This is my 4th year taking part in the Earth Hour, a global event aimed at raising awareness about sustainability issues.  This year, I have decided to write a daily post during the month leading to the event in order to share some thoughts about the environment and give tips the little changes we can make in our daily lives.  There will also be some guest posts by fellow bloggers who will share their own views on a topic related to the environment.  You can read my introductory post here and access the Earth Hour website here.

I encourage you to comment and share your own tips, ideas and experience.  In the last couple of days before the event I will do a few posts about what readers had to say.  I believe we can learn a lot by sharing!

Thanks to all who have commented, shared thoughts and new ideas.  Here are a few of them.

Initial readers’ responses:

“Like many people, I tend to be cynical. I don’t mind turning off the lights but hey, government buildings in Ottawa never do and you see lights everywhere in the city!

That said, I get the point. Maybe I’ll participate this year. I should be less cynical, like you said, it’s a symbol.” (Zhu)

“I look forward to . . . realizing something new, to learning more, and to becoming even more conscious and committed.” (Steph)

Regrets:

“I do try to be more “green” in every day’s life but it’s not an easy battle to fight in North America. For instance, I’d love to have less garbage but everything comes wrapped in plastic, more plastic, and then another layer of plastic! Give me back my plastic bags (I use them as garbage bags instead of BUYING more plastic bags!) and think about products’ packaging instead…!” (Zhu)

“What drives me crazy is people who keep on watering the lawn even though it is going to rain. Oh, and these hose spray more pavement than grass too.” (Zhu)

“One of the things I find fascinating about our interests with the creatures we endanger or bring to extinction is that human kind tends to feel guilt and is driven with regret when the creature is large and majestic. No one feels as guilty when a species of frog or fish goes extinct.” (Dragonfly)

“I love traveling and my heart breaks when I realize some places I’m going to are changing because of global warming or because the are polluted, overcrowded etc. That speaks to me. My love of traveling is a good way to embrace a greener life!” (Zhu)

Further thoughts and taking action:

“I think the thing to do is figure out who we know in business or industry or commerce or any kind of institution who can be persuaded to join in. My college regularly has green days, in which everyone makes a special effort to save energy. I will check whether our domestic bursar knows about Earth Hour and see how to involve the whole college. The best kinds of effort involve the biggest groups of people, I reckon.” (Litlove)

“Like this, my immediate tip is towards transport, as a keen cyclist I’m going to suggest more use of the vehicle, & I do mean vehicle not child’s plaything that one grows out of. We’ve all heard the argument about most trips being minute so I don’t need to harp on about that, but in an integrated transport system, a wonderful key to locking the system together is a bike.” (Parrish)

“so many kinds of birds, insects, frogs, fish become extinct every year and we don’t notice or don’t care. These larger mammals maybe have more of a connection to us, but either way they become like poster children don’t they. No one would be very impressed if you decorated your state licence plate with an extinct beetle, would they? We should make more of an effort to do that though. Education!!” (Shannon)

“It’s impossible, I believe, to save this planet without being in awe of it, without appreciating it, and most importantly without loving it and its creatures. And that comes through education, as you say. It’s such a tragedy that species go extinct, and I wish I could say it was unbelievable, really, but it’s not. And it’s a testament to just how great an effect we have on earth.” (Steph)

“I think garbage bins should be more readily available.” (Zhu)

“It’s not just a political statement or a sense of stewardship or love, or even just that meat is unnecessary for survival. Significantly, not eating meat makes a massive contribution to the environment. I don’t know the exact facts, but the environmental impact that our raising and eating meat has is enormous. I think it might have been Paul McCartney who said he calculated that we could eradicate world hunger if everyone chose not to eat meat, something to do with how much grain it takes to feed a cow…? Whatever it was I read was very convincing, anyway. There’s lots of info on the topic of vegetarianism or veganism and the environment.” (Steph)

“I do think we eat too much meat, much more than we need. Previous generations didn’t I think.” (Zhu)

“I don’t understand people who eat microwave meals. They look yucky, probably don’t taste great, have poor nutrition and are expensive. I usually make a big salad for the week with rice, corn, tuna, tofu, tomatoes and avocados and bring a bit to work everyday. Beats my co-workers microwave food!” (Zhu)

“That’s my failsafe: if anything is going, it all goes in a soup! Which we can also freeze. Throwing out food makes me feel terrible. I avoid it as much as possible. At least it goes in the compost, but still. The waste really bothers me.” (Steph)

“I agree that a lot of purchases people make are more in the “want” category than in the “need” one. Especially in North America, where buying is almost seen as the patriotic thing to do.” (Zhu)

Being eco-friendly in Canada:

“We are lucky, Canadian homes are well-built and keep the heat in. Plus, heating is expensive so we are used to blankets and soups to make us warm” (Zhu)

“In Ottawa, we have two bins, collected every other week. Black bin is paper, blue bin is plastic and metal. I recycle the paper, the cans (I drink Coke) and the biggest chunk of plastic, such as yogurt tubs.” (Zhu)

“It doesn’t rain so much in Canada (compared to Nantes) but I should definitely collect rain in the summer to water my plants.” (Zhu)

“Ottawa’s public transportation kind of suck. I mean, let’s face it, unless you live on the transitway (the express way), it’s a pain to get from point A to point B. We couldn’t live without a car, we need it to go shop, go to work…

We also only have one car, which is quite unusual here: people have two cars, sometimes even three (for the kids).” (Zhu)

“In Canada, we have “butt-stop bins” handy in most places. But you should see when the snow melts… it reveals a lot of garbage and litter underneath.” (Zhu)

“Canada is reasonably clean and convenient with plenty of bins and “butt stop” bins.” (Zhu)

“It’s a bit hard to eat local here all year, but in the summer we grow a veggie garden and it’s the most awesome thing to just take your plate out and fill it with a salad! Unfortunately, most of our stuff gets eaten by rabbits and such before we get to it. Annoying, really!” (Steph)

In France:

“I hate garbage cans in France, you know, because of the plan vigipirate most are closed and you can’t find another bin for kilometers. I was shocked how dirty Paris was last time I was there…” (Zhu)

“Nantes has an awesome public transportation system and we were really spoiled. The Tramway is great!” (Zhu)

In Australia:

“I saw a lot of stickers to save water in Australia, I think it’s the driest continent on earth. That said, it was flooded when we were there! Toilets also always had two flushes, you know, one for #1 and one for #2. These flushes were actually invented in Australia. But honestly, I found they didn’t work very well and didn’t flush much.” (Zhu)

In Singapore:

“In Singapore, where littering is heavily fined, it was very hard to find bins. Weird!” (Zhu)

In Chicago:

“I’m a big fan of public transportation out here in Chicago. It helps that everything is so close and most places are within walking distance, but not having a car is such a relief for me. It helps the environment and gives me extra time during my commute to read” (Short Story Slore)

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