1. Transition to a plant based diet:
Beef, it’s not what’s for dinner. A recent study in Nature confirms that “GHG (green house gas) emissions cannot be sufficiently mitigated without dietary changes towards more plant-based diets.” (1) Animal agriculture (raising and processing animals for meat, dairy, eggs etc) makes up 18% of the greenhouse gases caused by humans. More than the transportation industry. If you want to make a big impact on fighting climate change, transitioning to a plant based (vegan) diet is your best bet. By opting to only eat plants your making a big statement as a consumer that you wont support an industry that pumps loads of CO2 into the atmosphere. Bonus: Adopting a plant-based diet is good for your health too. Going away from animal products means less chronic disease (ie. Diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis, high blood pressure etc) decreasing dependency on the healthcare system, saving you time and money.
2. Unplug small appliance
What a difference unplugging makes. Phantom load or stand by power is the energy appliances use when turned off or not in use. The Department of Energy recommends uplugging these items to cut down on leaking current (2). Electricity and heating accounts for the biggest slice of the greenhouse gas pie. By unplugging the coffee maker after your done with it your helping lessen your carbon load one pot of coffee at a time.
3. Reuse your containers
Reduce, reuse, recycle…in your home. Rolling that recycle bin out to the street filled with your recyclable paper, cardboard, plastic, cans etc is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. But what if you didn’t? At least, not yet. What if YOU reused your recyclables? Done with that pickle jar? Give it a nice cleaning and use it as food storage for leftovers or dried goods. Newspaper piling up? Line your refrigerators veggie drawer to deodorize and soak up produce goo. There’s so many options when reusing items. Have fun with it!
4. Ditch the sponge
Bacteria love the kitchen. The bits of food and damp surfaces in and around the kitchen sink make an ideal environment for microbes to set up shop. A damp sponge is the vehicle on which these bugs travel on to drip drying dishes and kitchen counter tops. For this reason most sponges are sold in multiples. They get dirty fast and then get tossed. To cut down on waste and bacteria, try switching to dish clothes and/ or scrub brushes. clothes dry faster than sponges and can be laundered for use over and over again. Scrub brushes are made of non-porous material and also dry quickly, shutting down bacteria fast. Ditch the sponge, bacteria and waste.
5. Shop with reusable bags
Plastic pollution is bad. According to research, 79% of the 8300 million metric tons of plastic, that began widespread production in the 1950’s, is sitting in landfills or out in nature (3). This clogs up our oceans and endangers sea life. Our oceans make up over half of the oxygen we breath. Disrupting this habitat means less oxygen for everybody. So grab a reusable bag next time you go to the store. That includes in the produce aisle. Your going to wash or peel the fruit and veggies when you get home anyway.
6. Make your own cleaner
Why buy expensive cleaner when a cheap, non-toxic, easy solution can be made from home? Vinegar and water. Such a simple combination but it works. It makes for a very effective and inexpensive way to clean all areas of your kitchen. With that said an acidic solution, like vinegar, is not advised when cleaning granite countertops or hardwood floors. However, these materials do well with plain water mixed with rubbing alcohol (a neutral solution) and squirt of dish soap.
7. Eat your left overs
Researchers support your parents efforts to join the clean plate club. It turns out food spoilage is a sizable greenhouse gas contributor. It accounts for about 8% of total human caused greenhouse gas output, putting it neck in neck with worldwide vehicle emissions. Food waste emits methane, a greenhouse 30 times more potent than CO2. You can help the planet just by eating your food. Sounds like a good idea to me.
2. The Natural Resources Defense Council: Devices Wasting Huge Amounts of Electricity When Not in Active Use, https://www.nrdc.org/sites/default/files/home-idle-load-IP.pdf
3. Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever madehttp://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782.full