What you can do 2012


Day 1- Ash Wednesday --What you can do today

Calculate your carbon footprint today at climatecare.orgcarbonfund.org or www.nativeenergy.com and find out what you can do to minimize it, including purchasing carbon offsets. 

Day 2- What you can do today

Say no to bottled water and drink tap water. Buy a refillable, washable bottle to use instead. More than 150 billion liters of bottled water are sold worldwide every year. This contributes significantly to landfill and transport emissions. To learn more about the environmental impact of bottled water, please click here.  To eliminate undesirable chemicals and additives in your drinking water, purchase a low cost filtering system. Did you know that the Grand Canyon has banned disposable bottles in the park?

Day 3- What you can do today

Only use your washing machine when you have a full load, and run it on cold whenever possible. Run at maximum spin to reduce drying times and avoid using a tumble drier, opting instead for a clothesline. A typical washing machine uses 90% of its energy to heat the water. Generally, cold water gets your clothes just as clean and saves about 2 pounds of CO2 per load.  

Day 4- What you can do today

Get a home energy audit from your local utility company. Find out how you can save resources and money by making small, inexpensive improvements to your home. Find out more from NSTAR and Energy Star.   

Day 5- Sunday, February 26-  What you can do today

Save energy in the kitchen. Cook food in a microwave, which uses 50-70% less energy than a conventional oven. When you need to cook in a pan on the stove, use a lid to preserve heat, which will also cook your food faster. Cook double portions and freeze what you don't eat.

Day 6- What you can do today

Remove one light bulb from your home. Live without it for the rest of this carbon fast. This will decrease energy use and act as a reminder of why we are doing this. In addition, make a point of turning off lights when you leave a room, or that you don't really need to have on. This simple act could save 55 lbs of CO2 emissions a year.

Day 7- What you can do today

Learn about current scientific thinking on how extreme weather events are caused by climate change. Read about it in Science Daily and The Washington Post

Day 8- What you can do today

Reduce the number of plastic bags you use by getting a fabric or reusable bag for shopping. Although plastic bags use 70% less plastic than they did 20 years ago, most are still made from polyethylene, a non-degradable plastic. If you live near a brewery, you can obtain 15-20 gallon durable, synthetic grain bags which breweries usually throw away. These can either be used as garbage bags or rinsed out and re-used to take trash to the dump.

Day 9- What you can do today

Though it may be challenging to contemplate, think about greening your "final arrangements."  Visit http://www.greenamerica.org or http://www.greenburials.org for more information.

Day 10- What you can do today

Host a party with friends and neighbors to watch and discuss one of these films:

Journey of the Universe: http://www.journeyoftheuniverse.org/

Gasland: http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/

Day 11- What you can do today

Plant a tree.  One tree will absorb about a ton of carbon dioxide over the course of its lifetime.  Trees also provide shade that could reduce your air conditioning bill significantly.  Mass ReLeaf can provide matching funds and expertise for public tree-planting projects in Massachusetts.  Find out if there's a similar program in your state. If not, consider starting one.

Day 12-  Sunday, March 5- What you can do today

Don't eat any meat today, and see if you can cut down on the amount of meat you eat each week. Meat production has a large carbon footprint, with 2.2 pounds of beef producing the equivalent amount of CO2 as an average European car driving 155 miles. It takes 2500 gallons of water and many pounds of grain to make one pound of beef for your table. It's been estimated that if Americans were to reduce our meat consumption by 20%, it would be the equivalent of all Americans switching from a standard sedan to a Prius. (See "Rethinking the Meat Guzzler," by Mark Bittman, New York Times, 1/27/08.) For hundreds of free vegetarian recipes, visit http://www.bestveg.com/. Also, see Anna Lappé's Diet for a Hot Planet: The Climate Crisis at the End of Your Fork and What You Can Do about It. 

Day 13- What you can do today

Put on a sweater and turn down your thermostat to 65° when people are home and active and 55°- 58° at night as well as when no one is home. In warm climates, raise your air-conditioner thermostat 4° or up one setting. Home heating and air-conditioning are responsible for a large portion of our carbon footprint. 

Day 14- What you can do today

Ask your electricity and gas suppliers if they have a green or renewable energy plan such as that offered by NSTAR Green. Make the switch to a green plan today.

Day 15- What you can do today 

Your hot water heater represents about 20-30% of the carbon emissions of your home, the biggest user of energy in your house. Consider setting your hot water thermostat to 120°F. Insulate your hot water tank with an insulation jacket if available for your system.  Arrange for your boiler to be serviced so it runs more efficiently. When you next replace your boiler, consider a condensing boiler - they use less fuel than conventional boilers to produce the same amount of heat and can save 32% on fuel bills. 

Day 16- What you can do today

Dry your clothes on a clothes line instead of in an electric drier. Electric driers use up to 10% of residential electricity in the United States. The average household can save more than $100 a year by forgoing the electric clothes dryer and using a clothesline. A recent study by Cambridge University's Institute of Manufacturing found that 60% of the energy associated with a piece of clothing is spent in washing and drying it. Over its lifetime, a T- shirt can send up to 9 lbs. of carbon dioxide into the air. Read more.  (If you must use a dryer, consider installing a diverter valve to the vent so that during winter, the hot air exhaust can be used to help heat and humidify the house.)

Day 17- What you can do today

Clean or replace air filters as recommended. Replacing a dirty furnace filter can save 15% of the energy used. 

Day 18- What you can do today

Reduce your use of household cleaning products, soaps, shampoos, hair care products and other items which contain chemicals. Replace them with products which are biodegradable. Carcinogenic chemicals in deodorants, soaps, shampoos, and body sprays persist in the environment, build up in the food chain and return to haunt us long after they've gone down the drain. See http://www.greenlisted.org/personal-care.htm, www.originalmoxie.com and http://www.greenlisted.org/cleaning-products.htm to learn about eco-friendly products. 

Day 19- Sunday, March 11th-What you can do today

Fireplaces - we love them and we want to use them.  However, as Grist's "Ask Umbra" says, "the fireplace accounts for 14 percent of air lost out of a home - more than the windows. So before we get all excited about window glazing, it pays to stop up the chimney. At the very minimum, close the damper when you're not using the fireplace. If you know for sure you will not use it for an extended period, plug and seal the flue... and put a note on the fireplace, so that no guest or forgetful resident lights a fire in the plugged chimney." 

See: http://grist.org/climate-energy/beating-the-draft/   

For more information, see http://www.lowimpactliving.com/blog/2007/10/10/get-cozy-guide-to-eco-smart-fireplace-fires/ and http://www.alternativeenergyprimer.com/Environmental-effects-of-wood-burning.html For a useful guide for home energy saving, see the U.S. Dept. of Energy 2009 booklet: http://grist.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/energy_savers.pdf

Day 20-What you can do today

Find out who your elected representatives are and tell them what you're doing through the Carbon Fast. Urge them to create and implement strong national and international laws to stop climate chaos. Find out what energy saving or climate change activities are going on in your local area by contacting local community groups such as MICAN http://www.massclimateaction.org/ or Vermont Natural Resources Council www.vnrc.org. 

Day 21-What you can do today

In 2011, environmental activists from all over America brought the risks of the Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline to the nation's attention, guaranteed that it would be an election issue in 2012, and prompted the President to take a stand.  Many are people of faith.  1,252 people acted in the long tradition of non-violent civil disobedience articulated by Thoreau, Gandhi, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others by getting arrested in front of the White House in August - making this the largest environmental civil disobedience in history.  In January 2012, over 800,000 people sent a message to tell their senator to say "NO!" to Keystone.  Learn about this key issue: http://grist.org/climate-energy/keystone-xl-the-story-of-a-big-ass-pipeline-proposal-so-far/ Consider what you will do in the coming months as opportunities emerge for advocacy and action in this ongoing struggle.  For the latest updates, check http://thinkprogress.org/tag/keystone-xl/ frequently. 

Day 22-What you can do today

War is harmful, costly and opposed to life in so many ways that its obviousness as a threat to a sustainable eco-system makes it at once redundant to state and easy to overlook.  Advocate for peace today by any life-affirming means which feels right to you.  To learn more about the specific harm to the eco-system caused by war, please see http://www.lenntech.com/environmental-effects-war.htm  and http://www.enviroliteracy.org/article.php/588.php 

Day 23-What you can do today

A brand new study shows that 4 out of 5 Americans have been affected by weather-related disasters. It's time for people to learn the new reality that increasingly, weather is related to climate change.  Look for 350.org to promote a campaign that will help people make connections between their weather-ravaged towns and climate change.  Check http://www.350.org/ for a new spring campaign

© Donald Rambadt 2014