Green Living, Healthy Living, How To, Ideas August 28th, 2007
Do You Want to Make a Positive Impact on the Environment?
The health of our environment is top of mind for most everyone these days. It’s easy to feel a little hopeless about it at first. Well, you can erase that notion! There ARE things you can do and you CAN make a difference! This article will show you how, from easy stuff to actions that will take more of a commitment. Many of these ideas can save you money too! Some have an upfront cost, but if you look at the savings in energy costs over time, the net can be savings for you and a cleaner world for all.
You may feel like your contribution is small, but it’s not. How you live your life will influence other people. Your contribution added to everyone else’s “green” contributions will cumulatively make a large difference. So if you are concerned about the environment, but unsure how you can make a difference, then take a look at these actions you can start doing and begin today! Do what you can today, plan to do more in the future, and spread the word to get everyone involved!
About 25% of carbon emissions come from personal activities (cars, electricity in our homes, food we buy, etc.). The other 75% comes from commerce, industry, agriculture, oil mining, trucking, military, and more. The average American produces approximately 22 tons (44,000 pounds) of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions per year. The worldwide average is 6 tons (12,000 pounds) per person per year. Work on reducing your own carbon footprint, those emissions that stem from your actions, and then encourage others to do the same. Like anything, start small and build on successes.
What You Can Do
In the House
- Turn Off the Lights. And anything else you’re not using such as your computer, printer, etc.
- Print Less. Reuse the other side of paper you no longer need.
- Lights. Use compact flourescent bulbs. The more bulbs you replace the greater your electricity savings will be.
- Unplug. Any device that is plugged in and is turned off, is still drawing power. Unplug chargers and anything else you can while you’re not using it. When electrical devices are done charging, remove them and unplug them.
- Water Heater. Turn down the setting by 2 degrees for a significant savings
- Home Temperature: Turn Thermostat down 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in summer. According to StopGlobalWarming.org, this will save 22,000 pounds of CO2 per year and $98 per year in utility bills. Change the filters for A/C and heaters regularly. Wear a sweater in the winter and use fans in the summer instead of A/C when you can.
- Washing Machines: only do laundry or run the dishwasher when it’s full. This saves water, electricity and washing soap. Hang your clothes to dry instead of using a dryer.
- Defrost Fridge. Defrost your fridge/freezer regularly.
- Old appliances. Replace a fridge older than 15 years with an energy efficient one. The same for boilers.
- Weatherproofing. Have your home inspected by the local energy company to see what you can do to make it more energy efficient such as insulation of your home, insulating your water heater, caulk & weatherstrip doors and windows, install double paned windows and more.
- Recycle your Gray Water. This is wastewater that is generated from domestic processes such as washing dishes, laundry and bathing. It can be used for watering your grass and plants and more.
- Boiling Water: only boil as much water as you need.
- Showers. Take shorter showers and install low-flow shower heads with built in shut-off valve. Turn down the water when washing your hair.
- Install a Water Filter. Use this instead of buying bottled water and you’ll save money and tons of CO2 that it takes to ship that water.
- Water Heater. Switch to a tankless water heater which heats the water as you need it instead of storing it.
- One Trip. Try to buy the week’s groceries in one trip.
- Use reusable cloth bags for your groceries.
- Buy locally grown (in season) organic produce or try growing some of your own!
- Buy products made close to home.
- Reduce Meat Consumption. This is because of the CO2 that is produced from shipping it.
- Recycled Goods. Use recycled paper and other recycled products.
- Recycle. Recycle all paper, plastic and glass.
- Reduce Garbage. Buy products with minimal packaging.
Cars and Travel
- Tires. Check monthly to keep them fully inflated.
- Air Filter. Check your car’s air filter monthly and change it as needed.
- Commuting and Traveling. When you can, carpooling, public transportation and walking/cycling are all better choices than driving alone.
- Buy a Hybrid Car or Fuel Efficient Car.
- Exercise. Run, walk, bike, etc. instead of driving to the gym.
- Travel. Use land or sea travel (trains, buses, ferries) when you can instead of air travel.
- Work from Home. Find out if you can work from home one or more days per week.
- Vacations via Bicycle. If possible considering renting bikes instead of a car for your next vacation. Consider vacations closer to home.
- Hotels. Do all the same things you would do at home. Turn A/C down, turn TV off, etc when you leave the room. Ask to have linens and towels washed every other day or less.
- Buy Energy Certificates. This is a donation to help grow the renewable energy market with things like wind and solar energy. In some places you can get tax credits for these. Check with your local and state government.
- Plant a Tree.
- Mowing the Law. Use a push mower.
- Other Activities. Think about your hobbies and whether they contribute to CO2 emissions. If they do, consider cutting back or replacing them with less polluting activities. Examples are: Go-Carts, saunas, health clubs, restaurants & bars, off-roading, motor boating, etc.
- Install renewable energy generators such as solar panels or wind turbines. These are expensive options, but you will have electricity savings to offset it and in some locations you can get tax credits.
Make your voice be heard on this issue. Vote for candidates who promise to take action on making laws that will encourage individuals and institutions to make green choices. Write to your local politicians and let them know how you feel. Go to StopGlobalWarming.org to find easy ideas on how to make your voice heard. There is also a wealth of information there. Do check it out!
Will It Make a Difference?
Yes. Some of these things you may think “Just because I buy lesser packaged goods doesn’t make the highly packaged ones disappear. So what’s the difference?” The difference is that over time if many people make these choices, then demand for the more environmentally harmful ones will go down and less will be produced. And YOUR CHOICES will have contributed to that!
You don’t have to do all these things to make a difference, but the more you can do the better. And be sure to tell your friends!
The beautiful photo in this article is courtesy of photographer extraordinaire Tom Dempsey of Photoseek.com. His amazing photography is available for sale at his Nature & Adventure Travel Photography website. Please take a look at his stunning work. You won’t believe your eyes! Thank you Tom!
What are you committed to doing to help the environment? All comments big and small are very welcomed!
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