Okay, so we've all probably changed at least some of our light bulbs to CFLs, and bought some reusable bags, but may wonder how to be more eco-conscious. Here are some tips that will make the most impact in your effort to reduce your carbon footprint. They are more intense changes than switching to organic shampoo, but are efforts that will make the biggest change in our environmental crisis.
- Recycle & Compost-Studies show that only 33% of Americans recycle, despite all of the Earth Day messages we've heard since the 90s! And of those who do recycle, many don't compost. The average American produces 4.4 pounds of garbage, and half of it could be composted. Take the organic materials made of food scraps, paper and yard waste, and compost them in an inexpensive plastic bin, compost heap, or fancy tumbler. This will save you money in the long run, by providing your garden with free carbon-rich fertilizer, and cutting down on the garbage cans at the curb. Between recycling and composting, we can feasibly cut our landfill production by 75%...talk about BIG impact!
- WALK-this is simple, but often overlooked. 15% of all our trips in the U.S. are less than a mile long! If we all subsituted one short car trip a day with a walking rip, 8.4 billion gallons of gas would be saved every year! This equates to 8.2 billion TONS of carbon emissions! Take an inventory of the trips you make, and decide which ones could feasibly be walked or biked. Make a schedule: this makes it easier to stick to!
- Eat Vegetarian-I am NOT a vegetarian, but the statistics have encouraged me to make at least 2-3 vegetarian meals/wk. This is definately a help on the grocery budget as an added bonus! The UN has listed raising animals for food as "one of the top 2-3 most significant contributions to the most serious environmental problems at every scale, from local to global." This is a resource-intensive practice, using half of the fresh water, and 70% of grains grown in the U.S. Also, 80% of agricultural land is used to rais animals, and a third of all fossil fuels produced in the U.S. is used for livestock. Not to mention the excrement that pollutes the ground and surface water! When you do eat meat, buy locally, from farmer's who do free range grazing and treat the animals humanely.
- Eat Local-you can cut down on the petroleum used to ship food when you eat in season, and locally. Better yet, plant a garden and enjoy the freshest goods in town!
- Consume Less-Reuse when possible, shop second hand when available, and when you need to buy new, get fair trade, organic, and sustainable. Need convincing? Check out this video at storyofstuff.com