The very first time that I heard the term “carbon footprint”, my thought was “that would be a great name for a hard rock band”. You know a group of high school kids that have decided to make a run at Metallica fame by practicing in the garage and hoping to get a chance to play at the dance.
Little did I know what life with kids would do to change my tongue and cheek approach to saving our planet.
While my wife was pregnant with our first child, we happened across the documentary “Forks Over Knives” and our minds were peeled back. Like any good glutton, I devoured media in an effort to learn more about extending my time on the planet by preserving my body and the ground we were walking on. Enter the term “carbon footprint”.
The best part about a term so ominous and daunting was that with simple steps, anybody’s carbon footprint is reversible, or at least able to be less impressionable. For most, including myself, starting out is the hardest part. Once I decided to minimize my carbon footprint I wanted to walk out my front door to a lush garden full of my food for the week, get into my Prius and drive to my job saving the whales, but finding my starting point was elusive.
Here then are 5 practical ways that you can make simple adjustments to your daily routine that will feed your desire to preserve our habitat, without having to move to Alaska and homestead, although I reserve the right to do that later.
This one is tough for people to wrap their mind around, only because we have been doing it this way for so long. Keep in mind the adage that 28 consistent days of anything builds a habit. For goodness sake, let the dishwasher do the job it was invented for. How often do we get wrapped up in the process and load dishes into the dishwasher that are spotless? Scrape and load. You will save up to 20 gallons of water on each load, not to mention the energy used for heating.
Be a Vegetarian on Mondays
This is a really good suggestion for two reasons. First of all the science: It takes 2,500 gallons of water for every pound of beef produced…YIKES and 55 square feet of land is cleared (deforested) for each burger that you eat. Secondly, you are going to love the way that eating veggie makes you feel, I guarantee it. After one month you may decide to add a day, then another, and then who knows, I might be asking you over for dinner one night.
Turn Off the Faucet When Brushing
I had a girlfriend once that told her young kids that every time you leave the water running when you brush, it makes a penguin cry. I thought this was a little harsh at first, but they never ran the water and now, long after the memory of her has faded, I still think about the penguins when my kids are brushing their teeth. If you cut the run, you will save 5 gallons of water a day! If everybody did it, we could conserve 1.5 billion gallons in the US alone daily! Stop making penguins cry you, heartless creature.
In order to make a change, we have to change ourselves. This should include going for that easy brand name item on the shelf every time you need something from bananas to car parts. Next time you are in big name grocery store, drive around back and look at the oil stains in the truck delivery pit. DISGUSTING! Now imagine all the exhaust and energy consumption to bring those products to the shelf. When possible, you should be walking and buying directly from the people that create the product. Check out farmers markets near you and do your weekly shopping there. You will feel wonderful making a difference.
Close Your Damper
We seldom think about the things we don’t see, so it helps to reimagine the truth. Leaving your damper open in the winter is like leaving a living room window open 24/7. No, the damper is not as large but heat rises and constantly looks for ways to escape. Your chimney flu is the highest point on your house, so plenty of opportunity to pour heat (money) out of your chimney. Close it!
So there you have it, 5 ways to begin your quest to a better and greener tomorrow. As you begin to harvest the good feelings associated with being positively proactive, research other ways to make a difference. Before you know it, you will be dancing at Earth Day celebrations and kissing your great grand babies!