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10 Ideas that you can start today to lessen your carbon footprint and save you money!

1. Choose Transportation Wisely Flying has a tremendous amount of negative environmental impact, compared to other transit options, so consider flying as little as possible. Trains, buses, and autos all have significantly less negative impacts. Driving less can be easier than you might think. One of the easiest ways to reduce overall mileage is to plan your trips for multiple purposes – combine the grocery store trip with all of your other errands in the same neighborhood, for example – you’ll save time, fuel, and money. Also, consider walking, riding a bike, or using mass transportation whenever possible – you and the planet will both be more healthy as a result.

2. REUSE and REDUCE, then RECYCLE! Producing, packaging, and shipping products all require a tremendous amount of energy. Purchasing high quality, durable goods or previously used items is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Proper maintenance and care of the items you buy will also reduce the amount of items you buy – saving you money and minimizing your personal impacts. Remember, plastic is made from petroleum – choosing products with minimal packaging is strongly recommended. When a product can no longer be used, recycling its parts is far better than adding to our growing landfills, and again, can reduce your overall footprint.

3. Sign up for Renewable Energy! By subscribing to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, you increase the demand for more renewable energy projects, you help decrease our dependence on foreign oil, and you significantly reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused by you use of electricity.

4. Change your light bulbs! Switching all of you traditional (incandescent) bulbs to modern, efficient CFLs (Compact Florescent Light bulbs) or to LED fixtures will save you money and reduce your carbon footprint by reducing your energy consumption and amount of bulbs you must buy (CFLs and LEDs have a much longer lifespan). Do be sure to properly dispose of CFLs at the end of their life, as they contain Mercury and should not be thrown into your trashcan. Contact your local waste management company for the proper disposal instructions in your area.

5. Buy recycled paper! Trees store a significant amount of carbon, and pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Every time a tree is cut down, there is one less tree converting CO2 to Oxygen, and some or all of the carbon stored in that tree is released back into the atmosphere. Choosing paper made with as much post-consumer recycled content as possible (100% is widely available) saves a tremendous amount of energy and water.

6. Select energy efficient appliances! Look for Energy Star rated appliances, as they are designed to use much less energy than non-rated appliances. There are ample choices for refrigerators, toasters, washing machines, and just about every appliance you use.

7. Insulate yourself and your home! Insulating your home as well as possible will significantly reduce the energy you use for heating and cooling. Additionally, dressing appropriately for the season – inside the home – will make you more comfortable with less energy use. For example, simply wearing a sweater or hat inside during the winter months can make you comfortable with a lower setting on your thermostat.

8. Buy ORGANIC! Most modern fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides used in conventional farming are made from petroleum. There are serious questions and problems related to the use of these chemicals in terms of human and environmental health. By avoiding the use of these chemicals, and using less water and proper soil care techniques, organic farming provides healthier crops with a smaller carbon footprint. Do be aware; however, how far your organic products must be shipped to reach you – buying organic garlic from China requires much more fuel than buying garlic from your local farmer, or growing your own at home.

9. Ask Questions, Read Labels, Vote with your Dollars! Know what you are buying, where it comes from, and select the most “green” option for the product or service you are buying. “Green” generally refers to products and services that are more environmentally and socially responsible than conventional options. For example, organic and fair trade coffee means that the coffee was produced organically, and the farmers were paid fair wages for their work – this is a much better option than buying coffee grown with harsh chemicals and workers that are not properly compensated for their labor. The ReDirect Guide is one way to easily find companies that offer green products and services, for just about everything you buy everyday.

10. Get in Shape! Maintaining good health and a good body weight is a great way to feel better and reduce your carbon footprint – really! How you ask? Consider that most of the food we eat travels a great distance to reach us, and much is pre-processed, canned, or packaged in another manner. By staying healthy and eating the appropriate amount to maintain a proper body weight, you are limiting the fuel use that is directly related to your food consumption.

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