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Sustainable Home Solutions to Help You Live Greener



Author: REALTOR.ca Team


The world is shifting to become more aware of the impact we have as individuals on the environment. According to Statistics Canada, 76% of households composted either kitchen or yard waste in 2022, and in 2021, 97% of households reported using their own bags or containers when grocery shopping. But, there’s still work to be done, because on the flip side of things, Canadians generated 10.9 million tonnes of residential waste in 2020—the highest amount on record, according to Statistics Canada. 


There are many ways you can be more sustainable at home, from small changes to larger considerations. Here’s a roundup of REALTOR.ca Living Room articles to help you out on your journey towards reducing your personal carbon footprint. 



Consider an energy audit

Finding ways to upgrade your home that are also energy efficient sounds like a no-brainer.


The federal and provincial governments (depending where you live) offer incentives to help with these changes, and the first step is an energy audit (also known as a home audit or energy assessment). Audits are even more important depending on the age of your home. Even a home built in the 1990s would benefit from an audit, as building codes have changed over the last 30 years. 


What are the steps in an energy audit?


  • Pre-project assessment: where an assessor examines your home from top to bottom and provides you with reports on how your home is currently using energy, a list of recommended upgrades, as well as an EnerGuide label with your home’s efficiency score.

  • Post-project assessment: performed once you have completed the recommended upgrades. The assessor returns to do a new audit and to confirm the upgrades. You’ll receive updated reports as well as a rebate verification. 

Once you’ve received the rebate verification you can apply for rebates. The Canada Greener Homes Program is available nationwide as a federal incentive program. Across the provinces and municipalities there are further incentives available which can be discussed with a registered energy advisor. 



Sustainable ways to refresh your kitchen


When it comes to renovations, not all changes are created equal. It’s important to consider the long-term sustainability of your upgrades and their greater impact on the environment. Casey Grey, founder of The Conscious Builder in Ottawa, Ontario, has a variety of suggestions for where to start when considering kitchen renovations, and how you can make your changes more sustainable.


  • Energy efficient appliances: choose your appliances based on their ENERGY STAR certification. You can also be on the lookout for Energy Efficiency Ration (EER) or Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ration (SEER) for cooling systems like air conditioners or refrigerators.

  • Energy-efficient lights and faucets: simple fixture changes can significantly reduce your energy consumption. Consider replacing your traditional bulbs with LED options as they can last up to 15 times longer.

  • Choose sustainable materials: ask yourself where the materials are coming from, how long they will last, and where they will end up after you’re done with them.



Give new life to your renovation materials


Are you a particularly crafty person or a DIYer who has recently undertaken a home reno? Consider what remnants you have and what you can create with them before heading to the landfill. Old ceramic tiles can be converted to drink coasters or even a mosaic tabletop project with minimal skill required. 


Superfluous bricks from outdoor projects can be repurposed to build a garden planter or a fire pit. An old door can find new life as a rustic headboard when turned on its side and treated with a fresh coat of paint. 


The limits only exist within your imagination and your available supplies. (And if you really like that door idea, it’s highlighted in the article below.)



A modern take on shabby chic


Secondhand and vintage shopping has been on the rise as people further understand the environmental impact of buying new items, not to mention a bit of economic uncertainty that is making many people reconsider their spending priorities. Thrifted items can be given a second life and become statement pieces in a room. The style is known as “dainty distress” and has roots back to the early 1700s.


The modern iteration involves decorating with pieces showing some wear and tear without appearing in complete disrepair. The foundation of the style is wood furniture which has been painted, but clearly not recently as it appears weatherworn. 


You can find pieces like this organically or follow a simple YouTube tutorial to replicate it yourself. Pair your strategically distressed pieces with some ruffled pillow shams in a diaphanous colour palette and you’re well on your way for your shabby chic style. 



Get involved in your community garden project


The popularity of community gardens has been growing across Canada over the past few years, particularly popular in urban areas where residents don’t have access to personal green space.


Reaching out to your community garden’s administrator is the best place to start. Some gardens have specific plots you can be allotted or roles you can apply for. If you’re interested in becoming a part of your community’s gardening initiatives, a quick Google search should pull up results in your area. 


Getting involved in a community garden is a great way to feel like you’re making a difference while also connecting with like-minded people. Not to mention you’re contributing toward a more sustainable and food-secure future. 



Little changes make a big impact


There are many small ways you can adapt your lifestyle to be more eco-friendly. We’ve already covered the impact of home renovations and how they can save you money in the long run, but there are other changes inside and outside you can make, too.


Inside, start with unplugging your small appliances when not in use, or conserving your water usage with less frequent bathing or flushes. Even going paperless and paying your bills online helps to reduce your environmental impact.


From plotting your own garden to drying your laundry out on a line, your outdoor actions can also make a big difference. 


When it comes to cleaning products you use in your home, make sure you are choosing natural cleaners. Look for cloth alternatives or otherwise reusable options rather than single-use consumables.


Changing everything all at once is an incredibly daunting task and certainly not something you can realistically tackle. However, when you start small with manageable steps, you’re building towards a more sustainable future for everyone.



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