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Like a forced diet, environmentally conscious living is both a conscious choice and a forced adaptation. Chances are, government agencies, my employer, my kids’ school, and even my mother-in-law has altered my treatment of the environment. So why do I feel the pressure to do more? And if I do more, how sustainable is this effort?

My own family faced an internal clash of approaches to Greener Living that made me hit the “Pause” button. We decided to take a sober point of view.

FOOLS RUSH IN: Going Green should be a gradual movement, not a crash diet. We have three kids a nanny and two SUV’s. We produce our share of garbage and an amount of carbon monoxide I don’t want to admit to. The packaging of our kids’ toys and snacks is so enormous that on birthdays we have more cardboard, plastic and wrapping than our two large recycling bins can hold. But shifting to smaller, more fuel efficient cars will take time. Buying snacks in bulk, using re-sealable bags and containers, versus pre-packaged smaller portions is not often a practical or affordable option.

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY “MAY” COME: Larger scale residential developments have a greater chance of building an affordable “Green Home” than if you and I started to replace portions of our home with Green materials and appliances. Today’s home buyers consider location, price, neighborhood and neighbors, well before factoring in how green the structure may be. Many don’t plan to stay in the new homes or condos long enough to take full advantage of the green effect. If they build it green, will you pay more to move to that community?

RENO –“WHAT”? Our own renovation, saved energy and lowered our monthly energy bill. New windows, sliding backyard doors and the front door prevented air leakage, and made the home more comfortable for the little ones. The furnace had to go because it sounded like a tractor trailer, but like our aged air conditioner, had it operated perfectly, the added cost of replacing it wouldn’t be justifiable.

IN YOUR FACE: Start with recycling. Chances are your garage, or apartment building came with a number of recycling options. As I explained to my own wife… the town we live in picks up recycling every week, but the garbage man comes once every two weeks. That huge garbage bag need not sit in our garage for two weeks, when most of the stuff in it is recyclable and can be gone in half the time. That is just a practical effort at no additional cost. A great place to start.

WHO’S GONNA PAY FOR ALL THIS? The cost associated with buying Greener products, changing our vehicles, adjusting our commute schedules, switching lighting and energy sources, all add up to a huge up front bill. Despite the long term potential savings and benefit to environment, there are plenty of financial woes for Canadians to deal with today. Budget for your moves, and make sure that your larger investments like solar panels, more efficient appliances, AC and Furnaces have a reasonable chance of saving energy and are affordable.

FOLLOW THE LEADER: If interested in purchasing homes with environmentally friendly materials or that actually carry a certain Green standard, your Real Estate agent should be able to identify such properties for you.

For more information on Green Building and Home Designations go to

Office: P. 416.441.2888; F. 416.441.9926; 2145 Avenue Road, Toronto, Ontario M5M 4B2

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