Carbon Karma: How to Reduce Your Eco-Footprint Today
A Live Green, Live Smart™ Briefing
Every one of us on this planet leaves an eco-footprint as we go about our daily activities. This footprint consists of the CO2 and other greenhouse gases that result from our use of transportation, energy consumption and rubbish disposal. The impact from resources consumption in our daily lives shows up in these footprints, as does a communal impact resulting from pollution and contamination caused by manufacturing, wars, and the degradation of biodiversity.
Your eco-footprint will be here well after you are gone. Like a fossil record, it remains for eons and eons. You can't eradicate your footprint, but you do have the ability to minimize it - and you can influence others to minimize theirs, as well.
The world's best scientific minds believe that a combination of global warming, depletion of the planets resources from dominant patterns of production, consumption, wars and over-population are causing environmental devastation. We all face a responsibility to help protect and restore the Earth's ecological systems.
The most significant changes each of us can make in our impact on the Earth's ecology are related to lifestyle, transportation, shelter, and family. We can't all do everything possible to reduce human-induced environmental degradation, but we can each do something now. Here are a few things you can do now to have a measurable effect on the footprint - and planet - you leave behind:
RECYCLE paper, plastic, metal, batteries, reuse old things or donate them to a good cause, sell them or give them away.
TURN OFF THE LIGHTS when you leave a room.
CLEAN YOUR HOME, CAR AND BODY with green, non-toxic products.
COMPOST your yard and garden waste to keep it out of landfills and sanitary sewers.
LINE DRY your clothes - and if your city has rules against this, change them.
EAT SUSTAINABLY by choosing organic, fair trade, and locally produced foods when they are available.
REDUCE JUNK MAIL by opting-out at www.dmaconsumers.org/cgi/offmailinglist
TURN OFF THE FAUCET when brushing your teeth or washing dishes.
SHORTEN YOUR SHOWER and remember that tub baths use tens of gallons of water - save them for treats.
START A RECYCLING PROGRAM at your company, church or school.
TURN OFF APPLIANCES especially TV sets, stereos and computers that draw phantom energy with their instant-on features.
TURN OFF YOUR HOT TUB during the summer.
BUY WHAT YOU NEED, not everything the Joneses buy.
AVOID BUYING DISPOSABLES when there is another option.
BUY SUSTAINABLE when shopping for clothes, coffee, chocolate, anything.
FORGET ABOUT whether to choose paper or plastic bags: they use about the same resources for production and disposal - instead, reuse, recycle, and byob.
ENCOURAGE YOUR COMPANY to turn off office and plant lights and computer monitors.
ENCOURAGE YOUR ORGANIZATION, CLUB, CHURCH, SYNAGOGUE, MOSQUE AND TEMPLE to develop an environmental sustainability plan.
GIVE GIFTS that improve the environment, from light bulbs to tree seedlings.
PLANT A TREE or start an organic garden.
CAR POOL in low-polluting vehicles.
RIDE A BIKE to school, work, the store or the gym.
WALKING reduces pollution and avoids parking delays.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION reduces the use of land for roads and reduces the pollution from personal vehicles.
BUY A CAR, SUV OR TRUCK that gets at least ten more MPG than the one your're replacing.
NEW VEHICLES AND FUELS like hybrid, electric and bio-fuel produce fewer emissions and make a public statement that you're going greener.
SMALLER VEHICLES use fewer resources to produce and get better mileage.
JOIN A CAR RENTAL POOL and use a car only when you need it.
TURN OFF YOUR PARKED VEHICLE
BUY ONLINE, save trips to the mall. Besides less personal vehicle fuel and emissions, many on-line companies use better logistical and delivery services to save more fuel.
REDUCE AIR TRAVEL for business: video conference or web conference whenever feasible.
TUNE UP YOUR CAR and keep your tires properly inflated for better mileage and less pollution.
BUILD OR REMODEL your home with toxic free and sustainable materials.
TURN DOWN HEAT AND COOLING when you leave home for work or vacation.
REPLACE LIGHTBULBS with fluorescent and LED bulbs for energy and dollar savings.
REDUCE WATER USE by installing low flow toilets and showerheads.
LIVE IN A BIG-ENOUGH HOUSE for lower energy and material usage.
SEAL UP AIR LEAKS around windows, doors and electric sockets.
INSULATE walls, foundations, and ceilings
REPLACE OLD WINDOWS with triple glazed gas-filled windows.
FIX leaky faucets.
BUY ENERGY STAR-rated appliances
COLLECT RAINWATER from gutters to water plants.
BUILD RAIN GARDENS and plant native drought resistant plants.
GO CHEMICAL FREE on the lawns.
PUSH your mower and sweep your leaves instead of using power tools that burn gas or electricity - and enjoy the quiet.
WASH CLOTHES in cold water with bio-degradable laundry products.
PROGRAMMABLE thermostats at home and work save energy at home and work.
CEILING FANS can reduce heating and cooling needs.
SUSTAINABLE ENERGY can be used at home: install solar water heaters, wind turbines, geothermal heat and cooling, photovoltaic and electric co-generation units.
CHANGE YOUR PAVING replace outdoor hard surfaces like driveways and patios with permeable surfaces to prevent water run off into storm sewers and wetlands.
POLITICS AND FAMILY
VOTE for individuals and policies that protect the environment.
RUN for public office, and green-up local, state, and federal laws.
START A GREEN organization, study group, book club or CSA farm.
DISPOSE of diaper and medical waste safely - whatever choice you make.
READ poetry and fiction and view art and theatre that consider the Earth.
PLAY in ways that respect the environment.
LEARN about how plants and animals and people are inter-related.
TEACH your children what you have learned about preserving the planet.
JOIN an on-line green community for resources and networking.
DONATE time and money to environmental action.
And most of all, don't lose heart or grow discouraged. We can restore the world's most important resources - and we are among those resources.