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Change Starts At Home…But Cannot Stop There

Jessica Lee Jun 9, 2007

carbonfootprintBy Mary Heglar and Jessica Lee

If we are going to slow the affects of climate change, we all need to step up. We should adapt all the changes within our personal lifestyle as soon as possible. “However, if everyone did these things, it would only account for 10 to 15 percent of the solution,” said John Seed, founder of Rainforest Information Center on his “Climate Change, Despair and Empowerment” tour in New York in May. This means that we must vote, buy green, protest and resist — while also acknowledging that this system caused this problem. We must work to build an alternative world.

DIET

+Limit your meat intake or eliminate it from your diet. The meat industry produces 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases.

+Purchase locally grown, organic, or minimally treated produce in your local grocery store or food co-op. Investigate whether or not your local supermarket patronizes local farmers and if not lobby them to do so.

+Eating Out? Environmentally responsible eateries are popping up all over New York City. Among them are Habana Outpost in Brooklyn (757 Fulton St. and 17 Prince St.@ Elizabeth) and Birdbath Bakery in the East Village (223 First Ave.) Keep an ear and eye out for new ones.

+Make it a point to ask your favorite restaurants if they purchase local and organic produce and encourage them to do so.

ENERGY

+Unplug electronics when not in use and safe approximately 30 percent on your energy bill.

+If possible, replace appliances with more efficient energy-star appliances (including your refrigerator).

+Switch from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lighting, which uses much less energy and lasts far longer.

+Get rid of your air conditioner and instead put fans in open windows

+Make sure your home is properly insulated. Call your energy provider and ask them to refer you to an energy efficiency organization that can come and audit your home.

+Monitor your thermostat. Turn your water heater down to 120 degrees and wrap it in an insulating blanket.

+Talk with others in your building on ways to limit electricity use in the common spaces.

+Install low-flow shower heads, sink heads, and faucet aerators to cut the amount of hot water you use. Wash your clothes on warm or cold water instead of hot. In general, be mindful of your energy use.

TRANSPORTATION

+Use public transportation as much as possible.

+Not producing any emissions at all is better. You could skip the gym and get around on foot or by bike. Most of the city’s bridges are accessible for pedestrians and bikers. For some routes, visit www. nycbikemaps.com

+Don’t buy a car.

+Limit your airline miles. Aviation is the fastest-growing contributor to climate change not only because of the amount of fuel used, but the way that jet engines burn the fuel – producing nitrous oxides and high level clouds — triples its climate change impacts. Flying contributes 3.5 percent of global warming emissions world-wide. This could rise to 15 percent by 2050.

WASTE

+Don’t waste so much! Buy minimally packed goods, and do without when you can. If you don’t need a bag, don’t take a bag. When you go to the store, take your own canvas or cloth bags with you. Take a reusable mug with you for your beverages through the day.

+Limit your mail. Cancel the unwanted catalogs and cancel the bank statements you never open, especially if you have online banking. Cancel your junk mail by sending a letter with $1 to DMA Mail Preference Services, P.O. Box 643, Carmel NY 101512. List your name and all its variations and ask that they all be removed from their national database. This process needs to be repeated every five years.

+Make sure that your apartment has the recycling accommodations required by law. Visit nyc.gov.html/nycwasteless for more details. Before you buy, make sure that the products you buy have minimal wrapping and that the wrapping is recyclable.

+Share things you no longer want with the community so that they can be reused by posting events at freecycle.org or craigslist.org. Organize a clothing swap party.

+Don’t think that everything you can’t recycle is fair game for the Sanitation Department. Much of it is biodegradable material that can be composted. Contact your local botanical garden or community garden for more information on how you can contribute. Contact Lower East Side Ecology Center at lesecologycenter.org or visit Green Apple Maps: greenapplemap.org.