Reducing Regional Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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Reduce the carbon footprint created by your transportation

Drive less: Walk, bike, carpool or take the bus or the train. When you do drive, don't drive so fast - mileage rates reduce significantly when you exceed 60 miles per hour. Whenever possible, buy more fuel-efficient vehicles. Avoid air travel or purchase "carbon offsets" (see explanation below) when you do travel by plane.

Become a vegan

A vegan or vegetarian lifestyle uses far fewer fossil fuels than a typical meat-eater's diet. There are several reasons for this. First of all, it takes more land to raise animals for human consumption than to grow crops. Cattle, poultry and pigs must be fed with grains, which require land, fertilizers and fuel to grow. As a general rule of thumb, it takes ten times as much land to produce the same amount of meat calories as vegetable calories. Most commercial fertilizers are produced using fossil fuels, and fossil fuels power farm equipment. Livestock, particularly cattle, produce methane, a greenhouse gas.

Eat locally grown, organic food

One of the biggest hidden sources of greenhouse gas emissions is the fuel used to produce and transport food. Buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. Not only are they fresher, but they haven't been shipped thousands of miles. Avoid processed foods whenever possible. Organic produce usually has a smaller carbon footprint because of the types of fertilizer used and the farming methods.

Improve the energy efficiency of your home

The ideal solution is to install solar panels or wind generators. Also make sure that your home is well insulated. Heating, either electric or natural gas, emits greenhouse gases.

Use less electricity

Unplug appliances and devices that are not in use. Most devices continue to use power while plugged in, even if they're not on. This includes cell phone chargers that are plugged in even if the phone isn't connected. Don't leave your computer on all day. Turn off all lights when you're not in a room and buy energy-efficient light bulbs. Avoid turning on the heat or the air conditioner whenever possible. Wear sweaters when it's cold, use fans or leave the window open when it's hot. Don't leave the fridge open. Don't leave a window open while the heater/air conditioner is running. Turn off the heat when you go on vacation. Take shorter showers, because it takes energy to heat water. Keep the water on just long enough to wet yourself, then turn it off while you lather up.

Buy fewer electronics

Microchips and other electronic components take a lot of energy and hazardous chemicals to produce. The average 2 g microchip takes 1.6 kg of fossil fuels to make.

Cook food in a solar oven

Solar ovens are very easy and cheap to make; guides are readily available online. Only use your clothes washer when you have enough to do a full load. When you're staying in a hotel, don't ask for new towels or to have your sheets washed every night of your stay. Dryers are big energy wasters. Don't use them -- hang your clothes on a line instead.

Buy fewer products with excessive packaging

Plastic is made from petroleum, and other packaging materials also require energy and fossil fuels to produce.

Recycle

It takes much more energy to produce glass, aluminum, plastic and paper from raw materials than from recycled containers.

Buy used instead of new

Every single product, without exception, whether it is a T-shirt, a toaster, a book or a pack of cigarettes, caused the emission of greenhouse gases during its production. Buying clothes and other products secondhand drastically reduces your carbon footprint while saving you money.

Purchase carbon offsets to make up for the emissions you do produce

Carbon offsets work by funding some activity that reduces carbon dioxide emissions. For example, one type of carbon offset program gives more efficient wood-burning stoves to families in developing countries. Because it requires less wood to cook their food, these families burn less fuel, cut down fewer trees, and therefore reduce carbon emissions while also saving forests. See the link to the Carbon Fund in the Resources section for information on how to purchase carbon offsets.