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4 Tips to Green Your Consumer Habits

September 28, 2017 — 

Each year on September 28th the world comes together to celebrate Green Consumer Day, a day that highlights the problems of consumerism and its impact on the environment. Whether you are buying a large item like a refrigerator or grabbing your morning cup of coffee, there are things you can do to tread lightly on our planet.

Here are some useful tips to help you green your consumer habits:

Tip 1: Reduce and Reuse

  • If you need to buy something, bring your own bag. Reducing or eliminating the use of plastic shopping bags will lessen the amount that ultimately ends up in landfills. If you do use a plastic bag, either reuse it or recycle it through the ‘Bag-It-Forward’ plastic bag recycling program at the Fort Garry  and Bannatyne (coming soon) campus.
  • Recycle or reuse paper products. Common items like scrap printer paper can be reused for note pads or recycled in your blue/grey recycling bin.
  • Buy second hand. Many household and clothing items can be purchased in good condition for less money at a local thrift shop. Old clothing can also be used as rags after they have worn out. If items are in good condition, consider donating them to local charities and non-profit organizations in our community.

Tip 2: Lug – A – Mug

  • Bring your own reusable coffee mug. All of the disposable coffee cups sold at the University of Manitoba are not recyclable and end up in the trash and eventually in the landfill! When you bring a reusable mug to any campus food service location, you will receive a discount on your beverage.
  • Bring your own reusable water bottle. Plastic water bottles may seem convenient when you are busy, but if not recycled properly they can harm the environment. You might find it more cost effective to purchase a reusable water container to carry water with you. There are many water bottle refilling stations located across campus that offer cold, filtered, fresh and FREE water.

Tip 3: Sustainable Food Tips

  • Buy local. If you’re concerned about how far food travels before it gets to your plate, consider eating and buying locally grown foods from Manitoba.
  • Cut down on food waste. Food waste is a huge problem for Canadian consumers. Be mindful of what you buy on your grocery shopping trips, and prepare meal plans to effectively use what you have in your fridge. If you are to throw out plant-based food waste, try composting as an alternative to the landfill.

Tip 4: Small Steps for Green Consumerism

  • Turn it off. Reducing electricity use has environmental benefits and helps cut down on monthly bills.  Think of the small steps you could take to cut down on energy usage, such as turning off your computer at the end of the day or having your outdoor lighting on timers.  As winter approaches, did you know that for every 1 degree Celsius that you turn down your home’s heat, you will save 2% on your heating bill?
  • Reduce packaging. Before you buy, look at the type of packaging that products come in. Many items come wrapped in paper and plastic, which can later be recycled, repurposed, or composted.

There are thousands of things you can do to be a green consumer. The most important thing to remember is to think before you buy. You might be pleasantly surprised with the ways you can reuse items to reduce the impact on your wallet and the environment. Watch the Story of Stuff for an interesting, humorous and helpful approach to looking at our consumer habits.

Questions? Email sustainability [at] umanitoba [dot] ca

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