The typical American’s carbon footprint equals 20 tons of CO2-eq per year, which is 16 tons higher than the global average. With this in mind, it is especially important for U.S. households to take steps to reduce their carbon footprint, especially when you consider how rapidly the Earth’s surface temperature is increasing. The good news is that every single person can make a difference by implementing a few simple techniques into their daily life.
1. Utilize Natural Light More Frequently
Electricity makes it easier to see and remain safe in dark situations, but most people have a tendency to overuse it. For example, do you keep the lights on in your house even when it is a bright, sunny day outside? If so, you can begin making your home more Eco-friendly by opening the blinds and utilizing natural light as much as possible. Turning off your lights for just one hour a day will save 1.22 pounds of CO2. Over the course of a year, this adds up to 0.216 metric tons. Although that might not sound like much, the overall impact of every household doing this would enormous.
2. Fix Leaks in a Timely Manner
According to a representative from Anta Plumbing, “Something as simple as a leaky faucet or a worn toilet flapper can waste an astounding 10,000 gallons of water per year.” When you consider the cost of this issue and combine it with the fact that 783 million people do not have access to clean water, it becomes clear that your home’s plumbing needs to be regularly maintained. Although simple problems can often be fixed by homeowners, make sure that you contact a professional plumbing company for issues of a more serious nature. It is also a good idea to have your plumbing inspected annually to ensure that there are not any hidden leaks.
3. Reduce Your Waste through Recycling
Most cities have a recycling program, and this is one of the easiest waste to reduce your overall waste. Recycling items instead of letting them sit in a landfill will help the environment in multiple ways. Not only does recycling make it possible to make fewer plastic objects but it also helps reduce the amount of space that must be devoted to holding decaying garbage. U.S. landfills released 12.1 million tons of CO2 emissions in 2010, and they were also responsible for 16.2 percent of all methane emissions nationwide. Recycling is one of the best ways to bring this carbon footprint down to a more manageable level.
4. Upcycle and Reuse Everything Possible
Recycling is a great start, but there is something you can do that is even better: reuse and upcycle items whenever possible. Do you use pasta sauce that comes in glass jars? Instead of merely recycling those jars, you can put them to use in wide variety of other ways. A prime example is storing leftover food in the jars. You can also do everything with jars from growing small herbs in them to turning one of them into a makeshift piggy bank. The final application of an item that is reused or upcycled is up to you. If you remain focused on the ultimate goal of getting more useful life out of each object, you should be able to discover dozens of creative ways to reuse daily items.
5. Plant Herbs and Vegetables
Each time you go to the store to purchase something, you are producing carbon emissions that have a negative impact on the environment. Instead of doing this several times a week, it is best to condense your trips into weekly or even biweekly outing. Additionally, you can plant herbs and vegetables to make yourself less reliant on the store. This can even be done in a small space such as on a balcony or indoors. You will also use much less energy to cultivate and grow your own herbs and vegetables than would be utilized by a farmer, so putting this tip into action at your home will be a win-win.
6. Use Solar Power to Recharge Electronics
The modern world is inundated by electronics, and most of them need to be recharged daily or provided with a steady supply of electricity. Cellphones and laptops are the most commonly recharged items, but you do not have to plug into your home’s electricity to keep them powered up. Instead, you can invest in a small solar powered battery charger. Doing this will allow you to eliminate the carbon emissions that are typically produced from recharging your applicable electronics. Additionally, you will have freedom of movement because these chargers can be used anywhere with access to the sun. In other words, these chargers can be used in the middle of the woods or during a power outage.
7. Run Full Loads of Dishes and Clothing
A single load of laundry that is washed and dried at the highest heat setting produces 7.27 pounds of CO2, so it is imperative not to waste your loads by running them when they are half full. You can also cut back on your emissions by using the cold setting and drying clothes on a line. The same principle applies to washing dishes. Instead of steaming them dry, consider skipping that step and either drying them by hand or allowing them to air dry. Yes, you might have more streaks or spots on your dishes, but you will also have a lower carbon footprint.
8. Mend Clothes Instead of Replacing Them
An estimated 16.65 billion pounds of textile waste is caused by U.S. consumers throwing away their clothes instead of mending old items or donating them to a secondhand store. This is an astounding amount of waste that is needlessly clogging landfills. Over time, clothing will break down to the point where it cannot be salvaged with sewing or an iron on patch. However, you should not discard it until it reaches this point. If you change sizes and have clothing in good repair, be sure to donate it to reduce waste. Following these steps will help you bring your carbon footprint and your clothing budget down.
9. Reuse Envelopes and Plastic Bags
Even if you try to avoid accepting plastic bags in the first place, there are invariably going to be situations when you end up with one. After this happens, you have a choice: recycle it, reuse it responsibly or add it your local landfill. If you have a local center that recycles plastic bags, this is a fantastic way to cut back on landfill waste. However, if this is not a viable option, be sure to reuse each bag at least once so that its overall useful life is extended. Scooping cat litter into a plastic bag is a good example, and this can also cut back on wasting trash bags. Another good way to get the most out of otherwise useless and wasteful items is to write out grocery lists and notes on junk mail envelopes.
10. Adjust Your Thermostat by 2 Degrees
A programmable thermostat gives you a lot of control over your energy use, which means that you have the power to easily cut back on energy and save money. A difference of merely 2 degrees in the summer and winter can save approximately 2,000 pounds of C02. Therefore, if you typically prefer to have your thermostat set to 70 degrees all year, bump it down to 68 during the winter and up to 72 in the summer to achieve this highly beneficial metric. It also a good idea to adjust the thermostat by 8 degrees when you will be sleeping or gone for 8 or more hours. Following this secondary tip at least once a day can save you 10 percent on your heating bill.
As you can see, it is not necessary to make any major life changes in order to achieve a greener living environment. Now that you have a better idea what to do on a daily basis, you can begin focusing on more specialized ways to help the environment such as choosing Eco-friendly bridal bouquets and gift boxes.
Featured photo credit: Eric via flickr.com