To do your part in the fight against global warming, there are two actions you can take, now, reducing and offsetting carbon emissions.
When you incorporate some of the easy-to-follow reduction tips, listed below, into your lifestyle, you’ll quickly begin lowering the size of your carbon footprint.
While it’s nearly impossible to reduce your carbon footprint to zero, you can offset what remains and neutralize the negative impact your life creates. By purchasing carbon offsets and renewable energy credits you’re investing in cleaner technologies that help neutralize your impact on global warming.
Tread Lightly, Leave a Smaller Footprint
No matter how many eco-conscious strategies you use, it’s virtually impossible to have zero carbon emissions. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try. The good news is, while following simple reductions strategies is great for the environment, it’s good for your wallet, too. Start saving the environment and your money by reviewing the tips shown below, or visit the links we’ve provided to help you explore your reduction opportunities even further.
Carbon Reduction Tips
- Know before you go. If your area has a travel and transit information network, use it by calling, visiting the web site, or tuning into the cable station. Get travel and transit updates before you leave home and you won't get stuck in a jam.
- Idling gets you 0 miles per gallon. The best way to warm up a vehicle is to drive it. No more than 30 seconds of idling on winter days is needed. Anything more simply wastes fuel and increases emissions.
- Avoid high speeds. Above 60 mph, gas mileage drops rapidly.
- During winter, dense, low-lying trees and shrubbery on the north and northeast sides of your home can help protect your home against wind chill.
- Starting a compost pile in the backyard can reduce your household waste and generate a wonderful fertilizer for your garden. Vegetable scraps, egg shells, coffee grinds, and yard trimmings are all great for composting. Leave out any meat, dairy or greasy foods that may attract rodents and pests. 3 to 6 months after you start, you’ll have a dark, crumbly material that’s better than chemical-laden fertilizers for growing plants.
- Planting shrubs, bushes, and vines next to your house creates dead air spaces that insulate your home in both winter and summer. Plant so there will be at least 1 foot (30 centimeters) of space between full-grown plants and your home's wall.
- If you have an older toilet, here’s an easy way to make it use less water. Fill an empty soda bottle (or two) with water and place it in the toilet tank away from the operating mechanisms. This will save water with every flush, by reducing the amount of water it takes to refill your tank.
- Think twice before turning on the oven. Heating food in the microwave uses only 20 percent of the energy required by a full-sized oven. And while the second-hand heat from the oven may be welcome in winter, it can put an added load on your air conditioner in warmer months.
- Plant trees to shade your home, reducing your cooling costs in the summer months. Typically, newly planted trees will begin shading windows in their first year and will reach your roof in years 5-10.
- Landscaping your home for energy efficiency can reduce your heating and cooling bills, the largest component of your home's energy use. Your overall landscaping strategy will depend on your regional climate
- Eating meat costs a lot of energy - a 6 oz steak requires 24 times as much fossil fuel based energy to produce as an equivalent amount of vegetables and rice. Eating vegetarian just once a week can make a big difference.
- In the United States, food typically travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to plate, as much as 25 percent farther than in 1980. Transporting our food that far means higher energy consumption, lower quality produce, and less local agricultural investment. Visit your local farmer’s market and make a meal entirely from local food - you’d be surprised how good it feels!
- Organic food seems to be everywhere, but what does organic really mean? According to the USDA, organic food is “produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations.” Look for the label “USDA Certified Organic” on all organic foods at the grocery store, and you’ll know you’re buying a more sustainable product.
- Next time you’re at the grocery store, pay attention to how much packaging all of the food comes in. You can reduce your household waste by purchasing items that have minimal packaging, buying the largest size of an item you can reasonably use, and buying in bulk.
- Routine activities, like refueling your car or mowing your lawn, generate gasoline fumes. The amount of these fumes can be reduced simply by moving these activities earlier or later in the day, avoiding the hottest hours of 10am to 6pm. At cooler times of day, gasoline evaporates less easily, leaving more in your tank to use.
- By purchasing a 100% new renewable energy product for a year, an American household using an average of 938 kWh per month could help avoid contributing over 15,600 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
- Of the 25 billion single-serving plastic water bottles Americans use each year, 80% end up in landfills. Recycle your water bottles and, better yet, choose to re-use a refillable water bottle made of a refill-safe material.
- "Phantom" loads occur in most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, televisions, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off. This can be avoided by unplugging the appliance or using a power strip and using the switch on the power strip to cut all power to the appliance.
- Look for the ENERGY STAR® label on home appliances, electronics and other products. ENERGY STAR® products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
- How many phone books do you need? Stop getting those bulky throwbacks by contacting the manufacturer (their contact information is usually listed on the phone book’s inside cover) and asking to be taken off their mailing list. Use online phonebooks or search the web to find what you need instead.
- Get with the times and download new music instead of buying it on CDs. The “jewel cases” that CDs come in are usually made from polyvinyl chloride, a dangerous material that cannot readily be recycled. Downloading will also help cut down on the production costs and energy used to create the discs themselves. And many record labels (to use a quaint term) are making those clever liner notes available online.
- If you’re in need of lumber, consider buying from ecofriendly wood providers. The Forest Stewardship Council has approved 59 million acres of timber forest in 47 countries for their environmentally responsible practices. Friends of the Earth also has buying tips on its Good Wood Guide site.
- Consider buying a laptop for your next computer upgrade; they use much less energy than desktop computers.
- There is a common misconception that screen savers reduce energy use by monitors; they do not. Automatic switching to sleep mode or manually turning monitors off is always the better energy-saving strategy.
- ENERGY STAR computers and monitors save energy only when the power management features are activated, so make sure power management is activated on your computer.
- To maximize savings with a laptop, put the AC adapter on a power strip that can be turned off (or will turn off automatically); the transformer in the AC adapter draws power continuously, even when the laptop is not plugged into the adapter.
- Unplug battery chargers when the batteries are fully charged or the chargers are not in use.