How to start being Eco-Friendly in WR

Many people who are new to Waterloo Region or newly engaged with issues surrounding climate change often don’t know where to start when trying to inform themselves on their local environment. For the last several years, the Waterloo Region Environment Network (WREN), has made it their goal to make it easier to connect, share and work towards sustainability in the Region.

When we delved in, we were astonished by just how much is going on in the Region. If you don’t have a background in environmental issues or sustainability, here’s an introduction to our local environment scene:

Our region is leading the way when it comes to building local sustainability. ClimateActionWR (CAWR), for example, brings together local municipalities and utility companies to set goals for decreasing our regional greenhouse gas emissions by six per cent by 2020.

For the everyday community member, REEP Green Solutions offers useful information on energy efficiency, water conservation and decreasing waste in our homes. A visit to REEP House will show you how they lead by example, with displays that demonstrate how we can live more sustainably in action.

Businesses can get help from Sustainable Waterloo Region (SWR), who also have ongoing learning events. Both REEP and SWR are also part of the ClimateActionWR powerhouse. There are several local avenues to engage with sustainable action, from using one of the cars in our Community Carshare, to connecting to TransitionKW.

There are the folks at BlueDot, who are working tirelessly to add the environment into the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or local solar cooperatives who encourage smart investing that does not include the oil and gas industry. You can read fascinating stories about the environmental movement in Canada from Alternatives Journal, or visit the natural space and research at RARE Charitable Research Reserve, and more.

If you’re participating through schools, WSGI, Laurier EcoHawks and Sustainable Youth Canada are all excellent ways to get involved.

Essentially, there are more ways to connect everyday, sometimes in places you might not expect. For example, the KW Chamber Symphony recently played a concert centred around sustainability and Extend-a-Family will soon host a Library of Things which will grow our local sharing community, enabling us to own less but accomplish more.

Quite simply, there are too many local initiatives to list them all. In fact, a 2014 regional study highlighted 79 different environmentally-related organizations in the region.

Whether you are just curious, new to the area, or a self-proclaimed passionate eco warrior like us, we encourage you to take in all this region has to offer. It only takes a quick look of the local hashtag, or a visit the WREN online calendar to connect to the local movement.

So grab your reusable water bottle and come on out, because there’s something for everyone.

Stacey Danckert is the co-director of WREN and Nicole McCallum is the co-director and co-founder of WREN.