If you're like me, the stories about how climate change is effecting our planet, our communities and our future create feelings of helplessness as well as anxiety. I'm always looking for ways to feel empowered by connecting the small decisions I make each day with the issues I care most about. These are some of the small changes I have made:
1) Reduce Heating/Cooling energy use. The energy required to heat & cool buildings accounts for approximately 50% of the total energy use. In addition, much of the Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere can be traced back directly to the use of fossil fuels in heating and cooling. While improving the efficiency of your equipment may be the first action you might think about, air sealing and insulation will provide a significant decrease in greenhouse gas emissions. To learn more, contact a Building Scientist through the Building Performance Institute at https://bpihomeowner.com
2) Become a Smart Shopper. Making different choices at the grocery store can add up to a big benefits for the planet. Start by bringing re-usable bags with you on each shopping trip. Some stores will give you a small credit for each bag you bring. Shop local whenever possible. Pay attention to the packaging and choose items with less disposable plastic wrap when you can. Better yet, bring re-usable containers and buy out of the bulk bin. To learn about a terrific alternative to plastic wrap, visit https://www.shopetee.com
3) Be a Water Warrior. Everyday, it seems, I hear about an oil spill or some other form of pollution impacting our precious water. Less frequently, I hear that o
ur oceans are warming. The nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus are making them acidic. Excessive nitrogen and phosphorus wash into waterways and released into the air are the direct result of human activities. The primary sources of nutrient pollution are: Agriculture, Stormwater, Wastewater, Fossil fuels and everyday household items. Many common cleansers, soaps and detergents are made from petroleum and contain nitrogen and phosphorus. Choose plant-derived shampoos, detergents and cleansers to contribute to healthy waterways. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/oceans/take-action/10-things-you-can-do-to-save-the-ocean/
4) Reduce other forms of energy use. Make sure that your hot water heater is set for no higher than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Install low flow faucet devices, showerheads and R-7 pipe wrap on the hot water pipes. Install LED lightbulbs. Buy EnergyStar appliances whenever possible. They may cost slightly more at the time of purchase but will use less energy and result in a lower energy bill in the long run.
5) Calculate your Carbon Footprint. Find out how much you and your family contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. https://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx
6) Start with the small things. If all of this seems overwhelming, simply: pay attention to turing the light off when you leave a room or buy a plant-derived laundry/dish soap instead of your usual brand. No effort is too small.
These are some of my ideas. What are yours?