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7 Ways to Enjoy an Environmentally Friendly Fall
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7 Ways to Enjoy an Environmentally Friendly Fall

[caption id="attachment_34904" align="alignleft" width="150"]mbriere Michelle Briere, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog was written by guest blogger Michelle Briere. As the weather cools and the seasons change, it is time to think about how you can make better choices for the environment this fall!

1. Shop for local foods

My favorite part of autumn is absolutely the harvest. From pumpkins, to onions, to potatoes, most of us here in Canada have a variety of delicious vegetables come into season during the fall.vegetables-752153_1920 A tip to acquire the most delicious and fresh vegetables around is to buy locally-grown produce. Not only does it help support the local economy, but it reduces the environmental impact associated with long-distance food transportation. Head to your local farmer’s market, and the next time you’re out in the country, keep your eye out for food stands where farmers often sell their freshly-picked produce. Another fun way to enjoy local produce is to pick it yourself! Grab some friends, family or your significant other and make a date of picking at a local apple orchard.

2. Indulge in sustainable fall fashion

When the cold weather rolls around, some of us long to revamp our style and revel in the cozy big sweaters and earthy palette that fall fashion brings. Thankfully, there are several ways the environmentally-conscious fashionista can indulge during the fall. To reduce waste, avoid fast fashion, and even save a few bucks, visit thrift stores in your area. You may have to dig around a bit, but with some patience you’re sure to find some gems hidden within the racks. If you have no luck at the thrift stores, seek out local and environmentally-conscious companies to shop from. My personal favorite eco-friendly Canadian brand is Matt & Nat, a Montréal-based company which uses recycled water bottles to make a wide variety of sophisticated purses, briefcases, backpacks, wallets and shoes.

3. Start next year’s vegetable garden early

Growing your own food is a fun and rewarding way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with large-scale food production. Whether you already have a vegetable garden or not, you can start parts of next year’s garden this fall! Like tulips, certain vegetables are best planted before the winter. Depending on where you live, this usually includes garlic, onions, and shallots. 6-8 weeks before the expected last frost, start a new garden plot or prep your existing one. Remove any remaining plant material (excluding perennials), lightly fertilize and work your soil, plant your garlic, onion and shallots accordingly, and cover lightly or heavily with mulch (depending on how cold your winters are). Planting these foods in the fall will produce a bigger crop with fuller flavour, ready to be enjoyed late summer the following year.

4. Have a plant-based Thanksgiving

Animal agriculture is one of the top sources of greenhouse gas emissions, and consumes extremely large volumes of water. One fun and festive way to reduce your environmental impact this fall is by hosting an entirely plant-based Thanksgiving! As recognition of the environmental, health and animal welfare benefits of a plant-based diet grows, it’s easier than ever to find tasty alternatives to traditional meat and dairy-based recipes. There are several dishes you can make that will keep your Thanksgiving traditions alive, while keeping your environmental impact low; for example, stuff a butternut squash with your go-to stuffing recipe, and replace butter in your apple pie recipe with margarine. Find yourself short of ideas? Check out some plant-based cookbooks or online food blogs (my favorites are here and here). [one_half] [caption id="attachment_34619" align="alignnone" width="300"]Photo by Michelle Briere Photo by Michelle Briere[/caption] [/one_half] [one_half_last] [caption id="attachment_34620" align="alignnone" width="300"]Photo by Michelle Briere Photo by Michelle Briere[/caption] [/one_half_last] Recipes for plant-based versions of classic fall favourites are widely available online. Left: 3-bean chilli served in roasted pumpkin bowls. Right: dairy-free pumpkin spice “cheesecake”.

5. Help out the feathered fall migrants and winter residents

Fall and winter are challenging seasons for our feathered friends. Many bird species make the long, difficult journey south during the fall, while others stay and endure Canada’s sub-zero winter temperatures. Food scarcity is often a major challenge for both parties. The best thing you can do to help is avoid pruning your fruiting, flower and seed-bearing plants until the early spring. These plants provide an excellent food source for migrants to refuel on their way south, and help sustain the species who stick around for the winter. [caption id="attachment_34621" align="alignleft" width="300"]Photo by Michelle Briere Photo by Michelle Briere[/caption] Fall is also great time to clean any bird feeders, bird baths and birdhouses you may have; this can help prevent the spread of disease. Birds benefit year-round from fruiting trees. Avoid trimming these plants in your yard until the spring to help keep more food sources available for birds.

6. Go green for Halloween

Whether you’ll be going door-to-door, giving out candy, or heading to a costume party, you can be festive this Halloween while staying environmentally-conscious. Dressing up? Dig out an old costume you wore years ago, swap with a friend, or head to a thrift store. Alternatively, if you’re the creative type, make a DIY masterpiece using things you already have around the house. Decorating? Pinterest is your best friend. You can find countless DIY Halloween decoration ideas that don’t require you to buy anything new, or that are free of plastic and other environmentally-harmful products. Giving out candy? Source out ones that uses the least amount of packaging (while remaining safe for kids, of course).

7. Try keeping a cooler house

This is an easy tip to reduce your impact, but it may take a little adjustment time. If you own a home or rent a place where you can control the thermostat, try keeping the temperature a bit cooler than you normally do during the fall and winter months. Break out your cozy sweaters, bundle up in some blankets, and enjoy hot cups of tea. After a few days, you’ll adjust to having your place a few degrees cooler. Plus, you’ll save a few bucks on your energy bill! What are some things you do to enjoy an environmentally-friendly fall? Leave a comment below!
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Green Office: Make Your Workplace Environmentally Friendly
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Green Office: Make Your Workplace Environmentally Friendly

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="160"]Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. Earth Day is in the spring, but that doesn’t mean your workplace can’t be green all year round! Even small changes, like switching to a reusable coffee cup or choosing not to print a long document, can add up to make a big difference. In addition to helping the environment, taking steps to work greener can also help you become a healthier person, whether it's adding walking to your commute, making more mindful eating choices, or breathing in cleaner air in your cubicle. As the summer winds down and many of us return to the regular daily grind this autumn, let's consider taking up some of these easy suggestions for creating an environmentally friendly work space. Change up your daily commute. It is common knowledge now that automobiles contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution. Try alternative modes of getting to work besides driving alone—carpool, take public transit, bike, walk all or partway. Even doing this once or twice a week will make a difference. At Nature Canada, 90% of our staff bike, walk, or bus to work! aloe_veraPut a plant in your workspace. Not only do live plants liven up a dreary, sterile indoor space, they also boost oxygen levels and remove harmful indoor pollutants such as carbon dioxide and formaldehyde from the air. English ivy and the snake plant are two examples that do not require a lot of sunlight. If you have ample sunlight, try aloe vera. Mother Nature Network has a handy infographic to help you pick out the plant ideal for your office environment. Use paper prudently. Think carefully before printing—can you read a document on screen or save it to your desktop or network instead of placing it in your file cabinet? Set up your computers and copiers to use both sides of paper when printing or photocopying. Review the length of your document before you print. If possible, adjust to reduce the number of pages printed. Save old envelopes and reuse them—stick a label over the previous address. Use less-attractive used envelopes for inter-office delivery if you don’t want to mail them out. coffee beansProvide and use shade-grown coffee to be bird-friendly. Organic and fair-trade coffee as well is even better. What makes shade-grown coffee in particular bird-friendly? The clearcutting of forests for sun-grown coffee “is believed to be one of the more significant causes of habitat loss on the Andean slopes of the Canada Warbler’s wintering grounds.” For more information, see “How You Can Help” on our Canada Warbler International Conservation Initiative page. Ditch the disposable cups. Canadians use 1.6 billion disposable coffee cups annually, and it can be confusing on how or if to recycle them. Bring a standard or a good-quality commuter mug to work instead to use for your daily cup(s) of joe. Coffee shops like Tim Hortons and Starbucks will even give you a small discount for bringing in a reusable cup.  Use and encourage the use of reusable containers for food. Store both homemade or take-out lunches and snacks in glassware or reusable lunch bags. Plastic bags are often not recycled, clog drainage systems, and cause serious harm to animals—pieces of them have been found lodged in the stomachs of birds. Use environmentally friendly cleaning supplies. Conventional cleaning products can release fumes that cause dizziness, asthma, and other health problems. Voice your support for healthier cleaning products to your institution's appropriate contacts. In your workspace, use nature-friendly cleaning supplies such as white vinegar. Also check out the Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning for vetted recommendations. recycling_containersDispose of waste responsibly. Sometimes items that can be recycled or composted ends up in the garbage. Create clear signage that lets everyone know what goes into each bin. Make sure there are plenty of recycling containers near printers, photocopiers, and desks. Reduce workspace energy consumption. Turn off your computer monitor when you leave your desk or set your monitor to power off after a certain amount of time. Turn lights on only when needed, and turn all office lights off at night. Have the last person to leave the workplace check that unneeded lights are out. Turning off building lights not only saves energy, it also helps enable safer migration of birds. Talk to and collaborate with your colleagues to share and spread ideas for going green. Set up a carpool calendar. Start a staff piggy bank to buy sugar and creamer in bulk instead of individual packets. Encourage each other to bring lunch from home and perhaps eat together. As a group, ask management to make environmentally friendly changes to your workplace. We hope these ideas are helpful! How do you keep your workplace green?

How to Stay Green in the New Year
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How to Stay Green in the New Year

[caption id="attachment_24341" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Guest Blogger Eileen Guest Blogger, Eileen Magill[/caption] This blog is written by guest blogger, Eileen Magill.  This new year, why not make a resolution to be kinder to the environment? I have compiled a list of ways that you can make 2018 green, clean, and easy on our earth.

Transportation

Commuting to work, school, or just travelling anywhere can produce lots of harmful emissions. Here are some ways to reduce your contribution of these emissions:
  • Take public transit instead of driving
  • Carpool with your colleagues or friends
  • If your destination is close enough, bike or walk there
  • If it’s in your budget, buy a hybrid or electric vehicle

WasteImage of a man biking on a path

Many people, myself included, sometimes forget that all of our waste has to end up somewhere. Here are some ways you can reduce your garbage output:
  • Recycle, recycle, recycle!
  • Put all unfinished food in a compost
  • Buy fresh foods instead of packaged food
  • Buy a reusable coffee mug to use instead of plastic cups
  • Use reusable containers instead of plastic wrap or disposable options
  • Avoid using single coffee “pods” that can’t be recycled

Food

Believe it or not, but the food you buy and consume has a huge effect on the environment. Here are some ways you can be a more environmentally friendly grocery shopper and eater:
  • Buy local produce instead of imported goods
  • Shop at farmer’s markets
  • Try to grow your own spices - there are many ways that you can have a small garden in your window sill

Home

Perhaps the biggest impact you can have on the environment is to live greener in your own home. Here are some ways you can be kind to the environment in your home:
  • Keep temperature at 19 degrees Celsius and wear a sweater
  • Turn off your air conditioning sometimes and use fans instead
  • Turn off lights and unplug accessories when you’re not using them
  • Use electricity at off peak times (this is because clean energy sources can often take care of base load needs but when too many people are using electricity at the same time then natural gas needs to be added)
  • Get home energy retrofit
  • Make sure your home is properly insulated so you don’t lose heat and waste energy
With each passing year, our earth is slowly degrading and it is up to us to reverse this trend. Even committing to two or three of these above suggestions can have a huge impact on the future of our earth. Let’s make 2017 a great year for the environment!
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Grass Roots: Small Ideas to Bring the Outside In
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Grass Roots: Small Ideas to Bring the Outside In

[caption id="attachment_23392" align="alignleft" width="200"]Laura Strachan, Guest Blogger Laura Strachan, Guest Blogger[/caption] This blog was written by Nature Canada's guest blogger, Laura Strachan. I am willing to bet that most of us see more concrete than grass in the run of a day. Hustling from home to office, to malls, to school and back we tend to lose sight of the immense natural world around us as we travel through our daily routine. But let’s not forget what keeps us alive. There is real dirt under that concrete! Birds and animals are running around in the streets! That tree in the mall is helping to clean the air!

Green and Clean

Mom always said “a room should always have some greenery”. Having plants in your home makes an underestimated contribution to the comfort of the room. They’re alive, fresh and can help clean the air. Houseplants are a decor must that never go out of style.

For the Birds

Birds are amazing creatures, so why not encourage them to visit? Install a feeder near a window so you can get an undisturbed view. This one is inexpensive and attaches right to your window, or DIY with some of these ideas. You might want to sign out a book on local birds from your library so you know what you are looking at! As well, you can check out these 12 different ways to make your whole backyard bird-friendly

basil-932079_1280Grow Food

Double down on the houseplants and grow edible ones! Herbs and microgreens can be grown easily in a windowbox or mini greenhouse. A variety of dwarf fruit trees can also be purchased that can be grown indoors. Check out your local nursery for details and what suits your environment best.

Plant a Tree

You can never have too many trees. Trees clean the air, create privacy, provide food and habitat for small creatures. If you don’t have land, look for Adopt-a-Tree programs in your area, where you can foster the growth and maintenance of trees on public property.

Decorate with Nature

It’s free! Fill a glass bowl or vase with pinecones or acorns. Use those special rocks and shells your kids collected in a centrepiece. Enlarge photos from your favorite canoe trip and frame them on the wall. Put the paddle on the wall too! Use rocks or logs as bookends. Be careful not to disturb any growth or habitats that are in use when collecting your items.

Open a Window

Take an hour a week to open all of the windows and “air out” your home. Freshen up the air and let some natural light in! Sadly we can’t all be on a perpetual camping trip to enjoy the outdoors. But some simple additions may help bring the natural world to you wherever you live.  And take the opportunity to learn about your living environment while you’re at it. It’s right outside your door! Email Signup

Canada’s environment is central to Canadians’ prosperity, says coalition of environmental organizations
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Canada’s environment is central to Canadians’ prosperity, says coalition of environmental organizations

Last week, the Green Budget Coalition released a report, Recommendations for Budget 2015, which encourages the Government of Canada to take certain measures to advance environmental sustainability and stimulate innovation and economic opportunities. "The Green Budget Coalition believes strongly that adopting the recommendations in his document will be invaluable for providing Canadians with a healthy environment, a thriving, sustainable economy and the opportunity to live healthy lives today and far into the future," said Andrew Van Iterson, Manager of the Green Budget Coalition. The report focuses on three strategic areas:

  1. Energy innovation and climate change leadership
  2. Achieving Canada's conservation commitments
  3. Ensuring healthy communities for all Canadians

[button link="http://greenbudget.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Green-Budget-Coalitions-Recommendations-for-Budget-2015-November-12-2014.pdf" size="medium" target="_self" color="alternative-1" lightbox="false"]Read the full report here[/button]


Nature Canada is a member of the Green Budget Coalition. The Coalition brings together the collective expertise of fourteen of Canada’s leading environmental and conservation organizations, representing over 600,000 Canadians, to present an analysis of the most pressing issues regarding environmental sustainability in Canada and to make a consolidated annual set of recommendations to the federal government regarding strategic fiscal and budgetary opportunities.  

Nature Canada Launches Women for Nature Initiative on Parliament Hill
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Nature Canada Launches Women for Nature Initiative on Parliament Hill

January 28, 2014 (Ottawa) – On February 4, 2014, Nature Canada will officially launch its Women for Nature initiative on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Setting aside partisan differences for one night, Senators Nancy Greene Raine and Janis G. Johnson, and Members of Parliament Stella Ambler, Linda Duncan, Joyce Murray, Kirsty Duncan and Elizabeth May will be co-hosting the launch. The Women for Nature initiative brings together the leadership, knowledge, experience and passion of amazing women from across Canada who are committed to nature conservation. “If you want to achieve great things — whether it’s helping to build our national parks system or connecting youth to nature — you have to do it with the support of friends, partnerships and networks. And that’s exactly what the Women for Nature initiative is all about,” said Ian Davidson, Executive Director of Nature Canada. Nature Canada’s Women for Nature initiative includes a network of influential women whose experience and passion for nature brings real leadership to the cause of nature preservation. By sharing Nature Canada’s work and their passion for nature with their networks, Women for Nature will help our national efforts to be more effective in saving wildlife, protecting nature and inspiring future leaders for nature. The Women for Nature launch will be held at Centre Block, Room 256-S, Parliament Hill on February 4, 2014 from 6pm-8pm. Keynote addresses from the hosts will begin at 6pm. Light refreshments will be served. -30- [one_half][separator headline="h2" title="About Nature Canada:"] Nature Canada is the oldest national nature conservation charity in Canada. Over the past 75 years, we’ve helped protect over 63 million acres of parks and wildlife areas in Canada and the countless species that depend on this habitat. Today, we represent a network of over 45,000 members & supporters and more than 350 nature organizations in every province across Canada. Our mission is to protect and conserve nature in Canada by engaging Canadians and by advocating on behalf of nature. [/one_half] [one_half_last][separator headline="h2" title="Media contacts:"] Paul Jorgenson, Senior Communications Manager, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext. 248 pjorgenson@naturecanada.ca Monica Tanaka, Communications Coordinator, Nature Canada 613-562-3447 ext 241 mtanaka@naturecanada.ca [/one_half_last]

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