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 itâ€™s not that hard. Itâ€™s about becoming more conscious about how you live your life and making the choice to live a little lighter on the planetâ€¦and no, we wonâ€™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):
- Change a light â€“ 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 boxâ€¦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).
- Heat more efficiently â€“ 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!
- Use less (hot) water â€“ 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).
- Recycle more and avoid products with a lot of packaging â€“ You can save 2,400 lbs of CO2 per year just by recycling Â½ 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!
- Buy more local produce and products â€“ Transportation is a big contributor to CO2 emissions, so why buy something thatâ€™s shipped half way around the world, when it can be purchased locally.
- Watch your load â€“ 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). â€˜Miscellaneousâ€™ 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 â€˜phantom loadâ€™ is a growing concern.
- Turn off and unplug electronic devices when not in use.
- 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.
- Look for â€˜Energy Starâ€™ certified computers, entertainment units, and appliances. Avoid big screen plasma TVsâ€¦they are energy hogs!
- Get rid of your old fridge (see www.bchydro.com for rebates and free pick-up)
- Drive Less/Drive Smarter â€“ 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.
- Walk, bike, carpool, or take public transit. Youâ€™ll save one lb of CO2 for every mile you donâ€™t drive. Added perks â€“ get some fresh air, meet people in your community, and lose weight!
- 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).
- Check out the Co-operative Auto Network in Vancouver to see if car sharing could work for youâ€¦you might just be able to get rid of your second car or do without one altogether. http://www.cooperativeauto.net/
- Plant a tree â€“ one tree will absorb 1 tonne of CO2 in its lifetime.
- 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.
- Magnify your impact 100 fold â€“ Become a catalyst for change in your community. Blog, write the paper, attend talks, organize events, start a â€˜green teamâ€™ 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:
- Buy or borrow the book â€œThe Weather Makersâ€ by Tim Flannery â€“ this is an excellent book that provides an accessible, compelling discussion of the issue.
- See the movie â€œAn Inconvenient Truthâ€ 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.
- Visit the â€œInconvenient Truthâ€ 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).
- 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).
- Visit http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/english/index.cfm for federal government programs, incentives, and advice (Office of Energy Efficiency).
- 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
â€œOne 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.â€
- Change Everything: http://changeeverything.ca/ â€œFor people in Vancouver, Victoria and the Lower Mainland who want to change themselves, their communities or their world.â€
Post your experiences and learn from others:
- Blog: http://changeeverything.ca/blog
- Learn: http://changeeverything.ca/learn-how