Welcome to the green life
While many of the exhibits at the fair were geared towards home owners, there were options for students living on tight budgets who want to convert to a more ‘green’ or eco-friendly lifestyle.
Erin McFarlane, from the environmental justice organization Arusha Centre Calgary, cautioned students against being sucked into eco-consumerism and the increasing array of ‘green’ products on the market.
“Consuming and buying less is one of the most important steps a person can take in reducing their ecological footprint,” McFarlane offered as an alternative.
According to McFarlane, dense living like that experienced by students in SAIT’s residence halls, “allows resources to be shared more efficiently.”
This, she said, allows students to, “be energy-efficient without even having to try very hard.”
Low-emission forms of transportation, such as walking to class and utilizing the LRT, are one way in which students can achieve this eco-friendly way of life.
The next step, she said, is for students to start working together to initiate change that is beneficial on both a social and environmental level. A good example of this is the community garden that students at Mount Royal University advocated for and then built on their campus.
At the fair, the Arusha Centre held the Alberta premier of the film In Transition 2.0. The film is, “about community-led solutions that have positive environmental and social outcomes. Things like local food production, bike-share programs, and local currency systems reduce carbon emissions while also impacting quality of life in some positive ways,” McFarlane said.
However, the film makes it clear that such change requires larger scale support, in terms of policy changes and, as with a campus community garden, the approval of the institution.
For household cleaning, avoid using chemicals by making your own cleaners or buying alternatives like microfibre cloths and enzyme based cleaners, by companies like Norwex.
Mary Jean Belrose, an independent consultant with Norwex, said that a microfibre cloth has a “dense thread count [that] draws in dust, dirt, grease…and traps it in the cloth instead of pushing dirt around like traditional cleaning material.” These cloths are eco-friendly as they require only a little water to do the job. There are microfibre cloths for different household jobs, and they last for years – which makes them an earth-conscious alternative to using paper towels and chemical-based cleaners.
Belrose also recommended that the green-minded use dryer balls rather than sheets or fabric softeners, and she advised that the green-minded look for, enzyme-based products for cleaning ovens and grills, carpets, and removing organic material from mattresses.
Falyn Kuzoff, a student at SAIT, said that she, “shuts all the lights off and unplugs everything when she is not at home. I also recycle and have paper towels in the cupboard only for emergencies.”
A resident of Airdrie, Kuzoff also furthers her eco-living strategies by utilizing the LRT once she’s driven into Calgary.