1. Plant trees! Seed the future. Trees feed and protect us in many ways. Trees sequester (absorb) carbon and give us clean air. They stabilize world weather patterns. Planted around our houses in the right spots, they can lower our heating and cooling bills dramatically.
2. Leave your car at home: walk, ride-share, carpool, bike, take a bus. Not only will you be cleaning the air, you won’t have to find a parking place.
3. Buy the most fuel efficient car or truck you can find. There are many models that get at least 40 mpg. Don’t buy a bigger vehicle than you really need. Consider the new hybrid electric or 100% electric cars.
4. Buy energy efficient appliances. Do some research before buying. Look for the energy efficiency label that is now required on each appliance, and its rating of life-time cost.
5. Conserve water. Install low-flow devices in all shower heads and faucets. When replacing a toilet, buy a water-saving one. They use about half as much water, and will also lower your hot water costs.
6. Compost yard waste. One-third of the waste going into our landfills is greenwaste. By starting a simple compost heap you not only reduce landfills, but get free fertilizer too.
7. Reduce the use of home pesticides and toxic cleaners. Keep your kitchen clean and don’t let household trash collect. Try using simple products such as baking soda and vinegar for cleaning. They are cheaper and not toxic to you, your family, pets and planet.
8. Buy LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs. They use about 1/3 the electricity and last at least 10 times longer than incandescent bulbs.
9. Be an energy miser. It will save you money. Use less heat, water, and gasoline. Insulate your walls and roof, and caulk around windows and doors.
10. Buy recycled! Demand recycled paper products. It is not enough to recycle. As consumers we have the power to create markets and to insist that manufacturers complete the recycling loop. Each year there are more and more recycled products—from paper to carpeting to building materials. Look for and ask for them.
11. Eat lower on the food chain. Producing a pound of beef uses 30 times more energy than growing a pound of vegetable protein. Worldwide, tropical forests are being destroyed at an alarming rate to create pastureland for cattle exported to the US.
12. Support policies that will promote renewable energy sources: solar, wind, low-impact hydro and geothermal. A carbon tax and other fossil fuel efficiency measures are needed. We need real-cost pricing of goods. The US needs to end unfair fossil fuel subsidies. If we do not begin to pay the true cost of our energy use, the planet will pay—and people will suffer.
The US could save $400 billion a year if its energy use were as efficient as Japan’s and Germany’s.