The world around us can be a blur. Driven by a society that demands a frenetic pace to our lives, we often endure hectic work days that leave us deflated as we retreat back to the amenities of our homes. It is not so surprising then, that in the face of climate change we largely fail as citizens to make a stronger stab at a greener lifestyle.
This is a world of force-fed convenience, and we, just like the many conveniences we consume, are products of the whirlwind. A direct result of this is often an expression of apathy or a declaration of impotence in relation to fighting climate change on an individual level. It’s a daunting fight, and one that seems more suited for governments and large corporations as opposed to everyday people. Yet in the midst of perhaps the greatest challenge we have yet faced as a global community, there are many surprisingly simple things we can do in an effort to be a little more green.
1. KEEP YOUR CAR TUNED UP
There are many small things that can dramatically reduce the efficiency of your vehicle. Often overlooked, they lead us to pump out hundreds of pounds of excess carbon dioxide each year. By regularly changing the air filter, keeping the tires optimally pressurized and making sure the engine goes through regular tune ups, you can increase the efficiency of your vehicle by a whopping 15%.
2. CHANGE OUT YOUR LIGHTBULBS
Known properly as compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL’s), these popular energy savers are pricier than their traditional counterparts, but they have a much longer lifespan and use 75% less electricity. Just remember to recycle them after they die. These bulbs contain mercury and are potentially hazardous if not disposed of properly.
3. REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
It may seem obvious, but taking the three R’s seriously is an important part of an environmentally friendly lifestyle. Make a conscious effort to reduce your consumption of everything from electricity to various household items. Reuse what you can instead of simply throwing things away. And of course, participate in local recycling programs. In North America alone, enough waste is generated each day to fill approximately 70,000 garbage trucks.
4. HANG UP YOUR CLOTHES
While I’m sure a ubiquitous state of nudity would do wonders for the environment, I’m thinking more in terms of clotheslines here. It has been documented that more than half of the energy consumption of any particular piece of clothing comes not from the manufacturing process, but from the cleaning (and drying) of said clothing. By washing your clothes in lukewarm water and doing away with a dryer in favor of a clothesline, it’s possible to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of your laundry by approximately 90%.
5. EAT LESS MEAT
A recent report from the Food and Agriculture branch of the United Nations estimates that the worldwide meat industry produces nearly 20% of all greenhouse gas emissions, most of which comes from the actual manure of the animals. Notwithstanding the many health benefits, it only makes sense to reduce our consumption of meat, it being an ever growing industry.
While it may fall under the three R’s, composting is really a category of its own. A significantly large portion of all household waste is organic. And so by composting that waste instead of sending it off to a landfill, you can make quite a difference. Composting is cheap, easy, and contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t smell bad.
Gardening is a relaxing hobby that adds aesthetic virtue to any property. Perhaps more importantly though, plant life absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen back into the atmosphere. And if you compost, you can use that material to enrich your soil.
Due primarily to heat loss, many homes are less efficient than they could be. By ensuring your attic, walls and water heaters are properly insulated you can reduce the amount of money and emissions that you unwittingly pump out.
9. ONLINE TRANSACTIONS
By making more of your financial transactions online (paying bills for example), you can cut back on both paper usage and vehicle emissions. It’s also far less of a hassle.
10. COMMUTE RESPONSIBLY
The majority of Americans drive to work all by their lonesome. This translates into about three or four nonexistent passengers per car who are conversely driving alone in their own vehicles and so on. By carpooling, using public transportation, or even biking to work, one can significantly reduce their carbon footprint.
At the end of the day, being just a little greener requires only minimal adaptations to our daily routines. A small price, and one that we as global citizens should strive to pay.