Sustainability Steps for Individuals
There are so many ways you can give back to your community, strengthen the local economy and lighten your environmental footprint. The path you choose is up to you!
Take a first step by following your passion, and doing something meaningful to you and your family. Here are some ideas for getting started.
Aboriginal & Non-Aboriginal Relations | Agriculture & Food | Air Quality | Biodiversity, Fish & Fisheries | Business & Sustainability | Climate Change & Energy | Community Engagement | Consumption & Waste | Economy, Income & Employment | Education | Forests & Forestry | Health | Housing | Population | Water Quality & Quantity
Aboriginal & Non-Aboriginal Relations
- Learn more about Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people in your community – and participate in events that bring communities closer to open up dialogue and build understanding.
- Attend local events, such as National Aboriginal Day and community celebrations.
Deepen cultural understanding by learning about the Aboriginal language of your region. Try online resources designed to introduce or build First Nations language skills, such as www.firstvoices.ca, which teaches vocabulary games for the young and young in spirit.
Agriculture and Food
Sustain BC Food Production
- Buy local. Get to know your local farmers and support them by purchasing their products through farmers’ markets, farm gate sales and community-shared agriculture. See www.bcfarmersmarket.org and www.getlocalbc.org to learn more about locally produced food.
- Grow your own vegetables in an urban garden or join a local farming co-op: www.cityfarmer.org. Visit Farm Folk, City Folk for more information on farm co-ops in your area: www.ffcf.bc.ca.
- Learn about invasive plants and avoid planting aggressive or known invasive species. Grow appropriate non-invasive alternatives, such as species native to your area, and dispose of garden waste appropriately at your local landfill or compost, if composting will not promote the spread of invasive species. Learn more at www.bcinvasives.ca.
- Check out the Air Quality Health Index (www.airhealthbc.ca) to learn about air quality in your community and the risks posed by air pollutants. The index is updated several times daily and can assist anyone, especially people sensitive to air pollution, in making decisions on whether to limit exposure or activity during periods when the health risk is higher.
- Learn about indoor air pollutants and how to minimize their impact. Visit Health Canada at www.hc-sc.gc.ca, Environment Canada at www.ec.gc.ca and the BC Lung Association at www.bc.lung.ca.
- Use clean energy sources and improve home energy efficiency, especially when it comes to home heating. In particular, look for high-efficiency furnaces and certified wood stoves.
Biodiversity, Fish & Fisheries
Help our Waterways
- Support local stewardship groups that help fish, wildlife and habitat. Visit the BC Stewardship Centre at www.stewardshipcentre.bc.ca, the Pacific Streamkeepers Federation at www.pskf.ca, the BC Wildlife Federation at www.bcwf.bc.ca or other local stewardship groups to learn more about volunteer opportunities.
- Landowners and managers can help protect streamside and shoreline areas. You can find many resources online. For example, see www.livingbywater.ca, www.stewardshipcentre.bc.ca and www.slipp.com.
- Support sustainability in the fishing sector by making informed choices about seafood purchases. See Canada’s Seafood Guide at www.seachoice.org or Ocean Wise at www.vanaqua.org/oceanwise. Also consider land management practices where fish spawn and rear: see certification under SalmonSafe BC. [internal link to: water_fswp_salmon-safe.html]
- Report illegal fishing, wildlife poaching and polluting to the 24-hour hotline: 1-877-952-RAPP (7277) or www.env.gov.bc.ca/cos/rapp/form.htm.
Business & Sustainability
Buying Local Goods and Services
- Support local businesses, buy locally produced goods and services, and encourage businesses that follow sustainable practices.
- Visit the Better Business Bureau, the BC Chamber of Commerce or your local Chamber of Commerce for more information about businesses in your community.
Climate Change & Energy
Be Power Smart and Climate Neutral
- Save money and energy by reducing your electricity consumption; take advantage of BC Hydro’s energy saving tips, product information, and rebates for your home: www.bchydro.com.
- There are still provincial rebates available to help improve your home’s energy efficiency. An energy-efficient home will help save money, increase comfort, and reduce your environmental footprint. Find out more at www.livesmartbc.ca.
- Keep an eye on exciting new vehicle technologies, including plug-in electric cars (EVs). See www.livesmartbc.ca for point-of-sale incentives for clean energy vehicles, and rebates on residential EV charging stations.
- Walk, cycle, carpool or take public transit instead of driving alone, especially to work and on short trips around your neighbourhood.
Volunteer or Donate
- Volunteer your time to a worthy cause and help others in your community. See Volunteer BC (www.volunteerbc.ca) for information about local volunteer centres.
- Donate money, food, clothes or household items to help those in need.
- Lend a helping hand to your neighbours.
Consumption & Waste
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
- Buy products that use minimal packaging.
- Compost your yard waste and food scraps.
- Find out where you can safely recycle electronics and safely dispose of hazardous goods.
- Check with the Recycling Council of BC and your Regional District or the Return-It program (Encorp Pacific Canada) for local opportunities to manage your waste.
Economy, Income & Employment
Support People and Communities
- Educate yourself about poverty issues in your community by connecting with local social planning committees and agencies that work with people who are on low incomes.
Hands Up for Lifelong Learning
- Take advantage of the classes, programs and skills workshops offered by school districts, community centres and public libraries, as well as post-secondary institutions and professional associations.
- Join your local public library for access to thousands of books, journals, magazines and audio recordings on a wide range of sustainability issues. See www.bclibrary.ca/home.
Forests & Forestry
Support Sustainable Forestry
- BC forests yield more than timber! Support BC forest workers and companies by buying local forest products. For example, see BuyBCwild.
- Buy certified wood and paper products. Find out more at the Canadian Sustainable Forestry Certification Coalition.
- Participate in community advisory committees to help forest companies incorporate local interests and issues into their forest planning and management.
Paths to Better Living
- Take the healthy living pledge and enhance your health by getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day—walk the dog, ride your bike or go snowshoeing with friends or family. See healthyfamiliesbc.ca.
- Learn more about healthy eating habits. In BC, 30% of cancer and diabetes cases and 20% of cardiovascular diseases are due to poor nutrition, and $800 million per year is spent on illnesses related to poor nutrition.
Raising the Roof
- Shopping for a cleaner, greener house? Certification standards show you what goes into a development. Visit www.builtgreencanada.ca.
- Participate in Homelessness Action Week and similar activities to increase your understanding of homelessness, and encourage leaders and decision-makers to address the issues.
Neighbours Helping Neighbours
- Help make your community a safer and friendlier place by getting to know your neighbours and learning about the ethnic and cultural diversity in your neighbourhood.
Water Quality & Quantity
Live Water Smart
- Reduce household water consumption by installing water-saving appliances and fixtures, such as low-flow shower heads and toilets.
- Do not pollute water by disposing of garbage, motor oil, paint or pesticides in storm drains or near water bodies.
- Pump septic tanks at least once every three years and maintain all parts of the septic system.
- Minimize the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers on lawns and gardens.
- Visit www.livingwatersmart.ca for other ideas on preserving and protecting water.