carbon footprints

Reducing Emissions Can Be Habit Forming

By Karen Dante

Every day, there are dozens of things we do without even thinking. When we wake up, we brush our teeth. Before we eat, we wash our hands. When we leave home, we lock the door. These habits, like fastening our seatbelts or looking both ways before we cross the street, keep us healthier and safer.

It’s not such a big step to build similar habits that reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. There are lots of simple habits you can acquire to reduce emissions and protect the climate. If everyone does their part, small simple steps add up to big changes.

Here are some easy ways to incorporate habits to protect the climate –

  • Turn off the lights when you leave the room.
  • Check your tire pressure regularly.
  • Recycle bottles, instead of throwing them out.
  • Print double sided, instead of single sided.
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth.
  • When a light burns out, replace it with an ENERGY STAR light.
  • Get in the habit of unplugging electronics not in use. Consumer electronics account for 15% of household electricity.
  • Give your car a break. Bike, walk, carpool or take public transportation. This action not only reduces your carbon footprint, but also promotes an active and healthy lifestyle.
  • Turn your thermostat a few degrees cooler in the winter, and warmer in the summer.
  • Calculate your household’s carbon footprint and learn ways to reduce emissions, energy use and waste disposal costs.

Other easy things to do that can be slightly bigger investments –

  • Look for the ENERGY STAR label when buying appliances/ office equipment. The typical household spends more than $2,100 a year on energy bills. With ENERGY STAR, you can save over one-third or more than $700 on your household energy bills.

If you keep following the simple steps, you can make reducing climate change a daily habit – as easy as brushing your teeth!

Click here to learn more about other ways to protect the climate, reduce air pollution and save money.

About the author: Karen Dante is an ORISE Fellow supporting the communications team in the Climate Change Division within the Office of Air and Radiation. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science in biology and psychology from Queen’s University and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Environmental Science and Policy at John’s Hopkins University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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When Average Is Just Not Good Enough

By Lina Younes

This past weekend, I went to the Earth Day festivities at the National Mall with my youngest daughter and one of her friends. We visited the National Sustainable Design Expo-P3 , the NASA exhibits and activities and other booths in the area. While we eagerly participated in the events, one of the activities left me somewhat perplexed. Which activity you may ask? The Carbon Footprint Estimator.

In honor of Earth Day at the National Mall and online, there were several variations of the same question “What is your carbon footprint?” While I pride myself in doing my best to go green by saving energy, saving water, reducing waste, and recycling, time and time again all the quizzes I took this weekend gave me the same grade. What is my Green-O-Rometer? How green am I? Response? Just an average Jane. Not something to be proud of in my book.

So, what were my areas of weakness? Basically, the different quizzes/activities revealed that my weakest area was food consumption. That is an area that I think we frequently overlook when we are thinking of going green. How often do we eat processed or packaged foods? How many times do we eat non-locally grown foods? Do we eat enough locally grown fruits and vegetables? In my case, those were the least green-friendly activities that I engaged in on a daily basis.

So now that I’m aware of my area of weakness, I’ll definitely make a conscious effort to improve. Not only will it be greener for the environment, but it will also be healthier for me and my family.

Are you planning any changes in your daily habits? Want to share any green plans with us? We would love to hear from you.

About the author: Lina Younes has been working for EPA since 2002 and currently serves as acting associate director for environmental education. Prior to joining EPA, she was the Washington bureau chief for two Puerto Rican newspapers and she has worked for several government agencies.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Going Green with the Girl Scouts

By Brittney Gordon

I am lucky enough to have great memories from childhood, and some of the most memorable moments come from my days as a Girl Scout. Every week my mom would dress me up in my brownie uniform and take me to our troop meeting to have fun with some of my best friends. From selling cookies to telling stories around the camp fire, Girl Scouts allowed me to have the kind of wholesome American fun that all young girls should get to experience.

With these memories still fresh in my mind I became a Girl Scout leader a few years ago, and had the chance to experience the fun of scouting from the other side. Needless to say, I am a strong believer in the Girl Scouts and I am always excited to read about the latest ways that they are reaching young women. Imagine my surprise when I found out that EPA’s ENERGY STAR program is partnering with the Girl Scouts this year, and helping to make protecting the climate as common to scouting as selling those delicious cookies.

GS-Forever-GreenIn celebration of their 100th anniversary, the Girl Scouts are kicking off Girl Scouts Forever Green in 2012. This global action effort is focused on waste reduction, energy conservation and rain gardens. This March the Girl Scouts will begin engaging their friends and families in making small changes to lower their carbon footprint. The girls will be replacing incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified light bulbs throughout their communities. On March 31st they will participate in the worldwide Earth Hour movement by turning off their lights for one hour.

EPA’s ENERGY STAR program is excited to work as the environmental education partner for the Girl Scouts during this anniversary year. Girl Scouts from across the country will be able to take a customized version of the ENERGY STAR Pledge on their own website, learning how to save energy and protect the environment with EPA’s help. For EPA this is a great way to spread the word about energy efficiency with the future leaders of America.

If you have a Girl Scout at home, make sure that she takes the ENERGY STAR Pledge on the Girl Scout’s website. If you have yet to take the ENERGY STAR Pledge, take it here.

About the author: Brittney Gordon is a member of the communication’s team at EPA’s ENERGY STAR program.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.