Four places to cut your carbon
The individual choices we make each day can have a big impact on climate change and the future of our planet. Below are some of the easiest and most effective ways, in four key areas, to reduce our carbon footprint and help improve our quality of life.
Here's a list of simple things you can do immediately.
Turn off lights, television, DVD player, Hi-fi, computer etc. when not in use.
Turn down the central heating slightly (try just 1 to 2 degrees C). Just 1 degree will help reduce your heating bill by about 8%.
Turn down the water heating setting (just 2 degrees will make a significant saving).
Check the central heating timer setting - remember there is no point heating the house after you have left for work.
Fill your dishwasher and washing machine with a full load - this will save you water, electricity, and washing powder.
Fill the kettle with only as much water as you need.
The following is a list of items that may take an initial investment, but should pay for themselves over time. A more energy-efficient home will lower your utility bills and reduce the emissions that cause climate change.
Fit energy saving light bulbs.
Install thermostatic valves on your radiators.
Insulate your hot water tank, your loft and your walls.
Recycle your grey water.
Choose energy-efficient appliances (rating of "A"). New refrigerators, for example, use 40 per cent less energy than models made just 10 years ago.
Replace your old boiler with a new energy efficient condensing boiler.
Walk, bike, carpool or take transit to get to one of your regular destinations each week. Use the bus or a train rather than your car and for short journeys either walk or cycle.
Try to reduce the number of flights you take. Learn about the impacts of air travel and consider vacationing close to home.
See if your employer will allow you to work from home one day a week
Next time you replace your car - check out hybrid or electric cars. With one of these you can save big money on fuel and make your travels more eco-friendly.
When staying in a hotel - turn the lights and air-conditioning off when you leave your hotel room, and ask for your room towels to be washed every other day, rather than every day.
As well as our primary carbon footprint, there is also a secondary footprint that we cause through our food consumption habits. We can have a huge effect on climate change by simply changing a few of our habits.
Choose foods that are local, organic and low on the food chain whenever possible. Make the most of seasonal foods - fresh fruit and vegetables that are out of season likely have been flown in.
Eat less beef and pork. Fish and poultry have a much lower impact on the environment, while other protein sources including nuts and organic soy are even less damaging to the planet.
Buy sustainable seafood.
Take care of your trash. Recycle as much as possible. Composting all organic waste help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions associated with landfills.
Don't buy bottled water if your tap water is safe to drink.
Don't buy over packaged products.
Call for leadership
As individuals, we can green our homes, schools and offices and have a huge impact. But we also need policy movers and shakers to step up to the plate — with incentives for fuel efficient technologies, legislation banning toxic chemicals and strategies to protect endangered species, to name a few. We can send a message to our leaders on issues that are important to us and the environment. (David Suzuki, 2011).