14 January 2008

Everyone Has Suggestions For Carbon First Steps

Ten things you can do now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

  1. Lights--Turn off lights when you aren't using them. Motion-sensitive switches can help. Replace incandescents with compact fluorescents.

  2. Transport--Take fewer trips; combine trips. Drive easy (no need to roar away from the light). Drive at the most efficient speed on the highway (probably 55-65 miles per hour). Check tire pressures weekly. Observe service intervals. Substitute shared transport (bus, train, streetcar, carpool) for some trips.

  3. Heating/Cooling--Set thermostat lower when heating, higher when cooling. Open windows when appropriate for fresh air rather than relying on air conditioning. Service heating and cooling equipment to maintain efficiency. Attend to weatherstripping, etc.

  4. Reduce Waste--Keep things like paper and cardboard out of landfills by recycling (or just not using as much). Reduce use of paper in the office (print less; use both sides). Especially don't send food scraps, garden waste etc. to landfills. If your town doesn't collect them separately for composting, lobby to have them do so.

  5. Government--Write your public officials--Let them know they should do something serious about greenhouse gas emissions. Inform yourself on the issue so they can't fool you.

  6. Air Travel--Take fewer plane rides. Try not to take a plane for a trip less than 600 miles. Use web tools for some distance meetings.

  7. Standby--Unplug power adapters and chargers when you aren't actually using them. Turn electronic devices all the way off by unplugging or turning off power strip. At least turn your monitor off when your computer is off (if you can see a little yellow light it is still sucking power).

  8. ENERGY STAR--Look for the ENERGY STAR symbol when you buy new appliances or electronics.

  9. Hot Water--Reduce your use of water heated with fossil fuels. This means washing clothes in cold water, fixing leaks, and taking shorter showers. Consider a low-flow shower head.

  10. Meat--This one is more controversial, but livestock production does account for 18% of greenhouse gas emissions. Just reducing the amount of meat we eat could (beef especially) cut our carbon footprints by half a ton or more.
If you take action in these ten areas you probably can reduce your carbon footprint by 25%. That still leaves a lot more to go. Per-capita greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries have to decline by about 90%.

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