As Americans, we are recognized as intellectual world leaders and I believe that we will find the solution to climate change. It’s not just our scientists or our new technologies that will help towards the solution, it’s our everyday people. There are a lot of things that we can do, as individuals and as a community, to alleviate climate change. But we need to start now.
We have to use less energy in order to reduce our CO2 emissions and our carbon footprint. Calculating one’s carbon footprint is the primary way to measure how much CO2 an individual personally consumes and it is our responsibility to diminish our own impact on the environment. (Estimate of your carbon footprint by visiting: www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/ind_calculator.html). The most effective way to do this is by buying locally grown, produced and manufactured goods; using less energy; and decreasing the amount of garbage you produce. Going green will help you live better, support our local economy and, in the long run, save money.
As we celebrate the Earth this week, we are reminded about our impact on the planet and we are challenged to think of ways we, as individuals, can become energy efficient and save money in the process. Here some ways to integrate going green into your daily routine:
1. Buy Local: supporting local businesses and manufacturers not only serve as an economic engine for the community, it reduces CO2 emissions. When products are shipped in from foreign countries, there is a tremendous amount carbon emissions associated with the trip. Furthermore, products made abroad tend to be mass-produced and of less quality, requiring a heavier manufacturing process and more packaging, which generates more waste.
2. Drive Less: even if it’s once a week, try biking, walking, taking public transportation or car-pooling. With roughly seven-hundred million cars on the road worldwide, over thirty percent of America’s CO2 emissions come from vehicles, acting as one of the leading causes of Global Warming. Driving less not only helps the environment, it saves you money and helps you get into shape!
3. Use Fuel Efficient Vehicles: using fuel efficient vehicles can reduce carbon emissions and oil consumption by fifty percent. Drive a hybrid, small car, motorcycle or scooter. It will help the environment and reduce your gas bill. My hybrid has saved me five-hundred dollars annually from fuel alone. Also, when I drive to Manhattan, I try to carpool at least two to three people.
4. Recycle: it’s the best ways to help the environment. Recycling reduces garbage in landfills, reduces carbon emissions by reducing manufacturing and transportation emissions and enables our Earth’s natural resources to be more evenly distributed among the world’s population. To find one of the many recycling center near you, visit www.recyclingcenters.org and type in your zip code. Remember to ask about curb-side pick-up schedules of recyclable materials and how you can get your own recycling bin. Recycling is also about reusing bags when you go to the grocery store or reusing your mugs every time you go to refill your coffee.
5. Use Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CFLs): CFLs use twenty-five percent less energy than standard light bulbs and last ten times longer. When you can’t use CFLs, replace standard bulbs with halogen bulbs.
6. Use Power Strips: most electronics continue to use electricity if they are left plugged in, even when they are turned off. When electronic equipment is plugged in and not in use, it uses of ten percent of the electricity used in most homes. An easy way to fix this is by plugging all your electronics into power strips which provide an easy way to turn power on and off.
7. Turn Off Your AC When Not In Use: install a programmable thermostat or use a timer to turn on your air conditioner a half hour before you return home. Contact Con Edison for a free programmable thermostat by visiting www.conEd.com/cool or calling 866-521-8600. Also, with roughly forty percent of unwanted heat coming in through the window, make sure to close your shades, curtains and blinds to keep out the sun.
8. Energy Audit Your Home: buildings contribute to seventy percent of our City’s carbon emissions. Improve your home’s energy efficiency by contacting the Community Environmental Center (found on-line: www.cecenter.org) to schedule a home audit which could save you thirty percent on your utility bills.
9. Compost Your Food: did you know that a lot of your food waste can become nutrients for the soil in your garden? Join or create a compost or community garden, which will decrease waste in landfills. Learn more about composting by contacting the Queens Botanical Gardens (found on-line: www.queensbotanical.org)
10. Educate Yourself and Spread the Word! My office has created a booklet of detailed information on global warming, more ways to decrease your carbon footprint and other resources. Please contact us at 718-366-3900 or visit us at our office at 64-77 Dry Harbor Road, Middle Village, Queens 11379.
The future of the planet and all its inhabitants depend on us Americans to modify our lifestyles. Climate change may seem to be a slow process but since the industrial revolution, it has accelerated at an alarming rate. If we all do our own part and work together as a community, we will save the environment, improve our health, save money and create a better future for our children.