Canadian households getting greener, but is it enough? | National Union of Public and General Employees

Canadian households getting greener, but is it enough?

Stats Canada has just released a summary of 2007 data about households and the environment. Compared to last year the data shows an increase 'green' habits.

 Environmental issues influencing habits at home
Water-saving devices such as low-flow shower heads and low-volume toilets are on the rise across Canada. In 2007, 62% of Canadian households reported they had a low-flow shower head, up from 54% the year before. These fixtures use up to 70% less water and save on water heating as well.

In addition low volume toilets are also showing up in more homes; 39% of households in 2007, up from 34% a year earlier. These toilets use at least half the water of older models.

More Canadian households are taking advantage of energy-saving devices, such as energy-efficient light bulbs and programmable thermostats. In 2007, 84% reported that they had at least one type of energy-saving light in their home.

Nationally, 30% of Canadian households reported that they always used recycled or reusable bags when doing their grocery shopping.

One Million Acts of Green
These simple acts on the part of the average citizen may individually seem like small efforts by can cumulatively have a large impact. CBC's “The Hour” sponsors the initiative “One Million Acts of Green”.

This week the show celebrates breaking one million acts with Environment Minister, Jim Prentice. With 1,077,050 acts the initiative calculates a greenhouse gas savings of 61,400,387 kilograms. Anyone can join and log their environmental efforts, but it acts predominately as a fun, interactive tool that can motivate while it educates. With the tar sands producing somewhere around 40 million tonnes of greenhouse gases annually this initiative can barely put a dent in Canada's emissions.

Bigger Change Needed
Canadian's now wait for the Harper government to meet with President Obama and get on board with the new US green plan. Canadian Environment minister Prentice has said Canadian action is waiting on US plans.

The big changes will come with a price on carbon, a renewable energy infrastructure and regulations on efficiency. The weeks ahead will show how serious the Harper government is in following the US lead.

The real impact of “One million acts of green” may be to activate Canadians to demand their governments take emissions reductions seriously, quite with the double talk, and get moving on climate change.


The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE

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