Thursday, 9 January 2020

Let's be #LessSalty this winter

by: Cameron Wilson

Throughout the winter months our sidewalks tend to accumulate a white blanket, but not like the ones you used to know. These days we get more salt than snow, and it's become a significant problem. Road salt is toxic to wildlife, damaging to shoes, clothing, and infrastructure, and harmful to our pets' paws. When the snow and ice goes away, the salt does not; it seeps into garden beds, lawns, and our creeks and rivers. In fact, even in the summer after it rains, accumulated salt can wash out of soil into creeks and rivers and cause problems in the ecosystem.

While some salt is necessary to keep our roads and sidewalks safe for use, we all need to do our part to reduce the impact this salt has on our environment. The City of Toronto's Salt Management Plan provides guidance to staff on the correct amount to apply to our roads, but sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways are the responsibility of residents, property- and business- owners to maintain.

Here are some simple steps that you can take to ensure that your property is safe, while reducing the amount of salt you use:

  • Don’t salt where you don’t walk: clear a path, not the whole property.
  • Shovel first. Road salt is meant to break the bond sticking snow or ice to the ground. If you put it on top of a pile of snow it can't do its job. 
  • Apply salt, only if needed, to areas where the snow or ice is stuck to the ground.
  • Use the correct amount. Think about road salt the same way you would about medicine. If you had a headache and were going to take aspirin, you would read the bottle to see how much to take. Do the same with road salt. Follow the directions on the package.
  • Check the temperature. Salt loses effectiveness at -10C and is useless below -20C. If it's too cold, apply sand for traction instead.

If you employ a contractor to make your property safe for winter, please consider hiring a contractor that has taken Smart About Salt training.

For more info on road salt and the environment, visit out our website.

Did you know:
  • Blue Crabs (a saltwater species) were found thriving in Mimico Creek in 2017 - their ability to survive in what should be a freshwater environment is because of road salt run-off.
  • Nearly all de-icing products are a form of salt. Products that claim to be more effective than others are likely using a salt with higher amounts of the active ingredient (chloride ions). Less salt isn't  less harmful if it's depositing more chloride ions in our waterways so always follow the instructions carefully.
  • Due to salt water run-off, some Toronto-area creeks and rivers have shown salt levels comparable to the ocean.


Concerned about over-application of salt at your home or work place? Direct your property manager to the Smart About Salt website.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

The Definitive Guide to Greening Your Holidays

By: Tyler Linwood

It's December and the holidays are officially upon us! The season means gift giving, parties, holiday decor, and lots and lots of food and drink – all of which takes its toll on the environment. But there are plenty of you can reduce green your holidays. Here are just a few ideas.

Small Steps

Don't put a bow on it – Try green gift wrapping alternatives or explore other ways to have a low-waste holiday season. Reusable items such as bags, jars, scarves, and even tea towels all make for decorative gift containers and wrappings that can either become part of the gift itself, or can be reused year after year.

Give green – There are plenty of eco-friendly options when it comes to deciding on what to get for your friends and loved ones this holiday season. It's always best to shop locally and support environmentally conscious businesses where possible and, thanks to the free Live Green Perks app, you can get exclusive deals and discounts for doing just that! If you're looking to get away from the culture of consumerism, but still want to get something special for your friends and family this year, experiences and excursions that you can share together make great gifts as well. Be sure to check out some of our favourite experience gifts that are part of the Perks program, including passes to the Ontario Science Centre, ROM, Segway Tours and more.

More great, green ideas after the jump...

Monday, 2 December 2019

The Final Report from Toronto's TransformTO Reference Panel on Climate Action is now available

By: Sarah Rodrigues

Earlier this year, the City created Toronto's TransformTO Reference Panel on Climate Action, composed of 30 Toronto residents representative of Toronto's diversity. Together they learned, deliberated and made recommendations for climate actions and priorities in Toronto. Their recommendations will help to inform the Implementation Plan from 2021-2023 for the City's Climate Action Strategy, TransformTO, which will be presented to Toronto City Council in spring 2020.

What is a Residents' Reference Panel?

Find out, and read about our Reference Panel's recommendations, after the jump...

Reduce, reuse and recycle right this holiday season

by: Ashalea Stone

'Tis the season for gift giving, holiday parties and spending time with family and friends. It’s also a time of year when people tend to produce more waste. As gift giving peaks, the City of Toronto is asking residents to be mindful of the waste they generate during the holiday season.  

Small changes to daily routines can make a big impact. Apply the 3Rs – reduce, reuse and recycle right – and try to incorporate some of the following tips into your holidays. Also check the 2020 waste management calendar, coming soon to your mailbox.

  • Carry a reusable bag when shopping for holiday gifts and say no to excess tissue and packaging.
  • Consider low-waste gifts such as gift cards, tickets to an event, an experiential or service-based gift or give a charitable donation in a loved one's name.
  • Avoid single-use items such as cutlery, plates and cups when planning holiday parties.
Find out more after the jump...

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: Home Heating

By: Tyler Linwood

Editor's note: We wrap-up our Reducing Your Carbon Footprint series, inspired and informed by a report from the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario. Previous posts provide advice on reducing your carbon footprint due to our diet, daily travel choices, air travel, home energy, and waste.

Do you remember that ad where the protagonist looks wistfully at the snow outside then asks her smart home assistant to crank up the heat and play her summer playlist? Here's the challenge with the cultural norm that ad sets: home heating systems, and the energy they consume, account for a significant portion of the greenhouse gases that we emit.

In fact, according to Natural Resources Canada, approximately 60% of the energy required to run the average home goes towards space heating and, according to the former Environmental Commissioner of Ontario's office, natural gas is the most commonly used fuel for heating Ontario homes. Natural gas is a fossil fuel, and although its combustion produces fewer emissions than the combustion of coal or oil, it's still a high-carbon fuel source that can contribute to air pollution, water pollution, and environmental degradation in significant ways.

Luckily, there are ways to reduce the amount of emissions that are generated by heating your home.

Find out what can YOU do about it after the jump.