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Going Green: Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Going Green: Save Money, Your Health and the Environment
This guide offers ways to learn about your carbon footprint and reduce it for your health and the earth. Tips include: How to go green by recycling and re-using, living green at home, driving less and walking and bicycling more for fitness and the environment -- and natural cleaning and shopping alternatives to using chemicals in your home. Save money and the environment by going green.
Simple go green changes such as using natural personal care products, reusable grocery bags and getting more exercise instead of driving make a difference in the quality of our lives and help to improve air quality and cut down on carbon emissions from vehicles and manufacturing.
One of the most delicious ways to go green is to buy local. Benefit your locally-owned business and eat fresh, local produce, local dairy, local eggs. Buy locally made gifts and home decor, and grow organic herbs and vegetables in a conservation garden to save water. Quick green strategies such as walking more, eating organic food and cutting down on chemicals in the home improve your health. Going eco-friendly can be easy!
Transportation & Food: Buy Local
Campaigns urging people to take public transit, carpool, bicycle or walk address one of the areas where going green makes a major difference. Rather than driving solo or driving for every work, class and errand transportation need, teaming up with others to share the car for errands and selecting alternate, cleaner modes of transportation when possible creates an immediate improvement in your carbon footprint.
A creative way to work on the goal of using the car less involves combining your green goal with your fitness goals. Mark days on the calendar for walking or bicycling where you want to go. For example, on Saturday bicycle to the farmer's market rather than driving to the grocery store. This gives you double green points as local produce requires less fossil fuel to reach you, and picking it up and delivering it to your home on your own power gives you a healthy cardiovascular workout while using clean energy for transportation.
Buy local -- selecting locally produced products from locally owned stores, benefits your local economy and reduces emissions by reducing your reliance on groceries and other products transported long distance. Growing your own organic herbs, vegetables and flowers beautifies your home and provides fresh food high in antioxidants. Farmers markets offer a source of local fresh food -- produce picked closer to ripeness tastes better than food harvested early and shipped long distances. Based on widespread cases of contamination linked to commercial produce, buying local food may reduce your risk of food-borne illness -- in addition to sparing the planet all the carbon emissions from long-distance trucking. Spread the word. Natural peaches, tomatoes, greens, berries and squash free of pesticides and full of the flavors and aromas lacking in supermarket produce -- eating this way spares your body and the environment from unnecessary toxins.
Go for triple points: buy organic and non-toxic cleaning products and natural personal care products to reduce your use of chemicals. Look for cruelty-free products that aren't tested on animals. Continue the green theme by making a salad for at least one meal a day, saving the gas or electricity of cooking and increasing your produce intake.
Easy Eco-Friendly Tips
1. Carry reusuable grocery bags in your car. Take them into the store with you for your groceries. This reduces all the waste and energy involved in making plastic and paper grocery bags.
2. Use vinegar and baking soda for home cleaning tasks. This reduces chemicals in your home and in our water supply.
4. use jars to store food. This protects your food from plastic that can leach into food, makes it easy to see what you have in the fridge and reduces waste from plastic containers and the manufacturing of plastic.
Reuse, Donate & Recycle
Donate clean materials such as leftover scraps from remodeling and pots from gardening to elementary schools and senior centers.
Bust clutter in your home, garage and storage areas by donating items eligible for reuse or repair to thrift stores. Goodwill and computer recycling facilities accept electronics, even dead and outdated computers and components, and some will take TVs and other small electrical items. This provides a convenient means to keep these items out of landfills. Your donations benefit the community as these operations provide jobs in addition to keeping waste out of the earth. Some electronic recycling programs accept all kinds of electronics, from answering machines to microwaves, heaters and televisions.
Many communities offer a variety of recycling and waste collection options such as curbside recycling and recycling drop-off stations. Common recyclables that often get thrown in the garbage include plastic containers, buckets, cans, jars, cardboard boxes, computer paper, newspaper and bottles. In areas that don't offer curbside recycling, getting together with friends, family members or neighbors and making an outing out of a trip to a recycling drop-off center helps make it a habit and saves on gas.
Go Green: Conservation Garden
A conservation landscape conserves water and energy.
- Replace lawns with drought-resistant ground cover plants or rock gardens.
- Limit plants that require regular watering to one or two areas of the property and water them early in the morning or in the evening to reduce water loss from evaporation.
- Employ solar power for a fountain and for outdoor lighting to use clean solar energy rather than electricity to power your landscape features.
Natural Home Products
Making your own non-toxic cleaning and personal care products from natural ingredients saves on chemicals, transportation pollution and waste from packaging. Making your own personal care products such as shampoo, conditioners and lotions also allows you to customize them with natural scents. Glass containers offer the convenience of refilling them and selecting containers the go with your decor, such as cobalt, green or red glass.
Health food stores carry unscented, naturally scented and chemically free cleaning, personal care and beauty products. Some health and natural food stores carry some of these products in bulk, so you can purchase castile soap, vinegar and other basics and keep them in refillable, non-toxic containers, instead of adding to the amount of plastic in the world.
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Reducing Your Carbon Footprint Poll
Have you made changes in your lifestyle to reduce your impact on the environment?
The devastation of the rainforests causes irreparable harm.
Your Carbon Footprint: Baseline and Goals
As with a diet, fitness program or project for work, starting from a baseline and creating goals gives structure and a way to measure your progress on going green. The United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Nature Conservancy maintain online carbon footprint calculators. Enter information about your current lifestyle to receive a look at your contribution to greenhouse gases. Both websites offer information on reducing your carbon footprint.
The EPA calculator helps you estimate your current carbon emissions. Carbon emissions contribute to climate change. After finding your baseline, the calculator offers suggestions for reducing your emissions and let's you calculate your savings -- in both carbon emissions and money by reducing your carbon footprint.
EPA: Individual Emissions Calculator -- Climate Change -- Greenhouse Gasses
Going Green: Reduce Your Carbon Footprint -- Author's Note
This year I increased my bicycling and walking -- I leave the car parked at home more of the time.
I do all the yard work by hand -- more exercise and no racket or energy use from power tools. I grow organic herbs for year-round cooking, eat as organic as possible and have enjoyed discovery artisan cheeses, organic wines, farmers' markets, outlying produce stands and other sources of food in my region in my buy local adventure. I even discovered locally raised grass-fed beef.
My lifestyle is closer to the lifestyle of my ancestors, eating fresh whole foods, doing most of my own cooking -- I avoid processed foods -- and getting lots of outdoor exercise.
When I'm moving through my community without a car, I meet neighbors and see aspects of nature I would have missed moving at a faster pace. Last week I discovered wild orchids.
Going green and living lightly on the earth are healthy practices that save money and improve health.
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Updated April 30, 2012
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