A Gathering Voices post by David Maxwell
Some of my neighbors are determined to get their carbon footprint to zero or below. It’s like living next to a bunch of straight A classmates. Solar paneled roofs, backyard gardens, no cars, Greyhound Bus instead of Delta Airlines, wood burning stoves, and so on.
Live close to work. We could have bought a bigger house we didn’t need further away from work, but instead invested in a smaller house nearer work and close to where we hang out and shop.
Bike and walk to work. In the winter I still use my car mostly. But in the summer I usually either bike or walk to work. It is a great stress relief, good exercise, and I see things otherwise missed.
Eat less meat and buy locally when possible. The amount of energy used to produce a pound of meat is insane. We eat too much anyway. Local, grass fed meat is much healthier. I save money by eating less, despite higher costs of local food that is not subsidized by the government.
Get a professional home energy audit. The energy company is okay, but there are local experts who, for about $300, do a much more thorough job. It has already paid off. My energy bill has been cut in about half since doing these things.
- Seal the house. I was heating and cooling the outside.
- Change to CFL or LED light bulbs.
- Connect appliances to power strips and turn the power strip off when not using. Simply turning televisions and computers off does not keep them from sucking in electricity. I do this at work as well.
- Turn heat down and air conditioner up. Combine with fans. Being away more than 2 hours is worth adjusting the thermostat. A programmable thermostat remembers when I forget.
- Hot water bottles in winter! I learned this when living in Chile with no central heat. Fill up the water bottle with boiling water an hour before bed, wrap it in a pillow case and tuck it in bed. Sounds weird, works better than a dog. Keeps you toasty all night long.
My biggest failure, and it is huge, is air travel. Staying close to family far away usually trumps staying out of the sky. I’m sure this drops my “C” to an “F”. I have paid carbon offsets but that will not do it. On the other hand Skype and email help, but cannot replace showing up from time to time.
Report cards are only helpful to show how you are doing compared to others. In the case of global warming that is not enough. We need everyone to make an A plus. I cannot see this happening without the principal’s help. Can you?
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