12 simple actions to reduce global warming at home, in your neighborhood, at work, at school, with your faith community!
1. Reduce what you buy, reuse what you have and recycle the rest!
Think about every purchase you make. Is this something you truly need? Can it be found in another way, such as borrowing from someone else? Can it be purchased together with others who might need it as well (think about sharing a lawn mower with a neighbor, for example, or a magazine subscription). Does it have to be bought new? Can it be purchased without extra packaging?
Choose reusable products instead of disposables:
• Real cups instead of Styrofoam for after worship refreshments
• Reusable plates and silverware instead of paper and Styrofoam products for get-togethers
• Cloth napkins instead of paper napkins
• Cloth diapers not disposables
• Cloth rags and dish towels instead of paper towels
• Reusable bottles to refill with water instead of bottled water
• Use cloth bags at the grocery or department store
Recycle what you have—internally or externally. Organize a clothes, book or household swap. Pass along items you no longer need to a second-hand store or a “freecycle” program. Recycle your newspapers, cardboard, plastics, glass jars and bottles, etc. If there isn’t a nearby recycling program in your community try to start one.
2. Drive less and drive better
Less driving means fewer emissions. Try other modes of transportation, including taking the bus or Trax, riding a bike or walking to your destination.
If you must drive, try to chain your trips together efficiently. Don’t spend your time going back and forth between the same places several times a day. If you know of others who will be going to the same place(s), consider carpooling with them. Organize carpools for weekly worship and participate faithfully!
When you drive, make sure your car is running efficiently. For example, keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by more than 3 percent. Avoid idling. Reduce your speed. Every gallon of gas you save not only helps your budget, it also keeps 20 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.
3. Spend less energy heating water and heating and cooling your home
Set your water heater at 120 degrees to save energy, and wrap it in an insulating blanket if it is more than 5 years old.
Adding insulation to your walls and attic and installing weather stripping or caulking around doors and windows can lower your heating costs more than 25 percent by reducing the amount of energy you need to heat and cool your home.
Purchase a thermostat that can automatically remember to lower the heat while you’re sleeping at night or away during the day. Lower your temperature setting in the winter (wear warm clothes and add a sweater layer) and increase your temperature setting in the summer.
4. Use energy efficient light bulbs
Wherever practical, replace regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs or light emitting diode (LED) bulbs–which are even more efficient. Replacing just one 60-watt incandescent light bulb with a CFL will save you $30 over the life of the bulb. CFLs last 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs, use two-thirds less energy, and give off 70 percent less heat.
“If every American home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star-qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars,” says the Department of Energy on its Energy Star website. Remember to recycle CFL bulbs, which contain small amounts of mercury.
5. Buy other energy efficient products
If you must buy a new car, choose one that gets great gas mileage. Look for Energy Star efficient household appliances, such as refrigerators, stoves, ovens, microwaves, washers and dryers. Shop IPL for discounts.
Buy low-flow showerheads to save on hot water and reduce your emissions by about 350 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
6. Wash and dry differently
Wash your clothes in warm or cold water to reduce your use of hot water and the energy required to produce it. Use the energy-saving settings on your dishwasher and let the dishes air-dry.
Turn off your water when you don’t absolutely need it. Turn it off while soaping up in the shower, brushing your teeth, shaving, washing your car, etc. and then turn it back on to rinse.
Avoid your dryer completely and hang your clothes outside to dry. You can hang clothes inside on basement lines during the winter.
7. Turn appliances off or down.
Save electricity and reduce global warming by turning off lights when you leave a room, and using only as much light as you need. And remember to turn off your television, video player, stereo and computer when you’re not using them. Many of these items are made to switch on and off instantly, and just by having them plugged in you are using electricity. Plug them into a power strip that you can turn off when you leave during the day and when you go to bed at night, or consider unplugging them altogether.
Leaving town for the weekend or vacation? Unplug clocks, radios, etc. so they don’t use any electricity when you’re gone. Lower the temperature to “vacation” setting on your water heater or turn it off.
8. Eat less meat
Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, says that we should eat less meat because of the huge greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental problems associated with the way we raise cattle and other livestock. A 2006 U.N. report found that 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from raising animals for food. Gidon Eshel and Pamela A. Martin calculate that if Americans were to reduce meat consumption by just 20% it would equal the emissions savings of the entire nation switching from a standard sedan to the extremely efficient Prius.
Try to purchase the meat you eat from a farmer who raises livestock locally, free-range, and grass-fed.
9. Plant a tree, plant a garden, compost your scraps
If you have the means to plant a tree, start digging. A single tree will absorb approximately one ton of carbon dioxide during its lifetime.
Plant a garden on your own or with others at your faith community. By growing your own food, you avoid eating food that has been trekked across the continent (or even from another continent) and thus save energy. Your food is less processed, and you’ll know exactly what you are eating! Learn how to preserve your foods by canning, freezing or drying. Have more zucchini than you know what to do with? Donate it to your local food shelf so others in your community can eat fresh, local foods.
Compost your food and garden scraps. Keep the waste out of the landfill; turn it back into soil.
If you can’t have a garden, consider becoming a member of a community supported agriculture program, or CSA, and/or purchasing food from a farmers’ market where local farmers and gardeners sell products grown close to home. Find a Utah CSA here.
10. Put your money where your heart is
Support your local utility by signing up for electricity produced through renewable sources. Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky Energy is one such source.
11. Support actions your community is taking
Use the library instead of always buying books. Use your community bus and transit system. If your community has a recycling or composting program, participate in it.
12. Be an advocate, teacher and resource
Teach your children about climate change and model actions they can and should take. Share information about recycling and energy conservation with your friends, neighbors, faith community members, and co-workers.
Contact your elected officials often to encourage them to vote for policies that will have a positive and restorative impact on the environment and that will decrease global climate change.