I’m not a tree hugger and I’m not asking you to be. I am asking you to do your part to keep the Earth as we know it for our kids and future generations. It’s that simple.
Here are some simple ACTIONS you can take that will contribute to Sustainability:
Simple and easy. That was my focus from the list of things I found for Sustainability ideas. Thus, I will only elaborate by section below and not individual ideas—most are self-explanatory.
Public Take more mass transit when possible or carpool(1)
Personal Improve fuel economy w/newer vehicles(2)
Try hybrid or electric cars, cycles, scooters or bikes(3)
This is one of the areas you can have the biggest impact on sustainability and why I want to comment. Perhaps it will change your perspective.
I am proof that electric vehicles are simple to use, safe and reliable. I had minimal knowledge of the all-electric LEAF before this trip and I ended up setting a Guinness Record. You do need to make changes in your lifestyle …using it as the family commuter car and planning where to recharge if you travel a longer distance, but IT CAN BE DONE! Used electric vehicles are very reasonable. Good college student cars?
In addition, more and more locations are installing electric vehicle charging stations. The charging times are coming down, especially with the CHAdeMO quick chargers. The distance that electrics can go on a single charge is increasing. So the ‘inconvenience’ for electric VS gas vehicle driving is decreasing. These are all positive factors to support an argument for electric.
Driving an electric car can save you thousands of dollars vs an internal combustion engine. In the book, we break out the figures.
Even if you don’t go all the way to electric, there are eco-friendly alternatives. I don’t drive a LEAF today. I travel too far to see my daughters and parents for it to be practical. But I do have an Infiniti Q50 Hybrid—which averages almost 34 MPG! Fuel economy is getting better and every reduction in the amount of gas used is another step.
If you’ve never ridden an electric scooter or bike, try one. They are FUN! I particularly think there is an opportunity in the bike market; it makes the rides uphill MUCH easier. Use them for fun or local errand runs, to visit neighbors, or just to get out with nature in a local park.
Recycling Start a community effort or maximize your utilization (4)
Reduce use of plastic bags(5)
Recycle all oil, batteries, ink cartridges, paper etc (6)
Compost Utilize food and lawn clippings to fertilize gardens/soil(7)
Water Install rain-sensing sprinkler controls for your lawn(8)
Reduce water time for 1) taking showers, 2) for brushing teeth (9)
Install water-saving toilets, sinks, etc(10)
Food Fix smaller meals to avoid spoilage/ freeze leftovers (11)
Another HUGE opportunity area for improvement. As I showed in the previous Numbers section, Recycling can dramatically reduce the energy needed to make new cans and bottles. Yet many communities do not even have a recycling program.
This is why the U.S. only recycles about 30% of all of its waste.
My suggestion is, if you live in one of these non-recycling communities, go to a city council meeting and ask why it’s not a priority.
Insulate Insulation will pay for itself in a few years(12)
Lighting Change to LED bulbs and turn off lights (see Figure 7) (13)
Solar Add solar panels to homes & businesses; low costs(14)
Appliance Update to Energy Star efficient appliances(15)
Heat/cool Adjust thermostat at night or when away(16)
Install a heat pump to improve efficiency (17)
Monitor Track your monthly usage with The Energy Detective(18)
Figure 7: Comparison of Lighting Costs vs Life Expectancy
My Dad actually tipped me off on this one and it’s another area where you can really make an impact. In the chart you can see that a 100 Watt incandescent bulb is equivalent to a 20 watt LED bulb! This simple change to LED light bulbs can make a remarkable impact both in energy use and your costs as lighting is typically around 15%-20% of your total energy bill.
How much does this mean? It's in the book!
Insulation would be another easy target, even in newer homes unless they are specifically designed for energy efficiency. And the nice thing is, you’ll recover your investment probably faster than you think.
Solar power panels offer a lot of opportunity and are better than in the past. there are many companies and groups that can give you a load of information if you ask.
Home & Garden
Lawn Care Replace gas engine equipment with electrical products (19)
Lawn & garden is another opportunity area. I recently purchased an electric trimmer to replace my worn out gas trimmer. It’s much quieter and gets the job done--just be sure to get a big enough battery based on how long it takes you to trim/edge your lawn. Greenworks has a full line of products from Leaf blowers, vacuums, lawn mowers and even snow blowers in electric.
Pests Use environmentally friendly practices & pest control companies (20)
Use Chromated Copper Arsenate treated wood for building (21)
Cleaning Use EPA approved “Safer Choice” cleaning and other products (22)
Wash clothes in cold or cooler water(23)
Donate Encourage sustainability in other countries; i.e. Heifer, etc(24)
Education Volunteer or promote educating children on what Sustainability is(25)
What I really like about Heifer (and I’m sure there are others) is that it perpetuates sustainability through education and it does it in places (including the U.S.) that really need economic development. Their efforts contribute to that economic growth using local natural resources and processes.
Education can also play a huge role in Sustainability success for the future.
I am sure there are hundreds of additional easy things we can do to make an impact on sustainability. If you have a good idea, I’d like to hear from you so I can post it on this website at Kickinggasandtakingcharge.com. And if you’d like to learn more about sustainability ideas, please check the ones listed in the upcoming Resources section of the book.