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Rewarding those who are making a difference - Metro US

Rewarding those who are making a difference

Environmental awards are a great way to learn how to make changes that make a difference.

The 2010 Green Toronto Awards, for example, recognize individuals, organizations and companies that are leading the way to a cleaner, greener and more livable city. Nine winners will be announced at the Green Living Show in Toronto on April 23. Here is a closeup look at three of the 27 nominees – what makes them special and how you can follow their lead. For more information, visit www.greenlivingonline.com.

Turn nature into your playground

Most of us don’t have easy access to fields and forests. That’s why Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds (BNP) creates play areas that include fallen logs, hills, boulders and native plants. Beinenstock playgrounds, which meet all safety standards, are in parks, at childcare centres, YMCAs and other public spaces across Canada.

What you can do:

Take a hike – or bike – on your nearest nature trail. Include a nature guidebook and check out trees, insects and wildlife. Keep a list of what you see along the way.

Make your community more livable

With the help of 10,000 volunteers, Evergreen, a national charity, has planted more than 50,000 trees and shrubs in Vancouver, Toronto and other urban centres, helped 140 youth turn 18 barren plots into wildflower gardens, and is transforming Toronto’s once-deserted Don Valley Brick Works into an environmental centre. Evergreen offers grants, resources and workshops to people who want to green their communities.

What you can do:

Volunteer at a community garden or a tree-planting event. Support local food producers by buying their fruits, vegetables, wines and cheeses. Donate money to environmental programs.

Conserve and win

Wilmar Court is a seniors’ housing project with young ideas about sustainable living. The 72-unit apartment in Scarborough, Ont., installed solar panels to preheat its hot water. Organic mulch enriches the grounds, and low-energy bulbs light the building.

What you can do

At home, use biodegradable soaps and cleaners, buy compact fluorescent bulbs, use rain barrels to collect rainwater run-off, choose low VOC paints, mulch your garden naturally and install energy-efficient toilets.

Other Green Awards

Earth Day Canada recognizes the importance of personal environmental achievement with their Hometown Heroes Awards.

The Royal Canadian Geographical Society and 3M Canada has a Canadian Award for Environmental Innovation to celebrate individuals involved in a project that protects, restores or preserves the environment.

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