Top Ways to Fight Global Warming
Some not-so-inconvenient steps you can take to combat climate change.
You don't have to stage benefit concerts on seven continents to do your part in the fight against global warming. You don't need Madonna. You don't even need Al Gore. In fact, less is often more when it comes to protecting Mother Earth. Less consumption. Less energy. Less waste. Global warming is an enormously complicated challenge, and to defeat it will require unprecedented cooperation among oft-feuding nations and a forbiddingly complex overhaul of the world's energy production and delivery systems. But that doesn't mean that doing your part has to be difficult. Or even terribly inconvenient. Let the policymakers argue over cap-and-trade bills, carbon taxes, and the fact that wind power currently generates just .7 percent of the country's electricity. The inconvenient truth is there are plenty of ways for individuals to make a difference. Let us count the ways.
10. Don't use hot water when cold water will do. No one is telling you to take a cold bath, but would it be so bad if that's what your clothes received? Save the energy required to heat up water for laundry by giving a cold wash a spin. You may not notice a difference. You can also try detergents specially formulated for cold water. Tide ColdWater is a leading brand.
9. Buy "recycled." Capitalists hate this idea, but Mother Earth is a fan. Buying something used—whether it's a sauce pan or a Bentley—doesn't carry the same cachet that comes with righteous recycling, but it's the same thing and spares the energy that goes into manufacturing new goods. So enjoy your friends' newfound respect as they lounge on your recycled couch. A corollary to this: Sell or donate rather than throw away.
8. Turn on the ceiling fan. Circulated air does wonders for cooling a room without having to crank down that thermostat even further. And the whirring sound helps you sleep, right?
7. Buy in bulk. Not only will you expend less energy worrying over toilet paper, but you'll also expend less energy getting to the store. Energy savings also come from reduced packaging. Another bonus: presenting feedbag-size packages of Doritos at any gathering relaxes guests who a) want a lot of Doritos or b) privately question if anyone else is coming.
6. Strategic landscaping. Trees are great fuel, but get this: You can cool your home by planting a tree where the sun hits most directly. In addition to simple tasks like drawing the blinds, the shade can dramatically cut air conditioning use. A deciduous tree also loses its leaves in the winter, allowing sunlight to warm your house when you need it most. The tree will do this year after year at no extra cost.
5. Discover what "power strip" means to you. Cellphone and iPod chargers suck down electricity just by being plugged into the wall. Rather than dealing with the hassle of inserting and removing your chargers when they're in use, plug them into power strips with an on/off switch. A power strip in the off mode uses zero juice. For fun, free-associate with friends while saying the words power strip.