Earth Day and Earth Hour are a good reminder that you can make smart choices
February might have been cold and snowy for much of B.C., but March is here and for many of us, thoughts are turning to spring: spring cleaning, spring yardwork, maybe a little gardening.
And with days of bright sunshine and green lawns just ahead, why not make this year the year that you make some changes in how you approach all those chores? Earth Hour (March 30, 2019) and Earth Day (April 22) are just around the corner, so consider those a bit of motivation to put the planet at the top of your list.
And we’re here to help you get started – we’ve pulled together some of our favourite ways that you can make that green thumb of yours just a bit greener.
Whether it’s gardening or cleaning, what’s best for nature can be great for you
Cut out cutting the grass
Many communities in B.C. face watering restrictions at the onset of every summer, despite our province’s overall abundance of the wet stuff. So rather than facing a brown lawn year after year, consider giving it up entirely. Xeriscaping is a growing practice to design landscapes that don’t need artificial irrigation. No more brown grass, no more bribing your teenager to get out there and cut the lawn – this could be a win-win for you, and for reducing your water usage.
If you leave the lawn, consider going electric
For those who aren’t ready to give up the lush backyard, you can make a greener choice by choosing an electric lawnmower. Most of us don’t have lawns big enough to need the full power of a gas mower – and a traditional gas-powered lawnmower adds to your carbon footprint and overall carbon emissions. According to Stats Canada, some studies indicate that depending on how old your lawnmower is and the model, gas-powered lawn mowers can emit the same amount of pollution in one hour, as a car driven more than 20-20 kilometres. Some estimates by the EPA in the United States suggest that gas lawn mower emissions could account for as much as 5% of the total air pollution in the U.S. In B.C., every time you switch to something powered by electricity – you’re making a cleaner choice, since that lawnmower could be powered by BC Hydro (we generate 98% clean electricity, if you haven’t heard).
Make or buy a rain barrel
The interminable days of November rain on B.C.’s South Coast might seem a distant memory by the time we get into the sunny days of spring, but don’t forget that all that rain can work for you – especially if you live in the Lower Mainland, where we’re prone to downpours in the fall and watering restrictions in the summer. A rain barrel can be a great source of water for your garden, hanging baskets or potted plants –and you’ll reduce your overall water usage. You can purchase a ready-made one, or take on an early spring project of making one yourself.
Clean your indoor air with plants, not machines
Anyone who’s suffered from springtime allergies knows the value of good, clean air. We get a lot of that in B.C., but you can make the air inside your home just a little bit cleaner with the help of a few houseplants. The right plants can help reduce indoor air pollutants from cleaning products, dust, furniture, synthetic fabrics and other things that unfortunately we all need to make a house a home. If you’re a perennial murderer of houseplants, not to worry. There are air-purifying plants for those who don’t have the greenest of thumbs.
Start a vegetable or herb garden
Let’s face it, we could probably all stand to eat more fruits and veggies. Even if you have a small apartment patio, you can often still grow your own veggies (try lettuce in a planter box) and herbs (these can also be grown indoors). So why is this a greener choice? Growing your own produce or herbs lets you control and reduce any usage of harmful pesticides, and significantly reduces the overall carbon and waste footprint that comes from buying items at a store- particularly those convenient clamshells of basil, thyme or rosemary. Many are hearty enough to survive the winter climate in many parts of B.C. – and if it encourages you to eat more greens – who’s complaining?
Do it for the bees (and the birds)
Another thing you can whether your outdoor space is big or small is choose plants with pollinators in mind. These are a critical part of all ecosystems, and they can use our help. Depending on where you live and the type of pollinator that you’re hoping to attract, you can plant different plants throughout the growing season. Aim for a range of colours, plant types, and blooming season, if you have the space. You can even plant specific items to attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Go green with your green thumb!