Where do you start?

You finally get that global warming is a HUGE problem. You get that we all need to become A LOT less dependent on oil. You get that we need to start buying products that are made in an environmentally friendly way and using sustainable resources.

Now that you get it you don’t want to hear any more information about the problem of global warming, in fact, you never wanted to hear about it in the first place–you’re not an environmentalist, you’re not an activist, you’re not a scientist, and to be honest, you secretly don’t even care all that much about nature.

The big question now is where do you start making changes? How do you even know what changes you need to make? Is buying a hybrid car and putting solar panels on your house the only that you can do? Or, more to the point, are they the only actions you can take that are actually going to make any significant difference?

No, there are a lot of smaller changes you can make that will have profound positive affects on the environment. By making one change at a time making that lifestyle shift doesn’t have to be so daunting.

As for where to start, you start with the knowledge you already have.

Maybe you have learned that you need to reduce your energy consumption. Do a self evaluation and make a list of all the ways that you use energy. You can also go to Safe Climate and use their calculator to find out your carbon footprint.

Your carbon footprint is a representation of the effect you, or your organization, have on the climate in terms of the total amount of greenhouse gases you produce (measured in units of carbon dioxide). Many of your actions generate carbon emissions, which contribute to accelerating global warming and climate change. By measuring your carbon footprint. . . you can get a better sense of what your individual impact is and which parts of your lifestyle deserve the greatest attention.

Your total carbon footprint would account for the energy used to produce all the products and services you consume, as well as all your other activities, and would be substantially larger [thank the number produced using the carbon footprint calculator]. Home energy use and transportation represent approximately 40% of all U.S. emissions, so for an average person the emissions from these two activities would have to be multiplied by 2.5 to determine the person’s total carbon footprint.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is not the only man-made greenhouse gas – it is simply the one that has accumulated the most in the atmosphere and is presently having the greatest cumulative warming effect on our planet. Human sources of carbon dioxide primarily include the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), and deforestation. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased 30% since pre-industrial times.

SafeClimate typically quotes greenhouse gas units in terms of carbon dioxide (1lb carbon dioxide = 0.2729 lbs of carbon), as well as converting other greenhouse gases into units of carbon dioxide based on their relative global warming potentials. This standardized approach simplifies things and makes for easier and more meaningful comparisons.

Now that you know what you are using energy on and how much, you can begin finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint. You can begin right now by emptying your outlets of the plugs that are currently being stored there. I try to keep all of my outlets empty, minus things like lamps that I am regularly turning on and off. When appliances are plugged in they are taking energy from the outlet even though the appliance is not being used.

Finding ways to reduce the amount of energy you use may take a little research and will mean that you will need to get more informed about what actions you can take. At least now you know where to begin and you can slowly begin to build a repertoire of knowledge that you can draw from and share with others. You can also use a few posts that I have written as resources by going to the one-change homepage and clicking on environment and/or products in the categories section and reading through some of the posts I have written.

Another great resource is My Footprint and take the quiz to find out your Ecological Footprint which estimates you how much “productive land and water you need to support what you use and what you discard”.

  • Mollie

    Thanks for the link Meri.

  • Marivella

    found something you might be interested in: www.JustGive.org is an alternative to traditional gift registries. It gives people a place to make a statement, and then they can choose charities/non-profits for their friends and family to make donations to in lieu of gifts!

    And also, I love you.


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