Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, Increase your Resilience
What appeals to you? How many of these things do you partake in, year in, year out? Have an idea we should add to this list? Add a comment!
Remember grandma cooking fish on Fridays, how about trying meatless Mondays? Vegetable pasta? Veggie stir fry? Plant-based burgers? Eating less meat is proven to reduce your carbon footprint more than giving up your car. Cows and pigs take up three times as much space on the planet than humans, not to mention they emit an immense amount of greenhouse gases.
Buy, grow, eat local food
Examine where your favorite foods come from? Chile, China or California? Shop for locally produced products, order a weekly produce box from a nearby farm or urban nursery, or start your own vegetable garden or balcony box. Supporting urban agriculture that’s not just in your region, but also down the block, can help cut carbon emissions and stimulate local employment while offering more chances to enjoy that just-picked freshness. From warehouse rooftops to urban orchards to innovative vertical farms, many new ways to raise crops are taking root.
Compost your scraps and cuttings
Turn your food scraps, sidewalk leaves, and garden clippings into a valuable product – compost, a natural fertilizer that can nurture farm fields, urban landscaping, or your own garden. Many cities and towns offer green bins to save you the trouble, but you can also make your own compost. Americans landfilled or incinerated over 50 million tons of compostable waste in 2015, enough to fill a line of fully-loaded 18-wheelers, stretching from New York City to Los Angeles ten times. Here’s your chance to return to the soil what you take from it.
What’s your food baseline? Where do you want to be next month, next year?
Number of times per week meat eaten? Weekly grocery bill for meat? Number and size of your full garbage bags V compost bucket and recycle bin fills? Start tracking.
Turn off and unplug the power hogs in your house
Flick the switch to OFF on your air conditioning or heat at night whenever possible, and on powerstrips juicing unused appliances and devices. Using any electricity created by the burning of fossil fuels warms the planet. If you’re lucky enough to have a clean power source (solar or wind) bravo!
Upgrade to energy or water efficient appliances
Save energy, money and the planet by buying the most efficient appliances.. Many utilities and municipalities offer consumer rebates as incentives for buying Energy Star certified appliances.
Swap out your light bulbs for LED
Quality LED lightbulbs can last 25 times longer, are more durable, and use at least 75 percent less energy than other bulbs. In the United States, widespread use of LEDs over the next 10 years could save the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large power plants (about 348 TWh).
Launder with less
Consider a cold water wash and an air dry. Approximately 75 percent of the total energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions produced by a single load of laundry come from warming the water itself, yet washing in cold water can be just as effective as using warm. Air-drying clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by a whopping 2,400 pounds a year.
What’s your home baseline? Where do you want to be next month, next year?
Number of energy efficient light bulbs and appliances? Wattage or BTUs of energy use and monthly bill? Gallons of water used and monthly bill? Start tracking.
Lose that lawn
Most lawns guzzle water, weedkillers, and your time pushing or running the mower.. Sure it’s nice sitting on soft grass, but if you live in a dry place out West, there’s a lot of competition for that precious and expensive water. Consider replacing part or all of your lawn with drought tolerant natives. Succulents also offer a fun fad but they’re not native and offer no habitat for your local butterflies, hummingbirds, and beneficial insects. Swapping in native grass can save as much as 25% on water use; converting to native plants can save up to 60%. Some communities even offer lawn removal rebates.
What’s your yard baseline? Where do you want to be next month, next year?
Square feet of lawn. Gallons of water used per week. Start tracking.
Work & Workouts
Working at home more? How much have you saved at the gas pump or on transit tickets over the last three months? Not going to the gym, laying off the machines? Making the most of your local sidewalks and trails for exercise? Working, playing, and exercising at home isn’t for everyone, but unless you have small children you may be less stressed, using new muscles, changing your work patterns. What do you like and dislike about the new routine? Can you weave your climate change actions into this new normal?
Choose two wheels or two feet two days a week?
Not everyone is commuting to work now, but some are, and others still have no choice. Most people are using a car now and then to get groceries and run errands. Replacing your four wheel single occupancy vehicle trip with a bike, walk or shared ride is still one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint. It also cleans the air for roadside communities, reduces noise and traffic, and shrinks the acres of pavement and parking in our cities and towns.
What’s your work and transport baseline? Where do you want to be next month, next year?
Vehicle miles traveled in January 2020, pre Covid V today? Number of trips to work or supermarket? Number of steps on your Fitbits? Start tracking.
Door to door delivery by you
Think about the extra miles and emissions clocked by the planes and trucks delivering your parcels to your doorstep. Save these orders for necessities and things you can’t buy locally, or without jeopardizing your health.
Anything but plastic
Plastic is poisoning our creeks, rivers, oceans and bodies. It’s blowing, floating, and disintegrating across the planet – collecting in everything from giant garbage patch out in the ocean to the tiny particles of microplastics turning up in fish bellies and human waste. Choose reusable or biodegradable containers for your everyday needs. Take a basket or cloth bag to the market.
What’s your recycling baseline?
How full are your bins each week? How big are they? What’s in them? Start tracking.
Whether it’s wildfire, power outs, flash flooding, mudslides, earthquakes or rapid sea level rise, life out West is all about being prepared. Future extremes will keep us dancing. Flexibility may be a skill to cultivate. Meanwhile you can take stock of how adaptable your home is.
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