Green Tip Tuesday Carbon Footprint

Have you ever measured your Carbon footprint?

I’d like to think ours is not that bad. We live in a tiny home, only use our air conditioner about 3 afternoons a year, heat with our fireplace and natural gas in the winter, drive minimally (aside from going to work). Then I realized we do seem to travel quite a bit since Pops has been retired, especially this past year – as in major air travel.

I decided it might be interesting to calculate our carbon footprint and find tips on how we can reduce it. When you do a search on the internet, you ‘ll see there are many calculators out there. Here are a few I checked out.

The Conservation Fund

I liked this one because they will also approximate the number of trees it would take to neutralize your personal impact on climate change. You can then plant these trees yourself or, if you don’t have the space to plant them, make a donation to the fund for them to plant them for you. It was quick and easy. Click here to try it yourself.

EPA

The EPA has a calculator too. Click here to try this one. I liked this one and the details on figuring out your home consumption, but they left out air travel, which I know is our biggest issue.

Yahoo!

Even Yahoo! has a green calculator. Click here to try it. I liked this one as it gave you simple do-able tips for improving your conservation efforts and lessening your impact. They also provide you with an option to balance your impact by funding carbon reductions through purchasing TerraPass carbon offsets. While reading more on this, I noticed if you book your travel through Expedia (which I often do) you can then purchase TerraPass carbon offsets to compliment your trip. Click here to read more about TerraPass. In a nutshell, they promote projects that are verified for reducing greenhouse gas emissions through clean energy such as wind farms and biomass energy. The TerraPass site also has a calculator and more information on the carbon reduction projects they work with.

CarbonFootprint.com

The calculator here at Carbonfootprint.com is super detailed. I liked it a lot because it took into account buying organic and if you eat meat or not – topics close to my soul.

It’s always good to have reminders about how we can reduce our carbon footprint and live greener and healthier. Here I’ve put down 25 easy tips to try:

  1. Use vegetable-based and biodegradable (also homemade) cleaning products.
  2. Use good old-fashioned hard work and pull your weeds instead of using pesticides which harm the environment.
  3. If you have a lawn, water it early in the morning – or better yet, forgo the lawn and use your growing area to grow fruits and vegetables. You could also plant native plant species to landscape around your home. The plants will probably grow better in a familiar environment, and the plants may also get shipped a shorter distance to get to your local nursery. Use organic soil when planting — it’s made using more eco-friendly methods, and uses less resources. And remember, green plants are a good way to offset carbon. So planting something, anything helps.
  4. Install water barrels to collect rain water from gutters. Also, consider using a small bucket in your sink to collect water when washing produce and then use this water in the garden.
  5. At the office (home or otherwise) reduce the need to copy and print. When you need to, copy and print on both sides of the paper.
  6. Reuse items like envelopes, folders, and paper clips.
  7. Use reusable water bottles and real coffee mugs rather than disposable cups.
  8. Turn off the office lights at the end of the day.
  9. Consider flexible work schedules or telecommuting.
  10. Consider using your bike, feet, or mass transportation for most transportation needs.
  11. If you do drive, purchase radial tires and keep them properly inflated.
  12. Drive during non-peak hours to avoid sitting in heavy traffic idling your car.
  13. Increase your plant consumption. More land has to be put into agricultural production to produce meat than to produce plant products. The methane created by animals is 23 times more effective at retaining heat than CO2. Domestic animals contribute more to global warming than all human transportation combined. You can always try the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart and get inspired by learning new delicious recipes. Even one day a week makes a difference (Meatless Mondays).
  14. At your local health food store buy from the bulk bins. Bulk foods and spices are often cheaper than grocery store equivalents and use less packaging. Bring your own reusable jars, bags or other containers.
  15. Buy organic and local. There’s a better chance the food was grown in an eco-friendly way, and if it’s locally grown, it didn’t have to travel that far.
  16. Carry your own reusable bags to the store when you shop.
  17. Energy-proof your home. Make sure all windows close properly and that the attic in your home is properly insulated. This can save lots of money on your energy bill.
  18. Switch from incandescent to compact florescent light bulbs.
  19. If you need to travel by airplane, try taking as direct a flight as possible.
  20. Unplug appliances that you don’t use frequently. Most electronics have a standby mode that siphons energy even when not in use. Cell phone chargers, laptops, televisions, stereos — there’s a whole list of items that should be unplugged when not in use. Try using a power strip for groups of electronic items. One flick of the switch and it’s all off.
  21. Get rid of your microwave. This is a bit drastic and I haven’t convinced Pops to do this yet. By cooking and eating more whole foods you avoid the packaging of frozen items. Packaged, frozen items are often shipped further and need more energy to keep frozen when they arrive.
  22. Try using cold water to launder things as it takes a lot of energy to heat up water.
  23. Hang clothing out to dry whenever possible to avoid using the electricity and the dryer.
  24. Group your errands together instead of making multiple trips.
  25. The Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

There are so many benefits to going green and reducing your carbon footprint. The most basic benefit is that being greener means you’re living healthier which simply makes you feel better physically and mentally.

This week while reading Crunchy Bettys I noticed she wrote about how changing your patterns and making new decisions can even make you smarter by improving your brain function. Click here to read more about this and also read her motivating going green tips. Also, in that post, she shares a link to a blog post by Sorta Crunchy who shares a belief of mine – to start going green simply run out of what you have and then (this is the important part) realize you have a choice about what or if you buy any more.

I’m always looking for things I can cut out – without making it too uncomfortable and unreasonable for Pops and myself. I really believe if everyone made little changes the effect on our planet (and our health) would be huge.

Please share with me any tips and ideas you have for living greener and healthier – I love all of them!

~Lita

Lita

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