Steps You Can Take To Lower Your Carbon Footprint

Only 40% of the average American’s carbon footprint is due to their direct energy use. The other 60% is indirect; it comes from everything we buy and use—goods and services. Pay attention to your consumption and waste habits, and you’ll find lots of opportunities to conserve.


FOOD

•Buy local – Shipping burns fuel. A 5-pound package shipped by air across the country creates 12 pounds of carbon dioxide(3 ½ pounds if shipped by truck). Eating local also supports local agriculture.

•Eat less meat – Vegetarians save at least 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year compared to meat eaters. Eating an all-vegetarian diet could cut your carbon footprint by half. If you’re not a vegetarian, eat one or two more vegetarian meals each week.  Poultry is also less greenhouse gas intensive than beef. Get on the Meatless Monday wagon!

•Don’t waste food – Get creative in the kitchen. About one-third of all the food prepared annually in the U.S. gets tossed, producing methane in landfills as well as carbon emissions from transporting wasted food.

•Try home-composting – This reduces the transportation of waste and the amount of waste that is dumped into landfills; landfills are one of the largest contributors of methane in the U.S. It also makes for great nutrient rich fertilizer for your garden and plants!

•Avoid single-use plastic items – Plastics are made from petroleum-based products and often end up in the oceans and waterways; they are difficult to recycle and end up back in the landfills; they also require a lot of fossil fuels to produce and transport.

⁻Avoid plastic water, juice and soda bottles. Buy a stainless steel refillable bottle that will last for many years.

⁻ Avoid plastic bags – use  reusable grocery bags and keep them in your car.

⁻ Avoid plastic straws, throw-away cleaning tools, coffee pods, single-use flossers, disposable utensils, takeout containers etc.

TRANSPORTATION

•Use public transportation when possible – Ditch the car and jump on a bus or a train. U.S. public transportation saves 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

•Ride a bike – To work or to run errands. You’ll save on gas, improve your health and help decrease your greenhouse gas emissions.

•Tires – Keep your tires properly inflated (just this can save 400-700 pounds of Carbon Dioxide per year).

•Buy a fuel efficient car – Compared to a 20 mpg car, 30 mpg will save an average of $1000 a year in fuel costs. If you can afford it, buy a hybrid or an electric car. If not, opt for a smaller, more fuel efficient vehicle.

HOME

•Programmable thermostat – Costs more or less $50, and will save you that much or more in just your first year!

•Lighting – Use LEDs instead of incandescent bulbs. They use 75% less energy; last 10 x longer and pay for themselves in the first 4 months.

•Insulation – Weather-stripping, caulking and insulation work together to save you energy, improve the comfort of your home, make it quieter and help you save money and the environment.

•Water-conserving shower heads & toilets – You can reduce water and heating costs, even in your bathroom. Save water by turning off the faucet when brushing, shaving or while doing the dishes.  

•Adjust your water settings – Turn the hot water heater down to 120 degrees and wash your clothes in the cold water setting. This could save you $200-$300 a year and a lot less shrunk clothes!

•Appliances – Always pay attention to the total lifetime cost, including energy—not just the price tag. Look for the ENERGY STAR label for energy efficient models.

•Electronics –Turn things off. If you’re going away or not using an item for awhile, unplug it to prevent “vampire” energy loss from electricity usage on standby. Turning off your lights and electronic devices could save you $100 per year. Don’t forget to unplug your cell phone charger when not in use!

•Solar – We love solar! Consider installing solar panels on your rooftop. With today’s falling prices, the ROI in South Florida can be between 6-7 years!

•Landscape your garden with native species.

ENGAGEMENT

•Stay informed – read, read, read. Stay up-to-date on the latest science, data and socially relevant issues. Understanding the facts is the best way to make informed decisions and help those close to you grasp the issues.

•Engage with candidates you wish to support and let them know climate change matters! VOTE for political candidates that are mindful of the environment despite party orientation. This is a non-partisan issue. Make sure your congressman and/or senator know you want them to act on climate change no matter what their religion or political views may be. There is no economy on a dead planet and climate change is the biggest threat to our youth.

•Become a climate speaker. CLEO will build your knowledge of climate science and solutions, so that you can effectively communicate the climate change information as a CLEO-certified climate speaker.  We provide members with resources and coaching from scientists to help develop your presentation.

•It is hard to be carbon neutral, but you can always support carbon offset projects.