People across Canada are making an effort to live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle. They do things as easy as replacing an old light bulb with a compact fluorescent or LED light, or biking to work once in a while. Or they do things as big as installing solar power, or building a net zero home.
No matter what amount of effort you make, you'll most likely find living an eco-friendly lifestyle makes you feel good, and it's probably better for you, too. Luckily, Saskatoon is a great place to live, work, and play for those who want to be more environmentally friendly.
Bike friendly streets
Riding your bike to work might just be one of the best things you can do for both yourself and the environment. Not only do you get a work out, but you take a car off the road, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and traffic congestion.
Bikes are becoming an ever more common sight on Saskatoon streets, even during the winter. The city's relatively small size and lack of hills makes it easy for just about anyone to start spinning around the city.
The City of Saskatoon has recognized that there needs to be better infrastructure and support for cyclists, and is working on creating more bike routes. They also have a cycling guide that rates every road in Saskatoon from novice to expert, and provides suggested routes. The PDF version on their website is a little hard to read, so pick up a printed version at one of the leisure centres, the public libraries, or from local bike retailers.
The city's interest in encouraging cycling is due in part to the strong grassroots communities in Saskatoon. Saskatoon Cycles is a cycling advocacy group that's active in the city. In the past few years, they've started running a bike valet at pretty much every major event in the city. They also host the annual Ice Cycle at Saskatoon's winter festival, dubbed “The coldest bicycle parade on the planet.”
If you're looking to join a community of like-minded cyclists, see the Saskatchewan Cycling Association's website for a list of cycling clubs in Saskatoon.
Restaurants across the city are embracing the prairie's agricultural roots by stocking their kitchens with local produce. Places like the Hollows, Park Cafe, Root Down, and Souleio have made a name for themselves by making the extra effort to source their food locally. And these are just a few; it seems more and more places are finding ways to include local food on the menu.
And cooking locally at home is just as easy – and even fun! If you haven't been to the Saskatoon Farmers' Market on a Saturday morning, you're missing out on one of the best parties of the weekend. But the farmers' market isn't just open on Saturday: they're also open on Wednesdays and Sundays; and there are now certain cafes at the market that are open all week long.
The Saskatoon Farmers' Market might be the most well-known, but there are other markets in the city, as well. The St. James' Farmers' Market and International Bazaar just off Broadway runs all year round on Wednesdays, and during the summer, farmers' markets pop in parking lots across the city. For some inspiration, check out food writer Amy Jo Ehman's blog – which is all about local food from Saskatchewan.
Once you've picked up all the ingredients you need for a delicious, locally-sourced, home-cooked meal, why not pair it with some locally produced drinks? Micro-breweries like Paddock Wood have been tempting Saskatoon palettes for many years, and with the changes to the liquor laws that will be rolling out sometime during 2013, we might begin to see even more local alcohol producers on the scene.
Reduce, reuse, recycle
For years, Saskatoon was one of the few mid-sized cities in the country that didn't have a recycling program, and honestly, the lack of such a program was a tad embarrassing. But the city committed to a greener future last year when council finally settled on a recycling program.
The City of Saskatoon started to roll out city-wide recycling program at the beginning of January this year. It's going to take until about June before everyone in the city receives their new blue bin. Saskatoon's recycling program is one of the most affordable in Canada. Fees are $4.66 per month, which is automatically added to your municipal utility bill.
Rinsing kitchen containers isn't the only way Saskatoon residents pitch in to the reduce-reuse-recycle movement; there are also much more fun ways to reduce your ecological footprint.
Here's a quick tip from OutGrow OutPlay: If everyone in Canada bought one reclaimed woolen garment each year, it would save an average of 300 million gallons of water and 400 tonnes of chemical dyes.
Wearing second-hand clothing doesn't have to mean slogging through countless racks of terrible stuff at Value Village or Salvation Army – consignment stores offer a great way to reuse and freshen up your family's wardrobes. Plus, when you consign your own stuff, you can earn a little extra cash, too!
For women of all ages, Stasia Consign and Design Boutique has a tidy collection of casual and professional clothes, while Plato's Closet is a great place for teens, though their boys section is a little on the small side. For kids, Once Upon a Child has made a name for itself as one of the best places in the city to find second-hand clothes for children, and OutGrow OutPlay has regular children's consignment sales. The next on is April 12-14 at the Lions Arena.
Nature in the city
Living an environmentally friendly lifestyle doesn't just have to mean making small changes to the way you live; it can also mean appreciating the nature that surrounds you. Saskatoon is lucky to have the beautiful South Saskatchewan River flowing through its heart, and the great parks that run along nearly the entire length.
The City of Saskatoon is more often choosing naturalized landscaping for parks in the city. When a city slicker thinks of a park, most likely they'll imagine carefully placed trees, manicured grass, sports fields, and playgrounds. A naturalized landscape, on the other hand, often includes wide swaths of unmowed grasses, plants and trees native to the province, and wetlands.
Lakewood Park, Gabriel Dumont Park, and Birkmaier Park are a few places in the city where you can enjoy the natural beauty of the prairies.
There's a new movement in the city celebrating the nature that already exists in our urban setting. The newly established group Wild About Saskatoon will be celebrating the city's natural beauty during the NatureCity Festival, May 25-31.