Happy Earth Day! To celebrate, we wanted to share some tips and tricks that’ll help reduce your carbon footprint, but also can save you time and money – a win for you and this planet we call home!
What is a carbon footprint anyway? A carbon footprint is a measure of the impact an individual has on the environment. We leave a larger footprint if we pollute or consume many natural resources. Carbon emissions are pollutants and are dangerous to people, our pets and the environment. Earth Day serves as a friendly reminder that we all have a responsibility to reduce our carbon footprint.
You don’t need to install solar panels or buy an electric vehicle to better the environment. If you use gasoline, water or electricity (and really, who doesn’t?), you can make an impact today. Below are a few tips to get you going:
Driving is time consuming, costly and produces a high volume of carbon emissions. The average American spends over 100 hours commuting to work each year. Couple that with the high price of gasoline and you’re talking about a very expensive and time-consuming activity. More than that, driving generates a significant amount of carbon emissions. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, cars in the United States account for over 300 million metric tons of carbon emissions each year. Yuck!
Spending less time in your car means you’ll have more time, spend less money and produce less carbon emissions. Here are some tips for less time behind the wheel:
Carpooling is a great way to reduce the amount of cars on the road, and if you live in a city with a lot of traffic, it is a great way to reduce the amount of time you spend on the road. Ask around the office to see if anybody is up for starting a carpool or look at online services like eRideShare.com to find others who have similar commutes in your area. Don’t knock it till you try it!
- Take Fewer Trips
We understand you need to commute to work, but those quick trips to the grocery store add up quickly. Reduce the amount of trips to and from your home by combining errands during a single outing. Pick up groceries after going to the mall, drop off your package at the Post Office on the way home from your kid’s little league game or try out services that can run your errands for you. 😉 You’ll be amazed how much time you’ll save by reducing the number of trips around town.
How much water do you think you use on a daily basis? Would you have guessed the average America uses 100 gallons of water every single day? That numbers always astounds me! Water is a valuable resource and there are a lot of simple ways to reduce the amount we consume.
- Low-flow showerheads
The shower is where most people use the most water every day. Purchasing a low-flow showerhead can greatly reduce the amount of water you use in the shower without forcing you to cut down your time in the shower. You can find these at most home furnishing stores. Oh, and they can pay for themselves in under a year!
- Dish Washing Tricks
Whether you wash dishes by hand or use a dishwasher, this activity ranks 2nd behind the shower in terms of water use. To reduce your water usage for hand washing, fill the sink with wash water and only use the faucet to rinse.
Also, don’t use the dishwasher unless it is completely full. Half loads and full loads use the same amount of water. If you need a particular dish cleaned immediately and you don’t have enough dirty dishes to justify the dishwasher, use previously mentioned hand-washing method. Follow these best practices and you can save yourself thousands of gallons of water every year!
- Brushing and Shaving to Savings
This routine task falls into 3rd place for daily water use. No, we don’t encourage you to brush less or shave less frequently. Just don’t let the water run while you’re doing so!
Even though electricity is a clean energy, it is generated by methods that release carbon emissions (oil, coal, etc.). Reducing your electric bill is great for your wallet and the Earth. Here are a couple simple tricks that’ll help reduce your electricity usage.
- Play with the Thermostat
Heating and cooling your home can be very expensive, but fiddling with that dial can save you a lot on your energy bill. According the US Department of Energy, for each degree cooler in the winter or warmer in the summer, you can save at least 1% on your energy bill (based on 8 hour period). Sure 76° might be nice in the summer, but setting your AC to 77° will save you 2-5% on your monthly energy bill! Turning your heating and cooling systems off when you are away or asleep will help you save even more.
- Compact Florescent Lamps
Compact Florescent Lamps (CFL) are great replacements for regular incandescent light bulbs in your home. ENERGY STAR highlights some of the benefits of these lamps:
- can save more than $40 in electricity costs over its lifetime
- use about 75% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer
- produce about 75% less heat, so they’re safer to operate and can cut energy costs associated with home cooling
These are some great ideas to get you started. If you want more green ideas, check out this impact calculator – answer a few questions about your daily life and it’ll show your carbon footprint and some great ideas on how to reduce your impact on the environment and how to save money by going green. Happy Earth Day!