Easy ways to cut your carbon
Button up your home.
Sealing up air leaks and adding insulation are easy to do and offer big rewards in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and saving money. Get started with a home energy audit to help you evaluate the over-all energy efficiency of your home.
Unplug the vampires.
Your home might be inhabited by energy vampires —electronic devices that are ready to operate and receive signals at all time. Even when turned off, these devices are silently sucking away precious energy. Make sure your cell phone and laptop chargers, music players, power tools and other devices are unplugged when not in use. Learn more about how to stop energy vampires.
Change the lights.
Make friends with CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) and you can significantly reduce your city’s carbon footprint (and save some money). If everyone in the US alone changed their five most-used lights to CFLs, it would prevent the equivalent of green house gas emissions from 10 million cars. Learn more about CFLs.
Buy more locally grown food.
According to The Worldwatch Institute, the ingredients of the typical Swedish breakfast—coffee, cream, sugar, bread, butter, cheese, orange juice and apples — travel a distance equal to the circumference of the Earth before reaching the table. Buying locally-grown food not only helps improve local economies, it saves significant amounts of energy. One big plus: local food is usually much fresher. Read: Is Local Food Better? (Worldwatch Institute).
BYOB (Bring your own bag).
Buying products without excess packaging and bringing your shopping bags reduces energy usage and keeps excess waste out of municipal landfills and our oceans. In 2009, the Ocean Conservancy found that plastic bags were the second most common type of waste found in international waters. Get the facts on waste.
Keep the clunker.
While hybrids, electric cars and smart cars are temptingly green, it might actually be more energy efficient to keep your older-model car on the road while it’s in good condition. Every car creates a large carbon footprint when manufactured - even a hybrid. Read: Buy a New Car or Keep the Old?
But get a tune up.
Well-maintained cars are more fuel-efficient and produce less greenhouse gas emissions. Simple actions like using the manufacturer-recommended grade of motor oil can go a long way in improving your car’s efficiency. Keeping tires properly inflated can significantly improve fuel efficiency as well. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fuel Economy’s website.
And leave the car at home whenever possible.
Walking, biking and public transit are all far better options for getting around the city than driving. Encourage your employer to offer better commuter benefits such as public transportation passes, bike racks and in-office showers. Get tips for city-friendly bike programs.
Green your laundry.
Washers and dryers are enormous energy hogs. By switching laundry time to after 9pm, which is off-peak for many energy delivery systems, you lighten the load on your local system and save money since the cost of energy at this time is lower. Try using cold water for washing clothes, since heating water also uses a lot of energy. Get more information about off-peak energy usage.
Green lawns and exotic species may look pretty, but they can take an enormous toll on municipal water systems. Planting native species around your home or business saves water and energy for your city. Not only are you eliminating the carbon used to ship non-native plants, you’re also reducing water usage since the plants will probably grow better without extra help. Green plants are also a good way to offset carbon. Get the facts on native plants and beneficial landscaping.
Remember your three R’s: Reduce, reuse, recycle.
We can all reduce the pressure on our cities by consuming less, reusing what we can, and recycling the rest. Read the EPA’s best practices on the three R’s of waste management.