360º Energy Diet

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360º Energy Diet: Households around the world have gone on a life-changing mission to lower their carbon footprints. National Geographic bloggers shared their experiences as they made lifestyle changes both large and small. You can join too.

About the Diet: http://360energydiet.com/about-the-diet/
You know you could be doing more to reduce your carbon footprint, but where do you start? On this blog, you’ll meet households around the world who tried to make changes both small and large in every aspect of their lives. You can try it too: simply follow the steps below.

CATEGORY 1: WHAT YOU BUY

Cutting back on your carbon footprint starts with how much you consume. Evaluate your typical purchases and how much you are consuming, not only in terms of goods, but in terms of energy resources. Simply becoming conscious of your consumption level can help you see where to make changes.

Opening exercise: Tally your stats for how much water, electricity and gas you use every year by checking your monthly bills. Also, the Mini Energy Calculators on The Great Energy Challenge can help you gauge other opportunities to cut carbon dioxide emissions (and your electricity bill) all over your home. 15 points
Pick three items of produce that you regularly buy conventional and switch to organic. 15 points
Eliminate at least three chemical housecleaning products and swap in eco-friendly or natural methods. 15 points
For one imported non-produce item that you normally buy, switch to a version made in your own country or state. 15 points
Wild card actions: To earn more points, try one of these ideas, or come up with your own. 10 bonus points each
– Swap disposable items that you regularly buy for a more eco-friendly item (paper towels, paper plates, cleaning wipes, etc.).

– Plan to repair or extend use of clothing items rather than buying new ones.

– Substitute old printer paper, magazines, retail shopping bags and catalogs for wrapping paper.

– Resist the urge to buy an item that you only need to use periodically, such as a drill or steam cleaner, and see if you can rent or borrow it instead.

CATEGORY 2: FOOD

By now, you’ve probably already heard about how resource-intensive the production of beef is. But our unsustainable global appetite for meat is only one part of how we strain the environment with our dietary habits.

Set a goal to eat a vegetarian diet one day a week. 15 points
Choose to eat at home or brown-bag it at least once per week instead of eating take-out or other meals that come in disposable containers. 15 points
Limit your daily intake of beef to 8 ounces per person. 15 points
Only consume seafood that has been sustainably raised and fished. For reference, see the Blue Ocean Institute’s Seafood Guide. 15 points
Wild card actions: 10 bonus points each
– Start a food-based garden.

– Go vegan or raw for a certain number of days per week.

– Buy grass-fed beef instead of conventional.

– Give up at least one processed food that you normally eat.
CATEGORY 3: TRANSPORTATION

Depending on where you live and work, controlling one’s fuel usage can be one of the most difficult things to tackle on an individual basis. But even if mass transit options are lacking where you are, there are measures you can take.

Always drive no faster than the posted the speed limit, and avoid rapid acceleration or braking. Research shows that driving 5 mph (8 kmph) under the posted speed limit brings even more of a benefit. For more, see www.fueleconomy.gov. 15 points
Remove extra weight from your car, such as unnecessary items in the trunk and rooftop cargo boxes. Also, inflate all tires to the proper pressure and set up a regular schedule of checking them. 15 points
Resolve to use public transportation at least once a week for a trip for which you normally would drive a car. 15 points
Reduce your planned air travel by one trip. 15 points
Wild card options: 10 bonus points each
– Buy carbon offsets for your travel.

– Carpool or find a ride-sharing program.

– Invest in a more fuel-efficient car.
CATEGORY 4: AT HOME

The best part about this category: Conserving energy at home not only helps the planet, it helps your wallet.

When you’re at home, lower the thermostat by 3 ºF (about 2 ºC) in winter and raise it in summer. And invest in a programmable thermostat that turns air conditioning off, or heating down to 50º F (10º C) when nobody is home. 15 points
Change settings on refrigerator (36-37 ºF, 2-3 ºC), freezer (0 ºF, -18 ºC), water heater (120 ºF, 49 ºC) and washer (cold water, not hot). 15 points
Replace at least one third of your light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs. 15 points
Concentrate on complete disconnection of electronic devices, especially the TV, stereo, and computers. Use power strips (some power strips can even detect whether or not devices are in use and control electricity flow accordingly) that allow you to turn off a number of devices at once. Don’t forget to unplug the unused phone chargers. 15 points
Wild card options: 10 bonus points each
– If you have a second old refrigerator in your house, find a way to eliminate it. If your refrigerator is more than 10 years old, consider a new energy-efficient model with a top-mounted freezer configuration.

– Insulate your water heater. For more on how to do this, see EnergySavers.gov.

– Replace appliances with green-certified products, such as EnergyStar in the United States or an “A” label in the European Union

– Hang clothes up to dry instead of using the dryer

– Seal all of the windows and doors in your home with caulk or weather-stripping

 

CATEGORY 5: WATER USE

As resource constraints increase, so does the importance of the water-energy relationship. Energy is required to distribute, treat, recycle, discharge and consume water. In turn, energy exploration and production are water-intensive. Saving water saves energy and vice versa.

Give up bottled water for tap water, using filters to remove chemicals and contaminants. 15 points
Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth and when scrubbing dishes that you’re washing. 15 points
Set a goal of shortening your shower by one minute or more. Try using a timer or waterproof watch. If you normally take a bath, switch to showers. 15 points
Replace shower head or tap with a low-flow model. 15 points
Wild card options: 10 bonus points each
– Use xeriscaping for your yard and avoid thirsty plant types.

– Install a rain barrel to collect water for garden, lawn and plants

CATEGORY 6: WASTE DISPOSAL AND REDUCTION

It’s all about the three Rs: reduce, reuse and recycle. Putting less trash into our landfills means fewer resources are used to transport and manage that waste.

Recycle all glass, aluminum, plastic and paper. Also, take old batteries to recycling centers. 15 points
Eliminate the advertising mail you are receiving by contacting businesses and taking yourself off their mailing lists. In the United States, you can also use the Direct Marketing Association’s service to set your preferences. 15 points
Change to paperless billing for your bank account, credit card and phone bills. 15 points
Eliminate the use of plastic and paper bags, both when shopping and at home. If you already carry a shopping tote, stop using bags for vegetables, bulk food, etc. when you’re in the store. Use biodegradable bags for trash at home, or none where possible. 15 points
Wild card options: 10 bonus points each
– Begin composting at home.

– Using biodegradable bags for walking the dog if the family has a pet.

– Recycle your old athletic shoes and clothes. Nike, for example, has 200 drop-off locations around the world.

– Recycle or donate old computers, cell phones and other electronics.

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