7 Ways to Actually Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, This Week
This is our first in a series of posts we're creating on living a sustainable life.
This amazing, insightful and informative inaugural post is by Anna Hardwick. Settle in and let Anna motivate you to make a difference...
If you were with me in ugly-crying watching Greta Thunberg take down the UN General Assembly at the Climate Summit, you may be feeling anxious to make some lasting changes in your life. I ugly cried again while listening to the speeches at the Climate Strike rally at Queen’s Park last month. Seeing children with creative placards asking us adults for a habitable earth to grow up in was both inspiring and heartbreaking. If you’re on Clementine Fields’ site, you’re probably already buying natural body care and household products, and may well be practicing most of this already. If you're wondering how to get started, here are some next steps (by no means comprehensive) that are actually easy to implement as well as easy on the pocketbook.
1. Practice green eating. “A major report on land use and climate change says the West's high consumption of meat and dairy produce is fuelling global warming,” according to a UN special report.
2. Practice gratitude – for the air we breathe, the land we step on and the clean water we have to drink (in luckier parts of Canada and the world).
3. Practice slow fashion.
4. Practice going plastic-free.
5. Practice carbon offsetting and rethink your transportation.
6. Practice body love and ditch conventional pads and tampons.
7. Practice compassion and support organizations that support education for women and girls.
If you need more convincing detail, keep reading.
1. Eat plants. We’ve known this for years. If Timmy’s and McDonald’s are jumping on the bandwagon with meatless meals, it’s a sign that even giant corporations are getting the message that plant-based eating is here to stay. I became a vegan in high school in a fit of environmental (and let’s face it — body image) concern and kept it up for a decade until I started to wither into a shivering anemic. I reluctantly added meat back into my diet but I try to choose it less and choose organic animal products. I’m irrepressibly joyful at farmers' markets, and I grow my own veg at my inn, The Ferg, in Prince Edward County. My latest discovery is oat milk. It uses seven times less water to produce than almond milk, you can make it at home, (here’s a recipe) and it tastes creamy and lightly sweet. Here’s some good evidence to choose more plant-based milks.
2. Practice gratitude. I mean it. Recently, there was a fire in my apartment building, and a lot of my stuff and all my plastic items were destroyed by smoke. As I rebuilt my life in my new home, I realized how little I actually needed. I bought only glass storage containers and purged most of my clothes. Deepening my gratitude practice let me see how much I already have. Gratitude for the land I walk on, for the simple beauty I see in the changing seasons, and for every meal grown for me by farmers, helps me with present-moment awareness and contentment. It also keeps me out of the stores.
3. Practice slow fashion. The fast-fashion industry is one of the worst environmental and humanitarian disasters we’ve created. Clothes are often made in terrible, unsafe working conditions by underage workers, contain petrochemicals, each garment comes packaged in cellophane, and any unsold product is incinerated. I used to be guilty of running into Zara’s to buy an outfit for an audition or an event. I gave myself a challenge in 2019, however, to buy only ecologically-made fashion, vintage, or to attend clothing swaps. I’ve even signed up for a fashion subscription service, Rent Frock Repeat. I believe when you set an intention aligned with a higher purpose, the earth conspires to help you get there. I ended up meeting Julie, of the wonderful Queen West eco-clothing boutique, Logan & Finley, and she asked me to do a photoshoot in The County (and she found me some new favourite items).
4. Think before you buy. I recently read a depressing article about the recycling crisis in Canada. Only nine percent of plastic is ever recycled. Now that China has refused to buy our recyclable waste, some cities are just sitting on piles of soon to be landfill. Studies show using the blue bin helps us feel virtuous, but a larger rethink of our purchasing power is in order. Buy multi-use products in glass containers that you can reuse, like One Love Organics Skin-Saviour Multi-Tasking Wonder Balm. I use it as a makeup remover on their cleansing sponge (goodbye single-use cotton pads). It’s also a beautifully rich moisturizer for winter months.
As Ingrid's friend, I’m not allowed to go anywhere with her without my reusable bags and containers and bless her, it’s now second nature for me. I love this Joico coffee cup and I’m never without it. You can pressure the big grocery store chains to reduce unnecessary plastic through this Greenpeace campaign, and you can refill containers at bulk stores, The Karma Co-op and The Unboxed Market, here in Toronto.
Microplastics in our seas now outnumber stars in the galaxy. Why add to this tragedy?
5. Practice carbon offsetting. While this isn’t a perfect science and may be just a balm for our guilt, we can choose to invest in companies that plant trees and develop alternative power sources. Canada produces the most greenhouse gas emissions of any other G20 country.
Calculate your personal carbon footprint here and buy credits to offset your travel and home’s output. I used to clock 60km a day biking around the city to various acting and teaching gigs. I now drive a little Prius, and while I feel like a jerk for using a car, I at least have a lower-emitting one. According to this calculation, I have to plant 19 trees annually if I want to offset my new car habit. Look into converting your current whip to propane and hopefully there will be more affordable electric car options and better transit routes in the very near future.
6. If you’re still using conventional pads and tampons with plastic applicators, stop. Just stop. Please. Not only for your health (pesticides and dyes leaching into your body? Non gracias.) but for our oceans and waterways. The number one thing I see washed up on the beaches when I walk my dog is used tampon applicators. Think of how many in your life you’ve already sent to landfill. Luna pads and the Diva Cup are great options, as are recycled cotton pads and tampons, available at health food stores.
7. Support organizations that support girls’ and women’s education. This increases equity in the world and reduces poverty (an issue that climate change will exacerbate). Women and girls are the most vulnerable to food insecurity and issues associated with climate change. Here’s a great article on the subject, as well as this one from The Brookings Institute. Consider donating time or money to an organization that supports women, like Plan Canada, or one of my local faves, Sistering.
I do believe this is the fight of our lives. Change is uncomfortable, but now more than ever, we must be willing to change to ensure a future for the next generations. We have eleven years to prevent irreversible climate catastrophe. The technology is out there. We can do it. What changes have you been making to ease your carbon footprint? Whatever steps you're taking, I'm sure Greta would be proud.
I’m a nature freak, a health nut, a professional actress, yogini, hotelier and world traveller. I am on a constant quest for the cleanest, greenest skincare to soothe my dry, sensitive, Celtic skin. I love exploring Clementine Fields’ beautifully curated skincare lines — they fit my mandate for organic, sustainable and eco-conscious products. I have a low-mai vibe and dig simplicity. I’ll happily indulge my skincare obsession in the name of dry sensitive skin sufferers everywhere, and share my discoveries with you. Keep in touch with me here or on Instagram as @ladyhardwick or come visit me at The Ferg, my inn in Prince Edward County.