Hanging garden. Photo by me'nthedogs,' Flickr.
In preparation for Earth Day, we asked our WildAlert subscribers what they do on an individual basis to combat climate change. We heard all kinds of great ideas from simple everyday efforts to major undertakings. As April 22 approaches, we’d like to share a sampling of those stories and tips. Check out today’s installation and come back Monday for more.
You can also check out our own staff’s tips for combating global warming here.
My husband and I are converting most of our lawn into plant beds, which means less mowing (and less gas to power the mower), and more plants removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This year we're also planning on planting our own vegetables (we're starting small, for practice), and making more use of our farmer's markets, as well as asking for more local produce to be sold in our supermarkets...we're joining the local food movement, reducing demand for produce shipped from far away, which will in turn help reduce the amount of fossil fuel utilized for shipping these products.
We have greatly reduced electricity use in our home by unplugging most appliances with digital displays, turning our heat down when we're not at home, and keeping it low in general. We even got rid of cable, and have reduced the time the TV is on by at least 40 hours a week! (I can't believe we used to watch so much TV). We are continuously looking to find ways to reduce our carbon footprint...this is a decent start.
- Indira, Tacoma, Washington
This works best in a 1 or 2-person household. Your water heater is one of the most wasteful appliances you own. I know there's energy efficient water heaters, but this is for those of us who can't afford to upgrade. I simply hit the breaker switch and turn it off . I only turn it on for 45 minutes in the morning and it delivers hot water until the end of the day. The thermostat is already turned down, but it still wastes power keeping the water heated 24 hours a day. Unless you do what I do. Forty-five minutes a day switched on is all the hot water anyone would need, unless they use a dishwasher or washing machine. Then more time would be needed. Saves $10 to 15 a month also!
- Chuck, Nashville, Tennessee
We sold two gas guzzling vehicles, a Ford F-250 and a VW Eurovan Camper, bought a Toyota Matrix and a motorcycle for commuting, and moved to a new place where we can garden to raise some of our own food, so that the vegetables are fresh and we don't have to have them transported to us.
- Thomas, Vilas, North Carolina
I always bring bags with me to the grocery store to avoid petroleum-based plastic bags, and even if I go to a department store, I bring a bag from that store from a previous trip instead of using a new one. I try to get most of my produce from our farmer's market, which is not shipped or trucked long distances. If I go out to eat, I bring a reusable container if I think I'll have leftovers. Also, when I eat red meat, I've been switching to sustainably raised grass-fed meat from the farmer's market.
- Lauryn, Queens, New York
My husband and I have made a lot of little changes and a couple of big ones to do our part not to contribute to global climate change. The big changes: adding solar panels to our roof to offset our electricity usage and keeping our yards and garden beds as organic as possible - no chemicals and less water usage. Some of the small changes; using cloth napkins, using canvas grocery bags at all stores not just for groceries, unplugging unused appliances and turning off power strips, using all organic cleaners, soaps, and personal hygiene products, shopping at the local farmer's market, growing some of our own fruits and vegetables, combining errand trips in the car, driving slower, composting kitchen scraps. We have even cut our garbage output from two cans a week to two or three cans a month. All of these changes are not only good for the planet they have been pretty good to our wallets too.
- Kay, Brentwood, Calif.
The worst cause of greenhouse gas emissions is the animal agricultural industry, so I don't eat animals or consume animal products. We eat primarily organic fruits and vegetables. (Our health has improved!) Instead of driving a vehicle, I walk, ride my bike or take a bus. I am a single mother — if I can do it anyone can! Besides recycling everything possible, I buy clothes and other household items in thrift stores, and use recycled paper products. Whenever I eat in a restaurant, I tear the napkin in half and pocket the other half for use at a later time (I have not bought paper towels in years.) When washing dishes (only with "green soap") I wet dishes, turn water off, wash, then turn on again to rinse. I also only flush my toilets when necessary. With laundering clothes, I am careful which cleaning products to use and only launder clothes when necessary-most articles of clothing can be re-worn a few times before laundering. I try to use rags and washcloths or rinse our hands after eating, instead of using paper towels. I use a "low-flow" shower head and shower a few times a week (it removes natural body oils anyway) and am very conscientious about the products I inadvertently pour down the drain. I am raising my child to have a small carbon footprint — she even helps me pick up trash around parks and streams, and wants to help our planet and everyone living in it.
- Anna, Denver, Colorado
I am using the sun and wind as much as possible for drying laundry, turning off lights, recycling any and everything recyclable, eating less meat, gathering trash in the wooded creek area behind my home. It's a small area, a blip on the radar but it's my (and my dogs) little piece of Heaven. I'm also becoming annoying to any "captive" in earshot about loving and protecting this planet and ALL of its inhabitants.
- Lee Anne, Grapevine, Texas
We are using cloth bags instead of plastic for our groceries, have bought the energy saver light bulbs, turn our heat down to 65 at night and up to 70 during the day. I consider that pretty good since I am 81 yrs. old. I just wear a sweater over my sweat suit in the winter. My home is well built and well insulated because we did the work ourselves and my fiancé was a Master Builder. We also turn off all lights we don't need and only have a small night light in each of our bathrooms for safety reasons. Plus we turn off our computers for the night and only have the TV on if there is something we want to watch. My daughter is planting a small garden this spring and we also buy fresh fruits and vegetables at farm stands in the area. I am a great signer of petitions — must sign ten or so a day on every possible way to save our beautiful Earth...
- Sibyl, Galway, New York
My husband and I have two cars and we used to drive our own car into the city where we work. Since we both work n the same city, we decided to start riding in together. He changed his shop hours to accommodate my school's start and end time. This has become a blessing in disguise. We enjoy spending time together talking about our day on the way home. We have also saved money on gas and car maintenance. Other people have noticed what we are doing, and they are doing the same thing. All it takes is a little planning, cooperation, and flexibility!!
- JoAnne, Baker, Florida
Hanging garden. Photo by me'nthedogs,' Flickr.
Hybrid plug-in car. Photo by jurvetson, Flickr.