How to create peace in your Bedroom.

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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.

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Transportation: the balancing of sustainability and ease

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I’ve been car-less for over 5 years now. Despite what many people assume, my licence was not plucked from my shaking hands after a terrible accident nor was it a product of bad financial decisions.

I got rid of my car for a much simpler reason: I wanted to.

My choice to go car-less was one of the first challenges I undertook, as I worked to better align my life with my personal values.   Continue reading

Everything is connected – our bodies, our world.

This absolutely powerful TED talk by Eve Ensler, touched me in a way I cannot explain. She shares her heart wrenching insights into the connection between our awareness of and compassion for our bodies and the body of our world.

Cancer exploded the wall of my disconnection. I suddenly understood that the crisis in my body was the crisis in the world – and it wasn’t happening later, it was happening now. Suddenly my cancer was the cancer that was everywhere: the cancer of cruelty, the cancer of greed, the cancer that gets inside people who live downstream from chemical plants (and they are usually poor), the cancer inside the coal miners lungs, the cancer of stress for not achieving enough, the cancer of buried trauma, the cancer in caged chickens and polluted fish, the cancer in women’s uterus from being raped, the cancer that is everywhere from our carelessness.

In his new and visionary book, New Self, New World, the writer Philip Shepherd says, “If you are divided from your body, you are also divided from the body of the world. Which then appears to be other than you or separate from you, rather than the living continuum to which you belong.”

Before cancer, the world was something ‘other’. It was as if I was living in a stagnant pool, and cancer dynamited the boulder that separated me from the larger sea. Now I am swimming in it. Now I lay down in the grass and I rub my body in it, and I love the mud on my legs and feet. Now I take a daily pilgrimage to visit a particular weeping willow, and I hunger for the green fields in the bush, and when it rains, hard rain, I scream and run in circles. I know that everything is connected.

 

I hope her pure passion resonates with you – like it did with me.

What struck you about her talk? Please share below!


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Interface: Net-Works (making waste beautiful)

 

I had the honor of talking recently with Erin Meezan, the Vice President of Sustainability for Interface. Her passion for her work and the positive impact on the large breadth of people touched was truly inspiring.

Interface are leaders in the industry showing that fully integrated sustainability is not merely a theoretical idea, but can be tangibly accomplished and perpetuated within a business.  They transparently report on their ecological footprint, including progress in: Energy, Climate, Waste, and Transportation.

Looking for a way to reduce the environmental impact of nylon even further, they launched Net-Works.

“Net-Works enables local residents to collect discarded nets, which wreak havoc with the marine ecosystem, and sell them back into a global supply chain – giving those destructive, broken nets a second life as beautiful and long-lasting carpet tile. The product of an unlikely partnership, the Net-Works programme is proof that when business, conservation, and communities innovate together, we can create positive, sustainable change.”  

This initiative is not only lowering their impact, but also infusing local economies, while helping to clean up coastal environments. In the first 2 years, Net-Works has expanded to reach to 24 communities, with over 4,000 people benefiting from alternative income, and more than 35 metric tonnes of waste nets have been salvaged and turned into carpet tiles.

I can only begin to imagine how this world would change, if more companies looked for win-win solutions that not only positively impacted their bottom line – but also people and the world we live in.

Can you think of innovative win-win solutions you could apply to the work you are currently doing? Please share below!

 

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My Home Energy Project: Step 2 – Heating

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Today it really felt like winter: cold crisp morning, snow filled streets, and pitch black ride home.

You know what that means?

Now is the perfect time to optimize your heating. Regardless of what region you live in, heating and cooling are likely your largest energy loads. The U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates that it accounts for a whopping 48% of our household use.

It’s a big job to take on, but try not to get overwhelmed – this process might take a month or multiple years. Do your research. Stay within your budget. Remember that even the smallest step forward is better than nothing at all. Look for the low hanging fruit first – the no/low cost, easy pay backs – working up to the more expensive initiatives (when/if you are able).

Lets take a look at Heating.

Before purchasing my condo, I knew there were features that would work in my favor to reduce my heating bill: having south facing windows, neighbors on four sides generously sharing their heat with me, not to mention all those under me (I live on the 5th floor, and we all know heat rises). Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages to living in a condo as well, which impact my energy initiatives. The shell of my building (insulation, windows etc) are controlled by the condo – and so little to no savings can be found here for me.

When purchasing a house, be sure to consider the shape, orientation, building envelope, and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning). These items are key to the potential energy efficiency of your home.

Beyond the ‘bones’ of the building, there are still many other initiatives we can control and improve:

  • Conservation – This is always the least costly way to reduce energy for any category. No fancy tech needed, zero cost.
  • Social Benchmarking – Get a little support and encouragement to continue your personal efforts to reduce energy consumption. Using social benchmarking helps you to understand how your energy consumption compares to others and creates community around common energy reduction goals.
  • Programmable Thermostats – There are an abundance of innovative programmable and ‘intelligent’ systems out there such as the Nest, unfortunately many do not work for baseboard heat. They are certainly flashy, great for engagement – particularly with the tech savvy – but if your budget is tight or you’d prefer low tech there are other more basic and cost effective products which will do the trick just as well, if not better. I purchased Honeywells RLV4300, which is a 5-2 day programmable thermostat for baseboard heaters. You can pick them up at local buildings stores for ~$30 each. For spaces I anticipate I’ll regularly use I programmed them at 21 Celsius (~70 Fahrenheit) and 19 Celsius (~66 Fahrenheit) for rooms I rarely use. I lowered this to 16 Celsius (~60 Fahrenheit) for periods when I wont be home, or am asleep.
  • Insulate Hot water tank – You can purchase insulation for hot water tanks and pipes at local building stores for ~$25.
  • Blackout curtains –  These are made with thermal-backed material which provide insulation. In the winter close the curtains after dark (to keep the cold out), and open during the day (to gain some solar heat). You can also use these during the summer, by reversing the time when you open and close. They can be purchased at general department stores as curtains for ~$20, or you can pick up fabric and make them yourself (as curtains or adhere them to existing blinds)
  • Weatherproofing – Air leaks account for the largest energy loss from your home. Seal everything that you can, such as exterior doors, windows, light fixtures, electrical outlets, even ceiling fans.
  • Behavioral – This is where energy conservation gets awfully fun, and potentially downright stylish. Rock an ugly Christmas sweater all season long. Snuggle with your dog (or partner). Learn to love socks. Use it as a perfect excuse to splurge on a handmade rug from Etsy. Use your imagination!

Additional initiatives for those who own homes:

  • Energy Audit – provides insight into the initiatives that would have the most impact in your home
  • Insulation– remember to compare the R-value when purchasing (higher is better)
  • Windows – consider triple or double glazed windows
  • HVAC System – how efficient is your furnace or air conditioning system?

I think its important to remember that energy reduction should start at home. If you are passionate about sustainability, green house gases, carbon emissions, climate change, air pollution, water contamination or the destruction of natural habitats – take this into your own hands. Many people agree these are important issues, but few are willing or informed enough to make changes in their personal lives. Saving energy is not just about reducing your energy bill, it’s about investing in our future and living out our beliefs.

Join me in becoming part of the solution.

Challenge: Commit to implement one positive energy reducing initiative in your home. Post what you will implement below & update us when you do.

 

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