How Saskatchewan youth are living greener lives on a shoestring budget

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When they turn 40, Lachlan Wiebe and his wife, Brittany, want to be able to turn off the gas meter in their home.

The couple have 12 years to develop the fossil fuel-free lifestyle of their dreams — and they’re doing it without locking themselves in an off-grid shack or relying on expensive home renovations.

Like many green-talking young people, this eco-conscious Regina couple are walking the green step one step at a time — and in affordable shoes. They say the way the world is changing, their goal is entirely reasonable and achievable in a budget conscious way, although a (stronger) nudge from the provincial government wouldn’t hurt.

Lachlan and Brittany Wiebe grow much of their own food, make their own spices, use sustainable laundry detergent and avoid gas-based products. (Laura Sciarpelletti/CBC)

Invest in electricity

The Wiebes began their 40-year fossil fuel-free journey by reducing a significant portion of their emissions: Three months ago, they purchased an electric vehicle. Lachlan said he was able to get a Hyundai Ioniq 5 for a decent price thanks to the $5,000 from the federal government discount electric vehicle. (There are currently no incentives for electric vehicles in Saskatchewan.)

Their car payments are a bit higher now, but Wiebe said “especially with gas prices where they are now, maintenance costs are next to nothing in comparison.”

The couple was spending about 12 cents a kilometer on their old vehicle. Now charging costs are around three cents a kilometer for the EV. Wiebe estimates hundreds of dollars in savings per year.

Lachlan Wiebe says his electric vehicle costs about three cents a kilometer to run compared to 12 cents a kilometer for his gas-powered vehicle. (CBC News Graphics)

The Wiebes also ditched fossil fuels for their weed eater and snow blower, among other battery-powered tools. Lachlan encouraged people to use the tools they already have for as long as possible.

“But when you’re going to upgrade absolutely look at something better. It’s something I’ve always done is if I’m going to replace something I want it to be better than before” , did he declare.

“Even if it’s just a little, everyone doing a little is better than everyone doing nothing.”

The couple grow as much of their own food as they can in an indoor garden using heat lamps, before expanding outside in the spring, where they will use collected rainwater.

They are also considering redoing their eaves, soffits and facades to properly vent air through the attic, which helps retain heat and air circulation in the home. They also plan to eventually install triple-glazed windows and new doors to seal the house as much as possible.

Eventually, the couple hopes to install solar panels on the house, and an electric water heater.

They created a social media hashtag – #FossilFuelFreeByForty – to document their journey and encourage others to join the ride.

Lachlan Wiebe wants to be fossil fuel free by the age of 40. That means using battery-operated tools like this snow blower. (Laura Sciarpelletti/CBC)

Simple exchanges

Taylor Dea agrees with Wiebe that you don’t have to be a climate warrior to make a difference for the environment

“It’s things like going from your typical plastic toothbrush that goes to landfill to a bamboo toothbrush, and then I went from toothpaste tubes to toothpaste tablets,” said Dea, who lives in Saskatoon. .

Dea is focused on eliminating plastic in every way possible with what she calls “simple swaps”: pump soap with bar soap, and disposable razors with a metal safety razor. She even uses a bidet to save toilet paper.

LOOK | Lachlan Wiebe and Taylor Dea describe the eco-friendly changes they’ve made to their homes:

How young couples live sustainably on a budget

Lachlan Wiebe and his wife aim to be fossil fuel free within 40 years. Taylor Dea and her husband, meanwhile, are trying to dispose of the trash. The two are young couples from Saskatchewan who are working to be as eco-friendly as possible on a limited budget. 2:24

Video by Matt Duguid, Kirk Fraser and Travis Reddaway.

She does all of this on a shoestring budget. Dea’s husband is a full-time student, so the couple lives mostly on one income.

“I know people think that zero waste or reducing your waste is a financial issue or financial commitment that people ‘just can’t do’. But we do it on one income and that’s just smaller exchanges or prioritizing one thing over the other and making the decision to just commit to that,” Dea said.

For those who want to start making greener decisions in their home, Dea suggests finding one new thing to change every month.

“Take a moment each month to look and say, what can we share in my life that can have an impact for the planet or for my future or for the future of my children?”

The afternoon edition – Sask.4:58What does Earth Day mean to you?

Earth Day is Friday, April 22. Some people think they can’t make a big difference on their own. For Saskatoon’s Taylor Dea, it’s the little things that count. 4:58

If you’re looking for advice, Dea tracks her sustainable lifestyle choices on her Instagram account.

Taylor Dea tries to eliminate waste as much as possible, such as using reusable produce bags for groceries. (Travis Reddaway/CBC)

Food sovereignty

Chasity Delorme doesn’t just provide sustainability advice to her community; it literally helps put food on the table in a more eco-friendly way.

Grow on the Cowessess First Nation east of Regina, Delorme says he doesn’t understand the importance of knowing where his food and water come from. Then she learned about the effects of colonization and capitalism on traditional ways of collecting and storing food.

Now she is focusing much of her attention on food sovereignty. This includes studying how their ancestors got their food.

“I want to live this way, and not just to help my family eat healthier, but to reclaim my Indigenous heritage and ultimately help the environment. Over the past few years, food sovereignty has definitely been a huge thing for me to start reclaiming…our historic ways of preserving and providing.”

Chasity Delorme picks serviceberry berries. (Submitted by Chasity Delorme)

For three years now, Delorme has been trying to get most of its produce from its large garden in Regina. All the extras — and there are always extras — that she shares with elders and other members of her community.

She keeps food from her garden longer by dehydrating it. It also reduces waste at grocery stores by picking up aging produce and dehydrating it for later.

“It saved my ass so many times,” she said.

By buying fewer products from stores, she also reduces the use of plastic. Delorme has moved from plastic containers to glass containers at home.

She also took her lessons in her community.

“Culturally, when we go to feast, we always used to bring polystyrene. Well, we all know that polystyrene is not good for the Earth. So from a cultural perspective, encouraging our community members to start using reusable bowls and glass makes sense.

Chasity Delorme shares extra produce from her garden with her community. (Submitted by Chasity Delorme)

Earth advocacy through her role as an Indigenous student counselor at Miller Comprehensive High School and Dr. Martin LeBoldus Catholic High School in Regina is also important to her.

“Whenever I find a teaching moment, I’m always on top of it,” Delorme said.

“We need to start teaching the next generations that our food doesn’t come from Walmarts – it actually comes from the ground and the earth – so there’s a better appreciation for the environment.”

Chasity Delorme dehydrates much of her food to fight waste, save money and store her produce. (Submitted by Chasity Delorme)

What the government can do

Bob Halliday, vice-president of the Saskatchewan Environmental Society, said while there are many small green changes we can make to a budget, part of the responsibility lies with the provincial government to encourage individuals to do the same. green choices as possible. – and he could do more.

The organization recommends that the provincial government set up a network of charging stations for electric vehicles powered largely by solar energy, for example.

“Even if the province helped a used car market in electric vehicles or offered a grant that would get people into that field, it would be [great]. Because once they have the car, the running cost is insignificant,” Halliday said.

SaskEnergy’s residential equipment replacement rebate program ends June 30, 2022. (Radio-Canada News)

Saskatchewan is one of the few provinces that does not provide direct funding to municipalities specifically for transportation improvements. This, he said, could put more people on public transport and reduce emissions as a result.

Plastic bag and composting efforts are also left to municipalities.

The Government of Saskatchewan offers the Provincial Home Renovation Tax Credit to help homeowners with renovations that improve energy efficiency. There are a few other grants for home and building renovations, but some are due to expire by summer.

“I kind of like home and office renovation programs because they’re a way to directly engage the public, and I think people have to kind of take ownership of their lives,” Halliday said.

“With the issue of climate change…renovating your home to make it more comfortable and to lower your costs is definitely a plus.”

The Saskatchewan Environmental Society calls for the energy efficiency provisions of the Saskatchewan building code to be updated by 2024 and made net-zero energy ready by 2028.

“I think keeping our focus on big items is definitely something that needs to be done,” Halliday said.