Earth Day Essentials(Part I) Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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By Lynn Gamwell

What is a Carbon Footprint?

Carbon is a gas that is emitted into the atmosphere from most human activities involving energy consumption. The total daily amount of emissions released from all activities of a person, a home, a business, or anything else is it’s “carbon footprint.” It is important to reduce our carbon footprints because it means we are significantly decreasing our contribution to pollution and global warming.

Earth Day is April 22

The sponsors of Earth Day are promoting planting 50,000 trees this month. Trees help to clean the air by absorbing carbon so that it is not loose in the atmosphere where it traps heat and contributes to global warming. However, even a massive tree-planting project cannot keep up with the amount of carbon dioxide being emitted into the air. We need action by each of us on a daily basis in our lifestyle choices to really make a difference. Fortunately there are many things one can do which will be good for the planet and often are good for your wallet and your health as well! Let’s get started.

Reduce your Energy Consumption

Energy reduction helps not only the environment but also our bottom line. Let’s consider some ways we can benefit from reducing our carbon footprint while keeping our planet peaceful and healthy.

  1. Reduce transportation costs and energy usage by taking public transportation, carpooling, walking, biking, or telecommuting. You may enjoy your daily commute more if you are socializing, reading, getting some exercise, or saving some time working from home.
  2. Buy well made products as investments and you will need to replace them less often. They may even appreciate in value as they become antiques. Think of furniture and the objects in your home as a reflection of yourself. You may find that less clutter and more clarity are the benefits of choosing to own less.
  3. Look for Energy Star labels on electronics, appliances, and heating and cooling devices for your home or business. While initially they may be slightly more expensive, their cost efficiency over time will cut your energy bills while being kinder to the atmosphere.
  4. Replace light bulbs with Energy Star rated bulbs for 75% less heat and energy usage as well as a much longer life. Again, the cost of buying energy efficient light bulbs will be higher initially, but the pay off to the environment and the reduced need to replace the bulbs will be worth it.
  5. Reduce reliance on disposable items. Most disposable products can be replaced with durable items which not only cut down on energy needed to produce them but also on the cost associated with repeatedly buying them. It takes little time to wash out a stainless steel food container and over time it goes a long way to reducing landfill waste. Think about other convenience items you can replace with items you already have or may only have to buy once. For instance, instead of piling all that plastic or paper into your trash, make a fashion statement with cute, reusable shopping bags in a wide range of attractive prints.
  6. Composting your food scraps will keep them from having to be processed as waste thus saving energy. You will have the benefits of nutritive soil to add to your garden at the same time as saving pockets full of cash on trash disposal.
  7. Consciously using water so that it is not wasted is a great way to save energy. Pumping, heating, and processing water takes energy. So using water efficiently can cut down on home or business energy bills. Even just running the dish washer only when it is full can save 100 lbs. of carbon dioxide a year at a savings of $40.00!(1) Remember to refill your BPA-free water bottles and you have saved even more!
  8. Shopping locally for your produce, meats, and domestic items can decrease energy costs of transporting all those products. Not only will you find healthy, fresh, local food, but local non-perishable items are likely to be more creative than things which are mass produced and transported great distances. You will be supporting your local economy, your health, and cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions all at once!
  9. Use wind power not only to generate electricity but also to dry your clothing. If you’ve ever tried hanging your wash to dry instead of using a drying machine you know how much better it is to have a real fresh air smell without artificial scents. Check out Peaceful Planet’s store for the Yoreganics line of all natural laundry products and make your wash eco-friendly from start to finish!
  10. What a relief it would be not to have to sort and recycle all that junk mail every day! So why not stop getting it in the first place? You can preserve trees and curb climate change just by taking yourself off the junk mail lists. Call companies individually if you choose or register with the Direct Main Marketing Association to opt out of various categories of mail.

What are you doing for Earth Day?

How about joining a tree planting campaign in your area?   EarthDay.org has lists of events happening all over the world. Let’s each get planting, reducing our energy emissions, and doing our part to reduce carbon levels and mitigate climate change. After all, if the planet thrives so do we. Let’s care for our peaceful and prosperous planet Earth!

Stay Tuned for Part II, Reuse & Recycle!

1) http://www.3.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd

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