Wednesday, January 25, 2006


It’s been a week and I have been thinking about my naughty wasteful ways. Of course I have been working on reducing this waste, but I confess!! - I have left lights on in every room. I have kept the monitor on, blissfully thinking that the “screensaver” helps reduce energy (it doesn’t). I throw out tons of plastic. I let the refrigerator stand wide open as I try to make sense of whatever is in there - usually rotting fruits and vegetables. And on it goes.

The One Tonne Challenge doesn’t cover any of this. By themselves these little things may not seem to amount to much, but overtime and all together – yowza.

Did you try the One Tonne Challenge or the US calculators? Did you figure out your GHG contribution? Was it fun? Yeah, it’s a real hoot. According to the One Tonne calculator, my annual contribution is 2.41 tonnes. But I know it’s more. They need to do a better job in covering more areas. But they assure me….

As I mentioned, we’re going to start off by looking at waste and ways to cut back.

TO DO this week:

Let’s look at lights.
How fun! Now some of you are well ahead of the game on this one, but I thought I’d start small and build. So if you’re a proud light conservationist, bear with me.

Lights Out
Take note of when lights are on in your home and office when they don’t need to be on and start turning them off. If you have kids and/or a partner (and co-workers), ask them to turn them off when they leave the room (sometimes easier said than done).

Better Bulbs
Now many of you have patted yourselves on the back about going out and buying compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFBs). And so you should! Why? Five per cent of the energy that goes into a typical incandescent bulb comes out as light. The other 95% comes out as heat. Compact fluorescent bulbs give off 90% less heat, use 75% less energy and last up to 10 times longer than a regular bulb (up to 7 years!).

It’s a no-brainer! Jane and I are four bulbs away from being incandescent free! We’ve been slowly buying them when we are by the hardware store or in IKEA. As some of you know, these bulbs cost about $7 to $11 in multi-packs of two or three. Best value and less packaging! I encourage you to pick them up as your budget allows until you too are free of your energy sucking incandescents. In fact, this weekend, drop by your local hardware store and buy a multipack if you still have regular bulbs.

Yeah Yeah, So What?
If every household in Canada replaced just one incandescent with an Energy Star qualified CFB, Canadians would cut their GHG emissions by nearly 400,000 tonnes, and save $73 million in energy costs ($55 savings per bulb).

Imagine if every household in the USA did the same! – Collectively, Americans would reduce their emissions by close to 41 million tonnes.

Now buying CFB’s shouldn’t give you license to keep the lights on 24/7. It’s still pollutes the air and it’s not very healthy. And it is a misconception that turning them on and off expends lots of energy. I encourage you to turn the lights off when you don’t need them.

Are you as mad about facts and figures as I am? Check this out….

GHG emissions from one incandescent light bulb:
• .357 tonnes of coal just to create it – that’s right one light bulb.
• .842 tonnes of carbon dioxide (and a little bit of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxides) are generated when using that light bulb per year. That’s just one! What if you have 15?

Average percentage of light use contributing to one’s overall GHG emissions

Percentage of GHG emission reduction in light use by replacing incandescent bulbs with CFBs.

Remember: Lights Out!

I got all this information from the following….
Resources One Tonne Challenge (Canada)
Climate Change Solutions (Canada)
How Stuff Works (Canada)
Atmosclear Climate Club (USA)


Janer said...

This one's a gimme for sure Cheryl. Its simple, completely achievable, and well, d'uh!

My Dad was a lineman and he was adamant about lights going off whenever you left a room (none of this bull about turning on/off wasting energy - he knew!) so I have had it drilled into me.

What I like about what you're doing is that you're cutting it into smaller, bite-sized pieces, adding a dash of sass, and making transformation digestible.

Thanks for taking this on - I'll look forward to your missives.

red jane said...

Great site cheryl! I've been onboard for a while with the lights, but I struggle beacuse I'm in a building and can't control so much of the energy expenditure...frustrating. I've linked your site from mine!Yay!

Cheryl McNamara said...

Thanks Jane! I was very happy to receive your email. Your blog looks very interesting and I look forward to going through it. My partner is vegan as well – I’m just a plain ole’ vegetarian. New to it - enjoying it.

Will your building not allow you to put in eco-friendly bulbs? Good night, think of all the money they’d save if they did it. I suppose you could always put them in your personal lamps if you haven’t already and avoid the overheads.

Thanks for your encouraging words!


red jane said...

It's hard to know with the building as it's a really mixed scene and property mgmt. is odd; I did all the lights I could; there are 2 I can't get to, but I'm really missing having a green bin. I feel so awful without it.I haven't looked into a worm composter yet either so I know there are choices I could make....step by step. thanks for all the info- it's fab!

Cheryl McNamara said...

Hey Red Jane,

According to the City of TO, recycling in mult-use buildings is manditory. Check out

I'm going to cover this when I get into recycling. I'd love to arm folks like yourself on what to do and who to approach to get recycling in your apartments!

red jane said...

I know recycling is mandatory and we're on top of that, but no composting; it has yet to be introduced into multi-units, probably because of the potential for odour, mess and critter control. Of course, if people are conscientious about composting, none of that is an issue, so I'm waiting to see.
Thanks again for all the info- I've been reading!

Cheryl McNamara said...

Red Jane!

Sometimes the universe speaks to us in beautiful brilliant ways. Just today, my boss forwarded a flyer on the St. Lawrence Centre Forum:

Recycling: Is Your Apartment or Condo Building Ready for Zero Waste?
March 6
St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts (27 Front Street East)

On the agenda are both recycling and composting.

Speakers include: Councillor Shelley Carroll, Doug Paton - Chair, Celebrity Place Green Committee, as well as city staff from Solid Waste Management, etc.

Hopefully some answers will emerge from this little conference. I'll see if I can attend.