Recently, I visited prize winner Kylie of Regina, Saskatchewan to "green" her like she's never been greened before.
But how green can you be in a city built for cars and not people?
A prairie girl from the burbs myself, I wasn't surprised at the degree of car-dependency there—wide roads, one bike lane. But then it got worse: no curbside recycling and a downtown core that resembled a ghost town on Sunday.
I got my first car for my 16th birthday — a bright orange '81 Lada. When I planned my move to Vancouver over seven years ago, the first thing I did was sell my car. Family and friends warned me, "You'll be stuck in second gear." But nobody said "You won't need a car."
According to Walkscore, Kylie's Regina home rates 35 out of 100, or "car-dependent." My Vancouver neighbourhood scores 90, "a walker's paradise." Will this stand in the way of Kylie's green journey?
Doesn't have to!
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A letter to the editor in the Prairie Dog showed I'm not the only one wishing Regina was as green as a Roughriders jersey. The writer's wish list for her city's downtown:
- Wider patios for people to enjoy all day (even after work and on weekends)
- Healthy urban trees
- Public spaces for Farmers' Markets, festivals, etc.
- Walkable corridors
- Chairs in the square
Kylie doesn't need to wait for her city to go a deeper shade of green. Here's what I suggested she start right now:
- Backyard compost (and see my composting FAQs)
- Quit lining the garbage pail with plastic shopping bags
- Choose the "greenest" kitty litter (I was advised not to meet Kylie's "attack cat")
- Choose deodorant and shampoo without the Dirty Dozen, even make your own
- Switch to nontoxic home cleaners (I taught Kylie and five of her family members how to make my green cleaning recipes)
- Get crafty with amazing websites like E-How, Threadbanger and Instructables
What's the most difficult green challenge where you live?
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green