I’ve been contemplating my carbon footprint lately. Thinking about little ways that I can make a difference. I already have strong personal feelings about walking when I can, recycling, buying local, wearing classic clothing that will last for seasons – preferably years (or buying secondhand to begin with), saving and using items I’ve already got, gardening, making purchases with less packaging, etc.
So when I went online to calculate my actual footprint, I was aghast at the results. Admittedly, I did not know the exact answers to many of the questions off the top of my head, but made my best estimated guesses just to get an idea.
Well, I am ashamed to admit that it is significantly larger than I would have thought. In fact, it is larger than the average American. What!? I don’t fly, drive recreational motor vehicles, have a sauna or heated pool or jacuzzi… and our house is one step away from being featured as a “tiny home.” Luckily, a footprint can be significantly lowered with some minor changes. Here are a few things I have learned during my research. Some will not only be easier on the environment but will save you a decent amount of cash over time and many are good for your health as well. (Bear with me if these are not new to you.)
Power down your gadgets. Unplugging your chargers when not in use, and putting your computer into sleep mode can save you hundreds of dollars and help save the planet.
Adjust your thermostat up two degrees in the summer and down two in winter. This can also save you 15% on your heating bill.
Invest in a programmable thermostat that can be set to shut off, or dramatically reduce the temperature setting, when you will not be at home.
It may be a little cliche, but I love this one. Plant a tree. One 10 year old tree releases enough oxygen to support two human lives.
Wean your family from processed foods. Go vegan or raw a couple of days a week. We already have Meatless Mondays at our house, so this is not too much of a stretch for us.
Switch from disposable household products to reusable. Eliminate paper towels and other paper products, invest in reusable sandwich bags, bento boxes, etc. Use your own totes at the grocery store, and buy biodegradable trash bags.
If you live someplace where public transportation is an option, utilize it. But if you can’t, even driving the posted speed limit (or 5 miles less when you can), and avoiding rapid acceleration and braking can alter your fuel consumption.
And of course, my all-time favorite – hang your laundry out in the fresh air and sunshine to dry instead of using the dryer. It will smell wonderful, eliminates most wrinkles, (Hey! No using up electricity to iron either!) and the UV rays from the sun will naturally fade stains on fabric.
I have found that The Great Energy Challenge website is a reasonable place to start. So much information there, and practical ideas for you and your family to begin a new “energy diet.” I will definitely be incorporating several of these ideas into our lifestyle. Some we are already doing, and some may take us a while to implement. But, we’ve got to start somewhere. I believe that by slowly integrating any of these practices into our everyday it will collectively make a difference.
Isaiah 24:4-5 “The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants … .”
Psalm 96:11-13 “Let the heavens rejoice and the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it; let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord….”