First, before we get into the list, I need the relationship between you and global warming to be realized. Your direct contributions to global warming
are through your home and automobile. If you own your own business, that will be an even larger contributor than both put together, but keeping this
on the micro scale, let's limit the initial posits to HOME and CAR.
Each person contributes directly and indirectly to CO2 emissions. As of 2003, the average household was directly producing around 12.4 tons of CO2
emissions per year and the average car directly produced 11.7 tons per year. These are through everyday activities such as electricity usage in the
home and driving to work.
You produce additional CO2 emissions indirectly by doing things like eating produce that was grown halfway across the world or visiting an
air-conditioned store. These additional indirect CO2 emissions account for an additional 34 tons of CO2 per household.
Obviously, we have to have a home, most of us have to drive to work, and we all have to shop at some point (even if we hate shopping). So what can you
do to possibly help out and cut your CO2 emissions?
Here's a list.
1.) Make a checklist of every room in the house and tack it to the door you leave through each day as a reminder. Before you leave the house, every
single time, walk through every single room of your house, including the closets, and make sure no lights or appliances were left on. You would be
surprised how often you'll leave something like a closet light on all day, or even weeks at a time if it's not a room you visit often. Unless you
live in a mansion, this should literally take no more than ONE MINUTE.
2.) Find your local Farmer's Market and buy as much of your produce from there as possible from now on, even if it is slightly farther away than the
grocery store. This accomplishes three things, one, it almost completely removes the transportation cost in CO2 and oil, it (almost always) gives you
better, fresher produce at a cheaper price, and it keeps your money in the local economy, rather than sending it out of state or out of country. Time
difference between going to the Farmer's market and the grocer, perhaps fifteen minutes, tops.
3.) Use a clothes line instead of a dryer, whenever possible. It really doesn't take that much longer. If you can spare an entire five minutes from
the television or computer, you have time to dump your laundry into a basket, walk it out into the yard, and pin it up on a clothes line. This alone
will save almost an entire ton per year off of your direct production of CO2.
4.) Learn to use and program your HVAC thermostat and when possible, change clothes, not the temperature. If everyone is gone from your house there is
no need to keep it air conditioned or cooled. Almost every modern thermostat has the ability to do timed settings, so that you can set the HVAC to do
nothing when you're at work unless it dips below or rises above a certain temperature level. You can even set it to start cooling off or heating the
house 30 mins before you get home so that you don't even have to deal with the house ever being uncomfortable. Are you a stay-at-home person? Then
when you leave the house, switch the thermostat off, every time, before you leave, even if it's just for a little bit. Sometimes those five minute
trips turn into hours. If you're at home, and just a little too cold or a little too hot, add or subtract a layer of clothes. Two tons of CO2 are
anually produced by the HVAC system. Time to learn how to use and set your thermostat: about 5 minutes, tops. Time to change clothes: 1 minute. Time
to excercise, 15 minutes.
5.) VOTE for candidates and legislation that make Global Warming a front-of-the-line issue. There's a lot more than just the president out there.
There are your senators, your house representatives, your governor, your mayor, your city council. Take a few minutes to see if there's any
legislation pending to assist in stopping global warming, and take the time to write or call in your support for it, or if there is no such
legislation, ask them why not. Government will never enact environmental standards because "it's the right thing to do." If it is not on the very
tip of their constituent's tongues, it will never see the light of day. Time to vote, 30 minutes.
6.) Learn how to walk or ride a bike, and use a backpack. Seriously. The store is two blocks away. Do you really need to take the car? Ask yourself
why. If it's because your TV show starts in a few minutes, or because you want to get back to your video game as quick as possible, it may be time to
reassess your priorities and your responsibility in life. Time to walk two blocks, buy something and walk back, 30 minutes.
7.) Start a garden. Whatever you eat the most of, see if it will grow in your area, and then dedicate a portion of your back yard (or back porch for
apartments) towards growing it. Onions, potatos, various squash, garlic, spices, and strawberries are all items that are relatively small and grow
well in Texas. This is an even better option than buying at the farmer's market, as it removes almost all CO2 associated with the growing and
harvesting of that food, but is a much more significant investment of time. A successful garden, however, can save you $25-100/mo depending on how
much produce you eat.
8.) Start using those blue recycling bins. Find out exactly what your city will and will not take, seperate your trash, and recycle what the city will
accept. For the rest of your trash, consider if there's an alternate use for it that perhaps you hadn't considered before. Containers, such as
coffee cans, altoid tins, milk jugs, etc, have countless uses. Clean 'em out, run 'em through the dishwasher and you've just saved yourself the
time, gas, and money it would have taken to buy a container. Time to wash out a container and put it through the dish washer? Less than 1 minute.
9.) Don't use drive-throughs, or at the very least, turn your car off when stationary. Regardless of your make or model, if your car sits running in
idle for 30 seconds, you have consumed more gas than it took to start it. Next time you are in your car, waiting for the drive-through teller or fast
food window, turn your engine off each time you scoot up in line. Contrary to popular belief, this will NOT hurt your engine, WILL conserve fuel, and
WILL cause much less pollution. Time to perform this action? Less than 1 minute.
10.) Get someone else involved as well. Don't let the list end with you. As you've seen, there's a lot you can do without spending a dime. There's
even more you can do with a few bucks, such as weather-sealing the house, but we'll get to that in a bit. It is critical that you understand the need
for everyone's eventual involvement on this. If you can get just one more person to start taking these measures, and removing their CO2 emissions, it
will be as if your effects were doubled. Get multiple people to then get multiple other people involved, and you exponentially increase your
effectiveness. Always keep at least one copy of this list with you at all times. The next time you hear someone talking about Global Warming, and
wondering what they can do about it, hand them this list and say "start with this".
More to come, but I wanted to give people an idea of where I'm going with this. The next list of 10 things I'm going to send will be 10 things you
can do for under $10.
12 Steps to Fight Global Warming
How we contribute to global warming
Volume of C02 Emissions