So, it’s official, it has been now over a month since starting with the Energy and Environment team in the Sustainability Coordinator co-op role! Some of you may have already seen me running around stamping sash cards or collecting ice packs but I thought it was finally time that I introduced myself!

Once this placement comes to an end in August, I will be entering my final year at the University of Waterloo in the Honours Environment and Business program (still can’t process that I’ll be finishing school in a year’s time!).

I went into this degree with the passion and admiration for the environment and all the amazing things it does for us. I can tell you I didn’t know much 3 years ago, but what I did know was that industries and corporations contribute the most to climate change but also have the highest capacity to respond to it and prevent it. So, what better way to tackle the climate catastrophe than to choose a program that educates you on not only on why the biggest challenge society faces today is climate change but how businesses can face this challenge while continuing to be financially successful!

On the more personal side of my sustainable life, I have come to understand that our individual choices greatly influence the business community, which is also known as “voting with your dollars”. Thus, I try to purchase certain “greener” products to make a statement to that certain business of my intentions and in turn they will hopefully cater to our cares and implement more sustainable practices.

As well, I try to challenge myself and others around me, such as my family and friends, to try and incorporate more sustainable choices into our everyday lives. So, I thought I could share what sustainable things I am focusing more on this new year because you know, new year new me, right? Well, I think it’s more like new year, better me!

  1. Making more meals at home

Recently one Friday night my family and I ordered Thai food for dinner and as we were eating, I thought “this is something I could easily make”! Rice noodles, some veggies, and a protein, sounds simple enough. So of course, I immediately went to Pinterest to try and find a pad thai recipe that I could easily follow along. Not only was this cheaper than ordering out (had all the ingredients at home and tofu is $4!!) but there was much less waste! No emissions from the delivery, no black plastic takeout containers and those horrible plastic utensils that no one needs because we are all eating at home, and no plastic bags! After this successful meal, my family and I have opted for trying at least one new recipe a week. Bonus: we are trying to add more vegetarian meals into the mix, so I made this recipe with tofu, and it was so delicious!

2. Running the dishwasher every day

As I was scrolling through my Instagram the other day I saw an ad from Cascade that said that less water is used when you run your dishwasher, even if it isn’t full, then washing the dishes by hand! I don’t know about you but at my house sometimes we are washing dishes 1-3 times a day (especially with all the eating we are doing being that we are so close to the fridge all day) and running the dishwasher about every other day. So I did some research and found that a certified Energy Star dishwasher will use about 4 gallons of water for the whole cycle while washing by hand may use about 4 gallons every 2 minutes. So now we pack the dishwasher to the brim to save both water and energy! This is definitely a win-win situation because now I don’t have to wash dishes!

Dishwasher vs. Hand Washing Dishes

Using an Energy Star dishwasher can save you $1,300/yr if you wash your dishes instead of washing them by hand.

3. Charging my devices during the day

Most of us have been working from home for almost a year now so we are all aware of the constant need to charge our devices. I used to have the habit of charging all my devices over night because I know that it’s low peak time. But my phone and laptop don’t need 8 hours to be fully charged. So when I charge the devices at night they charge fully in the first couple of hours, but then they continue to stay plugged in wasting energy. This year I have started to charge my devices after 7pm (to stay in the low peak time and not when I am using the devices) and unplug the device before I head to bed. I know it doesn’t use that much energy leaving a phone plugged in overnight but if each member in your house left left their phone, laptop, watch, earbuds, tablets, etc., plugged in, it can add up quite fast!

I hope this post has given you a little insight into me and my passions for living a sustainable lifestyle and maybe has given you some ideas for yourself!