Climate Friendly Actions with Big Impact
This part of the journey has the best views! Once you've completed easier reductions, there are significant reductions in to be found on this part of the journey. Depending on how many of these steps you take, you can reduce your footprint 50 to 70%.
Green Your Ride
Daily transportation is a huge portion of America's carbon footprint - it accounts for an average 20% of our carbon footprint. To really reduce that figure, you must move to lower carbon commuting methods. If you live in an urban area, try biking to work or taking public transportation. If you have to drive, invest in a hybrid or plugin in car. You can also create a carpool by running ads in online, in the newspaper, and at your workplace. Alternatively, you could move closer to your job or bring work home with you by telecommuting one or more days a week. If none of this is currently feasible, consider making a long term career or financial plan that will bring greener transportation within reach.
Invest in a Heat Pump
Air sourced heat pumps are a great way replace existing electric heating and cooling systems. They require only minor home modifications to install and current cost about as much as natural gas systems to operate.
Go Vegetarian or Vegan
About 8% of all of the USA's carbon emissions come from the agricultural sector. You can cut the carbon impact of your food in half by switching to a plant based diet. Alternatively, you could adopt a mostly vegetarian lifestyle at home and save sustainably sourced meat for special occasions, eating out, or the weekends.
Renovate for Efficiency
Install new windows, redo your envelop, and install a green or white roof top. There are many rebated loans to help fund these projects for homes and small businesses. Check out the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy and Efficiency (DSIRE) to see what is available in your state.
Install Solar Panels
Home solar panels are rapidly becoming more popular, in part thanks to new technologies that make them more suitable to homes as well as new rebates programs are put into place. Solar panels can be an cost effective way to power your home, even in the northern latitudes of the contiguous USA. You should contact your state's Solar Energy Association to learn about your local options for panels, installation, financing programs, and grid tie-in options.
Purchase Green Energy
Many utilities offer electricity generated from renewable resources for a small premium. Call your electricity provider to see if it is available.
Buy Green Everyday
About 20% of our carbon impact comes from purchasing stuff. We already talked about how reusing and reducing our consumer products can have a big impact, but what about those things that you don't want to do without? Make a commitment to only goods that are made in the greenest way possible. This many take a little extra research when you look for a new favorite product or store, but try it out for a month and see what sort of awesome green products and services you come up with!
Offset Your Remaining Footprint
After making many of the changes, your carbon footprint should be a small fraction of what it used to be. For those carbon intensive that your cannot or don't want to cut out, purchase offsets. Detailed surveys that calculate your family's annual carbon footprint based on your daily habits, energy consumptions, and travel needs are available with from both CarbonFund or TerraPass.
We rely on our forests, natural lands, and oceans. They provide an important source of habitat for wildlife and biodiversity as well as a commercial services like recreation, timber, and wild foods. These lands also act as a sponge for many human made pollutants, including CO2, as the vast habitats harbor rich ecosystems of plants and bacteria that "breathe" CO2, sequester the carbon, and release fresh oxygen in return.
Currently, US managed lands can "breathe" in only 14% of the CO2 that we release. Preserving and growing these areas is critical to managing the growing levels of CO2.
Start a Community Group
Now that you are totally or near carbon neutral, you can help empower others in your community to lower theirs. There are a plethora of ways that you change your community's footprint, from developing municipal renewable energy to leading seminars at the library to starting a local farmer's market. We recommend visiting the Towns in Transition Network or reading one of our for ideas.