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Archive for the ‘The Green Office’ Category

Save Money and the Planet this Winter

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

You may still be recovering from excessive holiday spending so now might be the perfect time to look at ways to save money this winter.

Keeping comfortable in our homes in winter not only costs money but also wreaks havoc on the environment. What better time than now to look at ways to help you save while sparing our planet.

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Keep it Simple

We may not get lots of it, but winter sunshine can be a good friend for those trying to heat their homes economically. Open curtains, shades and blinds and let in the free, natural light. When it gets dark, you should close your window coverings, which provide a layer of insulation against the cold.

Is your couch blocking a heat vent? If you’re trying to save coin and do so in a way that is eco-friendly, that’s not how to do it. Let the warm air circulate more freely by moving away couches and furniture that blocks the vents.

Try a draught excluder. They run the length of your door and prevent draughts from getting inside. You can buy them fairly cheaply or make your own. These long sausage-shaped draught excluders can be made from something as simple as an old pair of tights stuffed with socks, rice, kitty litter or lentils. Naturally, you can pretty them up to match your décor if that’s more your style.

Area rugs help prevent the heat loss that comes from bare hardwood floors.

Don’t forget to let ceiling fans do their work. By reversing the direction they turn to clockwise in winter the fan will push warm air back down from the ceiling height. Use on a low setting.

Don’t mean to sound all 1930s on you but throw on a sweater and some wool socks. Walking around your home in shorts and a t-shirt in -15 degree weather doesn’t do your furnace any favours or your wallet.

Windows

New ones can be pricey but there are other means to help you control your expenses. Inspect your windows for cracks and leaks and caulk if needed. Also consider weather stripping to reduce air leakage. Window insulation kits are a cheap alternative to replacing your windows. A thin layer of film adheres to your window, blocking warm air from escaping. The film, which looks like plastic wrap, doesn’t block or impair your view. Another option for windows is to hang heavy curtains that prevent the cold from coming in.

Hot Water

Turn down the temperature of your water setting. Did you know that heating your water accounts for about 18 per cent of the energy consumed in your home?

What’s the Temperature?

When you’re home try to keep the furnace temperature on the low side. When you’re sleeping or out of the house, turn down the temp considerably. Try setting it back between 10 and 15 degrees F for eight hours daily and you could save five to 15 per cent on your annual heating bill.

 Block the Fireplace

In many older homes, fireplaces make for attractive rooms but are highly impractical when not in use. Be sure to keep the flue closed or buy a chimney balloon, which blocks cold air from getting in while allowing ventilation.

There are plenty of simple, eco-friendly ways to save money this winter while keeping the earth green. Stopping to think before cranking up the thermometer is a good start.

Revive Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Revive Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Whether you’re thinking of selling your house or staying put, creating curb appeal is something every home owner seems to aspire to. Having an admiration worthy home is something many of us yearn for and some of us spend serious time and money trying to achieve.

There’s no better time than now to dust off the cobwebs, pack up winter gear and roll out springtime. Here is our must-do checklist for adding a bit of curb appeal:

 

The Front DoorFront Door

As the home’s focal point, your front door should be inviting and attractive. It should say, ‘You’re welcome here.’ Make sure it’s clean for starters. Paint it a pretty, eye-catching colour. Think of changing the hardware or adding an attractive door knocker. Finally, consider adorning it with an attractive spring wreath or door decoration.

 

What’s Your Number?

Is your house number clear and easy to read? Walk across the street to see yours. You don’t want the numbers blocked by shrubs or trees and it’s best if they’re placed near an outside light housenumberso the pizza delivery person can find you in the dark. Also, try to position the numbers horizontally because they are easier to read than if laid out vertically.

 

 

Garden in a Pot

gardenpotAdding to that welcoming feeling is a grouping of spring plants near your front door. Depending on your space place one great big pot or three various sized ones on your porch or the walkway near your front door. Providing your steps are wide enough, you can also use the sides of your front stairs to arrange pots bursting with spring blooms. Hanging pots of plants also lend curb appeal.

 

Pretty Up Your Porch

Many older city houses have a front porch ideal for watching the world go by or just being a nosy neighbour. Regardless, your porch can be an extension of your summertime living space so throw down an outdoor rug, a table and some patio furniture. Decorate your space with favourite colours and tchotchkes such as lanterns, pillows and candles. You’ll never want to go indoors.

 

Grass & Flower Beds

Is your lawn looking a little tired after winter’s abuse? You may need to reseed your graflowerbedss or replace patches of it. Cover your flower beds with natural mulch such as leaves, sawdust or shredded bark so they retain moisture longer and look even and finished.

Wash Windows & Siding

There’s nothing like clean windows and spotless siding to draw the eye. Try using a power washer or simply a regular hose with a washing attachment.

Look Up

Your roof should get a once over. Curling shingles or those that are crumbling should be looked at by a professional.

 

Putting the Green in Spring Cleaning

Monday, April 20th, 2015

Come the warmer temperatures, our longing for renewal, shine, even a little spit and polish grows stronger with each passing day.

Spring cleaning is somehow more tolerable than regular cleaning simply because, well, it’s springtime. Add to that ways to clean that don’t pollute or waste valuable resources and you have an activity that’s practically heaven-sent.  So let’s get to it. imagesM6BA60CL

Start by opening up your windows and letting all that fresh air inside your home. You’ll likely need to clean your windows so using a mixture of water and vinegar is a good green way to start. Wipe them clean with newspaper for a lint-free shine. Wash curtains and sheers. Dust shades and blinds. If yours are really grimy you may want to soak them in the bathtub or laundry sink. As the eyes of a home, the windows play an important role in maintaining its appeal. Don’t forget to clean your interior windows and window ledges as well.

The entryway or hallway of your home suffers a fair bit of abuse with the comings and goings of family members, friends and pets. Use an all-natural all-purpose cleaner to wipe away mud, salt stains and grime. Vacuum out your closet and de-clutter. Hang something fresh and spring like on the outside of your door.

Vinegar is a great cleaner for most floors. Mix it with some rubbing alcohol and a few drops of dishwashing detergent. Area rugs will need a good going over after winter’s assault. Sprinkle baking soda on your rugs to eliminate odors. Be sure to vacuum both side of your rug.

Use old athletic socks turned inside out to dust your home. Just cover your hand with the sock and start dusting.

Springtime is the right time to get rid of clothes you haven’t worn and other household items that have been left to collect dust. Consider donating gently used items to charity, where they can get another life. Opt for tearing up old absorbent articles of clothing and towels to add to your rag bag. Think of the money you’ll save on paper towels. untitled

Remember to go easy on the toxic chemicals. Many household cleaning supplies, while safe in small doses, may have longer term side effects. Volatile organic compounds, phosphates, petrochemicals and chlorine bleach have been linked to various health concerns. Instead, stock up on kitchen essentials that with a little finesse on your part do a beautiful job of making your home sparkle. Vinegar, baking soda, lemon, borax and essential oils either on their own or in various combinations make great eco-friendly cleaners that easily match or exceed store-bought products.

There’s no need to choke back noxious fumes or waste gobs of paper and water when spring cleaning. And while old habits die hard, it’s not a bad idea to stop and think can I clean in a way that’s safer, less toxic and generally kinder to the planet.

Put Earth Eco on Your Agenda This Year

Friday, December 19th, 2014

 

The New Year is a good time to reflect on our past performance, our present considerations and how we see them fitting into our dreams for the future.

As we take leave of another holiday season, a time of year often marked by excess, we should turn our thoughts to ways in which happiness and contentment fill our hearts not by how much we consume but by what we save and spare.

As a realtor, your role as a trusted advisor in the lives of your clients cannot be undermined and that’s why it’s vital that you use your position to spread the word about saving the planet. We’re not talking about getting self-righteous and preachy, but sharing your know-how from a place of compassion and practicality. Besides, in this day and age, it’s the socially responsible thing to do. You’ll be surprised at how influential you really are.

So when you consider how you’d like to make 2015 better, think about the ways you can help the environment and, by turn, your clients. Know also that they’ll appreciate your tips, advice and recommendations. After all, you’re helping them save money.  In the end, their estimation of you is elevated and that’s good for everyone.

Raising your green IQ might be a good place to start.  Generally speaking, green real estate has less impact on the environment in its construction and its day-to-day operation when compared to its less environmentally friendly and conventional neighbours.

Do you know about efficient ways of using energy and water? How’s your knowledge on environmentally sustainable materials?  What constitutes a healthy house in your mind?

So that your clients can take advantage of government-sponsored rebates and incentives on eco-friendly upgrades, get acquainted with whom they should talk to about obtaining energy audits in their market area. The audit essentially pre-qualifies them for the grants. It’s probably also a good idea to find out what rebates are available in your province and, if applicable, in your municipality.

But don’t let your heightened awareness stop there. Find out about ways your clients can save on their energy bills. What types of insulation are best suited for mid-century homes? Are tankless water heaters really worth the investment? Is it worth replacing your older appliances with Energy Star ones? What renovators and builders in your market take into account green principles when plying their trade?

Take a look at your own eco footprint. As a real estate professional, do you burn through fuel, paper and energy as though there were a limitless supply? You might want to think of better, cleaner ways to run your business.

Consider the National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB), a national non-profit professional association that aims to educate real estate professionals about energy conservation and environmental awareness.  NAGAB offers designations that help realtors gain more clients and increase profitability, protect the natural environment, fight climate change, access new markets and create a positive, long-term impact on their community.

As January begins a shiny new year filled with hope and optimism, we’re eager to earn more money, mend ailing relationships, lose weight, and go to the gym more often. But why not do our earth a favour and add the environment to your list of resolutions for 2015? The world will be glad you did.

Understanding Green Home Trends for 2015

Monday, December 15th, 2014

In 2015, we will begin to see changes in the way consumers spend their money and how they approach buying real estate.

Because consumers will grow even more green, value-conscious and mobile, expect those traits to penetrate the housing industry more deeply than ever.

Renovate is the fourth R when it comes to the environmentimages710F933R
More people will turn to makeovers when it comes to changing the space in which they live. This is good news for their pocketbook and for the environment.

Expect homeowners to invest in energy-efficient upgrades that reduce the draw on a home’s heating and cooling.

Footprints Shrink — When people build new homes, more will be doing so with smaller as opposed to bigger footprints.  According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the average size of a new home in 1978 was 1,750 square feet, a figure that had grown to 2,520 square feet by 2008. In 2010, that figure fell to 2,480 square feet. The decreasing trend is expected to continue with square footage estimated to fall to 2,152 by 2015.

Net Zero – A net zero home generates as much energy as it consumes. To achieve this, homeowners need to combine passive and active design strategies. Passive energy includes such methods as strategically placed windows that maximize or deter heat or shrubs and trees planted to help cool your home. Solar panels and wind turbines, on the other hand, produce energy.

While investing in a renewable energy system such as a geothermal well can be costly, perhaps the net result is worth it in the long run.

Energy Monitoring Systems — Keep track of your minute-by-minute energy-monitoring-system-onzo-smart-energy-kit-3energy
usage. Find out what it costs to wash a load of laundry or to cook a meal. The point, of course, is for you to learn how and when you use the most and to figure out ways to cut back.

LEDs – These lights use less energy than compact fluorescents images1D1BU5U1(CFL) and have much longer life spans. Prices are dropping  with LEDs so more and more consumers will adopt this lighting especially once they learn how much more they can save on their energy bills.

 

 

 

Your September Garden Checklist

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

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Given the extreme weather we’ve been having – from floods and ice storms to reports of tornadoes – it’s difficult to know what September has in store as I write this in early August.

Will the weather gods smile down and give us a month filled with balmy Indian-summer days?

Or will September feel winter’s looming grip just around the corner? Either way, September is the perfect time to start getting your outdoors ready for the big chill.

Begin by putting together an attractive autumn planter using the best of the fall season –ornamental cabbages and kales, mums, cora bells, verbena and sedum. Hopefully this may inspire you to continue with garden jobs that are less immediately rewarding.

Collect seeds for next spring and harvest herbs for drying and other ripened vegetables.

If your hostas are the size of Mini Coopers now is the time to divide and conquer. Overgrown perennials can flower poorly and become floppy. Fall is the best time to divide perennials and share them with neighbours or to plant elsewhere. Water the plant well a day or two before digging it up. Try to divide on a cloudy day as hot sun will stress plants.

Now is the time to plant spring and summer flowering perennials as well as new trees and shrubs allowing six to eight weeks for roots to form before winter’s frost sets in. Be sure to add compost or manure to your garden beds.

While this is easy to neglect, watering trees and shrubs until the ground freezes is an important task as it helps them better weather the ravages of winter.

Don’t let fall leaves go to waste. Shred collected leaves and bag them to be used as winter mulch.

Pull weeds before they go to seed to reduce the amount of weeds your lawn and garden will have next year.

Don’t forget to turn off your outside water taps. Store hoses and sprinklers. Clean and store or cover bird feeders, gardening tools, water features. Empty and clean clay containers. Bring them indoors to protect them from cracking.

If you’re a big fan of the ‘Stinking Rose’ otherwise known as garlic then you will want to find a sunny spot to plants your cloves. Plant cloves eight centimetres deep and 15 centimetres apart. Expect to harvest the following July.

Root vegetables such as carrots and parsnips can be harvested all winter. Remove top foliage from the plants and cover them with a 15-centimetre-thick mulch of leaves or straw. Throw an old piece of carpeting on top and let the snow fall as it may. Lift the coverings to dig out veggies as needed.

Feed your lawn with organic lawn fertilizer in the fall. Typically, these fertilizers while more expensive up front are cost effective in the long run as they require fewer applications in addition to decreasing the need for pest controls and promoting better growing conditions. Or you can try making some with your very own compost. Fill a bucket or container one-quarter full with compost and top up with water. Leave for three days and then strain the mixture. Dilute the compost tea with water before spraying your lawn. Also, remember to aerate your lawn as well.

While none of these suggestions will ward off winter’s arrival, know that your lawn and gardens will be better off for making the effort come spring.

 

The National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) provide a Greenbroker and Greenagent certification program to Realtors across Canada. To get more information or to sign up for a course, visit www.nagab.org. Elden Freeman M.E.S., AGB, broker is the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization. 1-877-524-9494 Email elden@nagab.org.

Gardening during the Dog Days of Summer

Monday, June 30th, 2014

July can be a busy month in the garden, whether you’re tending to flowers, vegetablsummergardenes or fruit or a mishmash of all three.

Whether you have an avid green thumb or are just starting out in the garden consider the following pointers to keep your garden pretty and perky throughout the month of July and beyond:

Flower Power

Remove old blossoms on roses, perennials and annuals so that blooms will continue with a strong showing. Because many annuals such as petunias get leggy with long leaf-less stems by this time, you’re best to cut them back to encourage new growth and flowering.

Frequent pruning will keep most annuals full. Consider pruning back to a set of leaves on one stem per week per plant. Or prune all stems by one third which will leave you without flowers for a few weeks.

Don’t forget to pinch mums to encourage a full, colorful fall flower display. Give late-blooming perennials, such as sedum and aster a quick trim by cutting plants back by one-third.

 

Early-season bloomers, like delphinium, daisy, and campanula should be trimmed by one-half to one-third. You may be rewarded with a second blooming.

 

Be sure to keep an eye each day on the water needs of your containers as they tend to dry out sooner than flowers and plants in the ground.

 

Let it Flow

If you can, replace your sprinkler with a soaker hose or drip tube system as these do a better job of bringing water directly to the soil.

Keep an eye on your water. Watch automatic irrigation systems while they’re doing their job. You want to ensure that you’re not wasting water by watering sidewalks or driveways.

Rain barrels are great because they catch water runoff from your roof. Make sure yours has a cover to avoid little ones and animals from falling in.

Consider using a timer on sprinklers and automatic irrigation systems. Buy one with a rainfall shut-off device. These newer gizmos actually adjust watering frequency based on weather intel gathered from the local weather observation stations.

 

Edgy Veggies

Your vegetable garden should be thoroughly watered during the hot dry weather July often brings. Try not to water in the later afternoon or evening. Avoid wetting the undergrowth of plants, especially those that are disease prone such as tomatoes and squash.

If your veggies and fruit has rotted and fallen to the ground, pick them up and toss in your composter as rotting vegetables and fruit attracts pests and can encourage disease.

 

Control your weeds otherwise they will take over your plants and use up space, nutrients and water from your plants. Don’t add weeds to your compost. Try to mulch between your rows of plants. Try to mow away from your garden so that seeds don’t get a chance to invade your garden.

Think about extending our short garden season by preserving food. Root vegetables, potatoes and onions can be stored in a cool, dry spot. Try canning or drying.

July can be a busy month in your garden. If you’re not up to it, you can always try hammock gardening, the low-maintenance kind for lazy gardeners. More on that next month.

Nice Shades: Trees provide the coolest sun block

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Remember the good old days when people used to slather their bodies with suntan oil in an effort to deepen their skin colour? While catching a few rays was at one time a common symbol of health and beauty, the residual effects of a tan turned out to be not so good for us after all.

Translate that thought to your home. While asphalt shingles, bricks and siding can’t contract life-threatening sun-related diseases like skin, they can suffer a good deal of wear and tear thanks to the sun’s damaging ultra-violet rays. More importantly, though, think about how hard your home has to work to keep its internal temperature at a comfortable level come the heat of summer.

oak-tree
Protecting your home with shade trees is one of the cheapest, most natural and aesthetically leasing improvements you can make. Not only will your house look and feel cooler, you’ll be saving on your energy bills and sparing the environment while you’re at it.Deciduous or leaf-shedding trees planted on the south and west sides of your home reduce your dependence on air conditioning. Large leafy trees that shade your roof from the hot afternoon sun can cut temperatures by as much as four or five degrees Celsius, reducing cooling costs by up to 40 per cent.

Trees also provide environmental benefits such as reducing air pollution, providing a natural habitat for wildlife, sequestering carbon dioxide from the air and mitigating storm water runoff.

While getting a tree to grow large enough to take advantage of its shade can take patience and a good many years, there are options that require less time. Here is a look at some fast-growing trees that will shade your home in no time.

The Hybrid Poplar is a fast grower at five to eight feet of new growth per year. It is also the most disease resistant and longest lived of all the hybrid poplars with a life expectancy that exceeds 40 years. It grows in a wide variety of soils and climates. It matures to 60-feet tall and 30-feet wide and could provide cooling shade for your home or yard in as little as three years.

The Autumn Blaze is an extremely fast-growing maple with brilliant red fall color. Under good conditions it can grow three feet or more per year. It is tolerant of clay soils and drought and has a dense, oval head with strong branching. This tree grows in a wide range of climates as high as 50 feet.

The Silver Maple and the Red Maple are very common in eastern North America and are pretty quick growers. The Silver grows to 100 feet.

The Canada Red Chokecherry is a small ornamental deciduous tree that has a beautiful spring floral display with clusters of dainty white flowers, followed by purple fruits. The foliage emerges as bright green turning to a maroon-red in early summer and keeps this color through fall. The tree grows one to two feet per year to a mature height of 20 to 30 feet.

The Weeping Willow is a fast grower with growth rates of three to eight feet per year. While these are known to grow especially well near water there are a variety of hybrids available that are better suited to drier conditions.

The Tulip Tree is known for its beautiful yellow-orange spring flowers and unusual leaves shaped like tulip silhouettes. They grow 15 to 18 inches per year and can reach up to 100 feet. They are good for Zones 5 to 9.

Last year, Ryerson University professor Andrew Millward published a study that showed the environmental benefits of planting trees. Professor Millward and his research team used an online tool to measure the energy savings generated by 577 trees planted by Torontonians on their property between 1997 and 2000. The online tool allowed homeowners to select their city, tree species and location to plant.

The tool – known as the Ontario Residential Tree
Benefits Estimator — provides an estimate of the energy savings, reduction in air pollution and other conservation benefits. Visithttp://www.yourleaf.org/estimator to check it out and then head on down to your nearest garden centre.

The National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) provide a Greenbroker and Greenagent certification program to Realtors across Canada. To get more information or to sign up for a course, visit www.nagab.org. Elden Freeman M.E.S., AGB, broker is the founder and executive director of the non-
profit organization. 1-877-524-9494 Email elden@nagab.org.

The Unappetizing Truth about Food Waste

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

As the days grow longer and the sun warms our spirits, we cross the threshold into that season when Mother Nature begins to show off her bounty in full glory.

As Canadians who have endured a wickedly cold winter, we need to honour that bounty and one sure-fire way to do so is to minimize the amount of food waste we generate.

We might be inclined to point fingers at food manufacturers or restaurants or grocery stores, those big food consumers, but the truth is that 51 per cent of the estimated $27-billion of wasted food in Canada comes from the leftovers we toss in the trash at home.

FOODWASTE

 

Each Canadian family throws out more than $1,000 per year in kitchen waste. To go one further, once the scraps hit the landfill site they become a major contributor to the production of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.

A sad yet alarming fact according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is that one-third of food produced to feed people is lost as it moves from field to plate. According to the World Bank, the value of the food waste in Canada is greater than the combined Gross Domestic Product of the 32 poorest countries in the world.
When we discard food we are wasting more than just food. Think about all the resources that go into growing, shipping and producing. Think about all the water that is wasted in the process – that’s all down the drain, too.

But there are things you can do to lessen your food loss and help the environment. Start by taking the produce you buy out of its plastic bag. Might sounds counter-intuitive but airtight wrapping only suffocates your fruits and veggies and speeds up spoilage.
Wait before washing your produce. Moisture promotes the growth of mould and decay so wash just before you plan to eat it.

Don’t hull strawberries or discard fruit stems. This will keep the produce whole as long as possible. Once living cells are broken bacteria starts growing and that’s something you want to avoid.
Plan out your shopping, menus and meals. A lot of times we buy on impulse or out of habit and that doesn’t always serve us well. Will you use up two heads of cauliflower before they start turning black? When you do buy make a point of eating the most perishable items first.

Don’t get roped in to buying a flat of blueberries or two litres of yogurt because the price is right. Unless you’ve got specific plans for those items, some or all may go to waste.

Best-before dates aren’t always carved in stone. Eggs, yogurt and some meats are fine past their dates. Do a sniff test to be sure and if still in doubt throw it out. Time deadlines on more finicky foods such as sushi, cold cuts and soft cheeses are important to follow, though. And bear in mind, that use-by dates don’t usually indicate the safety of the product often refer to how long a food product is able to retain its freshness, taste or nutritional value.

Use up bits and pieces of food items. Find ways to incorporate wilted produce into soup, stew or a casserole. Use blackened bananas to make banana bread. Old bread can be ground into bread crumbs or baked and then cut up into croutons.

Most of us have been guilty of having eyes bigger than our stomachs at one time or another. Maybe it’s time we become more mindful of what we consume, from our in-store purchases to restaurant meals and take-out to the food waste we heap in our garbage and compost bins. And don’t forget to observe Earth Day April 22. Celebrate it with food. Just don’t buy more than you need.

The National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) provide a Greenbroker and Greenagent certification program to Realtors across Canada. To get more information or to sign up for a course, visit www.nagab.org. Elden Freeman M.E.S., AGB, broker is the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization. 1-877-524-9494 Email elden@nagab.org.

Rethinking Garbage

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

With Spring (hopefully!) around the corner, here are some tips from the National Association of Green Agents and Brokers to follow when you start your spring cleaning!
recycling
The skies might be bluer, the water more clean, the air much purer and our plant life more green if we could only minimize the heaps of household garbage we produce.

It’s been a long time since we talked about garbage. It’s not a particularly appealing or sexy topic, that’s for sure, but it is a blight on our lives that we must continue to tackle. Canadians throw out nearly 1,700 pounds – much more than other countries of the same size and means — of waste per person each year. That’s the weight of eight adult men. When you picture eight guys heaped in a pile at the foot of your driveway it drives home the message more clearly and much more dramatically.

Let’s pay more attention to the three Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle, and hopefully we can work toward bringing our numbers down.

For starters, we need to rethink what we purchase and what we dispose of. Does it really pay to purchase products that come packaged in ridiculous quantities of plastic, foil and cardboard? Choose products that use minimal packaging or packaging that can be reused or recycled. Try to buy unpackaged goods in bulk.

Certain hardware items can be bought this way and that cuts your packaging waste. It’s better to buy one large jar of peanut butter than two small jars so keep that in mind when writing out your grocery list. And finally, don’t be afraid to voice your opinion about over packaging by complaining to the manufacturer or the retailer.

Start by reducing the stuff you buy, not just the quantity but the kinds of things you buy. Consider buying quality products that tend to last longer rather than cheap items that are more easily tossed out. Think twice before purchasing disposable items such as cups, diapers and lighters. What price does our environment pay for the throwaway items we buy? Think of reusable facsimiles. They’re out there.

Try not to use shopping as therapy or as a pastime. While this can be very difficult in our brand-driven, consumer society, the less time you spend in stores, the less junk you’ll accumulate. Try to buy only what you need. Make a list and follow it and try your hardest not to deviate from it.

Try to simplify your life. When was the last time you used that foot massager or hands-free hair dryer? The avocado slicer and talking cookie jar haven’t been used in years so pack them up and give them away. If you don’t use it, don’t need it or don’t absolutely love it, toss it out. If there is a sentimental attachment to something know that you always have your memories.

Reusing household items is what our grandmothers did. Well, guess what? The trend is back in fashion but not as much out of economic need. It has to do with green concerns of a different kind — saving resources, preventing pollution and using less energy.
Pass along magazines and books to friends and neighbours or donate them to women’s shelters, doctor’s offices or nursing homes. Perhaps your local thrift store will take them off your hands? Eyeglasses can be donated to Operation Eyesight Universal.

Don’t forget pre-schools and daycare centres. They’re often looking for simple household items such as egg cartons, buttons and toilet paper rolls that their mini Picassos can transform into masterpieces. Become the resident expert on recycling and where to dispose of odd items such as electronics, cell phones, dentures and old trophies. (Yes, there is a heaven for just about all earthly things).

Don’t forget the beauty of yard and garage sales. You can recycle a lot of items and makes a few quarters while you’re at it. For an online version of a yard sale check out Kijiji, a website that lets you donate or sell items for free. Freecycle.org also allows you to post items you’d like to get rid of.

Our pursuit of stuff often means we burn through too much waste in our quest to amass. Learn to be happy with less and you’ll be giving and getting so much more.

The National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) provide a Greenbroker and Greenagent certification program to Realtors across Canada. To get more information or to sign up for a course, visit www.nagab.org. Elden Freeman M.E.S., AGB, broker is the founder and executive director of the non-profit organization. 1-877-524-9494 Email elden@nagab.org.

The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the Toronto Real Estate Board. The trademarks REALTOR®, REALTORS® and the REALTOR® logo are controlled by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) and identify real estate professionals who are members of CREA. Used under license.