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Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Imprint

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Article | Recycling

 

             To reduce your carbon imprint, you first have to know what you are doing correctly (and what you are not!).  To calculate your carbon imprint go to the following website: http://www.earthlab.com/redir.aspx?cid=1009.  And to calculate you “water” footprint you can go to http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=cal/WaterFootprintCalculator.  To further reduce your environmental imprint you can do some (or all!) of the following things:


 

  1.  “Buy in bulk whenever possible, save on packaging!”  – The average North American will throw away 600 times his or her adult weight in garbage over their lifetime.
  2.  “Eat vegetarian a few days a week” – According to the United Nations, raising animals for food generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all the cars, planes, ships, trucks, and trains in the world combined.  Eliminating four meals that have meat on a weekly basis would reduce a person’s carbon imprint by 208 kg of carbon dioxide (or equivalents) per year.
  3. Turn off your computer if you are not going to use it for at least 2 hours” – Reduce wear both on your computer and your electricity bill.  A single computer, left on nights and weekends, can cost $95 a year in wasted energy.
  4. Going to a conference?”  – Book your flight through offsetters.ca or flygreen.ca and they will work with many companies (including Air Canada and West Jet) to help offset your carbon output.
  5. Use powder rather than liquid based laundry detergent” – Laundry liquids are mostly water (approx. 80%).  It costs energy and packaging to bring this water to the consumer.
  6. Bring a lunch in reusable containers” – Save both on money and waste!
  7. Get some indoor plants” – Put plants in your home or office to absorb indoor air pollution.  NASA has found that spider plants are effective at removing formaldehyde molecules and flowering plants are superior at removing benzene from the air.
  8. Get your coffee to-go in a reusable mug” – Many coffee outlets now offer a discount if you bring your own mug.
  9.  “Clean green” – If you're using conventional cleaning products in your home, you are likely exposing yourself, your kids, and your pets to a slew of carcinogens, endocrine disrupters, and developmental and reproductive toxins.  Switch to alternatives like vinegar and baking soda and save your health, your money, and the environment.
  10. Be a post-consumer consumer” – To support recycling efforts, buy products made with a high percentage of post-consumer discarded material.  This prevents landfills from filling up, avoids using virgin resources such as forests, and increases the demand for recycled materials.
  11.  “Stop smoking
  12.  “Vote and contact your local provincial and federal representatives
  13. Use a draft snake and save heat” – A rolled bath towel or something similar put across the bottom of leaky doors or windows can reduce drafts and cut energy use from 5 to 30%.
  14. Get your name off of direct mail lists and put a ‘no junk mail’ sign on your mailbox” – In America, 100 million trees and 28 billion gallons of water are used to create junk mail for one year.
  15. Avoid anti-bacterial products” – Most consumer goods with anti-bacterial properties are not necessary, and may contribute to anti-biotic resistant super micro-organisms.  You can use products such as vinegar and baking soda to kill bacteria when required.
  16. Use a clothesline” – About 6 % of all energy consumed in North American homes is used up by automatic clothes driers.  Take advantage of the sun and breeze for free!
  17. Use double sided printing” – Preserve our forests.  In the US, 4 million tons of paper is used annually or about 27 pounds (12 kilograms) per person.  Even with recycling, a significant amount ends up being buried in landfills.
  18. Put on a sweater” – You can save a significant amount of energy by turning down the thermostat at home.  For every degree the thermostat is turned down, you’ll save from 1 to 3% of your energy bill.  A light sweater is worth 2 degrees in added warmth, and a heavy sweater adds 4 degrees F.
  19. Choose LCD over CRT” – A flat panel LCD (liquid crystal display) computer monitor are up to 66% more energy efficient than traditional cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors. A LCD also produces less heat (less AC to keep cool) and is easier on the eyes.
  20. Fill the fridge” – Keeping the refrigerator full will allow it to run at maximum capacity.  Responsible for a sixth of all electrical use in the North American home, over- or under-crowding makes the fridge work harder to keep its optimal temperature of 37 degrees F (3 degrees C).
  21. Turn off the tap” – When you are not actually using water while shaving or brushing your teeth, turn off the tap.  You can save up to 8 gallons a day.
  22. Use a laptop instead of a desktop” – Laptop computers draw only 15 to 25 watts during regular use, as opposed to 150 watts used by conventional desktop computers.  And laptops use only a fraction of a watt when in sleep mode.
  23. Use recycled tissue products” – The average Canadian uses 100 rolls of bathroom tissue a year, the equivalent of 5 km of unrolled toilet paper.  Toilet paper made from recycled tissue saves trees.  John Abbott College (about 7500 students) changed to toilet paper from recycled tissue, which will help preserve 47 million trees per year.  Choose eco-friendly brands by visiting this website: http://www.conservatree.org/paper/PaperGuide/Tissue/consumerbath.shtml
  24.  “Use a manual can opener” Electric can openers require more materials to build than manual ones, and take up more landfill space than manual ones.
  25.  “Use a fan in the winter” A ceiling fan rotating clockwise creates an updraft that blows the warm air pooled near the ceiling back into the living area, thus dropping heating costs by as much as 10%.
  26.  “Iron less, but stay wrinkle free” An iron can use from 1000 to 1800 watts, which is equivalent to 10-18 100-watt light bulbs.  Save energy by removing clothes from the dryer while they are still warm.  This will prevent many wrinkles from forming in the first place.
  27. “Use a power shower” The average shower uses up to 25 gallons of water.  A short five minute one only uses 12.5 gallons.  And a low-flow showerhead uses even less.
  28. “Drive at 55 miles (88 km) per hour” The faster you drive the more fuel that you consume.  For example, at 75 miles (120 km) per hour you lose 25% of your fuel economy.  If the national speed limit in the United States was 55 miles per hour, it would save 1 billion barrels of oil per year – more than the US imports from the Persian Gulf.
  29. “Use voice mail instead of answering machines” Voice mail uses less energy and results in less hazardous waste than answering machines.  If all answering machines were replaced by voice mail, the yearly energy savings would be about 2 billion kilowatt-hours, enough to take 250,000 cars off the road.
  30. Avoid idling your car for too long” Letting your car idle for more than 10 seconds wastes more gas than is required for a car to startup. Idling your car’s engine uses needless amounts of gas.  Americans use 2.9 billion gallons of gas annually while idling, which costs $US 78.2 billion.
  31. “Choose a natural fabric for a shower curtain” Vinyl curtains can raise the amounts of air toxins in your home.  One of the chemicals in plastic shower curtains is DEHP which is a suspected carcinogen and may lead to hormonal disruption in human beings.
  32. “Use light emitting diodes (LEDs) in hallways” LEDs produce almost no waste heat. They are good for hundreds of thousands of hours before they have to be changed, and in doing so lower waste in landfills and produce lower carbon emissions.
  33. “If you are going to drink beer, make it an organic one” Hop growers use fungicides and chemical fertilizer for their crop.  These can leach into the watershed and have detrimental consequences for the ecosystem and its inhabitants.
  34. “Avoid polystyrene cups, plates, and containers” Plastic products with recycling code 6 (polystyrene) need oil in their manufacture and require many years to breakdown.  Use glass, paper, or safer plastic products with numbers such as 1, 2, or 5.
  35.  “Choose a fair trade product” When buying a cup of conventional coffee only 1-3% of the expenditure goes to the farmer.  A fair trade product is one that gives a farmer a fair price.  And choosing one that is organic, whether it is coffee, tea, chocolate, etc… reduces your exposure to harmful chemicals that are applied in growing these products.  And choosing coffee that is shade grown encourages farmers to cultivate this plant under trees which provide homes to important migratory birds.