You turned off your lights for Earth Hour but now you want to do more? Shop, travel, eat, and beautify this spring with these eco-chic lifestyle tips.

You turned off your lights for Earth Hour but now you want to do more? Shop, travel, eat, and beautify this spring with these eco-chic lifestyle tips.

Banish junk mail forever. Not only is it annoying to open a mailbox crammed with flyers, but junk mail is also costing us one hundred million trees each year, according to Conservatree and US Forest Service statistics. Limit your junk mail by logging on to the Canadian Marketers Association and signing up for their “do not contact” service. You’ll be removed from their marketing list—and see less flyers in about six weeks. And remember to toss any junk mail that does end up in your box in the recycle bin.

Be eco-beauty conscious. Pay attention to what’s in the products you use and avoid potentially harmful chemicals like parabens, phthalates, and toluene. These chemicals have been linked to cancer, and reproductive and developmental toxicity. Instead try to buy “fragrance-free” and “paraben-free” products, like those available on British-based online organic beauty apothecary Love Lula or from brands like Kiss My Face, Nvey Eco, and Care by Stella McCartney, available at Holt Renfrew.

Calculate your personal footprint. Log on to Zerofootprint’s carbon calculator ( to find out your personal carbon footprint. You’ll be asked questions about your travel, eating, and lifestyle habits and then be shown how much CO2 you’re emitting in comparison to the national average. Or sign up for the more in-depth Carbon Manager, an online network where you’ll be able to compare your footprint to other users, set goals for reducing your emissions, get tips for greener living, and invite your friends to become eco-friendly too.

Catch your ZZZ’s and B and Bs. Choose to stay at an independently run, green-friendly bed and breakfast, rather than bunking at chain hotels, whose mass produced products make them notorious waste generators. Try: Arbutus Hill Bed and Breakfast in Victoria, Kitsilano Heritage House in Vancouver, Calgary’s Knob Hill Bed and Breakfast, Toadhall Bed and Breakfast in the Toronto area, and Montreal’s A la Bonne Heure Bed and Breakfast. Another strategy? Vartan suggests traveling with your own products in reusable containers rather than indulging in the individually wrapped hotel soaps and mini-shampoos.

Offset your carbon emissions when you fly. One transatlantic flight can undo a year’s work of living eco-conscious. And while you can’t really take back the pollutants your jet emitted, you can lessen your impact by offsetting your travel carbon emissions by booking your flight at Vancouver-based Book your AirCanada or WestJet flight through FlyGreen and—at no extra cost— they will offset 50kg or 100kg of CO2 on AirCanada and WestJet flights respectively. The site also offers offsetting for package holidays, cruises, and car rentals, as well as useful green travel tips.


Order local organic produce straight to your door. Know you should be buying your veggies from the local farmer’s market but can’t quite seem to get there early Saturday morning? Instead, order your weekly greens online from a community supported agriculture initiative, which will deliver fresh regional produce to your doorstep weekly. “Eating local organic foods eliminates transportation pollution and prevents more pesticides from entering the environment,” says Billy O’Dowd, co-owner of Green Earth Organics. Toronto and Vancouver dwellers can order online at Green Earth Organics.

Rework. Reuse, reduce, recycle, and now… Rework! According to Starre Vartan, founder and editor of, “the fourth R” is an easy way to keep both your closet—and landfills—clutter-free. Try recovering your ugly armchair by picking up some discounted fabric at Fabricland and hiring a local reupholster to do the job. Or sign up for a class at a local sewing store for the a,b,c’s of reworking those flared pants at the back of your closet into long shorts. Toronto’s Sew Be It Studio offers a “Vintage Revamp” class, and The Church of Craft in Montreal, and Seamrippers Craft Collective in Vancouver have a variety of workshops and craft swaps aimed at aspiring reworkers.

Separate your waste. Get in the practice of separating your waste right from the kitchen in order to minimize the amount of garbage going to the landfill. Buy attractive, stackable recycle bins that don’t require too much room—both the Container store and Ikea have them, which makes separating your glass and paper recyclables easy. Then get a small plastic container and store it under your sink to use for compost waste. Toss any fruit and veggie waste, tea bags, egg shells, and other decomposable waste in there and then transfer to an outside compost at the end of each day. The City of Toronto has an online guide to composting for apartment residents.

Swap that skirt. Instead of tossing that too-small dress, make your next girls night out a clothing swap party. Have everyone bring clothes they no longer want, set up shop in your living room, and score a new wardrobe while being easy on both your wallet and the environment. Then help others by donating any leftover clothes to a local charity. Oasis Clothing Bank in Toronto has city-wide drop off boxes or you can call them for a home pickup. Donations will go to people recovering from addictions who need necessities like clothes in order to reenter the workforce.

Wash in cold. It sounds simple, but washing your clothes in cold water instead or warm or hot, saves energy. According to the Canadian Energy Efficiency Alliance 85-90% of energy used when washing clothes comes from heating the water! So if every Canadian household switched to washing in cold, enough energy would be saved to light over 2.5 million Canadian homes for a year! Try using a cold-water detergent like Tide Coldwater in order to keep clothes looking their best. An added bonus? Washing in cold prevents clothes from fading quickly.

BONUS Operate online. Using the web to send e-cards and invitations is an easy way to save paper and transportation energy. Find cute ones at, SomeECards and Sendomatic. Also try making your next photo album virtually with ideas at

Jessalynn Keller