Fire / Feu


Faire de la bicyclette et recycler

"Vert n’est pas seulement une couleur. C’est un mode de vie." Johanna Griffith nous explique comment elle et son mari s’efforcent constamment d’adopter un mode de vie de plus en plus écologique- ment sain. Petit à petit, ils modifient leur comportement.

À titre d’exemple, en faisant du vélo et en recyclant, ils ont appris bien des choses et sont très excités de ce qu’ils ont accompli. "Chaque action mène graduellement à un mode de vie plus durable..."







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Rebecca Kemp)


Johanna & Bernie Griffith exploring the Rockies on snowshoe
January 1999





To cycle and recycle:
Meet a young couple who are learning
to live the green life

Johanna Griffith
Calgary, Alberta
July 1999


g.gif (418 bytes)reen is not just a color. It is a way of life. When my husband and I began to set up a home, we started to make changes towards a more sustainable lifestyle.

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(photo: Jane Tarn)


Bernie & Johanna Griffith in the New Brunswick Wilderness


Sustainable living need not require a radical lifestyle change. Many small changes can make a big difference. Incidentally, the things that are good for the environment are good for your health, and often easier on your finances. Over the last three years we have found that these small changes add up.

Our first major change was the commute. Living in a rented house, we were half-way between my husband's office and downtown Calgary, and a little closer to the Art College where I study. Soon we had found bike paths and quiet streets to travel in all directions. Now we mostly bike, bus, run or walk to our destinations near our urban Calgary home. Who could argue the virtues of fresh air and fitness versus the vices of traffic and the cost of gas, parking... and parking tickets? That is not to say that we don't have a car, but we think twice before we take it downtown. My husband enjoys the exercise of a daily bike or run to work, but doesn't mind taking public transport if the weather is bad. Our car is kept in good repair so that the engine runs as cleanly as possible. We like to travel and have no immediate plans to give up our car, but cutting down on our daily use of the car has been rewarding.

Other rewards were to follow. The second major change we made was to switch to using environmentally-friendly household cleaners, recycled paper and toilet paper. Although we have made the commitment to support earth-friendly products by "voting with our consumer dollars", the money put towards this is money saved in other areas (for example: buying natural shampoos instead of hair color and hair-spray). We learned that if you buy recycled toilet paper at a premium, you are bound to use less of it, which allows for further conservation of resources (if not money). Right now we have a computer without a printer - an icon of the paperless societies we had once imagined the computer would bring.

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(photo: Johanna Griffith)


The Griffith's home in Calgary


For the other things we accumulate, we are lucky to have a good recycling program in Calgary, allowing us to give new life to paper, cardboard, metal, and glass. However this is no substitute for avoiding these disposables in the first place. It is important to think over a purchase (quality vs. quantity). We have found places that carry refillable products, including our environmentally-friendly cleaners, shampoos, and kitchen staples (like tamari and maple syrup). This helps to keep the cost down for these items, and saves on the collection of plastic bottles.

Re-using is another economic and environmental highlight. Sports and camping equipment, clothing, furniture, appliances and books can be bought and sold, traded or exchanged, and given a new lease on life. We have found a good many things through the paper, and in second-hand shops, including some of our favorite clothes.

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(photo: Jane Griffith)


The author (Johanna) in her Calgary garden


Several years of cycling and recycling later, we were excited with the progress that we had made and we wanted to do more. That is when I began to work part-time in the little health-food store where we shopped. This was a wonderful experience and I learned a great deal more about the environmental products that were available. I had access to some of the best and freshest organic produce in Calgary. The store carried local and seasonal produce, and I gave more thought to what we were eating. My husband and I both follow a vegetarian diet. Although most people adopt a vegetarian diet for health reasons, it benefits the earth as well. It takes far less land and water to produce a vegetarian diet than it does to produce a meat-based one. We buy food at farmers' markets and we are developing our own green thumbs in a small vegetable garden. Composting keeps our garden green.

The results of all these changes have given us a happy and healthy feeling. The visible results are in the small amount of curbside garbage we produce (usually less than one grocery bag a week). Composting and recycling keep our garbage to a minimum. This is just the tip of the iceberg for us. We still have a lot to learn and put into practice. We are trying to be good green citizens and we believe that the small steps add up. Every action adds up to a more sustainable lifestyle and a happier, healthier environment. Nothing is too small to be green.


Johanna and her husband Bernie were both born and raised in New Brunswick, and though they are currently working and studying in Calgary, the pair hope to return to the Maritimes soon.