At UUCW’s April 19th Earth Day Service we shared the “Top Five Actions” you could do to help our planet Earth. Rob Zimmerman, our guest speaker on that day, has 10 more actions you can do to help protect our environment. They will also help reduce your utility or transportation costs.
- Drive less. Any way you can. Carpool, public transit, bike, walk, combine trips, or work from home if your job allows. Unless you drive an EV powered by 100% renewable energy, your car is most likely your largest direct contribution to climate change and local air pollution that you can affect today.
- Battery Power is best! When the time comes, switch out your gasoline-powered lawn equipment with battery-powered versions. Many brands are now on the market and are competitively priced. In addition to burning gasoline, small engines emit VOCs which contribute to local smog.
- Heat (and cool) your home less. The easiest thing to do is turn down the thermostat a few degrees in winter and up a few degrees in summer. Next is to install a programmable thermostat that allows you preset temperatures for every day of the week. Or install a smart home thermostat such as Nest which programs itself. Finally, get a home energy audit to identify upgrades such as new windows or better attic insulation that will pay for themselves over time.
- Reduce your use of hot water. The energy required to heat water for showers or baths exceeds the energy required to get it to your tap. Take shorter showers and use the dishwasher instead of washing by hand.
- Eat local, or go vegetarian or vegan. Producing food takes a lot of fossil fuels, water, and land. But different foods have vastly different environmental impacts. In general, plant-based foods require much less to produce. Buying local supports local farmers and reduces environmental impacts of transportation. Even one meal per week makes a difference.
- Avoid products sold in single-use plastic packaging. This can be difficult, but most plastic isn’t actually recycled these days, no matter which bin you put it in. It’s best not to buy it in the first place.
- Recycling Right. Speaking of recycling, what does get recycled are cardboard and metals, especially aluminum and steel. If you have a choice between plastic, glass or metal, choose products in the cardboard or metal containers and recycle them. (Over 90% of UUCW members who responded to the environmental survey in early 2020 said they regularly recycle. Great job!)
- Buy from, and donate to thrift stores. Once the shelter-at-home orders are lifted, many of these stores are expecting a rush of donations of perfectly good clothing and household items. You’ll have lots of choices! And the environmental footprint to produce them has already occurred.
- Start composting, if you can. This will reduce your solid waste, reduce methane emissions from landfills, and provide you with a great soil amendment for your garden. Do your research to avoid stinky results!
- Make your voice heard. It’s an election year and candidates need to know that voters care about the environment. UUCW’s Earth Ministry committee will be offering you the chance to weigh in on a variety of issues, both local and national, over the coming months. Vote as if your kids’ and grandkids’ wellbeing depends on it because it does.
For more information, contact Rob Zimmerman.