Tuesday, April 22, 2008

35 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

A Carbon Footprint is the impact our activities have on the environment by the amount of greenhouse gases we each produce. It is measured in units of carbon dioxide.

Please use the calculater link below to find out your current carbon footprint.


Hi to all,
I spent my Earth Day finishing my green house, and working in my compost bin. It was a lovley day here in the high 60's. To my surprize my newly planted sunflowers and pumpkins emerged from their seed today!!
Sparkling Bee

Happy Earth Day --> Please remember, 1 person's actions CAN change the world.

EVEN though industry and governments are going to have to make earth-shaking changes to cool things down, there's plenty we can to do help. The basics of reducing our individual carbon footprints are to do what Henry David Thoreau said: "Simplify, simplify." We'll all live better with less-processed, packaged and industrially produced stuff carted here from across the planet.
Then there's Wabi Sabi, Japan's esthetic ideal: Less is more. If you aren't using it, give it away or dispose of it responsibly. Before you purchase, be sure there's room for it in your home. Buy local, buy less and reuse, repair, freecycle and recycle more. You may pay more for locally produced, fair trade and organic products, but it evens out when you buy less of everything else and reduce carbon intensive activities like driving. It's not a coincidence that when you do things to save the planet you not only save money, but your life gets simpler, healthier and happier.

Here are 35 tips.

Don't have the bandwidth or bread to develop "go greener" programs? Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Sustainable Silicon Valley and PG&E offer free services that help businesses get energy efficient and plug into available subsidies and legislative initiatives. Develop state-of-the-art commuter and telecommuter programs that'll get your employees to work without their cars (again, 511.org is a good place to start).
7. HUG A TREE. It's OK. It's cool now. Better yet, plant a tree.
8. USE LESS PAPER. The third largest industrial emitter of global warming pollution is the pulp and paper industry. Use paper made from post-consumer waste, and recycle your newspapers.
9. RID YOURSELF OF JUNK MAIL. 41pounds.org claims that the average adult gets exactly that much junk mail in a year. You can pay them $41 to nuke it from your life or try these more labor-intensive solutions: Call whoever is mailing you stuff and tell them to stop and to not sell, exchange or give your info to other commercial interests. Write this on their envelopes and mail it to them. When you buy online or through a catalog, or buy a magazine subscription, tell these vendors the same. Opt out of credit card solicitations by calling 1.888.5.Opt-Out. Many junk mailers like ADVO and Val-Pak Coupons have online opt-outs.
10. CUT DOWN ON PRINTER USAGE. Also, don't toss old faxes, reports and letters—put them in your printer face up and print on their blank side.
11. KEEP A CLOSED-DOOR POLICY. Moms know a lot about this. Keeping your doors closed means don't have to turn the heat or air conditioning on as much. Don't set your thermostat too high when it's cold or too low when it's warm.
12. NO TRASH BAGS. Don't use specially bought plastic bags—line your kitchen garbage container with newspaper.
Energy-guzzling gas and electric clothes dryers replaced Grandma's clotheslines, drying umbrellas and wooden drying racks that can be used inside or out. Sun-dried clothes smell good, the sun bleaches whites whiter and you'll seriously reduce your utility bill.
15. OUTSMART YOUR APPLIANCES. If you must use then, run your dishwasher and your laundry machines only when you have full loads.
16. TAKE SHORTER SHOWERS. And use less heated water.
17. BUY ENERGY STAR LABEL APPLIANCES. It's the mark of approval from the federal government, and for once, that's not a bad thing. See the details at energystar.gov.
18. SEAL OFF WINDOWS AND DOORS. Using weather-stripping to seal drafts around windows and doors will cut your heating and cooling expenses and reduce the burning of fossil fuels. It also protects against zombies.
19. GO SECONDHAND. Before purchasing something, ask yourself if you already have it or something similar that can be reused. Can you buy it secondhand at a thrift store or on Craigslist?
20. GET STUFF FREE. If there's something you need only once or twice, don't buy it. Borrow and return it. Go to www.freecycle .org and join a local group to exchange or borrow stuff. It's amazing what you can get for free by browsing the listings or posting a want ad.
21. REVOLUTIONIZE YOUR COMPUTER USAGE. Turn off computers and pull chargers out of the wall when you're not using them. Maximize your CPU settings, like the sleep mode, to reduce energy use. Set your printer to fast quality so you use less toner. Find responsible sellers and their take backs at www.computertakeback.com.
22. REFILL YOUR PRINTER CARTRIDGE. Find a Cartridge World franchise and reuse instead of tossing and buying a new one. Mailing your used cartridges somewhere uses fossil-fuel-intensive air travel. The same with gimmicky faux green products that come with a mailing envelope. Don't mail something to recycle it!
23. RECYCLE RESPONSIBLY. Be sure your e-waste recycler isn't merely collecting and selling it to brokers who'll ship it to a developing nation or a prison where it will be dismantled for salvageable parts and dumped. Go to www.ban.org and choose recyclers like Green Citizen who've taken the Electronics Recycler's Pledge of True Stewardship.
24. DON'T DUMP. At least not on Goodwill or the Salvation Army. If it isn't nice enough for them to sell, or if it's too specialized for them to know what to do with it, they'll have to pay to trash it.
25. USE THE PUBLIC LIBRARY. There's no need to buy so many books, especially if they're published overseas and sold at a big box store. Any library in Santa Clara County usually either has the book you want or can get it for you from a neighboring library.
26. READ LABELS AND BUY LOCAL. Organic from Canada or overseas isn't as easy on the environment as locally produced products. Buying anything imported across an ocean means a container ship transported it. "Just one container ship traveling one mile produces NOx emissions equaling 25,000 cars traveling the same distance," says Anthony Fournier of the Santa Barbara County Pollution Control District. Foreign manufacturers often use carbon-intensive industrial and environmental practices that are illegal here. Many imports are made in sweatshops where people labor in dangerous work environments and aren't paid fairly. Reducing the demand for imports not only reduces our carbon footprint but also sends a message to big business that we want better for everyone.
27. REDUCE PACKAGING AND PLASTICS. Let's stop using billions of pounds of plastic which uses millions of barrels of oil to produce. Wherever plastic is manufactured the environment gets trashed and the workers and nearby residents get sick from harmful chemical emissions. Plastic bags and water bottles release endocrine disrupters like Phallates and bisphenol A, especially when they're reused or heated.
28. BYOCSB. Bring your own cloth shopping bags.
29. BYOCC. Bring your own coffee canister. If you buy beans or ground coffee from a coffee shop, bulk sellers will usually let you bring your own containers.
30. SAY NO TO INDIVIDUAL WRAPS. Choose products without individually plastic-wrapped multiple servings.
31. REALLY SAY NO TO STYROFOAM. If it's sold in Styrofoam, just don't buy it.
32. DON'T BE A SLAVE TO CONVENIENCE. We'll all be paying later for using convenience foods like packaged mixed salads, because they use a lot of resources to produce.
33. AVOID FAST FOOD. Methane-producing factory farming and long-distance shipping are the heart of its business model and they're clear-cutting rain forests to graze their cows.
34. EAT LESS MEAT. Especially beef. The Worldwatch Institute says growing numbers of intensively farmed livestock are responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and account for 37 percent of emissions of methane, which has more than 20 times the global warming potential of CO2, and 65 percent of emissions of nitrous oxide, another powerful greenhouse gas, coming from manure.
35. DISPOSABLE CUPS? Really? Do the math: Buying coffee every day in a disposable cup generates at least 20 pounds of paper a year plus several hundred megaindustrially produced plastic covers. Styrofoam cups are worse. Dr. Theo Colborn, in "Our Stolen Future," says researchers have found traces of polystyrene in 100 percent of human tissue tested, because it migrates from the cup into hot food and beverages. Yuk! Bring your own coffee cup!