Personal Power

The good news is that if we are part of the problem, it also means that we can be part of the solution, and there is a tremendous amount that we can do personally to help lower greenhouse gas emissions:

SAVE ENERGY, SAVE THE CLIMATE, SAVE MONEY
Reduce:

  • Since the main cause of the air pollution that causes global warming is our use of energy, every time we save energy, we are helping to fight global warming.
  • 40% of all car trips in the U.S. are bike-sized. Americans make 123 million car trips each day that are short enough to be made on foot. So think about walking, biking, skating, carpooling, or using public transportation instead of instinctively hopping in the car.
  • When buying a new car, think about purchasing one of the new hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius, or the Honda Insight or the Civic hybrid. These cars are getting 50 to 65 miles per gallon and releasing half the average carbon dioxide. As automotive manufacturers make the switch to ultralight molded plastic composite materials and ultra-efficient designs, we will finally achieve Amory Lovins long held vision of the super-efficient "hyper-car" with a fuel efficiency of over 120 miles per gallon.
  • Make sure the car you do drive is properly maintained to make it as fuel efficient as possible. For instance, if every car on American roads had properly inflated tires, we would save 2 billion gallons of gas a year.
  • Think about all the other ways you can adjust your life in little ways that will save energy and help fight global warming—car pooling, shopping closer to home, and turning off any lights and appliances that you're not using.
  • Another way to way to save energy and fight global warming is to eat less meat and more vegetarian food. Meat as a food just isn't very efficient: one acre of prime land can produce 60,000 pounds of celery, 50,000 pounds of tomatoes, 40,000 pounds of potatoes, 40,000 pounds of onions, 30,000 pounds of carrots, or 250 pounds of beef. For every pound less meat you eat, you'll reduce climate change emissions by 10.5 pounds of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gasses.

Reuse:

  • There are a lot of things that get thrown away—from single-sided paper to clothing to televisions—that are reusable in their current form. Instead of tossing an item in the trash can or recycling bin, consider ways it might still be usable to you or someone else.
  • Reduce your environmental footprint by sharing or donating your clothes and stuff after you've stopped using them or outgrown them.

Recycle:

  • The amount of resources we can save simply by trying is staggering. For instance, it is estimated that the amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years! Obviously, a great way to save energy is to recycle as much of this as possible.
  • It's estimated that 85% of what we throw away is recyclable. And there's a lot of energy we can through recycling. For example, you can power a television set for three hours with the energy saved by recycling just one aluminum soda can. Recycling aluminum cans uses 95 percent less energy and creates 95 less pollution than producing cans from raw materials. Similarly, recycling uses only of the energy needed to produce paper from raw materials—and it saves trees from being chopped down too. If we all recycled our Sunday newspapers, we could save more than half a million trees every week.
  • Every recycled bottle saves 1 pound of CO2 from entering the atmosphere and every recycled newspaper saves pound. It all adds up.
    Getting off of junk mailing lists is another great way to conserve resources. In the United States, an estimated 4 million tons of junk mail is sent every year—half of which is never even opened.
    Another step you can take to conserve trees and energy is to make sure that you are only using 100% post-consumer recycled paper at home, school, and work. If you don't have recycling bins, call a recycling center to find out how you can get them.
  • Even at home there are a lot of actions you can take to help combat global warming by saving energy. Try turning down the heat in your home. If you feel cold, before reaching for the thermostat, consider putting on another layer of clothing instead. And to save energy, heat only the rooms you are occupying and make sure you set the thermostat for 68 degrees or less. These are simple steps that don't cost a thing but they save energy (and money) and it's estimated that just by dialing down to 68 degrees Americans can save more than half a million barrels of oil a day.
  • Other steps you can take include reducing your use of hot water. Less hot water means less energy burned and less carbon added to the atmosphere. Try turning down your water heater, installing water saving aerators and shower heads, and consider taking shorter showers. You can save even more energy by skipping the blow dryer too. If you use a dishwasher, try running it only when you have a full load and make sure you use the energy-setting, letting the dishes dry on their own.

Energy Efficiency: Save the climate and save money!

  • Make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible by making sure you've got adequate insulation and contact your local utility for a home energy saving audit.
  • When purchasing appliances always look for energy efficient appliances with the energy star label.
  • Try replacing your incandescent and halogen lights with energy saving florescent bulbs which last up to 10 times longer and use only 1/3 the energy of regular bulbs.
  • Make sure you turn off appliances when not in use and set your computer to sleep mode or shut it down when you are not using it.
  • All of these steps are simple, effective, cost little or nothing, and will create big savings both for the environment and your pocketbook. And you'll have the satisfaction of knowing that you're doing something to help fight global warming.

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