The future is not somewhere we are going. It is something we are creating. Every day we do things that make some futures more probable and others less likely.
Reducing your carbon and greenhouse gas emissions will not only make your lifestyle more sustainable, but also save you money. Even if you remain a cynic and disagree with the consensus of scientists, you will benefit from reduced pollution, a more healthful lifestyle, and increased savings.
This article outlines some ways that you can act to help prevent the Earth from warming further. While humankind has the ability to destroy the planet, we can also help protect and sustain it.
Challenge others about global warming. A great way to broaden your own impact is to rally other people to your cause. The more facts that you have, as to what mainstream science says about it, the more you can persuade people to make simple yet effective changes in daily behavior. Energy-saving techniques either are initially expensive (for example, solar power) or take extra time (for example, recycling), so many people need to be convinced that their efforts matter. Always keep in mind that you are aiming to demonstrate the benefits of these activities and highlight how each person can play a vital role in helping to reduce global warming. Remember that “civil society does not respond at all well to moralistic scolding, so use education to enlighten, not frighten.
1.Make sure you are well informed about global warming. Global warming is occurring more rapidly than it was originally expected to — only forty years ago; the big worry was global cooling. Global warming already disrupts millions of lives daily in the forms of destructive weather patterns and loss of habitat. What is already happening is only the tip of the melting iceberg, for it is our children and grandchildren who may suffer most from the effects of global warming. Hundreds of millions of people may be exposed to famine, water shortages, extreme weather conditions and a 20 – 30% loss of animal and plant species if we do not reduce the rate of global warming and reduce GHG emissions. On the other hand, having warmer winters means longer growing seasons in temperate and subarctic climes, sometimes allowing an additional crop to be planted and harvested each year, or simply making the existing crops more productive. Having both sides of the story will make you a better spokesperson for your cause.
2.Vote and influence your government with telephone calls, e-mails, letters, and meetings with those who represent you in government. Learn as much as possible about the policies that you advocate before doing so; solving one problem often creates others. For example, replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs has increased the hazard of mercury contamination in homes and landfills. Fluorescent light bulbs are still preferable to incandescent bulbs (see below), but one must be careful to recycle them and to not break them, if not mercury would be released. The push to grow corn for ethanol has contributed to higher food prices while saving little energy, if any at all.
3.Choose vegetarian or vegan meals. Livestock are responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than transportation is. This is due to the large amounts of petroleum used in creating ammonium nitrate fertilizer (for the corn that they are fed) plus the cost of shipping that corn to the cattle and then shipping the cattle to slaughter and grocery. If one eats meat it should always be from a local source. Choosing vegetarian foods also drastically reduces agricultural water consumption and land use, and favorably impacts biodiversity. Vegetarian diets have been shown to promote good health and in most developed countries, eliminating meat from one’s diet is as easy as making responsible choices at stores and restaurants. Other factors such as the means of production and distance that food travels are also factors in the total impact of our food choices.
4.Recycle more by using recycling bins, composting, etc. Encourage neighbors, supervisors, colleagues, and businesses to do likewise (15-25% of people do not recycle).
5.Use compact fluorescent bulbs. Replace three frequently used light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs and save 300 lbs. of carbon dioxide and US$60 per year. A standard compact fluorescent bulb will save around one third of a tone of greenhouse gas, along with the cost of six or more incandescent globes.
6.Consider using even more, and give them as gifts to family and friends. Donate a set to a local charity to refit their office with compact fluorescent lights. Remember that CFL bulbs do contain small amounts of toxic mercury. Therefore, proper disposal (recycling) is necessary to prevent any additional landfill contamination. You can also start looking into LED light bulbs which have started to crop up recently they are even more efficient!
7.Fill the dishwasher. Run your dishwasher only with a full load. Save 100 lbs. of carbon dioxide and US$40 per year, or do them by hand with minimal water.
8.Use recycled paper. Make sure that your printer paper is 100% post consumer recycled paper. Save 5 lbs. of carbon dioxide per ream of paper. Decide whether something is really worth printing out. Leave a signature at the bottom of your e-mails reminding the reader to think twice before printing the e-mail. Make the most of scrap paper for shopping lists, notes, scrapbooks, telephone messages, taking notes in class, etc. Recycle your paper only when it has been thoroughly used up
9.Buy locally made and locally grown products. Buy locally to reduce the energy required to transport your goods. The consumable products that we all purchase represent more than half of the average family’s carbon footprint! If you successfully encourage neighbors to do this, store owners will be encouraged to stock local goods. Shop at farmers’ markets.count your carbon. Keep track of your carbon consumption as a way of tracking your progress.
- There is a logo called Carbon Counted that companies can put on their products to communicate their carbon footprint. Products that have a low Carbon Counted footprint number give consumers a means by which to influence and reward companies that reduce emissions in the creation of their products.
- Use a carbon calculator. These counters enable you to calculate your personal impact by adding up the carbon emissions from your activities. There are counters available for many countries; use your local search engine for results. An international calculator is provided by the World Resources Institute.
- Support producers of renewable energy. Help spur the renewable energy market by participating in it. In the UK you can get 100% renewable electricity by switching to a company such as Eccentricity or Good Energy Ltd. Alternatively, you can buy wind certificates, green tags and stock in renewable energy companies. Many of these companies are new and small, and the stock is low in price. While many are high-risk, they may present an opportunity to help the company move beyond the initial stages of uncertainty and to enhance the viability of important, upcoming market niches. These companies may offer opportunities for great returns if they prove profitable; just be sure to do your homework first, as you would when investing in anything.
10. Buy minimally packaged goods. Less packaging could reduce your garbage significantly, saving 1,200 pounds of carbon dioxide and $1,000 per year. If you consider a certain products’ packaging to be excessive, mail it to the company with your challenge to the company to reduce its packaging; include suggestions on how if you have ideas. Also tell companies that Wal-Mart thinks that reduced packaging is not only a good idea but also very achievable; this is likely to set the standard for many businesses in the future.
11. Insulate anything that uses energy to stay a different temperature from its environment.
Keep your water heater insulated to save up to 1,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide and US$40 per year. Avoid using units fitted with continuous pilot lights, and you will save AUD$40 and 200 kilograms of greenhouse gas emissions yearly. Also use less hot water. For example, if the shower is too cold, turn down the cold water instead of turning up the hot water.
Be energy wise and insulate your entire home to keep down the heating and cooling costs. If your insulation is old or inefficient, do yourself a favor and replace it; not only will it reduce your output of emissions but it will also reduce your energy bills considerably. Consider the attic, crawlspaces, basement, walls and ceiling. If you have awkward spaces, be aware that cellulose or fiberglass insulation can be blown in by a professional contractor.
Weather strips your home. Caulk and weather strip your doorways, windows and air conditioners. Save 1,700 lbs. of carbon dioxide and US$274 per year. You will discover that the costs of caulking are far outweighed by savings in fuel costs and increased comfort level.
12. Replace old appliances and reduce reliance on them. Inefficient appliances (such as refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners) waste energy. Inefficient appliances (such as refrigerators, washing machines and air conditioners) waste energy. Save hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide and hundreds of dollars per year by replacing them (and having your old appliance recycled or disposed of properly). Many countries have “energy star” ratings on new appliances that allow you to assess the energy usage of the appliance. Check online before you go shopping to save time or at least check the seals on your fridge or freezer and replace them if they show signs of wear.
v While you’re at it, reassess appliances that you really do not need to use, such as plug-in air fresheners. Try opening the windows instead (and throwing out that rotting fruit bowl) and replace with natural air freshener alternatives. Other items include the many so-called time-saving devices in your kitchen.
13. Use a push mower to mow the lawn. Use your muscles instead of fossil fuels and get some strength-building exercise. Save 80 lbs of carbon dioxide per year.
14. Unplug unused electronics. Even when electronic devices are turned off, they use energy. Save over 1,000 lbs of carbon dioxide and US$256 per year by unplugging them or switching them off at the wall using a power surge-protector (sometimes called a power center). Get into the habit of switching the power off before you go to bed.
15. Grow fast growing plants. Plants like bamboo grow faster and produce 35% more oxygen than trees like oak or birch, and require fewer chemicals and care. Make sure that the plants are appropriate for your area; prefer native over introduced species and do not plant problem species. Bamboo, for example, can be very invasive in most of the US.
16. Use public transportation. Taking the bus, the train, the subway or other forms of public transportation lessens the load on the roads and reduces one’s individual greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 1600 pounds per year. Taking public transport removes the stress of long road commutes and gives you a great opportunity to read, think, and relax. You also save on parking money and time wasted looking for parking spaces.
17. Ride a bicycle. Taking the bike instead of the car is a very simple solution. However, if you experience such problems as lack of suitable bike paths, having to deal with congested traffic or hilly terrain, you are faced with a few challenges. They are, however, challenges that you as an individual can overcome with a little determination.
Ask your local government to make (more) bike trails in your area and to make sure that bicyclists are kept safe from traffic in the same way that pedestrians are afforded this right. Get the local community behind you – a few neighbors, the street, or the whole suburb!
If you have hilly terrain, there are solutions as well. Build up your strength with shorter trips, find alternate routes, or take a bus part way (many municipal buses have bike racks on the front that you can use).
18. Use your vehicle as a tool against global warming. If you can’t live without a car, then use it in a way that minimizes global impact.
Buy a hybrid car.’ The average driver could save 16,000 lbs. of CO2 and $3,750 per year driving a hybrid. Plug-in hybrids can save even more and one day may be able to give cash back.
Buy a fuel efficient car. Save up to 20,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide per year using a more fuel efficient car – that’s a savings of AUD$10,000 over a car’s lifetime. Buying fuel efficient cars also encourage companies to continue making and improving them owing to increased demand.
Practice green driving. Save gas and lower stress levels by being a considerate driver. Improve fuel efficiency by removing unused external objects such as roof racks, turning off your engine instead of idling for long periods of time (over 1 minute), and removing loads from the trunk/boot that are not necessary
Keep your car tires adequately inflated. Under-inflated tires can reduce fuel economy by up to 3% and are subject to increased wear and tear. Check them monthly. Save 250 lbs. of carbon dioxide and US$840 per year. A good gift is a tire air-pressure gauge as it not only saves money but makes driving safer.
Change your air filter. Check your car’s air filter monthly. Save 800 pounds of carbon dioxide and US$130 per year. Cleaning your air filter improves your mileage and reduces pollution because it makes it easier for your car to take in air and maintain a proper fuel/air mixture
19. Use refills. Try using refills instead of buying new jars or bottles each time. This reduces your consumption and is usually cheaper, too.
This Article is written by “Raham Ghaffar” Author at Envirocivil.com
Originally published by www.envirocivil.com