- Earth Day
Today marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Dedee Johnston, director of sustainability at Wake Forest University, is challenging people to make April 22nd a Day of Action by adopting at least one of the 10 following lifestyle changes with the greatest potential for impact.
1. Walk, bike, or carpool: 40% of all trips are two miles or less; 90% of those trips are taken by car. If one out of 10 people switched to an alternative form of transportation, CO2 emissions would drop by 25.4 million tons per year.
2. Get an energy audit: Slightly more than 20% of all energy is consumed in homes. A home energy audit is the first step to find out much energy your home consumes and how you can cut down on power usage.
3. Weatherize your home or office: For every $1 spent on weatherization, $1.80 is saved over time. Weatherization can reduce energy bills by 32%, and weatherized homes save an average of $218 per year on energy bills.
4. Buy energy efficient appliances: It’s a good idea to replace older, inefficient appliances with energy efficient ENERGY STAR qualified appliances. In some cases, instant rebates are available for refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers and dishwashers.
5. Power down and unplug electronics:Many appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. In the average home, 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics and appliances is consumed while the products are turned off!
6. Buy local: In addition to the reduced transportation footprint of local economic activity, buying local has a strong effect in the economy. A 10% change in purchasing from national chain stores to locally owned businesses each year would create 1,300 new jobs and yield nearly $200 million in incremental economic activity.
7. Invest in Durable, Re-usable Products: As one example, the manufacturing of bottles to meet the American demand for bottled water requires more than 1.5 million barrels of oil each year, enough to fuel 100,000 cars for a year. Each year, over 500 billion disposable bags are consumed worldwide (1 million every minute). Decreasing the number of disposable products in your life decreases the carbon footprint of manufacturing, transportation and disposal.
8. Eat local and in season: The average meal travels anywhere between 1,200 to 2,500 miles from farm to plate. A basic diet of imported ingredients can require up to four times the energy of an equivalent locally-sourced diet.
9. Plant an organic garden: Research suggests that the conversion of 10,000 small- to medium-sized farms to organic production practices would store carbon in the soil equivalent to taking 1,174,400 cars off the road.
10. Conserve water: Up to 30% of a household’s energy footprint can come from moving water from its source to the home. A faucet that is dripping just one drip per second will waste about four gallons of water in one day, or 1,400 gallons a year. The average household could conserve water by 34% per year by installing water-efficient fixtures and appliances.