My journey to living more sustainably


by Peter Speckner, Communications Coordinator

14 weeks.

That was how long the contract was that I signed to work for Reep Green Solutions.  That’s more than 3 months. It didn’t seem that long. I can’t believe it’s coming to an end. I think I’m going to miss this place.

Of all the projects I was hired to undertake, writing blog posts is the one everyone will recognize. I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I did writing them.  I’d also like to believe that there was an obvious maturing in my writing.  I think my earlier posts were colder, more factual, with fewer personal touches.  I think I’m putting more of myself into them now.  Well, with this one, I’m putting all of myself into it.

So what is this post about?

What I’m taking away from REEP Green Solutions

I’d like to think I was fairly environmentally-friendly before I started working here. I recycled as much as I could (too much at times – but that was a previous post), and tried to limit waste.  I didn’t compost or green bin, but that’s because I live in an apartment and those things aren’t available.

saving electricityAs much as I thought I was doing, it turns out there were still plenty of ways I could improve.  I could use less water; I’m sorry, but I really do like my hot, 30 min showers.  I could use reusable bags.  I own them.  I’m not sure where they are.  I really should start taking them shopping and stop bringing home all those plastic bags.  In my defense, I do use the plastic bags again, as garbage bags in various pails throughout my home.  Of course, it does take 500-1000 years for them to biodegrade, so maybe using them as garbage bags isn’t such a good idea either.

I know I waste power. I leave lights on.  I leave my computer on.  I leave my cable box on. I leave my printers on.  Can you tell utilities are included where I live? I guess if I lived in my own house and had to pay for those things, I’d be better at conserving energy.  So there’s still lots of room to improve there.

Other ways I need to improve

bad alarm clockWorking for an organization whose mission is “To make sustainable living the norm”, I still have a ways to go. I want to ride my bike to work.  I haven’t ridden a bike in 20 years.  I think I’ll try that this summer.  I should also eat more local, fresh food – you know, the kind you get at the Farmer’s Market (St. Jacobs or Kitchener).  Support the local economy, less packaging, etc. I just can’t see myself getting out of bed that early on a Saturday morning.  I need to start doing it though, to set a good example for my child, so I’ll add that to the list of things to start doing this summer.

I know I love the idea of rain barrels, and collecting water to use on lawns and gardens, so I’ll definitely be doing that when I finally get a house. I’ve also learned a lot of water conservation tips (some of which I was already doing), but others that I could put more effort into doing, like not flushing waste down a toilet. That’s a complete waste of water.

I hope my writing has influenced some of you

planet needs helpThere have been lots of topics I’ve talked about in the last 14 weeks, covering many topics like water conservation, the W.E.T. Challenge, water softenersnative plants, groundwaterrecycling, and the elusive toilet flapper. I hope some of what I learned and shared writing these stories has found a home in your own habits as well.  Changing our way of thinking is not easy – it can literally take weeks to adopt a new routine.  It is well worth it to improve how we interact with nature, society and each other.  The planet needs our help.  Our children need positive, active role models.  The days of “Do as I say, not as I do” are over.  Children need to see us doing it, to give it any weight.

The ultimate lesson

And that’s what I guess is the ultimate lesson I’m taking away from my time at REEP Green Solutions. Writing about all those things was one thing.  When push comes to shove though, we have to actually do it for it to have any real effect.  Help your friends and family to make the changes.  Use the resources that are out there, and there are a lot of them.  You’d be surprised at how much better your life will be, and how much better you’ll feel about yourself, once you’ve started to adopt a more positive and sustainable lifestyle.

falling bike riderNow I just have to remember how to ride a two-wheeled vehicle that has no engine on it. They say “it’s just like riding a bike”.

Yeah right! We’ll see about that.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at REEP Green Solutions, and will greatly miss sharing my favourite German foods with my fellow employees. Prost!


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