room in my mind.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jane Porter is a sustainability consultant at Stratos and Co-Founder of HUB Ottawa. She has a Masters of Corporate Environmental Management from the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland), and a Bachelor in International Business from Carleton University. Her passion is innovating for sustainability and her specialty is making it happen through thinking big, collaborating across networks, and facilitating dialogue.
Jane, from your experience at Stratos (a leading Sustainability Consultant), what are the largest motivating factors for organizations to integrate sustainability?
Three key motivating factors which I often see in my work, include:
Risk management – Environmental, social and governance issues often represent major risks (and opportunities) that need to be managed by the company if they want to continue to do business.
Executive influence – Executive leaders who have a strong vision for sustainability and Board members who ask challenging environmental/social questions influence the organizations’ values and help ensure initiatives are supported and properly resourced.
Investment decisions – Investors are increasingly looking to make ‘ethical investments’ and many long term investors don’t want to invest in companies whose entire industry may be moot in 50 years (e.g., fossil fuels).
I have been blessed to volunteer with the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) regional chapters, both in the Greater Toronto Area and Ottawa Region, over the past 5 years. My spirit has been enriched through shared passion, education, and collective action.
The CaGBCs mission is to ‘lead and accelerate the transformation to high-performing, healthy green buildings, homes and communities throughout Canada’.
Buildings are the largest contributor of human caused green house gases. Sustainable buildings add value in many ways – from lower environmental impacts (increased waste diversion, and reduced energy and water consumption), better occupant health and productivity, reduced operating expenses, to top talent acquisition and retention. Living, working, and playing in green buildings should be a top priority for those who care about the environment, their health, or their wallet. Continue reading →
Jamie McKay is self described “Husband, Father, principal at Morrison Hershfield (15 yrs), LEED Fellow, adjunct teacher (Carleton University), lecturer (CaGBC & USGBC), engineer, environmentalist, dumpster diver, artist/designer/builder, canoe paddler, skateboarder, and telemark skier – and that about sums it up”. Quite impressive!
Jamie, as a recognized leader in Sustainable Building Design, where was your passion born?
In 1995 I graduated from Civil Engineering at Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario) and headed to the Yukon Territory, in search of adventure and autonomy. I met many people living radically different lives than anything I’d ever seen before, and was exposed to many new ideas. It was there that I first found my passion for the environment and self-sufficient housing. This was also where I met my wife, a staunch environmental activist. I began to seek out any information I could about the field of sustainable construction, and ultimately moved to Victoria (1997) and Vancouver (1999). It was there that I became involved in the emergence of the green building industry, and got inspired by local legends: David Suzuki, Peter Busby and Guy Dauncey. One of my first deep green projects was Dock Side Green in Victoria, B.C. (a Windmill project) Continue reading →