Yesterday, April 22, was Earth Day. Unfortunately I spent the day driving back and forth across the state of Nevada for work, not the most ecofriendly thing to do. In honor of Earth Day and Earth month, I wanted to dedicate a post about climate change and the effort I try to make on a daily basis.
For four years in college I learned about the planet, our environment, and climate change. It constantly surprises me that there are still so many people who deny climate changes and its anthropogenic causes. Of course there is science and facts out there that show the Earth’s climate naturally cycles over time (lots and lots of time), but it is hard to deny that we don’t play a role in the health of our earth. The science and evidence of climate change is piling up.
Greenhouse gas is a natural occurrence in the atmosphere that traps heat close to the Earth’s surface. Without this, we would not be able to live on Earth, but we are contributing more to the atmosphere, mainly due to over-admittance of gasses and fossil fuels through the use of coal, natural gas, and other carbon emissions. The more gases and carbons we trap in the atmosphere, the harder it is for the heat to escape, changing temperatures which have an effect on weather and our environments. Since the time of the industrial revolution we have been contributing more and more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere though factories, transportation, and deforestation. There is more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today than at any point in the last 800,000 years.
This is causing more than just trapped heat. Since 1870, global sea levels have risen by about eight inches due to melting of the polar caps, and we have seen increased amounts of drought, severe hurricanes, and massive fires around the world. This just touches the surface, but these are the things I think about. This is also reason for trying to be as sustainable as I can.
Here are some of the things that I try to do to reduce my footprint.
In the home
- Short showers. I don’t shave my legs very often, and I keep it as short as possible.
- I let the dishes and laundry pile up. Now this one is an easy one. I try to only run the wash when it’s full. Also, for laundry, I use cold water most of the time to cut down on the energy it takes to heat the water.
- Turn the taps off quickly. I am big on saving water and am always conscious when brushing my teeth or using the sink. Lean more about water at one of my favorite websites: http://water.org/water-crisis/water-facts/water/
- Recycle and Compost. I’m so happy that I didn’t have to put my trash out on Earth day, because we didn’t have enough! Woo. Between composting and recycling, we don’t have much to throw away if we can help it.
- I’m a vegetarian. Most people ask why. It’s one of the easiest things for me to do that makes a big difference. I love animals, but for me it’s more than just animal rights. It takes almost ten times the amount of fossil fuel to produce animal protein compared to plant protein, not to mention the other factors big meat factories have on water pollution. Here is a fun article that addresses this topic: http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/blogs/ikea-to-curb-climate-change-with-veggie-swedish-meatballs
- I’m a local girl. I’m not the best at this, but when I do have options to choose the vegetable or product that was grown or made locally, that is the one I go with.
On the go
- Reusable bags. Most people know about the waste caused by paper and plastic shopping bags, if you don’t, check out this website to educate yourself: http://www.reusethisbag.com/25-reasons-to-go-reusable.php If that is not enough, many places give you a discount when you bring your own bag, plus they are way cuter and can usually hold more stuff.
- Reusable bottles. One of the first papers I wrote about in college was about conservation of Manatees, but there was also one about how horrible plastic water bottles are for us and the planet. I try to use reusable bottles and cups whenever I can to cut down on waste and save money. This is not always the most convenient and it takes work, but I try because it’s the right thing to do.
- Smart Driving. Driving habits contribute to 30% of the difference in miles per gallon. By accelerating slowly and smoothly and being cruise control’s biggest fan, I save more than a ton of CO2 from escaping. This is also because I hate paying at the pump.
These are just a few of the things I try to implement in my lifestyle to make my footprint a little smaller. Find out about your footprint at http://www.nature.org/greenliving/carboncalculator/