The beginning of a new year gives me a surge of energy.
I don’t always make resolutions, but I do launch a project or two. Painting projects are a particular favourite – they get me through the dark winter evenings.
Then before I know it, the smell of spring is in the air, and the garden is telling me to stow the paintbrushes and crack out the fork and spade.
Soon, I’m soaking up the summer sunlight, canning pears in the fall and, then, holidays and another new year arrives.
Blink and you miss it all.
I don’t want this year to pass in a blur while I’m contemplating colour chips and seed catalogues, and not just because I’m feeling energetic and enthused about all the possibilities of the year ahead.
If I may be frank, there’s so darn much to do and so little time to do it in the fight to combat climate change.
Like the painting projects, I’m looking for practical things to dig in to right away.
House, I’m looking at you.
I’ve learned that worldwide, buildings account for 19 per cent of energy-related greenhouse gas emissions. The other day, we had to close the blinds on the patio door to stop the wind from blowing out the candles on the dinner table.
Maybe it’s time for a retrofit.
Enter the CleanBC Energy Coach – a service offered by the provincial government, for free, to help the hapless sort through all the options for improving a home’s energy efficiency – not to mention all the rebates available to help with financing.
According to Project Drawdown, the payback time on retrofits is five to seven years. That fits nicely within the decade we have to reduce emissions to a manageable level.
On to the Grist.org website (“working toward a world that doesn’t burn, a future that doesn’t suck”), where I find intriguing advice for the new year: change the place you live by changing how you get around.
We now have a RapidBus zooming between Maple Ridge and Coquitlam Central SkyTrain Station, with feeder buses like the 743 and 744 offering more frequent daytime runs and new evening and weekend service.
Here’s a thought: let’s get out of our blinking cars and get on those buses.
Not only will we reduce our carbon emissions by a zillion per cent, but we’ll be doing our ample backsides a big fat favour, too.
I had no idea how much incidental exercise I used to get just taking public transit to work. Five years and five kilograms later, I can’t wait to give that R3 and its community shuttle sidekicks a spin.
Also on the subject of transportation, I’d like to give a shout out to the City of Maple Ridge for the Lougheed Transit Corridor report, which recommends (among many things) creating a safe and inviting greenway for bicycle and pedestrian traffic from 222nd Street all the way to the western edge of town.
To this, I say, yay.
Given that Mayor Mike Morden’s instructions to staff were to modify the plan to allow taller buildings – ‘Go big or go home,’ was, I believe, the exact instruction – and also given that the greenway looks a bit measly as it is, I’d like to see the mayor’s enthusiasm broaden to include an expanded vision for the greenway and other green spaces that weave through this dynamic area.
We have an opportunity here to emulate great cities like Copenhagen, where 40 per cent of trips are taken by bike. And while the Danes are reducing emissions by riding their bikes, they’re also increasing their own lifespans by two to five years.
Grist also tell us to “Eat like it matters,” by which I believe to mean we should be mindful of the impact the cattle industry has on the earth.
The emissions from long-distance transportation of food, the pollution of water from agricultural runoff and the degradation of soil from intensive farming and chemical fertilizers all add up.
By adding vegetarian or vegan meals to the weekly rotation and buying locally whenever possible, we can go a long way to reducing the footprint of our food.
I’m weirdly optimistic we can beat this climate crisis.
Buildings, transportation and food are three things we can all focus on in 2020 to lessen our personal impact.
Kirk Grayson is a digital strategy
consultant, organizer of the Maple Ridge Climate Hub and convenor of
Maple Meadows Green Drinks.