Image via Pixabay.
You’ve seen the reports from the United Nations on the dire state of global warming. We have 12 years to make drastic reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide, or else we risk rapid elevations in temperature and in sea level. While government action is certainly necessary, there are changes you can make at home to play your part for the benefit of everybody.
And it’s not just about carbon. Water scarcity is another issue we face along with environmental degradation as single-use plastics find their way into the forests, rivers, and oceans. Here are some suggestions on how you can help put a stop to this madness.
Buy Efficient Appliances
Washers, dryers, and refrigerators bearing the Energy Star label could save you hundreds of dollars in utility bills over their lifetime of usage. As far as the environment is concerned, you’ll be drawing a lot less electricity from the local grid, and that means less coal burnt and lower carbon emissions from your property.
Get Smart With Lighting
You could cut down on usage by remembering to turn off the lights when you leave a room—or buy motion-sensor lighting that does it for you. You’ll do even more good by switching from incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs, which are not only more energy-efficient, but also last longer—saving you both money and trips to the hardware store.
Install Solar Panels
The average American household uses about 900 kilowatt hours of electricity per month. It’s hard to say how many panels would provide 100 percent of that sum (it depends on where you live and how efficient your system is), but around 30 would be enough in many areas of the country. You would draw nothing from the local power plant—meaning zero carbon emissions from your family—while selling any excess juice back to the grid for a profit. That makes you the big winner in more ways than one.
Use Less Water
Turn off the taps when you’re not using them. That’s just one bit of advice to keep water usage down and leave more water for local wildlife. TreeHugger has 10 more, ranging from flushing the toilet with a bucket to replacing leaky sinks. Among the more interesting ones is saving the water from boiling pasta, letting it cool, and using it to water plants.
Harvest the Rains
There’s plenty of water that rolls off the roof and into the soil that could be put to better use. It amounts to roughly 600 gallons for every inch of rain that falls onto a surface of 1,000 square feet—and that’s more than enough to keep your yard and garden healthy if you save it for dryer days, saving you even more in utility costs.
Recycle as Much as Possible
It takes 30 percent less energy to manufacture a product from salvaged materials than from scratch, and that translates to—you guessed it—less coal burned at the power plant and lower carbon emissions. Though it’s not fun sorting through all of your waste, it’s worth it, and you may even find some containers to repurpose.
Carry Canvas Bags
It may seem like a small gesture, but it has big results, considering that the average family takes home about 1,500 plastic bags a year from the store, and it would only take 14 of those for enough energy to drive one mile. Furthermore, many of those end up in the ocean after they’re used, where they add to a growing island of trash in the Pacific that’s twice the size of Texas.
Grow a Rain Garden
A rain garden is a method of keeping water out of the sewers and in the local ecosystem, according to Rain Garden Network, and consists of little more than a shallow depression near a source of runoff where you could grow plants, including edible species like asparagus and rhubarb.
These efforts will go a long way in making your home environmentally friendly and carbon neutral, but that’s not enough. Remember to spread the word to family and friends because they’re in this with you.