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Enviro-friendly Living

Top 10 Tips for Enviro-friendly Condo Living

Top 10 Tips for a more Eniromentally friendly Condo Life. Regardless of whether you live uptown, downtown, or out of town these tips are designed to reduce your environmental impact while saving you money.

10. Recycling - Research what recycling program is available in your building and organize one if needed. We’re at the stage that just about everything can be recycled, its just a matter of finding out where and how. From unwanted house plants to those prolific plastic shopping bags, jump online and find out what recycling services are available in your area. If you are in British Columbia check out our recycling page here to get you started.

- In one year, recycling allows aluminum companies to save the equivalent of more than 19 million barrels of oil. Read more...
- Recycling one glass bottle or jar saves enough electricity to light a 100-watt bulb for four hours.

9. Use Environmentally Friendly Cleaners - Cleaning up your environmental act doesn’t get much easier than this. Whether you choose to download free receipts of baking soda-based cleaners or buy one of the many scented natural cleaners now available in most grocery stores, switching to these less toxic and biodegradable products goes a long way to protecting our water sources and the other species that rely on them.

8. Painting - Next time you decide to ‘freshen up’ the interior or exterior of your apartment consider using low or no VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) paints. With just about every paint brand offering an earth-friendly line at competitive prices, this is an easy way to make a huge impact.

As a rule, one ton of smog-forming VOCs will be eliminated for every 1,000 gallons of low-VOC paint used (1000 gal low-VOC paint = 1 ton less VOC’s). Consider that the average gas-powered car produces five tons of carbon dioxide in a year - if you have a cousin or friend who is a house painter let them know how much of an impact they can have.

7. Lighting - Incandescent bulbs (the usual ones) should be outlawed. There is no reason we should still be using these energy suckers now that compact florescent bulbs are available everywhere, at reasonable prices, in a variety of shapes, and colours. If you want to impress your ‘green-neck’ buddy that only eats organic milk from virgin cows on the new moon, change your stylish MR16 halogen bulbs (the ones with the two small prongs at the back) with LEDs that last 100,000 hours!

6. Plumbing - Start small by fixing or replacing leaky faucets. Quite often your local municipality will provide a free water-saving kit to get you started. If you’re pants are already sitting low and you feel like tackling more how about replacing your toilets with the dual flush models now widely available ( If you are really motivated start a campaign for your municipality to subsidize dual flush toilets for everyone - read about North America’s most ambitions program happening right now in Sechelt, British Columbia.

5. Turn the heat down, close the window, and put a sweater on. Gone are the days when we could afford (environmentally-speaking) to have the heat on and a window open ‘for fresh air’. Ok, so as it turns out we never really could afford to do this but ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse for this blatant wasting of energy.

Now that we have made that simple step how about installing a programmable thermostat so the heat automatically switches off or lowers when you are asleep or not at home? It will then re-warm your house shortly before you wake up or return home.

4. Appliances - We still have a ways to go before people check the energy ratings before they assess the aesthetic qualities of appliances, but we’re getting there.

- If you were to replace your 1984 model refrigerator with an ENERGY STAR qualified 2006 model, you would save more than 1026 kWh of energy, for a total saving of up to $82 a year. A 100-kWh saving represents sufficient energy to operate your dishwasher 40 times, which is equivalent to two months of free operation!
- High-efficiency washing machines provide 50% savings in water, 50% savings in sewer costs, and 63% savings in heating water costs. These machines also require less detergent, have 32% more capacity, and cannot be overloaded. The high-speed extraction feature also saves time on drying clothes.

3. Green Private and Common Space Landscaping by installing rain water catchment systems which are often subsidized by the local municipality. Another option is to replace troublesome lawns that require watering and fertilizing with environmentally friendly, pet-friendly, realistic, artificial turf.

2. Solar Hot Water for Your Building - Want to be everyone’s favourite neighbour? The Keener with a giant green star next to their name on the buildings suite directory? Then start researching the feasibility of installing a solar hot water system on the roof of your building. How is that going to make you the bee’s knees with your neighbours? Well you may be able to install such a system without any capital costs! Visit this site to find out how.

1. Support Your Local Green Economy - Buying local, sustainable goods from small businesses helps keep money in your local economy while reducing the environmental impact of excessive packaging, transportation, and unfair trading (especially in developing countries). Balle is a network of local business owners, leaders and consumers who share sustainability values. Check online to see if a Balle network is established in your area. If not, why not start one with your friends and neighbours?

Whether you are buying an apple or a new home, your have a choice of what kind of future you would like to support. By choosing to buy a locally grown organic apple or purchasing a greener home with a greener realtor, you are creating a more sustainable future for everyone.

Bonus Tip: Have Fun! Sustainability has to be fun for people to embrace it. How about organizing a building picnic to discuss what everyone can do to green the building? Or maybe its a work or cleaning party using sustainable building materials or enviro-friendly cleaners?

With Halloween just around the corner why not plan a green ‘trick-or-treat walk’ through the building for the kids complete with organic or natural candies, recyclable decorations, and a composting plan for all those organic pumpkins you will carve? Find out how...

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