The Green Hero Award recognizes members of the Vaughan community who practice environmental sustainability in their everyday lives. Perhaps they invest in green technologies, take transit to work or simply hang their laundry to dry. The Earth Hour Vaughan committee presents the award every year at the Earth Hour event at City Hall.
This year, the Green Hero Award was awarded to Richard and Marjeta Corley of Kleinburg because their family has been cultivating a more sustainable lifestyle for the past 10 years to reduce their ecological footprint.
We recently sat down with Richard to learn more about our 2016 Green Heroes. Here’s what he had to say:
What inspired you to live a “greener” life?
The obvious and frightening changes to our environment due to climate change have inspired us to live greener. The birth of our grandson, whom we hope and expect will be around to live with the consequences of our collective greenhouse gas emissions, and the recognition that we don’t need to burn fossil fuels to enjoy the conveniences of a modern lifestyle have played a big role. We have learned a lot about the numerous benefits of using electric vehicles and other non-emitting alternatives to reduce our impacts. Reading books such as the Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future and watching The Inconvenient Truth have also inspired us to make changes to our lifestyle.
Can you tell us about some of the lifestyle changes your family has made to address climate change in your life?
Over the past 10 years, we have gradually tried to eliminate all direct and indirect uses of oil and gas by using electricity and increasing the efficiency of our energy use. Some examples include:
- We have taken measures to ensure our home is well insulated and properly sealed to reduce energy loss. We also replaced our furnace with a cold-weather air-source heat pump and installed a high-efficiency air exchanger to bring in fresh air.
- We transitioned from gas vehicles to hybrids, and then to fully electric vehicles. We prefer to drive using electricity (rather than flying) to destinations such as Ottawa, Montreal and Florida to eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with air travel.
- We support the development of renewable energy by using Bullfrog Power and recently installed solar panels on our roof to supply renewable energy to the grid.
- We have “smart” devices (thermostat, water heater, car charging) to shift our electrical loads to off-peak times – helping us to save money and make better use of electrical power available in the province.
- We grow our own vegetables and maintain a vegetarian diet.
What advice would you give to people who are looking to lead a more environmentally friendly lifestyle?
Take on changes one at a time and learn more about the options available to you. When shopping, we find it helpful to state at the outset that we don’t want to purchase anything that burns fossil fuels. Remember, every dollar we spend is a vote. We can help create a demand for low- or non-emitting alternative products.
Do you know someone who is an outstanding environmental steward? Nominate them for next year’s Green Hero Award by contacting email@example.com.
Earth Hour event photos: