I've never considered myself an environmentalist. Sure, I care about the environment, I sort my garbage and turn off the lights as soon as I leave a room, but an environmentalist? I don't wear clothing made out of bamboo, I've never chained myself to a tree in order to save it and sadly, I'm confident David Suzuki would say I'm not doing enough.
Labels aside, my children have started coming home with environmentally conscious tips that they've been picking up at school and it has created a renewed interest for me. This world that we are not proactively taking care of is the world I am leaving behind for my children. Knowing that I would do anything on this planet for them reminded me that I should be helping save this planet for them. I've started thinking about all of the small steps we could take to truly make a difference to the environment. Sure, we can wait for our governments to provide further regulations for businesses but the reality is, they aren't pushing consumers enough and each of us has the power to make a difference.
With this renewed interest, when SC Johnson reached out to me to take a recent tour of their Ontario facility, I jumped at the opportunity and quite honestly, I was in awe! There was a lot that I learned that day and a lot that I think we can implement in our homes.
1) First of all, there are no garbage cans at desks in the facility. None at all. Yup, you have to get up and walk to one of their sorting bin areas and sort your garbage, recycling, and green products. Makes you think twice about printing that piece of paper that you will now have to walk 20 steps to dispose of.
At Home Tip: Use sorting bins to make the most of recycling and organic waste. Challenge your family members to only print what they need and make sure they are sorting their waste.
2) Lights? At the SC Johnson offices, they turn on and off as needed, on their own.
At Home Tip: While it might not be economical to implement this type of technology at home, it is very economical to put a policy in place that reminds all family members to only turn on lights when necessary and to always turn them off when exiting a room. While we are talking about saving energy, make sure to take a look at the peak hours chart that your energy company provides you with and try to make sure you are running the laundry machine and dish washer during the off-peak hours.
3) After conducting a waste audit, SC Johnson determined that they were throwing away enough disposable gloves to fill a meeting room on an annual basis. Instead of using disposable gloves, the company changed to cloth gloves that could be washed and reused.
At Home Tip: Look for items that can be reused in your home. Instead of grabbing for the paper towel roll, grab a washable towel that can be reused repeatedly. For mealtime, we have chosen to use Funkins napkins at home which have funky designs and are washable so we haven't needed to use a paper napkin in over three years.
4) How about the components of the SC Johnson products? The packaging they arrive in gets shipped back to the manufacturer. The skids they use are plastic so that they can be reused over and over again.
At Home Tip: Consider purchasing products for your family that are eco-friendly in terms of their packaging. Less packaging, more product. It's a win-win for all.
As a consumer, I think it is our responsibility to learn as much as possible about how we can take better care of the environment. We should also be completely aware of the ingredients in the products we use which was why I was thrilled to know that SC Johnson, who makes a large number of the products that I own, has created an entire site to tell consumers exactly what is in their products so they can make informed decisions.
The massive corporation that is SC Johnson has always worked on what's best for the next generation, its part of their mandate. So, if a company of their size can have initiatives surrounding this type of care of our environment, how difficult would it be for us, as consumers, to make a few changes? Let's be clear, I'm not asking for 98 per cent. I'm asking for a 10 per cent or 20 per cent change, or whatever effort you can do that is above and beyond what you are doing today.
Consider implementing some or all of these eight tips in your home and know you are making a difference:
- Use reusable bags when shopping.
- Look for items that can be reused in your home, instead of disposable products.
- Buy in bulk when you can, to reduce waste.
- Use sorting bins to make the most of recycling and organic waste.
- Give a second life to organic waste by using it as compost in your yard and gardens.
- Donate gently used clothing and household goods to your local shelter or non-profit.
- Keep your energy consumption levels low by using energy-efficient appliances and shutting off the lights when you leave a room.
- If you need to drive, try organizing a carpool in your neighborhood. Or, organize your family's schedule to make the most of each trip.
Have more ideas on how to make a positive impact on our world? Leave them in the comments and hope it inspires!
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