Reducing Your Ecological Footprint – The Great Canadian Woman

September 14, 2020

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Marina de Pina-Jenkins

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Reducing Your Ecological Footprint

My concern for how my purpose in life would fit into my career began long before my first university class. Even after studying Environment and Sustainability for almost 5 years, I still did not have a clear answer for “how” we could accomplish so much as a human species in so little time. A conversation with my grandpa gave me an idea that began my journey to launch my first company. A simple point of view that I hadn’t considered before:

So many problems are easily fixed. The real issue is that there are so many people with their hands all over it for money. But fixing these problems doesn’t mean “no progress” or “halting our economy”, it means halving the negative impact of everything we do as a society. If the average shower is 10 minutes long, take a 5 minute shower. Action is required from our governments, our corporations, our industries and our urban Canadians. It’s not rocket science. It’s common sense.

There began my journey to establishing a social enterprise called Una Terra. The goal? 10 years to reduce our ecological footprint as a country by 50%. We’re educating womxn across Canada by hiring womxn to share their expertise even though they may have been traditionally excluded from the environmental movement. This is a harmonious give and take of information, wisdom and research that will guide us as a country for the next 10 years. 

This is not a new goal. It is in line with our expectations from the Paris Agreement in 2016. The only difference is that Canada is not meeting its targets, in part because Canadians don’t know HOW we can change as individuals. So here are three 2 specific ways urban Canadian womxn can reduce their ecological Footprint by 50% in 2 areas (water and food), and why it’s important.

Firstly, it’s important to know how much of an impact you are currently making. I recommend using https://www.footprintcalculator.org to track your starting point. Okay now to the practical tips! 

  1. Water Use at Home⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

PROBLEM: The average daily domestic water use (per capita) in Canada is 251 litres (Environment Canada) which is one of the highest in the world. Approximately 65 per cent of water consumption in the home occurs in the bathroom, mainly through toilet flushing and bathing. And yet, not even all Canadians have access to safe and clean drinking water!

 

TAKE ACTION: ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

  1. By updating fixtures and changing some habits, it is possible to reduce a household’s water use by more than 40 per cent without affecting lifestyle (Environment Canada). 
  2. For those not able to invest in fixtures, changing your daily habits is the most eco friendly option! Here are a few practical tips to getting you to the halfway mark:

💧 Collect any runoff water you can in a bucket when washing your hands or showering to use to flush your toilet later. ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀

💧 Start a household competition to see who is the best at keeping their showers under 5 minutes of running water. ⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

💧Put a sticker or reminder right by the tap to leave the water for the turtles in the ocean when washing your hands or brushing your teeth 🐢 

 

  1. Localizing Food Consumption

There is increasing evidence that agriculture, among other economic sectors, must be a critical component of our near-term strategy to mitigate climate change, primarily through the capture and sequestration of CO2 in soils (Smith et al. 2014). If regenerative agriculture practices were implemented across Canada’s industrial farming sector, it is estimated that we could reach a point of helping to LOWER our carbon footprint through our farming! First carbon neutral farming country in the world? Um, yes please! 

Canada has 1.36 million hectares dedicated for agricultural use of a total 94.47 million hectares, so there’s a lot of room for impact here! 

 

TAKE ACTION : 

🌱 Prioritize at least half of your groceries coming from within your province or from within Canada. Supporting local agriculture and farming initiatives helps boost biodiversity, provide healthy eating options (also called food security) for lower income social groups and keep money flowing in our local economies. 

🌱 At least 50% of each meal coming from plants instead of animals. Another way to frame this would be where half of your meals are fully plant based or picking 3 days a week of not eating from animal sources. 

🌱 Meet, talk to, and get to know your local farmers. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I’ve learned from just “window shopping” at farmers markets and being curious about the whole process of growing, and selling food.  

🌱 Grow your own food! Herbs, lettuce, green onion, and many other veggies are easily grown at home, in your kitchen, near a window or on a patio, deck or balcony. 

After you measure your ecological footprint and read this article, please plan out some time as the “testing phase” where you can account for days where you might forget and see what really works for you. I recommend anywhere from 1 month to 3 months per category. I’m not recommending easy solutions, but they are practical and have changed my life in many countless ways. If you are interested in learning more, please visit www.unaterra.ca and follow us on Facebook and Instagram @unaterra.ca 

 

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