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Easy Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Every aspect of our lives is, in a sense, a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. – Frances Moore Lappé What is a carbon footprint, and why should you care about it? Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (specifically CO2, carbon dioxide) produced to support your life, and it’s important. Greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, which is changing weather patterns, melting polar ice, and raising sea levels worldwide. If each one of us shrinks our carbon footprint, even a little, we can help keep this amazing world of ours beautiful and welcoming to human beings—our children and their children—into the future.
Where Do I Start?Everything we do has a carbon price tag. When you drive, turn on the tap, cool your house, or cook dinner, there’s an energy cost. The less energy we use, the less impact we have on the environment. The great thing about everything having an energy cost is that we have lots of ways to save energy, and every little bit helps. Find out your current carbon footprint with an online carbon footprint calculator. Then, as you make changes you can track your progress!
Little Changes Make a Big DifferenceHome energy, transportation, and water are major areas in which we create lots of greenhouse gases. Here are some easy ideas to help you be gentler on our planet.
- Driving – accelerate and brake smoothly, drive the speed limit, maintain a steady speed.
- Maintenance – keep tires properly inflated, keep car tuned, and replace air, oil, and fuel filters on schedule .
- Buy Smart – when you get another vehicle, buy the most fuel-efficient one you can afford.
- Thermostat – get a programmable thermostat or turn the system off when you’re away. Keep it a little cooler in winter, a little warmer in summer. A few degrees dramatically reduce fuel usage (and your bill).
- Seal Air Leaks – apply weatherstripping and caulking to windows and doors.
- Lighting – use LED bulbs when possible, or compact fluorescent (CFL). To make the same amount of light, incandescent bulbs use 4 times the electricity of a CFL and 10 times as much as an LED! LED and CFL bulbs cost more, but quickly pay for themselves. Check out this light bulbs comparison chart!
- Unplug Cords – every appliance sucks a tiny bit of juice, even when you’re not using it…about $1/month for each one.
- Energy Star – if possible, look for Energy Star when shopping for big dollar items such as heating and air conditioning units, windows, and appliances.
- Turn the Faucet Off – turn off water when brushing teeth or shaving. This saves 3-6 gallons of water every time.
- Fixtures – choose water-conserving showerheads and toilets.
- Water Growing Things – use drought-resistant plants where you can. When you do water plants or the lawn, make sure water doesn’t land on pavement.
- Stop the Junk Mail River – producing, delivering, and disposing of junk mail makes more greenhouse gas than 2.8 million cars. Free resources such as this one can help stop the endless flow.
- Buy Local – shipping burns fuels, so it helps the environment when you buy products that traveled a short distance to reach you.
- Eat Less Meat – red meat creates the most greenhouse gases; poultry makes less; a vegetarian diet produces the least.
- Don’t Waste Food – shockingly, about one-fourth of all food prepared in the United States gets thrown out. All that rotting food creates carbon emissions when garbage trucks haul it away and makes methane in landfills. Cook smaller amounts, and eat those leftovers! What you don’t eat, feed to the dog or the chickens—or compost it.