What You Can Do
Your everyday actions can make a difference in reducing emissions and your carbon footprint.
Reducing the amount of fossil fuels we use and the carbon released into the atmosphere is a responsibility we all share.
Here are a few easy and important actions to get you started:
- By saving water, especially hot water, you can lower your greenhouse gas emissions. Municipal water systems require a lot of energy to purify and distribute water to households. Be smart when irrigating your lawn or landscape; only water when needed and do it during the coolest part of the day, early morning is best. Turn the water off while shaving or brushing teeth. Do not use your toilet as a wastebasket - water is wasted with each flush.
- Plan and combine your driving trips. A lot of driving involves frequent trips nearby, to go shopping or run errands, for example. Plan and combine trips to reduce the miles you need to travel. Better yet, take someone with you so she can leave her car behind.
- A well-maintained car is more fuel-efficient, produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions, is more reliable, and is safer! Keep your car well-tuned, follow the manufacturer's maintenance schedule, and use the recommended grade of motor oil. Also, check and replace your vehicle's air filter regularly.
- Take every step possible to reduce use of home heating and cooling. Try turning up the thermostat in the summer and turning it down a few degrees in the winter. If you have an automated thermostat, program it to adjust temperatures at nighttime. Try installing better insulation throughout the house. Seal up windows, close vents, and clean filters. If you really want to save energy, try to avoid using air conditioning on all but the very hottest days. You'd be amazed at how effective ceiling fans alone can be in making you feel cooler.
- Turn off appliances you are not using. Switch off TVs, computers, lights, etc. that are not being used and unplug items on "standby" (that use electricity even when not being used), including TVs, video and audio systems, computers, and chargers (for cell-phones and other electronic equipment).
- Recycle and use recycled products. Products made from recycled paper, glass, metal and plastic reduce carbon emissions because they use less energy to manufacture than products made from completely new materials. For instance, you'll save two pounds of carbon for every 20 glass bottles that you recycle. Recycling paper also saves trees and lets them continue to reduce climate change naturally as they remain in the forest, where they remove carbon from the atmosphere.
- Participate in a teleconference instead of flying. For office meetings, if you can telephone or videoconference, you will save time, money, and carbon emissions. Airplanes pump carbon emissions high into the atmosphere, producing 12 percent of transportation sector emissions.
- Plant native trees. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the air and use it as their energy source, producing oxygen for us to breathe. A tree in the temperate zone found between the tropics and the polar circles can remove and store 700 to 7,000 pounds of carbon over its lifetime. A tree that shades a house can reduce the energy required to run the air conditioner and save an additional 200 to 2,000 pounds of carbon over its lifetime.
- Use energy saving features when doing laundry. If your dryer has a setting for auto-dry, be sure to use it instead of the timer, to avoid wasting energy and over drying, which can cause shrinkage, generate static electricity, and shorten the life of your clothes. If you can, air-dry your clothes, if you can't air-dry your laundry, save on drying time by drying similar fabrics together, drying multiple loads in quick succession (to take advantage of residual heat), and make sure to clean the dryer filter after each use.