Did you know that each gallon of gas used by a car contributes about 19 pounds of CO2 into the atmosphere? Or for a single car driving 1,000 miles a month, that adds up to 120 tons of CO2 a year?
A carbon footprint is the total set of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event or product. A carbon footprint calculator takes into account home energy use, driving and flying effects, food and diet, and recycling and waste. Everything we do has an effect, and there are many things we can do to reduce our effects on the environment. Changing some of our behaviors is not only better for the environment but in many cases can save money.
The most important factor in being more environmentally friendly is being educated and knowing how your behaviors reflect on the environment.
· The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50 million homes for 20 years.
· 99.5% of all fresh water on earth is in icecaps and glaciers.
· About 110 million Americans live in areas with levels of air pollutants that the federal government considers to be harmful.
· Americans throw away 25 billion Styrofoam coffee cups every year and 2.5 million plastic beverage bottles every hour.
· 84% of a typical household’s waste-including food scraps, yard waste, paper, cardboard, cans and bottles-can be recycled.
· The typical American home uses 300 gallons of water each day.
· A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2 million gallons of fresh water.
· If all the cars on American roads were properly inflated, it would save nearly 2 billion gallons of gas each year.
· The USA accounts for only 4% of the world’s population however we are responsible for 22% of the world’s pollution.
-Put a lid on it! If you are heating something on the stove, put a lid over your pot or pan. Boiling water in a covered pot takes much less time and saves energy too. Also, make sure that the pot fits the burner snugly so energy in the form of heat does not escape out around the edges.
-Inflate those tires. A properly inflated tire not only prevents wear and tear on tires themselves, but they also give your car a couple of extra miles per gallon of gas. Saves 250 lbs of carbon dioxide and $840 per year.
-Bring your own grocery bags. Every time you go to the store, paper and plastic bags are manufactured and disposed of for your convenience. Reuse the bags from your last trip or get some canvas ones for long term use.
-Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). They cost a bit more when you buy them but the energy savings make up for the initial cost quickly. Replacing just three frequently used bulbs with CFL’s saves 300 lbs of carbon dioxide and $60 per year.
-Wash your clothes in cold water. One of the biggest drains on energy in the washing process is the heat that it takes to warm the water.
-Recycle, recycle, recycle. Most consumer products can be recycled. Find out where recycling drop boxes are in your area, check school, library and church parking lots. Remember to rinse your aluminum, glass and plastic products before dropping them off.
-Reduce and reuse. This may be even more important than recycling due to the fact that the recycling process uses energy on its own. Buy in bulk to reduce packaging. Find new ways to use old items. “Waste not, want not”
-Unplug unused electronics. Even when an electronic device is shut off it still uses energy. Save over 1,000 lbs of carbon dioxide and $250 per year.
Everyone can make a difference. The eight things listed above are very simple changes everyone can make which will assist with bettering the environment for all. As Gandhi once said, “We must be the change we want to see in the world.”