Nine Tips to Help Planet Earth
By Meg Lowman
Although Americans represent 5% of the world’s population, we use 30% of the world’s resources, and our consumption has doubled in the last 50 years. What happens to finite supplies of fresh water, oil and soil as billions of people in India and China desire to “live just like Americans do?”
Here are a few tips to conserve natural resources, save money, and educate your family about the economics of our environment:
- Become a “locavore”: eat local foods and buy local products. In North Carolina, farmers markets sell fresh local produce. It will lower your energy footprint to buy produce that did not travel far to reach your dinner plate.
- Carpool; Americans spend over 4.5 billion hours per year in commuting alone. William Moomaw, professor at Tufts University and co-author of a recent IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Report, calculated that if daily American commuters would carpool for just one day per week, we could significantly reduce America’s carbon emissions by 2050.
- Recycle. Approximately 85% of all American household waste can be recycled. Purchase goods with less packaging, and re-use items such as boxes, paper clips, plastic bags, and packing materials. Wrap gifts in old newspaper or other recycled materials.
- Audit your household electricity. Turn off lights. Buy power strips. Turn off computers when not in use. Buy Energy Star appliances.
- Travel green. When traveling, become energy conscious by staying in energy-efficient hotels. Plan family vacations to eco-tourism destinations that inspire conservation of natural resources.
- Plant trees, especially natives. Trees act as a filter to cleanse the air, produce oxygen, store carbon, and serve as a home to other wildlife. Attractive shade trees invariably raise the value of your real estate.
- Conserve fresh water. An estimated one third of all water in American homes is used to flush toilets. Check toilets and sinks for leaks, and reduce water consumption in your daily habits.
- Go green for the holidays. Can you create special days where no one drives? Candlelight dinners? What about purchasing a live tree, and then planting it after the holidays? Buy gifts with a “green” message. Consider switching traditional outside landscape lights with the new LED ones, significantly minimizing your family’s energy footprint.