Five Ways that Protecting the Environment Begins with You

Kyle Ritland

June 2017

Children running on meadow at sunset.jpegThere’s a lot of talk in the news right now about our country’s role on the global stage when it comes to the environment. It’s a hot topic that’s particularly hard to explore given diverse political agendas and the hunger of a 24-hour news cycle. I’d have little success trying to untangle the whole subject in the context of this short blog, so I’ll take this week’s ramblings in a slightly different direction.

Fortunately, there’s some good news emerging from all the environmental hub bub your reading: Americans are becoming more aware of environmental issues than ever before. Not only that, but there’s a growing understanding that every individual has a role to play, not just world governments and corporate titans.  

In that spirit, we’d like to offer the following five tips for decreasing your personal environmental footprint while living a “greener” and hopefully healthier lifestyle:

1. Buy seasonal groceries from local farmers: It has been estimated that 13% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the production and transport of food. Buying local, naturally-grown produce, while eating a diversified diet that includes less meat and more in-season vegetables, will dramatically reduce the carbon emissions produced from fertilizers and pesticides. This approach will also reduce the gas required to produce and transport your “anything you want during any season” dietary habits. Finally, buying locally also feeds your local economy.

2. Dry your clothes outside: Electric dryers are electricity gluttons. Maybe not the biggest in your home (are you listening AC?), but the clothes dryer is one of the easiest to avoid. The average electric dryer uses about 550 kilowatt hours of electricity every year if run an average of one hour every other day. Depending on where the energy in your home comes from, that’s the equivalent CO2 output of burning more than 400 pounds of coal. Install a simple clothes line or use a portable drying rack. Our abundant sunshine will dry clothes faster than a typical cycle, and you’ll dramatically cut your annual CO2 output while also saving money on your power bill. 

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3. Reduce your water usage: It takes a lot of energy to pump, treat, and heat the water that’s readily available in your home. You can save a lot of energy and reduce waist by washing your car less often (get a California duster), choosing climate-appropriate plants, installing drip irrigation so that your plants receive only what they need, and by opting for water-efficient options when purchasing shower heads, faucets, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines.

4. Change your driving habits: Getting an alternative fuel vehicle is an obvious solution, but did you know that simply keeping tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by up to 3%? Also, keep your engine tuned up, because some of the most basic maintenance tasks can increase fuel efficiency by up to 40%. And finally, drive the speed limit. Speeding and excessive acceleration can reduce gas mileage by up to 33%. And the best part is that all these fuel saving tips will also save you money. It’s a genuine win for you and a win for mother earth.

5. Go solar: A modestly sized residential solar array can easily produce more than 21,000 kilowatt hours of electricity every year for the average Arizona home. In terms of C02 emissions, that’s equivalent to avoiding the CO2 emissions of more than 15,000 pounds of burned coal every year, all while dramatically reducing the amount of money you spend on your monthly utility bill. Cleaner AND more affordable. What’s not to like?


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