6 ways to be a good neighbour to the environment

With Earth Day being celebrated on April 22, many people use this day to think about how we can protect and help the environment. But it’s important to remember this is not just a one-day commitment.

There are lots of simple ways to be a good neighbour to the environment year-round, no matter where you live. Here are six environmentally friendly habits you can adopt at home to help make a difference in your community.

Plant a tree or start a community garden

Trees can create habitats for wildlife, help cool your neighbourhood, and combat climate change by cleaning the air. Choose low-maintenance native species that don’t need much watering. Or, start up a community food garden, where people on your street can plant fresh produce and herbs. Local food sources use fewer fossil fuels as compared to factory-grown produce.

Ask a local nursery for donations of saplings and vegetable plants, or a bulk discount, so you and your neighbours can have a planting party in someone’s garden. Grow extra rows of food for families in need! For information on community gardens and allotment garden plot rentals in your area, visit www.winnipeg.ca/publicworks/gardens and try out this option.

Every spring and fall, Trees Winnipeg offers a ReLeaf Tree Planting Program available to private property owners. For $70.00 per tree package, you can order online from a diverse selection of high-quality trees. Each package includes one or two trees, mulch, trunk guards, and proper tree planting information to help you give your new tree its best start in life. Visit www.treeswinnipeg.org for their upcoming spring schedule.

Set up a bee-utiful colony

Maintaining a beehive is a fun project that will help boost the bee colonies in your neighbourhood, plus it’s a great way to bring people together. You don’t need much space or equipment. Several companies across Canada — including Alvéole and Urban Bee Supplies — specialize in helping urban beekeepers establish new colonies. Bonus: you’ll be able to harvest delicious fresh honey to share with your neighbours!

Become water-wise

Add drought-tolerant plants like succulents, and herbs like rosemary and tarragon to your flower beds and containers, so you can save time and water. When you do water your garden, do so early in the morning or in the evenings; the hot midday sun evaporates the water, wasting it before it can nourish your plants. You can also use barrels to collect rain, then use it to water your outdoor plants without having to turn on the hose.

Inside your house, condo or apartment, turn off the faucet when brushing your teeth and fix any leaks to help conserve water.

Pick up plastic litter

About 8% of Canada’s plastic waste — nearly 2.8 million tonnes, or about the weight of 24 CN Towers — ends up tossed in landfills, and just 9% is recycled. Grab a few neighbours for a walk around the community and pick up plastic litter on streets and in the park. You’ll be keeping the streets clean, while also making sure critters aren’t consuming plastic, which could be potentially harmful!

Try to encourage your family and friends to cut down on single-use plastics such as straws, and switch to reusable fabric grocery bags if you haven’t already.

Encourage recycling and upcycling

One person’s trash is another’s treasure, so set up a swap meet and exchange items you don’t use so someone else can. “Buy Nothing” and “Freecycle” groups on Facebook are also a good place to watch as people try to declutter their own space. Or, have an outdoor upcycling block party, where you can team up to give old pieces of furniture a facelift with fresh paint or new hardware.

Plan on renovating? Let your neighbours know what you’re replacing and consider donating leftover construction materials to neighbourhood projects, or to supplement someone else’s remodelling job.

Winnipeg’s annual giveaway weekends are also a great way to upcycle. There’s one coming up on May 13-14, so don’t miss it!

Carpool to work and on errands

Turn neighbours into travelling buddies by setting up carpools to save on gas and pollution. Working from home? Consider doing grocery runs with people on your street — your errands will be more fun if you have company.

If carpooling isn’t an option, be more considerate about how many car trips you take during the week. Try doing all of your errands in one day, or walk or bike when you can. Using public transit can also help reduce your personal environmental impact.

Visit earthday.ca for more ideas on how you can help protect the planet. The government of Canada also has some great tips on things you can do to help the environment at www.canada.ca.

Though these actions may feel small, they can help reduce your impact on the environment and make our planet a better place.

— Realtor.ca