By now, most of us know that global warming is a serious and increasingly urgent problem. While it’s easy to feel that your actions are miniscule compared to the burning of fossil fuels at power plants or deforestation, day-to-day actions can make a huge impact over time. No matter how insignificant it seems, each decision about how you get around, what you eat and even how you dry your clothes add up and can help save our planet.
Here are just a few things you can do every day – in your home and in your community – to join the fight against global warming and help slow climate change. And the best part is, most of these are at no cost at all.
Unplug your appliances and electronics when they’re not in use.
Electronics continue to drain power while they’re plugged in, even if they are not in use. Take a cell phone charger for example. According to Energy.gov, the average charger consumes .26 watts of energy when not in use and up to 2.24 watts when a fully charged device is connected. Combine that with other common devices and this can account for up to 10 percent of your utility bill.
Recycle at home.
Sorting and properly disposing the waste you generate at home contributes to protecting our wildlife, reducing landfills and emitting considerably less carbon. For those living in the United States, Waste Management has a comprehensive guide to what can be recycled and where. Check your local waste disposal company to learn how to recycle in your neighborhood.
Eat less meat.
The Worldwatch Institute published a report that cited animal agriculture as the cause of 51 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Counter this by limiting your meat consumption. Start by trying to go meat-free for one meal per day – or if you’re feeling bold, make a stand by cutting it out entirely.
Cover your pots while cooking.
Trapping the heat allows you to both save energy and cook more quickly. Pressure cookers and steamers are also efficient options to consider.
Move your fridge and freezer.
If your refrigerator or freezer are located in direct sunlight or next to heat sources, such as stoves or ovens, it’s using a lot more energy than if it was standing alone. By a lot, we mean up to 2.5 percent more energy for every degree above 70 F (21 C).
Be mindful with your laundry.
Try to only use your laundry machine once it’s full, and don’t be afraid to experiment with lower temperature settings. Thanks to modern improvements with detergents, most clothing can be washed at low temperatures (think 30 degrees) and still come out clean. This can apply to dishwashers as well.
Say goodbye to your dryer.
Use a clothesline or clothing rack to air-dry clothing whenever possible. According to Green America, doing this can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by 2,400 pounds a year.
Think about it this way: One bottle of 2 liter requires less energy and produces less waste than four half-liter bottles. And while you’re picking up those bottles, use a reusable grocery bag instead of accepting a disposable one. You’ll combat excess waste – plus reusable bags tend to be more durable.
Green your commute.
Walk, bike, carpool or take public transit. For each mile of driving you eliminate, you save one pound of carbon dioxide emissions. The APTA argues that if a single person commuting alone by car switches a 20-mile round trip commute to public transportation, this can reduce their annual carbon emissions by 4,800 pounds per year. If you need to use a car, consider starting a carpool or trying a free car sharing app like Zipcar.