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I am just one person, can I really make a difference?

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    In these two photos, it shows one product that is both safe for the environment and effective at cleaning. CONTRIBUTED PHOTOS

Published July 19. 2019 12:50PM

One of my mentors advised me when talking about global issues with children that I shouldn’t dump “heavy” issues on them because that makes them feel like things are hopeless.

I know the feeling; I can’t stop poaching or the melting icecaps on my own. But, there are things I can do to reduce my carbon footprint on this planet.

What is a carbon footprint? When talking about climate change, footprint is a catchphrase for the impact that something has. And carbon refers to all the different greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.

Here are some simple things that can help:

Lightbulbs: An easy fix I have made was to switch all the lights in my house to “LED” lights. This change will reduce up to 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution during its lifetime.

Unplug gadgets: Completely shutting down devices, unplugging chargers and turning off that little light on the monitor of your desktop computer is good for the planet and for the devices, too.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adopting these practices can save $100 each year on an energy bill.

Carpool: The average American spends 18 days of the year in a car and each car emitting its own weight in carbon dioxide.

The benefits of carpooling are simple to understand. And, having a friend share that morning ride is a great way to catch up with each other.

Choose a laptop over a desktop: Laptops, unlike desktop computers, are designed to be energy-efficient, because battery life is a major factor to laptop design.

According to Energy Star, a laptop can be up to 80% more energy-efficient than a desktop.

Water: Bottled water does the planet a major disservice.

Beyond the environmental toll of the plastic waste from each bottle, consider just how far that water was transported before it arrived in the supermarket. And believe it or not, the “town” water coming out of the tap is safe to drink!

Curtains and thermostats: Turning the thermostat by two degrees warmer in the summer and two degrees cooler in the winter can save quite a bit on energy bills.

Open curtains during the day in the winter to let in sunlight, and close them at night to keep in warmth.

During the summer, close the curtains during the day to keep out extra sunlight and open them at night.

Buy local food: Purchasing foods that are both in season and grown locally can drastically cut down the carbon emissions of the vehicles used to transport food across the country.

According to the Worldwatch Institute, food travels 1,500 miles on average between the farm and the supermarket. That’s why I am heading over to the local farmers market.

Plant a tree: Trees provide shade and oxygen while consuming carbon dioxide. A single young tree absorbs 13 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. That amount will climb up to 48 pounds annually as trees mature.

Just one 10-year-old tree releases enough oxygen daily for two people.

Print or digital: The debate over reading the news online vs. unfolding the “print” news has been going on since the beginning of the digital age.

One study states newspapers cause roughly their weight in carbon emissions. On one hand, surfing the web uses energy and the amount depends on the device used.

Personally, I use both and I make sure I recycle my newspapers. For online news I use my laptop (unplugged) for the time that I am checking the headlines.

Chose energy-efficient appliances: Recently, we had to purchase a new washer, and while we don’t use the dryer often, our 25-year-old dryer was not repairable any longer.

It took some deciding because while some of the washers offered energy-saving features, it took some figuring out which ones offered the best options.

From the water use, to the time of the cycle and even option to rinse only in cold water every time, it was a daunting task.

As far as using the dryer at all, that gives me an idea for next month!

Jeannie Carl is a naturalist at the Carbon County Environmental Education Center. The center is located at 151 E. White Bear Drive in Summit Hill. Call 570-645-8597 for information.

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