Reduce Your Carbon Impact by 15% in 12 Easy Steps


Article by Annie Scott, first published March 2010 at

I’m America, and I’m a pollutionoholic.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has some good news for us all: the US can cut its carbon pollution by 15 percent right now if we all take simple steps. Know how much pollution that is? One. Billion. Tons. Yes we can!

We all know that we should do certain things to keep pollution levels low, but never before have we been told exactly what to do and exactly how much it will help. Hopefully, this is enough to get you and me and everyone we know motivated!

Here’s what you have to do:

1. Use a programmable thermostat and set it to cool down when you’re asleep or out.

2. Reduce your “vampire” electrical usage; unplug stuff that’s charged, unplug the extra refrigerator, turn off the lights (just like your dad said). This will also save you money on your electric bill. Sweet!

3. Consume less red meat and dairy. What’s “less”? Well, think about how many times per day you have a serving of red meat or dairy. Try to halve it. If you’re worried about your calcium, think about other foods like salmon, spinach, okra, almonds … there’s a list here. Here’s where you can get some iron. Delicious – and likely to help you shed some pounds.

4. Waste less food. This is a no-brainer. Nobody’s going to watch you and make sure you eat every pea on your plate, but don’t let your leftovers go bad, don’t buy more perishables than you can consume before they perish. If you want to go all the way, become a freegan dumpster diver, but 25 percent less wasted food will do the trick.

5. Recycle whenever possible. Permission to not recycle when it’s impossible: granted.

6. Replace your incandescent bulbs with CFLs.

7. Reduce motor vehicle idling and maintain your vehicle properly so it doesn’t go spewing noxious gases everywhere. Again, saves money!

8. Carpool twice or telecommute once per week. Propose telecommuting to your boss with environmental intentions and you may finally get your wish!

9. If you fly more than three times per year, fly one less time.

10. Fix your leaks to cut heat loss.

11. Use hot water efficiently – did you know that you can save energy just by insulating your water heater? You can also keep it at a lower temp and use efficient faucets and showerheads. Also, do your laundry in cold water. It keeps the colors brighter anyway.

12. Next time you replace an appliance, get an EnergyStar certified one. This can save electricity and even get you a tax break in some cases.

That’s it. Twelve steps to 15 percent less pollution. Are you in? I am. You can sign up to be part of the movement here, and check out the NRDC’s full analysis and report here.

Editor’s note: Article by Annie Scott. Originally published by our friends at Tonic is a digital media company and news source dedicated to promoting the good that happens each day around the world. Tonic tells the stories of people and organizations who are working to make a difference, by inspiring good in themselves and others. Be sure to visit them and say hi, and follow Tonic on Twitter, too!


Photo by *~Dawn~* via Flickr.