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  • One month of living differently

    ChickadeeThe Shortlist

    We’ve carefully selected each entry for its potential to light the fuse: where that spark leads is up to you. This movement is 100% curiosity-powered.

    The list begins with spaces: sustainable centers, tour opportunities, greened spots and greening initiatives – sustainability as a place.

    It ends with actions: composting, bike repair, gardening, cutting out packaging, exploring sustainability as a lifestyle.

    Begun as a challenge among friends, it ends as a small celebration where people can share their experiences over the month. For our part, our organization is planning a candle-lit potluck.

    Spaces (see the map)


    (click on the + sign to read more about)

    1. Write a letter to your MP +
    2. Sign up for compost collection or buy/build a composter +
    3. Start sprouting seedlings, create a garden wherever it grows: plants some herbs on your balcony +
    4. Start a shelfponics project +
    5. Start biking or using public transit to get to work +
    6. Take a 5-minute shower or try tracking how many litres of water you use in a day +
    7. Eliminate packaging from one regular purchase by finding an unpackaged alternative (ex. Produits Lemieux) +
    8. Switch to low-flow: toilet or shower-head +
    9. Get rid of 5 things you truly don’t need +
    10. Get rid of 5 more things (feels good doesn’t it?) +
    11. Make your own cleaning product +
    12. Explore the world of eco-apps, buy something using good guide app +
    13. Call an investment advisor to get sustainable investment options (ex. ethiquette.ca) +
    14. Approach your favourite store and inquire about sustainable development policies (can you get a sustainable forestry logo, recycling bin) +
    15. Take a vegetarian cooking class (Vegetarian Montreal offers cooking classes every Saturday at 4:00pm for 15$) +
    16. Try a no meat diet: for one meal, one day, or one week +
    17. Try using a bixi or a car-sharing service. If you have to drive to work, try setting up carpooling with your neighbors, or use a carpooling website like Covoiturage.ca or Covoiturage AMT +
    18. Make a zero-waste meal (no packaging for any of the ingredients). Start bringing a regular waste-free lunch to work to replace the lunchtime fast-food or cafeteria rush +
    19. Give up disposables in the kitchen (use rags instead of paper towels, use cloth napkins or no napkins, use containers or a plate on top of a bowl instead of plastic wrap) +
    20. Air dry your clothes instead of using the dryer/ set up a clothesline +
    21. Have a no-waste picnic: everyone brings their own non-disposable plates, cups, cutlery +
    22. Skip the Dry Cycle. Open the dishwasher door and allow dishes to air-dry. +
    23. Switch to an Electric Kettle. Electric kettles boil water faster and more efficiently than stovetop kettles. +
    24. Overhaul your fridge +
    25. Add checking for drafts and patching up insulation to your spring cleaning blitz: insulation’s not just for heating: keep the cool in this summer too +
    26. Switch over to biodegradable cleaning products +
    27. Register to “adopt” a group of monarch butterflies +
    28. Go one day without buying anything +
    29. Switch completely to reusable grocery bags, cut out plastic water bottles with a dedicated reusable water bottle, carry your own reusable coffee cup to cut out the disposables +
    30. Spend a few hours at a park – why fight for fresh air and never take time to enjoy it? +
    31. Celebrate ! +


    In details

    Grouse1. Politics is all about money, right? Well, not exactly. MPs work hard in their constituencies to ensure they’re listening to the concerns of their constituents. If half of the letters they receive are about sustainability, you can bet they’re going to make that a priority. In fact, many MPs do care about the environment, but their job is to serve our interests, not their own. So if we show it’s our priority, they’ll make it their priority in turn.

    2. One of the biggest contributions to greenhouse gas emissions are landfills – but in a way you might not expect. When compostable material breaks down deep into a landfill without enough oxygen (called anaerobic decomposition) it produces whole loads of methane – a greenhouse gas that’s 20 times worse than carbon dioxide. So not only will composting cut your garbage production in half and create some super fertile soil, but it reduces our city’s overall GHG emissions in a huge way.

    3&4. “We must cultivate our own garden.” Voltaire may have not have meant that so literally, but to hell with it. With our modern systems of large-scale agriculture and international distribution it’s so very easy to become disconnected from the food itself. Gardening is a wonderful way to reconnect with the process that makes human life possible. Not to mention the heap of herbs and veg you can eat once your season’s finished.

    5. This is pretty straightforward: more cyclists means a stronger push for more cycling infrastructure, more exercise, more freedom. It also means less time in traffic, searching for parking, shelling out at the pay-lot or gas station.

    6. With water being as abundant as it is, it’s hard not to take it for granted. I mean, we’re literally swimming in it! All the same, access to clean drinking water and the environmental impact of water treatment plants are each important issues not to be overlooked. Since we already know not to waste food, why would we waste water?

    7. When you’re recycling and composting, what’s left to pile up in your trash bin? Packaging. Every choice we make to cut down on heavily packaged products means less material to sit in our landfills for basically forever.

    8. This one’s a no-brainer, in the best way possible: once you switch to low-flow, you never have to think about it again.

    9&10. This one speaks to a sea change. Do things make us happy, or does having too many things more often take time away from the pursuits and relationships that actually make us happy? While we all know the answer, it’s easier said than done. So start simplifying, and keep it Grossbeakup – who knows where you’ll end up?
    But what does this have to do with the environment? For starters, having too many things to manage makes it harder to make the right choices, especially ones that take our time and energy. Buying less also means less to manufacture, package, ship, store, and finally throw out when it breaks. Some of the stuff we buy spends such little time between the sale rack and the garbage bin that it’s hard not to feel we were literally just buying garbage.

    11. Not only is the majority of cleaning products effectively toxic, but also needlessly expensive. By substituting the storebought with the homemade, you can clean your home without the overkill or overpricing.

    12. The tech wizards have been busy. There are now dozens of apps out there to check up on the eco-report card of the companies you buy from, and to look for more sustainable options in light of the real flunkies (our favourite is Good Guides). Ethical purchasing has never been easier.

    13. The unfortunate truth is, the vast majority of investment portfolios are packed with extremely unsustainable options. A few years ago I was surprised to find my TFSA held obligatory investments in the oil industry.
    Divesting from these companies doesn’t only make clear environmental sense – it makes good financial sense too. The Bank of England is already conducting an inquiry into the financial risk of inflated fossil fuel assets in the global economic system.
    So while switching to a different investment is already one of the greatest individual changes you can make for the planet, it might also end up saving you a lot of financial angst down the road.

    14. Stores are built around giving customers what they want – it’s the only way they can stay around. If people make it clear that sustainable practises are a crucial part of the package, then they’ll come around. Make it clear that caring about the environment makes good business sense – because if they don’t care, we can always find another shop that does….

    15. So what do vegetarians eat? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked this throughout my life. If people find it hard to guess, it’s not for a lack of actual meal choices but simply a lack of exposure and imagination. And it’s not just about the environment – it’s about daring to switch up the ol meat and potatoes every once in a while. We seek out now movies, new music, new clothing – why not new food?
    Food has so much more potential!

    16. While animal rights is a whole other conversation that’s very much worth having, something far less debatable is the meat industry’s colossal impact on climate change. One climate change scientist has even suggested that simply giving up red meat has a bigger impact than giving up your car. Cutting down on your meat intake is one of the single best changes you can make for the environment.

    17. When you drive down the highway, what do you see? Hundreds of cars that are totally empty, save whoever’s behind the wheel. If even a quarter of our solo drivers carpooled during rush hour, we’d almost never have to sit through traffic again. And the rare moments that we do, we won’t be sitting there alone, mulling over our regrets, but in great company. Not to mention we’d reduce our city’s overall emissions in a big way.

    18. It’s simply habit at this point: choose, buy, open, season, eat, toss. What if we found a way to cut packaging from the process? Bring your food in a reusable container, and you get to pick where the ingredients come from, and to see a little less waste going to the landfill.

    19. This one’s pretty simple too. Nothing adds to a meal’s presentation like a sleek cloth napkin on the side. And nothing cleans better than a 100% authentic bona fide rag.

    20. Who needs to fuss when the whole world is a dryer? Cut out the second biggest household power-sapper and see the difference in your energy bill. Just add clothespins.

    21. There’s got to be a better way than single-use cups and plates! This one is so clear it’s basically a lifehack. If you’re going to stock up on travel flatware, make it one trip to the shops for a reusable set, rather than 20 trips for the same old trash.

    22. When your dishwasher has finished running, it turns into a giant drying rack. Your dishes may be great, but they don’t need a trip to the sauna after every time they grab a shower. Just towel or air-dry and you’ve just saved loads of energy.

    23. Unless you’re doing all of your cooking over an open fire, now might be a good time to go electric with your kettle. It’s faster, easier, and takes less than half the electricity.

    24. The fridge is one of the biggest consumers of household electricity. It turns out that keeping a box full of coldness is actually a lot of work. So while tuning up your bike and breaking out the spring cleaning, why not give your fridge and freezer a quick tune up to keep them running at their peak?

    25. It only takes a few hours, but once you’ve finished look forward to energy savings that last for years.

    26. After heading down the drain, all that soap’s got to go somewhere. Do your part to make sure it’s no harm to the environment – wherever it ends up. And unless you live in a hospital ER, these products will do the trick: tough on germs, easy on the planet.

    27. Due to the decimation of habitat and main food groups, along with changing climate patterns and aggressive insecticide use, our Monarch Butterfly populations are their lowest in decades. This is an opportunity for you and your friends or family to experience the metamorphosis of four monarchs, from egg to butterfly (a process scientists still don’t really understand). All proceeds go toward ecological conservation.

    28. In too many ways, life has organized itself into an obstacle course where you can’t makeCurlew your way through a whole day without being slapped with some unforeseen costs. Challenge yourself to go a whole day purchase-free to spend some much-needed time out of the game. By sunset you’ll have a stronger sense of any excessive expenses along with ideas for how to change them for the better. In the end, what and how you spend is up to you – just so long as you take time to remember it.

    29. To stop using single-use plastic bags, water bottles, and coffee cups is to cut out some of the main ingredients in our landfills, and some of the greatest polluters in our oceans.

    30. Space is an important part of the urban ecological conversation: how do we use public property in a way that reflects the desires of the community? As simple is it sounds, the best way to protect our green spaces is to use them. So grab that book, throw together a picnic, bring your guitar – whatever it takes to get your outdoor ritual going.

    31. Once your One Month draws to a close, why not top it off with a candlelit reunion of everyone who took part. Swap stories about the places you visited, the actions you tried – well, anything really: it’s your party !