So, like every person trying to do their part to reduce their personal carbon emissions and make the most of the natural resources we all consume you recycle right? If you’re an average Planet Green reader you probably do a bit more than the average US citizen who recycles about one third of the waste they produce, preventing about 1600 pounds of carbon being released into the atmosphere. That’s a good thing, but do you want to do even more? Here are five things you can do which reduce your emissions as much or more than recycling:
Drink Less Bottled Water = 2.6 Tons CO2
You’ve probably heard it dozens of times, you really should be avoiding bottled water. It uses figurative tons of resources to bottle and ship to you, and much of the time (at least in the developed world) is no more pure than the water coming out of your tap. Even if you regularly drink tap water there’s probably some time when you’ve forgotten your water bottle, or the tap water isn’t exactly palatable, whatever. So you reluctantly buy a bottle of water. But oh how fast those emissions add up! Even if you only do this once per month, over the year you’ve just emitted 2.6 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere. Twice as much as you’ve saved by recycling. So, really make the effort and reduce your bottled water consumption.
Related: The Story of Bottled Water
Skip One Mid-Range Flight = 1 Ton CO2
I know that if you live in the United States your long range public transportation options aren’t as diverse or convenient as some other places in the world, but in terms of reducing your personal carbon emissions reducing the amount you fly adds up quickly. Simply skipping one mid-range flight (say from New York City to St. Louis, Missouri) reduces your emissions as much as one full year of recycling, by about 1970 pounds per flight on that route. If you travel frequently for work, investigate other options such as video conferencing, and if you have family that live halfway across the country try to combine smaller trips into one longer one or simply go less frequently. You’re serious about reducing your emissions, right?
Go Vegetarian (or Vegan) = 1 to 2 Tons CO2
I know I say it all the time, but cutting meat out of your diet has a large impact on your lifestyle carbon emissions. And can lower your food bill by 20 percent to boot! The emissions and resources needed to raise animals for food are so much higher than for raising vegetables that by eating a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet you can save about one ton of carbon emissions each year compared to your carnivorous friends. Cut out eggs and cheese and save two tons per year.
Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water & Air Dry Them = 1 Ton CO2
Another perennial favorite suggestion on Planet Green that really works: Wash in cold water and air dry. There are plenty of detergents now that work as well in cold water as they do in hot, and even in the middle of winter shirts dry in a couple of hours on an indoor drying rack (or in the case of my shirts, as I write this, on my shower curtain rod). How much will you save by a very slight tweak in your laundering routine? You guessed it: As much as recycling your paper, plastic and metal for an entire year.
Related: Clean Clothes, Happier Planet
Sign Up For Green Power = 7 Tons CO2
Again, I’ve said this before but here’s the one thing that is probably the quickest and most effective thing you can do to reduce your carbon emissions: Enroll in a green power program with your utility. While the exact electricity mix varies from state to state, based on the average mix in the United States, by choosing green power from your utility you can reduce you carbon emission by some 7 tons per year. And at the same time send a message to your utility that they better start investing in some more wind farms, because more and more people are committed to greening the national power supply. Yes, a few minutes and one phone call can reduce your personal carbon emissions seven times as much as recycling.