UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds

Five ways you may be a top climate change contributor

By Pieta Woolley

Are individuals responsible for the enormous amount of waste the world produces? Or are systems? Is it politics, corporations, laziness, genuine evil or the apathy of the people that prevent significant change? Or globalization?

Whatever is causing it, man, are we good at creating a lot of solid and gaseous junk. And as Alanna Mitchell points out in this month's cover story, it’s costly and totally unnecessary.

In the meantime, here’s a look at how much planet-destroying grub individual Canadians create:

1. Carbon dioxide emissions

The average Canadian produces about five tonnes of CO2 per year in household use. That number includes the stuff we do as individuals: driving our cars, vacationing and eating mangoes in the dead of winter. But our collective responsibility for Canadian industry puts the number much higher: 14.7 tonnes per person. Saskatchewan and Alberta carry the highest per capita emissions, and Quebec and BC the lowest. Still, 14.7 is a better number than nearly every Middle Eastern nation. For example, Qatar produces 40.3 tonnes of CO2 per person and a worse number than nearly every developing nation. In comparison, Nigeria produces a half tonne per person.

2. Garbage

Canadians generate more trash than any other “peer” country: 777 kilograms per year, in fact. That’s more than Americans, Germans, the British and the Japanese. And that’s just municipal waste.

3. Food waste

Ordinary folks who shop at grocery stores — the very last people on the food-buying chain — create half of Canada’s $31 billion in annual food waste. That’s 215 kilograms of edible food per household every year. How much is $31 billion in food waste? More than the combined GDP of the 29 poorest countries. 

4. Water use

The average Canadian uses 335 litres of water per day — and half of all water used in the summer gets sprayed onto lawns. That’s six times more than we used a century ago, and more than twice as much as the French do. If it’s yellow, let it mellow?

5. Gas guzzling

The average Canadian household spends $2,606 on gas for private vehicles per year.

Want to calculate it for yourself? Try this “fun” tool: the ecological footprint.

Author's photo
Pieta Woolley is a writer in Powell River, B.C.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!
Promotional Image

Editorials

David Wilson%

Observations

by David Wilson

A perfect send-off

Promotional Image

Video

ObserverDocs: My Year of Living Spiritually

by Observer Staff

Anne Bokma left the Dutch Reformed Church as a young adult and eventually became a member of the United Church and then the Unitarian Universalists. Having long explored the "spiritual but not religious" (SBNR) demographic as a writer, she decided to immerse herself in SBNR practices for 12 months to find both enlightenment and entertainment.

Promotional Image

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

October 2017

A tale of two cancers

by Catherine Gordon

One year after the writer discovered she had breast cancer, her sister in California received the same diagnosis. They both recovered, but their experiences were worlds apart.

Society

November 2017

Trump country

by David Macfarlane

A northern Alabama county voted almost unanimously for Donald Trump in 2016. One year later, the writer, together with photographer Nigel Dickson, travels there to try to understand why.

Faith

November 2017

Involuntary pilgrim

by David Giuliano

The return of a tumour sets David Giuliano on a path he calls his ‘Camino de Cancer’

Faith

November 2017

Grey matter

by Trisha Elliott

Is consciousness just a function of the brain — or something more?

Promotional Image