7 Ways to Minimize Your Carbon Footprint

  1. Stop Eating (Or Eat Less) Meat – When you think of climate change, you don’t automatically think of cows and chickens being responsible. But raising livestock for consumption creates a large amount of fossil fuels and emissions. Red meat is more responsible for these emissions than their poultry counterparts. Animals that are categorized as red meat consume 11 times more water and produce 5 times more emissions then poultry. To get a single pound of beef, it takes over 5,000 gallons of water. (Animal Agriculture is the number one consumer of fresh water in the world- which is a leading problem for water scarcity.) The average american eats 8.5 pounds of meat per day, by cutting this number by nearly half you are making a huge difference in the environment. While the best option is to cut meat out of your diet completely (not just for your carbon footprint but also for health benefits) it is not an option for everyone. Small changes in your diet, like eating meat only twice a week rather than 4 or 5 times a week is a step in the right direction for saving the environment.
  2. Unplug Devices – What if I told you ‘Vampire Power’ was a real and scary thing. Every year (in the U.S. alone) $19 billion of energy is drained from vampire power. What is it? Whenever a plug is plugged in a socket, it is draining power. The cord doesn’t necessarily have to be plugged into anything either. By leaving your electronics unplugged if you are not using them you are saving energy. So even if your phone is powered down and plugged into the wall, its sucking energy and using the infamous vampire power.
  3. Drive Less – For years people have been urged to not use their cars as their number one means of transportation. Using public transport, walking or riding a bike has always been the solution to lowering fossil fuel emissions in the atmosphere. Currently there are over 65 million cyclists in the United States (a number that has risen in the past 5 years.) Many people opt to bike to work, especially with the addition of bike lanes. Major cities are also making it easier to not own a car. Populations are continuously rising in cities, which forced public transportation such as buses, trains and subways to become more effective. U.S. public transport saves roughly 37 million tons of carbon emissions every year. 
  4. Don’t Buy ‘Fast Fashion’ – Everyone loves a good sale, $5 for a t-shirt? Count me in! But what if I told you that $5 tee will end up in a landfill by next year? Mass production of clothing in the fashion industry allows for cheap prices, but with the ever changing fashion “cycles” it becomes outdated quickly. To justify buying the latest trends in clothing, we tend to go through our wardrobes and dispose of old pieces that are off-trend. Clothing that costed less is more justified to be thrown out, because “I only payed $5 for it- I got my use out of it.” When clothing sits in a landfill, it can cause water contamination from the dyes and carcinogens in the fibers, reduce biodiversity and have negative impacts on health. Not only clothing sitting in the landfill is harmful, but the shipping and production step is too. Chemical runoff from garment factories and the oil required to ship products overseas creating fossil fuels is detrimental to the environment. To combat this clothing dilemma, try re-purposing old clothing for rags, buying local and handmade pieces, buy vintage or secondhand, host clothing swaps with family and friends and donate old clothes you don’t want.
  5. Plant A Garden – A quick way to reduce your carbon footprint is to plant greenery. Plants absorb CO2, which is beneficial for humans and the environment. Planting a garden in a city setting is even better. Large cities often have the “urban heat island effect” which needs to be reduced. This effect is when heat is trapped in the surrounding areas from vast amounts of concrete, buildings and large groups of people. Creating green spaces, leads to better cooling which is a necessity with the climate change happening.
  6. Eat Local (And Organic) – Eating local foods that are in season are the best option. Food purchased from a store has been grown in an area far from you, and was picked and packaged early (to ensure it wouldn’t go bad before reaching the store.) Not to mention the fossil fuels emitted from the transportation it took to get there. Buying local also supports the local economy and promotes food security. 
  7. Line Dry Clothing – You can save 1/3 of your carbon footprint by simply line drying your clothing. A single load of laundry in the dryer uses 5 times more electricity than washing. Running the dryer is equivalent to turning on 225 light bulbs for an hour. The Tumblr dryer is one of the top energy-consuming appliances in a household. 

These 7 tips are a simple and easy way to lower your carbon footprint. They are all immediately effective and can be accomplished by everyone. Get out there and save the environment!

Thank you to Huffington Post for the original information. You can read more here.

What Is The Best Rock Salt?

It’s winter- which means cold weather, snow and ice. To avoid slipping and seriously hurting you or your family, it is necessary to melt that ice. Although all salts and de-icers work in the same way, they are not created or contain the same materials. Some of which, are harmful to the environment and pets. So what is the best rock salt/de-icer to use? 

Sodium Chloride- This is the cheapest rock salt you will find available. However, it is also the worst kind you can purchase. It has the ability to kill plants and trees, corrode cars, crack concrete and asphalt, and poison wildlife (this means your pets too!) 

Calcium Chloride- This is a better option compared to Sodium Chloride, but it still isn’t the best. It is effective in cold temperatures, and usually is sold as “pet safe.” However, being deemed as pet safe, isn’t all it should be. It can still irritate the paws of your four legged friends. If you use this, be sure to rinse and wipe off their paws after trekking over it outside. Protect your own hands as well by wearing gloves while handling. 

Potassium Chloride- This is exactly what you think- its the component of all those balanced fertilizers (its the K in the N-P-K ratio.) At amounts high enough to melt ice, it can also harm or even kill plants. 

Magnesium Chloride- This works well in colder temperatures (about 10 degrees below.) It dissolves to coat and melt ice quickly, and as a plus it isn’t as likely to hurt your pet’s paws. The only downside is that it can cost up to twice as much as Calcium Chloride. 

Always apply the least effective amount of any Chloride product when melting ice. All of them have the potential to damage driveways and sidewalks. Over the summer, apply a waterproof seal to the drive and walk ways can offer protection from ice cracks for a few years. 

Natural Products- A method that seems a little unorthodox is by using products that can be found in your cabinets. Mixing sugar, beet juice and molasses with smaller amounts of any of the rock salts listed above can be effective in even lower temperatures. The syrup mix is supposed to lower the salts melting point farther then listed on the packaging! Since the mixture is sticky, it adheres to the ground- which eliminates any kick back. Sure it may not be the best option for your driveway, but its worth a shot.

Kitty Litter/Sand- This is the most environment-friendly/green option. Its the best for plants, pets and groundwater. Buy the non-clumping clay litter or buy sand. It wont melt your ice, but it will provide that necessary traction to minimize slippage. 

Thank you to Jessica Damiano for the original information. You can read more here.