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188.8.131.52 Organizations/ Communities
How You Can Make Choices That Treat the Earth Well
Ontario’s Green Communities
COLLINGWOOD ELORA GUELPH KITCHENER HAMILTON KINGSTON LANARK&LEEDS
OTTAWA PERTH PETERBOROUGH SUDBURY THUNDER BAY TORONTO YORK REGION
Communities Taking Action
Almost everything we do these days shop, get around, eat, enjoy entertainment, run appliances, heat our homes, or cook food has a connection to the use of fossil fuel, climate change and the local environment. But the good news is that no matter what we do, there are ways to decrease fossil fuel use and reduce our negative environmental impacts.
One of the most important places to get involved in environmentally-friendly behaviour is one’s own local community. During the 1990s, a network of community-based organizations calling themselves “Green Communities” came into existence across Ontario and across Canada. Their organizers recognized the strength of local efforts in educating and involving local residents in healthy environmental projects.
The Green Communities Association (GCA) has grown to over 40 members in all regions of Canada. In a wide variety of creative ways, these communities involve people in taking practical steps towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies.
Greener Homes and Communities – Something for Everyone
There are an amazing number of choices of activities available that contribute to healthier, green communities. Green Communities organizations provide programs that make it easy for local residents to get involved in successful local efforts. Here are some of the many activities that Green Communities have offered or launched into new, separate organizations.
- Community gardening*
- Tree-planting and naturalization of local parks and watersheds**
- “Best Blooming Yard” contest
- Well-Aware Program (well maintenance, clean drinking water)
- Paint exchanges
- Junk mail campaigns*
- Car-sharing companies (Dash-Car)***
- Walking school buses (Greenest City Active and Safe Routes to School)***
- Green Home Visits, energy audits (Green$aver)**
- EnerGuide for Houses (with Natural Resources Canada)**
- EnerGuide for Houses Retrofit Program (financed by Natural Resources Canada)**
- No-idling campaigns and advocacy*
- No-pesticide use campaigns, information and lawn signs**
- Community business and restaurant waste audits*
- “Lost Rivers” walks (discovering local watersheds)
- Community renewable energy (Windshare Windmill Coop)***
- Low-income retrofit programs**
- Improving First Nations housing stock*
- Promotion of low-water yard and garden maintenance*
- Composter and blue box distribution**
- Collections of household hazardous waste (HHW)*
- Collections for textile recycling*
- Downspout disconnections*
- Pumpkin and Christmas tree collections*
- Speakers’ series
- Green Garden Visits
Green Communities and Climate Change
In the list above there are no programs named “climate change.” Yet nearly all of the Green Communities’ initiatives have important impacts on greenhouse gases (see asterisks**). Increasing vegetation, reducing home energy use, recycling, retrofitting buildings, saving water, reducing pesticide use, discouraging idling, recycling and composting locally and educating residents about all these positive actions all have an enormous effect on reducing the total of carbon dioxide communities contribute to the atmosphere.
If all Canadian communities became “green communities” Canada would be more easily able to meet its Kyoto commitments to reducing greenhouse gases.
Networking and Outreach
One of the greatest strengths of Green Communities is their success in reaching out to many diverse sectors of society. They work with schools, businesses, government, municipalities, local nature and environmental groups, seniors, gardeners and individuals and their families to let all these people participate in environmentally responsible activities.
Some of the Green Community initiatives have been so successful that they have grown to become separately-funded, independent companies or organizations (Windshare, DashCar, Greenest City, Green$aver.)
If you wish to become involved in local environmental initiatives, check the national website (below) to see if there is a Green Community near you. If you don’t find one, you can read individual Green Community websites to find ideas for well-designed community environmental initiatives!
Green Community Member Contacts
Green Communities: Greening Canada one community at a time
- How do trees help to reduce carbon dioxide in our atmosphere?
- Name and describe 5 other ways are beneficial to humans.
- Why should you get involved with tree planting in your community?
Find 3 groups in your community that you could work with to do this.
- Check the list of activities that contribute to healthier, greener communities. Name and describe 3 of these activities that your community is doing.
Name and describe 2 other activities that you would like to start at your school, in your club or in your community.
- Choose 5 activities that have important impacts on green house gas.
Explain how each of these activities actually reduces carbon dioxide emissions.
- What is the greatest strength of Green Communities? Why is this important?