Today is Earth Day. I believe that taking care of the environment is a responsibility we should all share. No one should have to breathe polluted air or drink water that's contaminated with mercury. The thing about the environment is that we have to be collectively responsible for it, because it affects us all.
Recently I have become convinced of the need to reduce my personal carbon footprint. "Carbon footprint" is a term that refers to the amount of greenhouse gases that an individual's daily actions release into the atmostphere. Ideally, each of us would release as few greenhouse gases into the atmosphere as possible.
It's really simple to reduce your carbon footprint. Here are some steps I've taken to reduce mine:
- Turning off lights and other electronic items when they are not in use (eg, not leaving on the DVD player if the television isn't on).
- Unplugging my cell phone as soon as it's finished charging.
- Recycling as much as possible.
- Driving less and relying on public transportation whenever possible.
- Using cloth shopping bags at the grocery store instead of getting plastic or paper bags there. This is so easy - I keep the bags in my car so they're there when I need them.
- Buying products that use less packaging. Once you start thinking about this, you really notice how much superfluous plastic there is on so many products. I try to buy the ones in cardboard boxes, or those products with minimal packiging.
- Buying organic produce whenever possible. I don't know if this is always true, but I've definitely noticed that organic produce is higher quality than the alternative.
- Printing double-sided pages (and two pages to each side).
- Turning off my desk lights when I'm away from my desk at work.
Here are some other ways to reduce my carbon fooprint that I'm hoping to start soon:
- Unplugging all devices that are not in use. Standby power (like for your computer or television) wastes lots of energy. I think using a power strip (where I can just click "on" and "off" for several devices at once) will make this easier.
- Making a real effort to buy local produce and other products that are made closer to home. Shipping causes serious pollution.
I would never describe myself as an environmentalist, but I do believe that I'm responsible for not wasting the earth's precious resources. If you're interested in reducing your carbon footprint, here's a list of good ways to get started. If you'd like to know your carbon footprint, here's a calculator.