Just as our lives depend on our planet’s natural resources, our planet’s well-being depends on our care. Your carbon footprint is a measure of the amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses (the main contributor to global warming) produced by human activity. The more electricity, gas, and fuel you use, the higher your personal carbon footprint. Fortunately, we can each reduce our personal carbon footprint by making simple changes to our behavior around the house and in our neighborhood.
1. Replace a lightbulb
An average household dedicates 5% to 10% of its energy budget to lighting. Replacing an incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent one has many benefits, one of which is saving energy. Fluorescent light bulbs deliver the same amount of light as incandescent light bulbs but with much less energy spent producing heat, making them more efficient. Consumer Reports recommends Energy Star-qualified bulbs, which meet high standards for light output, color, bulb life, and energy use. Less energy spent also means lower electricity bills—a winning combination!
2. Consider alternative transportation
According to the EIA (Energy Information Administration), transportation accounts for 33% of CO2 emissions in the U.S. The next time you reach for your car keys, consider taking public transportation to an event, biking to your local grocery store, walking to the ATM, carpooling to work, or even investing in a fuel-efficient car. If you do drive, try to ensure that your car is in good condition. Properly pumped tires and a clean air filter are just two ways to help ensure your car runs in the most efficient manner possible.
Proper recycling does a great deal to help save natural resources needed to make future products. Be mindful of the paper, food scraps, and electronics that could get thrown away and recycle whenever possible. Composting will help reduce the amount of food waste in your garbage and create nutrient-rich fertilizer for your garden. What you do contributes to a healthier environment and might even inspire your family and friends to follow your behavior. We’re all in this together!
4. Tune out
Although it’s not usually considered a usual suspect, your friendly PC or laptop uses a considerable amount of energy, even on stand by and in sleep mode. Even when devices are turned off, they continue to drain energy if they are still plugged in. Turning off your computer and using a power strip are just two ways you can be energy smart at home. Try to unplug all items that you can, including appliances such as a toaster or blender. If you’re in the market for a new computer, consider purchasing a laptop as they use less energy than desktops. Adopting these simple habits will also help cut costs on your electricity bill.
5. Lower indoor heating and cooling
Before turning on the heater in the winter or the air conditioning in the summer, consider ways to make yourself more comfortable without using any energy at all. Take a moment to think about how the weather affects your decision to bring a jacket or leave it at home. Embracing the same practices inside can help reduce the energy used for heating or cooling a home. In chilly weather, layer on an extra sweater or blanket, don a cozy cap, change to flannel sheets, and add window curtain liners to help keep your body temperature balanced and your electricity bill low. In hot weather, break out those tank tops and flip-flops and carry a fan for a light breeze anytime.
6. Plant a tree
Make a difference one tree at a time. Trees absorb CO2 in the air, producing oxygen as a by-product. As they age, they absorb even more. A single tree provides enough oxygen for 2 people for their entire lives. So, plant a tree and help save the planet in the process. You’ll feel good about yourself knowing every small step helps.
~ Christine Chan