Climate change is one of the greatest global challenges of our time. By the end of the 21st century, sea levels are expected to rise 7-23 inches. That may not sound like much, but it’s enough to devastate coastal cities (three-fourths of the major urban areas around the globe are built along the coast). None of us can save the planet on our own. But here are some tips to make environmental upgrades to your home and in your community to help halt climate change.
One of the first eco-friendly decisions you can make is to buy “green” appliances. Install low-flow sinks, showers, and toilets. (Showering accounts for 20-30 percent of water usage in your household, and a low-flow showerhead could save you thousands of gallons each year.) Put in LED or CFL lights, as opposed to traditional incandescent bulbs. LED bulbs typically last 12-25+ years, while CFL light bulbs keep glowing for 10 years. Then research any other energy- and water-efficient appliances that not only lower your costs, but also save energy.
Adding Solar Panels
Nowadays, more people are installing solar panels in their homes than ever before. Between 900,000 to 3.8 million homes in the U.S. are projected to be equipped with solar panels by 2020. Solar panels save thousands of dollars, provide fixed energy costs, include a 20-25-year warranty, and boost the resale value of your home. In addition, you’re helping to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.
Another great way to make your home eco-friendly is to garden in a sustainable way. Aesthetically, this might not appeal to everybody, but consider replacing your grass with trees. The idea here is to pump oxygen into the air, while reducing the energy spent using an electric or gas mower. Consider buying a rain barrel to conserve water and to shower your plants with water that hasn’t been piped through the sewer system. Also, you can start a compost bin by mixing in egg shells, banana peels, and coffee grounds rather than sending all that to the landfill. Mulch with leaves, pine needles, or ground-up wood chips to retain moisture. Landscape with plants native to your area to attract bees and preserve the local environment.
All Things Green
Here are some other lifestyle changes you can implement to reduce your carbon footprint:
- Pay your bills online.
- Line-dry your laundry.
- Support local restaurants.
- Shop at farmers markets.
- Don’t plug your computer in at night.
- Use cloth napkins instead of paper towels.
- Recycle unsolicited mail (like credit card ads).
- Walk or ride your bike on errands that are close by.
- Check your windows, baseboards, and open soffits to make sure there are no air leaks.
- Dot the inside of your house with real plants, to add a splash of color around the place and to help reduce the levels of carbon monoxide inside.
Sea levels are rising at their fastest rate in 2,000 years, and the incidences of global flooding could triple by 2030. This is our new reality. While you can’t reverse worldwide climate trends alone, you can adopt some of these changes to create a more eco-friendly home and community. The hope here is that your actions will have a microcosmic effect on creating a healthier, more sustainable world, for ourselves, but also for generations to come.
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