How to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at home

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It’s a well-known fact: greenhouse gases (GHGs) are largely responsible for climate change. But what are greenhouse gases, and what concrete impact do they have on climate change? What individual actions can we take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at home?

We’ll try to shed light on this through an interview with expert Bernard Bordeleau, environmental consultant at GoRecycle.

What are greenhouse gases (GHGs)?

“Although they get bad press, greenhouse gases are essential to our survival and are a natural phenomenon. The problem is the increase in greenhouse gas emissions.” This increase will be discussed in this article.

Definition of greenhouse gases

According to the Ministère de l’environnement, de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec, greenhouse gases are “gases that occur naturally in the Earth’s atmosphere and trap heat near the planet’s surface.”

To better understand the greenhouse effect and its impact on climate change, we can use the analogy of a greenhouse used to grow fruits and vegetables. As the European Commission puts it, “Some gases in the Earth’s atmosphere act a bit like the glass in a greenhouse, trapping the sun’s heat and stopping it from leaking back into space and causing global warming.”

What is the main greenhouse gas?

The main greenhouse gas is CO2, or carbon dioxide. According to the European Commission, CO2 produced by human activity is the leading cause of climate change.

The other two main greenhouse gases (GHGs) are:

What impact do GHGs have on global warming?

An increase in CO2 emissions in the atmosphere results in several changes. The following are a few examples:

  • Global warming, characterized by an increase in the Earth’s temperature (see the impact of a 1.5˚C temperature rise by 2100, according to the United NationsLast Call for Climate Action report)
  • Rise in sea level
  • Negative impacts on biodiversity
  • Ocean acidification
  • Increased droughts

To understand the concrete impact of climate change on your city in terms of the number of hot and humid days, check out this tool from CBC/Radio-Canada, which has analyzed the latest climate projections for the humidex.

How to reduce greenhouse gases at home

Did you know that better managing refrigerant gases is part of Project Drawdown’s top 5 individual solutions for addressing climate change? More specifically, it is the solution that has the fourth greatest environmental impact. This is vital information from Project Drawdown, an important source of global information on climate solutions. The aim of this organization is to find solutions for reducing greenhouse gases and pollution.

Recycling your cooling appliances

Recycling cooling appliances at home is a concrete action that everyone can take to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs). Each of the six types of cooling appliances covered by GoRecycle releases an average of one tonne of greenhouse gases (GHGs), or the equivalent of one tonne of CO2, if it is not recycled responsibly.

The following are a few equivalences to give you an idea of the impact of each of these small actions:

  • Recycling a refrigerator is equivalent to using a reusable coffee cup 13,870 times
  • Recycling a freezer is equivalent to heating for 2.3 years
  • Recycling a dehumidifier is equivalent to eating vegan for 1 year
  • Recycling a wine cooler is equivalent to composting for 4½ years
  • Recycling an air conditioner is equivalent to commuting to work by bike for 365 days
  • Recycling a water cooler is equivalent to driving back and forth from Montreal to Quebec City 9 times

How to ensure that your home cooling appliances are properly recycled

You have two choices for ensuring that your cooling appliances are responsibly recycled:

  • Take advantage of the free pickup and recycling service offered by over 90 retailers across Quebec when you buy a new refrigerator
  • Drop off your appliance at one of GoRecycle’s 260 drop-off points across Quebec

We suggest you also consider repairing your cooling appliance or reusing it before you recycle it.

If you want to go one step further, several tips for reducing your appliances’ power consumption are available on Hydro-Québec’s website.

To wrap-up

In this article, we’ve tried to shed light on greenhouse gases and their impact on climate change and the environment.

By ensuring that your home cooling appliances (e.g., refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, wine coolers, dehumidifiers and water coolers) are properly recycled through GoRecycle’s services, you’re taking concrete action to reduce greenhouse gases at home. Every little bit counts toward reducing climate change. Be part of the movement!

Bernard Bordeleau has been an environmental consultant at GoRecycle since 2022. He holds a Master’s degree in Environment from the University of Sherbrooke, and is passionate about protecting the environment. He has published an academic essay on the subject of The Circular Economy of Household Appliances and Air Conditioning. At GoRecycle, Bernard is responsible for environmental reporting, recycler compliance and improving GoRecycle’s environmental practices.