Green living guide

Steps to a sustainable future

Earth’s water is available for human use, but it is not infinite. Changing just a few little things in your daily routine can make a big difference in how we use this indispensable resource. Conserving water helps the environment, mitigates future impacts of climate change, and saves money on water bills. Although the Earth is often called the blue planet, out of all the water on the planet there is less than 1% accessible fresh water for us to use. Source


Three out of four adult Canadians spend five minutes or more in the shower. That translates into about 2 billion litres of water a day and about 750 billion litres of water a year. Source

The 3–4 minute shower. Limiting shower time to three minutes could mean we collectively save 800 million litres of water a day and 292 billion litres of water a year.

Shorter showers are the single most effective way we can save water. Make a playlist of all the best shower songs in less than 4 minutes, so you jam out in the shower and save water at the same time.


Brushing your teeth with the tap running for 2 minutes can waste more than 12 litres of water each time. Source

When brushing your teeth, just wet your toothbrush and turn off the water until you need to rinse.

Reducing energy use limits the amount of greenhouse gas emissions in our environment, which play a significant role in our current climate crisis. Furthermore, energy costs are the second biggest expense in residences. Cutting back on your energy use directly translates to more money in your wallet.

Reducing your energy consumption not only benefits the environment but also is safer and cheaper for you in the long run.


Up to 40% of the annual energy consumption of electronic devices occurs when they’re turned off. Source

  • Unplug your devices when you're finished with them.
  • Try to use items available in common areas, such as TVs, fridges, and printers, before purchasing individual ones for your room.
  • Buy a smart power strip for the electronics you do plug in to manage them more efficiently.


90% of energy used to wash clothes goes into heating the water. Source

Wash your clothes in cold water instead of hot water – it works just as well and will help your clothes last longer. 


Heating and cooling account for more than half of the energy usage in the average Canadian home. Source

Clothing is the easiest way to moderate your thermal comfort. Dress appropriately for the season.

In the winter, don’t open the window with the heat on. Simply turn the thermostat down and wait for the temperature to adjust.

Leaving your place? Adjust the thermostat to room temperature (20 degrees Celsius)

*If you don’t have a thermostat in your room, report that it is too hot/cold to your landlord/residence advisor.

As our demand for food grows, the agriculture sector will continually be under pressure to meet our present and future needs. The increase in food production means more land, water and energy use. Resource-intensive foods such as meat contribute greatly to the increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

It is important to know where your food comes from and for you to understand how to use food to reduce your ecological impacts.

The production of one kilogram of beef requires 15,414 litres of water on average while the production of one kilogram of vegetables requires 322 litres of water. Source

Reduce your meat consumption by trying vegetarian/vegan options more often.

Shopping lists appear to be an effective external memory storage for grocery shopping. Source

Make a shopping list before going shopping to avoid buying food items you may not need.

Locally sourced food is fresher and likely more nutritious. Local produce is usually picked within the last 24 hours before selling at the farmer’s market. Source

When buying produce, shop local and by the season.

Canadians produce more waste per person than any other country in the world!

Whether it is industrial or agricultural, the waste generated is very damaging to the environment. It ends up in waterways, open spaces and fills up landfills. Increasing pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.

If we all take action and refuse products we do not need, reduce our consumption where possible and reuse what we can, there will be less waste to recycle or send to rot in the landfill.

If wasted food were a country, it would be the third-largest producer of carbon dioxide in the world, after the USA and China. Source

When in meal hall, order only what you know you can eat and go back for more if you’re still hungry. When at home, store fresh food properly to reduce food waste.

About 2.8 million tonnes of plastic waste end up in Canadian landfills every year, this is equivalent to the weight of 24 CN towers. Source

  • Invest in a reusable water bottle.
  • Use reusable shopping bags.
  • Say no to straws.
  • Only buy things when necessary.
  • Recycle when possible.
  • Spread the word! Tell a friend to tell a friend to be more conscious of their plastic use.

The average Canadian uses seven trees and 308 kilograms of paper per year.

  • Reduce the amount of paper you use by switching to electronic storage for documents, notes and receipts.
  • Remember to always print double-sided when needed.

The energy saved from one recycled aluminum can will operate a television set for three hours.

Sort your trash, ensure aluminum cans are recycled by placing them in the refundable bin stream.

The average Canadian throws away around 37 kilograms of clothing each year.

  • Reduce: Avoid fast fashion trends and stick to classics that never go out of style.
  • Reuse: Repurpose old clothing, swap or thrift some good quality secondhand clothing items.
  • Sell/Donate: Give back to your community by donating or selling your unwanted clothing.