Global warming and the worldwide results of carbon pollution are like the national debt. It’s an overwhelming problem that lots of people would love to fix, but since most of us don’t know anything we can do it seems incurable. While no one individually feels like they can make a difference, all of us will start experiencing the negative difference it increasingly has on our lives. Carbon pollution won’t stop, or even decrease, unless each of us individually learns how to reduce our carbon footprint.
The good news is that there are lots of things you and I can do. Most of them are simple creative changes we can make in our daily routines that cost little or nothing with minimal effort. Here are 10 creative things you can do to decrease your carbon footprint:
1. Shop Online When Possible – Online shopping is a much greener way to buy, as fuel emissions are among the greatest contributors to environmental degradation. In this digital era you can find almost anything you can think of online. Also consider purchasing green friendly items online around the holidays like solar powered race cars for the kids, rechargeable batteries for your home, and other natural products.
2. Hang Up Your Laundry – Driers may get your laundry done faster, but once again, you can save yourself money and help the environment by hanging your clothes instead. They’ll also last longer and have that clean, fresh, summer-day smell.
3. Regularly Replace Your Air Filters – You might do this once per year, if you remember, but it’s time to keep this on a regular 3 month schedule. As simple as this step is, it can reduce energy bills, saving you money and reducing carbon waste.
4. Reuse Grocery Bags or Bring Your Own Bags – Those plastic bags at the checkout line add up to thousands of tons every year. Instead of tossing them out after putting your groceries away, set them aside for the next time you go shopping, or find other practical uses for them. Better yet, get a couple reusable canvas bags instead!
5. Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs and AppliancesIt’s very hard to find old-style incandescent bulbs in most stores, but they might still be wasting electricity in your sockets. Compact fluorescent light bulbs are a great alternative, and we should all be using them by now!. They require roughly 70% less energy, for almost the same light output, and often last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs. Make the investment, and you might be surprised by how much energy you save.
6. Recycle Used Ink and Toner Cartridges Instead of Tossing Them Out – Many printer cartridges contain rare earth metals and other electrical components that the suppliers are happy for you to throw out without batting an eye. Instead of carelessly contributing to e-waste, send your empties to one of the numerous recycling programs, and purchase your toner cartridges from companies that sell recycled or remanufactured versions. Again, not only will you help the environment, but you will also save a lot of money on over priced printing supplies.
7. Buy Recycled Paper and Recycle Your Own Garbage – Paper is a huge annual waste of energy. From cutting trees, to processing in paper mills, transporting, and finally disposing waste paper; paper waste adds a huge strain on the environment. For only a slightly higher cost, which you can justify by saving money with other eco-friendly practices, you can protect a huge number of trees and teach your children the importance of being eco-conscious. Recycling your own garbage is a daily reminder to the kids that each person places a burden on the environment, and we should do all we can to minimize that.
8. Pay Your Bills Online – Another way to reduce waste from paper is to sign up for paperless bill pay, and manage your costs online. You can have a similar saving by reading the news online and cutting subscription to your local paper.
9. Grow Your Own Fruits and Vegetables or Buy Locally – Organic foods help reduce harm from pesticides and preservatives, but the ultimate is to grow your own food. This hobby will eliminate transportation costs, and all the pollution it involves. True, maintaining a garden is mentally rewarding, but we all know that fresh ingredients always taste much better!
10. Track Your Carbon Footprint – Everybody knows that counting calories is one of the best ways to lose weight. Some smartphone apps and websites now offer a similar opportunity where you can track your progress with a carbon footprint calculator. Over time you can see if you’re truly making progress or not, and make the necessary adjustments to your lifestyle. Of course, the more people that work on reducing our collective carbon footprint the better, so spread the knowledge to friends and family!