FYI

Help save the planet by reducing your carbon footprint with simple lifestyle changesWalk the TalkTaking Steps to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

By Lori Hutzler Eckert

This morning, as you made your coffee, showered and drove to work, odds are you probably didn’t think much about the imprint you are making on the world. But the fact is, all those simple daily activities, and many more, will leave a telltale sign of our current society.

In our ever-present pursuit of convenience and speed, many researchers believe we are each increasing the size of our “carbon footprint” at an alarming rate, and thus the global-warming debate ensues.

Simply put, a person’s carbon footprint is the indelible signature that he or she leaves on the environment. More technically, it is the measure of man-made greenhouse gases that a person’s lifestyle adds to the atmosphere, typically expressed in metric tons of carbon dioxide, or CO2.

Making a commitment to decrease the size of your carbon footprint, or your atmospheric CO2 emission, doesn’t mean going back to the “Little House on the Prairie” days. It can be done in simple, easy ways – many of which can be insignificant in your day-to-day activities, yet could yield a positive effect on the environment.

The first step is to determine the scope of your footprint. The Internet offers a plethora of sites with carbon footprint calculators. Household fuel sources, including electricity and mode and frequency of transportation (frequent fliers beware) are the biggest indicators of an individual’s output of greenhouse gases.

Once you determine your footprint size, the goal is to shrink it to the point of becoming as CO2-neutral as possible through a variety of lifestyle changes. A good start is with lighting: If you replace traditional light bulbs with efficient florescent bulbs, the amount of energy consumed is reduced by as much as 50 percent.

Other easy steps include carpooling, washing clothes on the “cold” cycle and a new trend that embraces eating locally grown foods. For example, in Tallahassee, the seafood offered in many restaurants and in seafood markets is caught in the Gulf of Mexico. It is not frozen and trucked thousands of miles, saving energy and cutting down on what researchers call “carbon costs.”

While the full effect of greenhouse gases, as well as the benefits of energy efficiency in the name of environmental protection, won’t truly be realized for many years to come, the risk of ignoring the issue could prove catastrophic. So take a few moments to learn more about reducing your carbon footprint; you could save a little money for yourself and help save the planet for future generations.

Did you know?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if every home replaced five conventional light bulbs with five energy-saving bulbs, 1 trillion pounds of greenhouse-gas emissions would be prevented.

Siteseeing

BP.com British Petroleum, one of the world’s largest energy companies, hosts this site, which offers a very detailed carbon-footprint calculator and quiz.

EPA.gov/climatechange The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency offers several pages on its site for the whole family, breaking tips down into categories for home, school, work and on the road, as well as a page of related games for kids.

StopGlobalWarming.com This site features many useful tips for cutting back household emissions and, in many cases, reports how much money you save with each effort.

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