Reduce and Reuse
Carry Your Cup
16 billion paper cups are used for coffee every single year. This translates to over 6.5 million trees cut down, 4 billion gallons of water wasted, and enough energy used to power nearly 54,000 homes for a year . Carry your cup to help cut down on waste!
Borrow, Rent, and Share
The most effective way to reduce waste is to not create it in the first place so sharing makes sense in a world of over consumption. Borrow, rent, or share items that are used infrequently like party decorations, tools, and outdoor equipment.
Say Bye-Bye to Plastic Bags
Every year 1 trillion single-use plastic bags are used worldwide. That's nearly 2 million each minute . Less than 1% of tossed plastic bags get recycled and many end up littering our waterways, shredding into ever-smaller pieces that never fully break down.
Shop Second Hand
Fashion is one of the biggest polluting industries in the world, second only to oil . With the rise of fast fashion and globalization, your clothes often come from far away and are made in factories with little or no environmental and labor regulations. Shop second hand instead of buying this season's newest trends because trends fade but creating smart purchasing habits are forever.
Use Natural Lighting
Take advantage of the sun and minimize overhead lights during the day. Natural lighting has been shown to increase productivity and can cut down your energy usage by 10% .
Skip the Dryer
Air drying your clothes can reduce the average household’s carbon footprint by a whopping 2,400 pounds a year . Air drying is also less harsh on your clothing and linens ultimately extending their lifetime by reducing wear and tear.
Enjoy Sweater Weather Indoors
If you're feeling chilly, save energy by reaching for a sweater before reaching for the thermostat. By turning your thermostat back 10°F to 15°F while you sleep, you can save as much as 1% on your annual energy bill for each degree turned down .
Choose a Laptop Over a Desktop
Laptops, unlike desktop computers, are built with energy efficiency in mind because battery life is a major factor to laptop design. A laptop can be 80% more energy-efficient than a desktop. Energy-efficient LCD screens, hard drives, CPUs and adaptors all factor into making makes laptops much better tools for the planet .
Beware of Energy Vampires
Energy vampires are devices that run up your energy bill even when you’re not actively using them. Even when certain household items are turned off, most still use some electricity as long as they're plugged in. Energy vampires are responsible for 10% or residential energy use in the U.S. . Unplug devices you don’t use often and use power strips to stop the energy vampires in your home.
At the Table
Eat Less Meat
If everyone went meatless one day a week, by 2050 the yearly reduction in greenhouse gas emissions could be up to 1.3 gigatons. That’s the equivalent of taking over 273 million cars off the road, or closing 341 coal-fired power plants for a year .
Only Get What You Need
If food waste were a country, it'd be the third largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world. Stop food from entering landfills by only buying what you need and composting any waste .
Buy in Bulk
Bulk foods reduce packaging waste, cut down on shipping materials and lower distribution costs . Some of the common items you can buy in bulk are: herbs, spices, nuts, grains, coffee, tea, granola, dried fruits, and candies. Don't forget to bring your own jar or reusable bag!
Food miles are the distance food travels from where it is grown to where it is ultimately purchased or consumed . The average distance food travels from farm to plate U.S is 1,500 miles. Purchasing foods that are both in season and grown locally can drastically cut down the carbon emissions of the vehicles used to transport while supporting your local economy.
The world’s cultivated soils have lost between 50 and 70% of their original carbon stock, much of which has become CO2 . Farming organically makes it possible to regenerate the soil, returning the land to its natural state which can better sequester carbon. Farming models have shown it's possible organic farming could pull 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions out of the atmosphere every year .
On the Go
Use Public Transportation
Public transportation use in the United States reduces national carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons annually. This is equivalent to Washington, DC; New York City; Atlanta; Denver; and Los Angeles combined stopping using electricity .
Every carpooling participant takes another car off the road, which means less congested roads and highways. As more people take part in carpooling programs or organize carpools within their workplaces, overall traffic congestion will decrease, which reduces fuel consumption, commute time, and the cost of road repairs.
Ride a Bike
Ongoing bicycle use has virtually no carbon footprint. It improves your health, maintains clean air, and can even be faster than motor vehicles. If 5% of New Yorkers commuting by private car or taxi switched to biking to work, they could save 150 million pounds of CO2 emissions per year, equivalent to the amount reduced by planting a forest 1.3 times the size of Manhattan .