Each year, Earth Day is celebrated to educate Americans about ecology and what they can do to reduce their environmental impact. Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day in 1970 and it’s still celebrated today to honor our planet. In this post, we’d like to do our part to educate you about a few simple things that you can do today that will protect and honor planet earth without drastically changing your lifestyle.
1. Set Auto Shutdown on Your Laptops
According to Casey Roe, Sustainability Outreach Coordinator, Duke Sustainability Office [source], it takes 60 to 300 trees to absorb the annual impact of a computer that’s left on 24 hours a day, and only 60 percent of US adults turn their computer off during the night. A simple change that you can make today is shutting down your laptops and devices at night.
To make it super simple, in many cases you can set up your computers to shut down or use other energy-saving options (such as sleep or hibernate) automatically. Macs have options that enable you to automatically shut them down during times that you’re not using them.
You can use the Energy Saver preferences in the System Preferences application. Just click the Schedule button, and you can set up the schedule that works for you.
2. Eliminate Junk Mail
According to 41Pounds.org, “more than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail. 42% of timber harvested nationwide becomes pulpwood for paper.” Furthermore, they state, “The world’s temperate forests absorb 2 billion tons of carbon annually. Creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars.”
So what can you do about it? There are services that allow you to stop the influx of junk mail that you receive at your home. And if you’re a marketer, consider more green (digital) options. I recently started using Catalog Choice. Catalog Choice unlists you from marketing lists for catalogs and allows you to search for and choose the catalogs that you no longer wish to receive. What’s neat about the site is you can also view the environmental benefits of your contribution and the contribution of others as a whole.
3. Buy Used or Borrow Things That You Only Use Once in a While
Many of us rush out to buy something new any time we need it. In fact, according to the The Daily Green, “studies have shown that the average power tool is used for only about half an hour it its lifetime.” If statistics are correct, you probably have some lonely and dusty power tools in your garage. Instead of rushing out to the nearest home improvement store, consider purchasing used items and borrowing tools and other items.
Nowadays, there are many choices for borrowing items such as tools, and when you no longer need an item you can consider donating it. In the United States, a “Tool Library” movement has begun and continues to gain momentum, which allows you to borrow several type of home and garden tools. Just perform a local Google Search and you’ll find many options for lending and borrowing.
4. Use Cloud Services
Using Cloud Services is a popular trend, but it also can help you to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. According to Go Green, “large companies adopting the cloud can reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions by 30 percent. The better news is, small businesses even save more energy than the larger counterparts – up to 90 percent.”
We often talk about cloud services and how you can use them to store your documents, photos, and other media to help you achieve your paperless goals (as opposed to printing these items and placing them in file folders). We also commonly talk about how our app, LifeTopix, allows you to access these documents in context with all the things you’re doing and planning in your life. Examples of cloud services that are popular and can be used for free include Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive, Evernote, and Google Drive.
You can refer to their websites to sign up and learn more about these services.
5. Reduce Travel
Whether you’re traveling across town or traveling across the earth, consider video conferencing as an option to reduce your carbon footprint. An article published by Yale University by Elisabeth Rosenthal [source] states that, “According to various estimates, emissions from aviation currently represent 2 to 3 percent of CO2 emissions and are likely to double or triple by 2050.”
To reduce the number of trips that you take, consider video conferencing options. Lower cost and free options that are available include Skype, Google Hangouts, iChat on Apple Computers, or Adobe Connect Pro among many others. Refer to their websites for more information.
6. Cancel Paper Newspaper Subscriptions
Are you still receiving the daily newspaper? Have you ever wondered about the environment impact of that daily newspaper? According to the Daily Green, “The paper industry is the 4th largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions among United States manufacturing industries, and contributes 9% of the manufacturing sector’s carbon emissions” and “Paper accounts for 25% of landfill waste (and one third of municipal landfill waste).”
Understanding this, I investigated a local newspaper and found that there are several options for online, iPad, and various tablet subscriptions. I also found that the tablet choice was more economical than choosing the paper option with full online access. Consequently, there’s no need to give up the subscription altogether.
7. Use Reminders, Notes, Lists, and Calendar Applications
iOS reminders, calendar apps, shopping/to-do list and note apps, and personal organization apps such as LifeTopix are excellent for helping you incorporate green habits into your life, such as reducing the amount of paper that you use. For example, you can use a variety of apps or use LifeTopix to:
- Set a reminder to carry your reusable shopping bags to the grocery store or farmer’s market.
- Schedule times that local farmers sell at the markets.
- Schedule recycling day.
- Create digital shopping lists and ditch the paper lists.
- Stop using paper notes and create digital to-do lists and notes.
- Set reminders to turn off the lights in your house.
8. Better Plan Your Errands and Carpool
One great way to reduce emissions is to cut back on the amount of time you spend in your car commuting and running errands. According to the EPA, “Leaving your car at home just two days a week can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by an average of two tons per year.”
Your built-in map app on your iOS device or Google maps can help you plan the most efficient route when running errands. And, if you use an app such as LifeTopix, you can use the handy Near Me feature to view shopping and other items on your map to ensure you’re taking advantage of the best route.
There are several websites and apps that can help you find ways to carpool. Social media is also a great way to arrange rides with friends.
Please comment and let us know your tips for reducing your carbon footprint. We love to hear from our readers.