Dear EarthTalk: My New Year's Resolution is to reduce my “carbon footprint” to help fight global warming. Do you have suggestions for ways I can make good on my promise? -- Carrie Johnson
There’s never been a more urgent time to reduce your carbon footprint. With the U.S. government still opting out of mandatory emissions cuts, it's up to every individual, business owner and city or state government to take steps. So here are 10 ways to get you started in the new year:
(1) Step-up Recycling and Composting. Recycling prevents carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by saving the energy it takes to make products from new materials and by saving the energy it takes to incinerate or landfill what we discard. And composting food scraps turns organic material back into fertile soil, which itself is an efficient carbon “sink.” To get started, see: www.earth911.org and www.howtocompost.org.
(2) Stay close or stay put: About half the CO2 we generate comes from our car trips, so walk, bike or take mass transit instead. Air travel also produces huge amounts of CO2, so the less you fly, the smaller your carbon footprint. See: www.culturechange.org.
(3) Eat organic and local: Stick to foods produced organically and you prevent harmful pesticides and fertilizers from polluting air, waterways, soils and family members. And if the food is grown nearby, thousands of pounds of CO2 weren’t emitted getting it to your grocery store. See: www.100milediet.org.
(4) Buy green power. Your power company might just source part of its supply from renewable sources like hydro-electric or wind, and will sell it to customers who know to ask for it. See: www.green-e.org.
(5) Change out your lightbulbs. A compact fluorescent lightbulb (CFL) uses less than a third of the energy of an incandescent bulb to produce the same amount of light