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Our World Gallery’s 5-Step Guide To Being More Sustainable

Sustainability is a word that we hear a lot in Vancouver, as we strive to be one of the greenest cities in the world. But what does it really mean to be "sustainable"?

Sustainability is the idea that we need to use our world’s resources in a way that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This means that we need to use water, material and energy resources wisely, to maintain the conditions in which humans and nature can co-exist in productive harmony.

Did you know that it currently takes the Earth one year and six months to regenerate what we use in a year?

Want to do something about that? Here are some simple things we can do to reduce our ecological footprint, and decrease the pressure we put on our resources.

1. Rethink grocery bags

Rather than use a plastic grocery bag, a paper bag or a shop-branded reusable shopping bag when taking home groceries, invest in a few natural fiber bags instead. Plastic bags and shop-branded bags are both made out of petrochemicals which have long-lasting negative environmental impacts. You may also be surprised to learn that paper bags take four times more energy than plastic to be created, and three times the amount of water!

2. Green your transportation

Try greening your transportation a few days a week. Take the bus, bike, carpool or walk to your destinations a few days a week. Vancouver is known for its bike paths and scenic walkways. You might even discover some parts of the city that you didn’t know existed previously. I know I did when I started biking!

3. Stop using one-time use items

Stop using paper towels and other one-time use items. Washcloths are an easy alternative to paper towels. Buying sturdy lunch containers for sandwiches and other items can end your reliance on plastic sandwich bags. Additionally, consider buying in bulk, rather than purchasing individually wrapped items. This will decrease the amount of waste your household produces and minimize the strain on our local landfills.

4. Turn it off!

One of the easiest ways to be more sustainable is to just turn things off! Turn off the lights when you leave a room or turn off your computer when you’re done using it. These simple actions, while small on their own, can add up to real savings in your wallet and for the planet.

5. Eat less meat

Participate in ‘Meat-Free Mondays’. Livestock raising is one of the largest contributors to the environmental problems of the world and is responsible for 14% of the world’s greenhouse gases. By cutting out meat just one day a week, you’ll also be cutting back on environmental degradation!

Currently, our world is facing some big challenges in terms of sustainability. By working together in our families, our schools and our communities, we can turn the tides to a greener, cleaner, future.

For more information on sustainability topics like water, recycling and energy conservation, visit the Our World: BMO Sustainability Gallery and learn about new ways we can reduce our ecological impact. Test your knowledge with one of our online energy games!