In response to the question posed of what we can do to undo global warming, I'm posting some suggestions most relevant to urban living from the Environmental Defense website as well as my own thoughts:
From the Environmental Defense's list of 20 steps to undo global warming:
Step 1: Be informed about environmental issues.My $0.02 worth of practical advice....I'd love to hear your own tips for being environmentally responsible!
Step 2: Run your dishwasher only with a full load. Use the energy setting to dry dishes. Don't use heat when drying.
Step 3: Wash clothes in warm or cold water, not hot.
Step 7: Buy energy efficient compact flourescent bulbs for your most-used lights.
Step 9: Install low-flow shower heads to use less hot water.
Step 12: Whenever possible, walk, bike, carpool, or use mass transit.
Step 13: When you buy a car, choose one that gets good gas mileage. (Hybrid!)
Step 14: Reduce waste: buy minimally packaged goods; choose reusable products over disposable ones; recycle.
Step 20: Recycle your potentially recyclable material (paper, plastic, metal, and glass).
- For 2-3 days, monitor everything that you use and throw away. Self-awareness is key to recognizing how your actions can impact the environment.
- Bring your own bags to the grocery store. This is my latest obsession. I know many of you have that giant plastic bag stuffed with smaller plastic bags...can you really line enough trash cans to match the pace which you accumulate them? Reuse plastic bags you have, or better yet, use cloth or some other reusable bag. (Caption for the picture: many animals mistake plastic bags for food and die from choking or blocked intestines. The U.S. produces about 1 billion plastic bags every year. An estimated 12 million barrels of oil is required to make that many plastic bags. Source: www.reusablebags.com)
- Turn down the heat of the shower. If you're addicted to hot showers, turn it down just a pinch every other day or so til it's a comfortable cool temperature.
- Turn off the water when you're shaving in the shower.
- Advocate for environmentally friendly, sustainable practices in your workplace. This doesn't mean you have to become the "enviro-freak" of the office. Little changes can make a huge difference, especially given the volumes of energy and paper used and waste generated by workpalces. Is there a recycling bin for paper near the copy machine? What is the practice of double-sided printing? Does your employer partner with other services and organizations that are environmentally responsible?
- Lobby for environmentally sound practices in your area. In New York City, the air quality is horrendous in neighborhoods often occupied by the poor and people of color. The result is disproporationate rates of asthma and other respiratory problems in these areas. This is due to practices such as the routes garbage trucks take on their way to landfills. Sign petitions, write to alderpersons/congress represatatives, do what you can to be informed and active!
- Encourage your friends to be environmentally responsible! Peer pressure can be a source for good!