Are you greener than your city?

I showed Kylie how to avoid the Dirty Dozen in her personal care products. (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

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!

There are two, great, Earth-friendly stores in Regina: Dad's Organic Market and Nature's Best. Both carry organic produce and eco stuff like washing soda and nontoxic dandruff shampoo.

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:

  1. Backyard compost (and see my composting FAQs)
  2. Quit lining the garbage pail with plastic shopping bags
  3. Choose the "greenest" kitty litter (I was advised not to meet Kylie's "attack cat")
  4. Choose deodorant and shampoo without the Dirty Dozen, even make your own
  5. Switch to nontoxic home cleaners (I taught Kylie and five of her family members how to make my green cleaning recipes)
  6. 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