Ways to Reduce CO2

Last modified on February 6th, 2007

So I called my friend Margo the other night and asked her if she could contribute to the recent discussion on global warming and ways to reduce CO2. Margo is a good friend of mine from Chilliwack who now works in the conservation department of BC Hydro. Here’s what she had to say:

There are lots of little and big things that we can all do to make a difference. The problem of global warming was created by the actions of many individuals and so the solution will also have to come from all of us. Really it’s not that hard. It’s about becoming more conscious about how you live your life and making the choice to live a little lighter on the planet…and no, we won’t have to go live in caves. Here are some easy ways to get started on your journey to a sustainable lifestyle and some more resources with even more ideas.

Tips to get started (based on www.climatecrisis.net):

  1. Change a light – Replacing one regular incandescent bulb with a CFL will save 150lbs of CO2 per year (on average). Make sure you select the right wattage for your application (check the box…many CFL packages will say things like 12 watt CFL = 60 watt incandescent) and the right colour rendering (CFLs can range from a warmer yellow light to a cold blue light).
  2. Heat more efficiently – Close vents and turn off heat to rooms that are rarely used, seal leaks (weatherstripping) around doors/windows/attic hatches, consider upgrading your attic insulation, make a habit of turning down the heat at night and when away (a cheap programmable thermostat can make this a no brainer). Moving your thermostat down by just 2 degrees in the winter and up 2 degrees in the summer can save 2000 lbs of CO2 per year!
  3. Use less (hot) water – It takes a lot of energy to heat water and pump it around the city. Use less water by installing low flow shower heads and faucet aerators (>350 lbs of CO2 saved per year). Subsidized water saving packages are available from Vancouver City Hall for $12 and include a low flow shower head, aerators, and an inflatable bag for your toilet tank. Wash your clothes in cold water (try Tide coldwater).
  4. Recycle more and avoid products with a lot of packaging – You can save 2,400 lbs of CO2 per year just by recycling ½ your waste. Why? Landfills produce a variety of global warming gases during the decomposition process. In particular, anaerobic decomposition (without oxygen) produces methane – a greenhouse gas that is 60 times more potent than CO2!
  5. Buy more local produce and products – Transportation is a big contributor to CO2 emissions, so why buy something that’s shipped half way around the world, when it can be purchased locally.
  6. Watch your load – Your plug load that is! Modern life is full of electronic gadgets which use a lot of electricity when you add them all together (even when they are turned off). ‘Miscellaneous’ load is the fastest growing residential consumption category. Many items like cellphone chargers drain a little bit of electricity even when they are idle. This ‘phantom load’ is a growing concern.
  7. Turn off and unplug electronic devices when not in use.
  8. Try plugging in peripheral devices around your computer and entertainment centre into a power bar and flick the switch when you leave and at night.
  9. Look for ‘Energy Star’ certified computers, entertainment units, and appliances. Avoid big screen plasma TVs…they are energy hogs!
  10. Get rid of your old fridge (see www.bchydro.com for rebates and free pick-up)
  11. Drive Less/Drive Smarter – Keep your car properly tuned up and maintained. Keeping your tires properly inflated by improve gas mileage by more than 3%. Every gallon of gas saved keeps 20 lbs of CO2 out of the atmosphere.
  12. Walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit. You’ll save one lb of CO2 for every mile you don’t drive. Added perks – get some fresh air, meet people in your community, and lose weight!
  13. Consider a Hybrid car for your next vehicle purchase. We bought one this summer and love it! Added perks – Vancity offers special clean air car loans at prime for Hybrid vehicles, 50% off parking at EasyPark in Vancouver, PST rebate (this can save you $1000s in tax).
  14. Check out the Co-operative Auto Network in Vancouver to see if car sharing could work for you…you might just be able to get rid of your second car or do without one altogether. http://www.cooperativeauto.net/
  15. Plant a tree – one tree will absorb 1 tonne of CO2 in its lifetime.
  16. Magnify your impact 10 fold – Get all your friends and relatives to do something. Be a role model by showing how easy it is to change.
  17. Magnify your impact 100 fold – Become a catalyst for change in your community. Blog, write the paper, attend talks, organize events, start a ‘green team’ at work, convince every influential person you know to take action (bosses, teachers, business owners), write or call politicians and demand they do something about the issue NOW!

Learn more/do more:

  1. Buy or borrow the book “The Weather Makers” by Tim Flannery – this is an excellent book that provides an accessible, compelling discussion of the issue.
  2. See the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” and get everyone you know to see it. I held a lunch and learn at work to show the movie and it was a great success.
  3. Visit the “Inconvenient Truth” website http://www.climatecrisis.net/takeaction/ for more information on the science, becoming carbon neutral, more great tips, and to calculate your carbon impact (on average since site is tailored to the US).
  4. Visit http://www.bchydro.com/powersmart/ for more tips and ideas for becoming Power Smart at home (and to find out about rebates and programs).
  5. Visit http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/english/index.cfm for federal government programs, incentives, and advice (Office of Energy Efficiency).
  6. Visit One Day Vancouver to sign up for their 10 weeks of great tips (this is where I learned about the water saving kit from the City of Vancouver) http://www.onedayvancouver.ca/portal.php

    “One Day is about taking small steps to reduce energy use, at home and on the road, to make Vancouver the cleanest, greenest, healthiest city in the world.”

  7. Change Everything: http://changeeverything.ca/ “For people in Vancouver, Victoria and the Lower Mainland who want to change themselves, their communities or their world.”

Post your experiences and learn from others:

  1. Blog: http://changeeverything.ca/blog
  2. Learn: http://changeeverything.ca/learn-how

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