On the Road to Conservation
According to Confucius, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." The good news is that we've already made several big steps in the right direction. Most of us use our blue boxes, and green bin programs are being embraced wherever they are available. Thanks to our icon of environmentalism, David Suzuki, we're also getting the message about changing our light bulbs to compact fluorescents. The question now becomes, "What’s next?"
Enter Chris Winter, Executive Director of the Conservation Council of Ontario. I've known Chris for almost 20 years and have to admit he is one of the brightest lights in the otherwise depressing world of environmentalism. Chris has a boundless amount of energy, ideas and optimism and a generosity of spirit that willingly shares all three.
Chris is the mastermind of the Conservation Council's latest project, iconserve, the natural evolution of the We Conserve movement launched two years ago. What this latest project does is move the onus from collective responsibility to personal ownership. In typical Chris Winter style, iconserve says, "Don't be perfect. Just better."
The idea of continuous, measured improvement is something we can all embrace. It doesn't really matter where we join the road toward sustainability, what matters is that we all move forward. According to Chris, it's much like starting an exercise program.
"You don't run a marathon the day after you get off the couch. It takes time and a commitment to regular improvement," states the We Conserve website, "Set yourself realistic goals. Do the simple and money-saving things first, and then decide how much time and money you wish to invest in becoming a better conserver."
The goal of iconserve is to first measure where you are now in the top ten conservation actions, then rate yourself (on a scale from 1 to 10) and then set a goal of where you want to be. While each action has a number of suggested changes, they are only there to get the creative juices going. Just like training for a marathon, once you get started you'll find your own unique ways to go the distance. Here's a partial list for starters (cut this out and stick it on your refrigerator, or download the complete list and rating card from We Conserve):
1. Save Energy - Change your lights, turn things off, get an energy audit, air dry your clothes.
2. Use Green Power - Buy green power, install solar panels, join a green power co-op.
3. Help nature - Grow native species, use a rain-barrel, help with community gardens and local habitat.
4. Drive less - Walk, ride a bike, or take transit, join a car-sharing network, buy a hybrid or fuel-efficient car.
5. Live local - Live, work, shop and play within a walkable, mixed-use community. For rural homes, be self-reliant.
6. Eat local - Eat local and/or organic food, try the 100-mile diet, eat more vegetarian meals.
7. Buy green - Buy environmentally-friendly products, invest responsibly.
8. Waste less - Practice the 3Rs, avoid excess packaging and plastic bags, compost food waste.
9. Prevent pollution - Make your home and yard toxic-free, dispose of hazardous materials safely, use a green dry cleaner.
10. Support conservation - Donate to conservation, support community projects, volunteer.
Granted that it's great to set goals, but some of us need the help of a personal trainer to actual move from thought to positive action. To quote Confucius again, "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand."
To get help with the doing, The We Conserve website is loaded with tips, links, suggestions and resources. Once you've got your own program up and running, spread the word by emailing your friends, or by ordering iconserve cards and distributing them at your office, local store or in your community.
You can also pick up iconserve cards at The Beer Stores across Ontario for the month of August. While you're at it, donate your bottle returns to We Conserve at the in-store coin boxes.
"We're all in this together," according to We Conserve, "And together, we might just be able to make a difference."
www.weconserve.ca has everything you need to move forward on the conservation journey.
For those who need a little inspiration, Famous Quotes DB is an amazing searchable database.