Saturday, April 21, 2007

Earth Day 2007


Would you publish this on the website.

In the spirit of Earth Day 2007 (Yup, you guessed it, Saturday April 21 is Earth Day). I pilfered (not to mention plagerized) these ideas from the Time magazine "Global Warming Survival Guide" from the April 9, 2007 issue. Here are the things I thought we could each do that would be the most useful to reduce our carbon footprint on the earth.

1. Change Lightbulbs - replace your standard lightbulbs with compact floursecent lightbulbs (CFLs). CFLs are those softserve shaped twisty bulbs. Their wattage is what distinguishes them from regular bulbs, a 7-watt CFL is comparable to a 40-watt bulb and a 26-watt CFL will give you the same amount of light as a 100-watt conventional bulb. CFLs cost three to five times as much as conventional incandescent bulbs but they use one-quarter the electricty and last several years longer.

2. Hang up a Clothesline - 60% of the energy associated with a piece of clothing is spent in washing and drying it. Over its lifetime a T shirt can send up to 9 lbs. of carbon into the air. Wash your clothes in warm rather than hot water, save up to launder large loads rather than many small ones. When clean dry your clothes on a line. These steps when used in an ultra effecient washer, can save up to 90% of the CO2 created by your laundry

3. Give Life to your Old Fleece - The outdoor clothing company Patagonia is collecting used clothing (regardless of the brand) made from Polartec or Capilene to melt and make into new fabric and clothes. The company estimates this will result in an energy savings of 76% and reduce greenhouse gases by 71%. You can find out where to donate your old fleece by going to

4. Buy Secondhand Clothes - Buying a shirt the second time around means you avoid consuming all the energy in used in producing and shipping the new one, and, therefore, the carbon emissions associated with it. The article suggests inviting your friends over for a clothes swap. This one's easy on the environment and your pocketbook.

5. Consider Your Commute - If you work for a large company with many outlets ask if you can be transferred to the one nearest your home. When looking for a job consider the commute, not just for the time wasted, but also for its green impact. If you own your own business consider moving the office closer to your home, or actually to your home. In a study Key Bank branches reduced commutes of some of their workers by 69%.

6. Ride the Bus - The use of public transit saves 1.4 billion gallons of gas annually, which translates into about 1.5 million tons of CO2. Studies show 88% of all trips in the US are by car.

7. Pay Your Bills Online - This does more than reduce the number of trees used to create the checks you write. It also saves the fuel used by the trucks and planes that transport the checks. If every US home paid its bills online the switch would cut solid waste by 1.6 billion tons a year and curb greenhouse gas emissions by 2.1 million tons a year. If you look for the https designation on the website you are using (or the lock symbol in the lower right corner) and report anything weird immediately to your bank you won't have security issues.

8. Open a Window - 25 tons of CO2 emissions come from each Amercian home annually. You can reduce this by opening a window instead of running the AC, adjusting the thermostat a couple of degrees higher in the summer and lower in the winter. Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows. Insulate your walls and ceiling, use the dishwasher only when it is full, install low flow showerheads, turn down the thermostat on the water heater (this is also a safety issue). These measures could reduce the carbon output of your home by up to 4,000 lbs of CO2.

9. Wrap Your Water Heater - For about $20 you can buy a blankey for your water heater. Check the energy effeciency of your water heater by placing your hand on it, if it is warm that is wasted energy. By wraping it you can save about 250 lbs in CO2 emissions annually.

10. Check the Label when Buying Appliances - You wouldn't buy a car without knowing its gas mileage. Why not do the same when buying ovens, dishwashers, freezers, or other appliances. You can even check the energy rating of supermarkets and hotels by asking for the Energy Star rating, a rating system created and monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency of the US Government. Choosing Energy Star appliances you can reduce your carbon footprint and reduce your energy bill by as much as 30%.

11. Turn Off, Unplug - Computers, Televisions, CD players, radios, DVD players all consume energy when they are used. If you are not using them turn them off, this will save energy. A screen saver on a computer is not an energy saver. Shutting off a computer when not in use rather than leaving it on 24/7 reduces its energy use by 83%. Also a television uses 25% of its energy when it is off, so if you are going out for a long weekend or on vacation, unplug all the appliances your aren't going to use. Also when you go on vacation turn down (in winter) or up (in summer) the thermostat.

12. Skip the Steak - The international meat industry generates 18% (that is almost 1/5) of the world's greenhouse gases (another 20% comes from your house). A lot of that comes from the methane in the manure. Considering the energy consumed in raising, shipping and selling livestock, a steak is like a Hummer on a plate. If you switch to vegitarianism you can shrink your carbon footprint by up to 1.5 tons of CO2 a year.

13. Consume Locally - Go to farmers markets and get their produce and locally grown products. The average meal travels 1500 miles to your plate. You can cut the fuel used in transporting your meal if you buy locally.

14. Say No to Plastic Bags - Bring cloth bags to the grocery store. Each year 500 billion plastic bags are distributed and less than 3% are recycled. They can take up to 1000 years to biodegrade in a landfill. You can also reuse the pile of plastic bags you have in your closet. Put them in your trunk and when you go to the store take 10 in to put your stuff in.

15. Plant a Bamboo Fence - Bamboo grows so quickly (up to 1 foot a day depending on the species) it can absorb more CO2 than other plants.

16. Remove the Tie - If US businesses were able to increase their average temperature in their offices (rather than the arctic cold necessary to keep us in business wear comfortable) this would cut down on the AC used and the carbon footprint of the building. Also turn off the computers at work and shut off the lights when you are the last one out of the office (or assign someone to do it) This will reduce electricity use as well as extending equipment life and lowering maintenance costs.

17. Paper Does Grow on Trees - 900 million trees are used every year for pulp and paper, only 50% of this is recycled. Buy more recycled paper, it uses 60% less energy than virgin paper. Each ton of recycled paper used saves 4,000 kW-hours of energy, 7,000 gallons of water and 17 trees and trees have the capacity to filter up to 60 lbs of pollutants from the air.

18. Fill Your Car with Passengers - 80% of people drive to work alone, about 40% drive alone in general. If you put another person in your car you can cut the emissions in half, not to mention being able to use the HOV lane.

19. Check Your Tires - Of course changing to a Hybrid car can help reduce your carbon footprint but just giving your car a tune up can improve gas mileage by 4%. Replacing yrou dirty air filter can boost effeceincy by 10% and keeping your tires properly inflated can improve gas mileage by mire than 3%. The bottom line is that if you improve your gas mileage from 20 to 24 mpg you will put 200 fewer lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere each year.

20. Consume Less - Look for ways to cut back on what you use, look for packaging that is minimal or reuseable. Find ways to resuse or get by with the things we have rather than buy the best next largest better, more doing, using thing that is created for us to consume. Borrow when you need and lend when asked.

We are the world's leading user of carbon consumables, creating about 25% of the emissions each year while accounting for less than 10% of the world's population. We have to make a conscience effort to each reduce our consumption of carbon and production of CO2 to make a difference. I hope these suggestions will help you.

Happy Earth Day 2007, go hug a tree.Alex Rossi


Max said...

Let's see how I rate :
#1 - a year or two ago I switched all lights over to the floursecentones
#5 - two years ago I switched schools from Magna to South Salt Lake, saving 30 or so miles a day
#7 - I pay all my bills online except for the DVD's from Columbia House
#8 - New windows last year. Swamp cooler instead of Central Air. Just turned down the water heater. Still need to get better insulation in the attic and new front doors - hope to do both this summer.
#14 - This week Im bought a couple of the reusable cloth bags that Albertsons is now selling for 99 cents.

5 out of 20. Not so good, and I truly felt like I was doing pretty good. Gotta keep working on it....

A Paperback Writer said...

Hey, I've been using clotheslines for 20 years. Yea for me. And I do well with recycling clothes and just about everything else that can be recycled. Yup, I'm good with cloth bags.
Okay, my insulation is lousy, but I never turn the heat above 68 in the day or 58 at night, and in summer, I only run the swamp cooler a couple of hours a day.
Uh, those new lightbulbs are on my to do list. Oh, and I need to do better at using containers instead of baggies in the lunchbox. You can't recycle baggies. And I don't carpool (because no one else has my schedule). That's my worst vice right there.
Oh yeah, I pay bills online. And I use washable towels instead of paper ones in the kitchen.
Uh, what does all this make me? Sort of medium, I think.