I was at the gym the other day and overheard a conversation that shocked me. Two women were talking about the weather forecast and climate change. The forecasters were predicting yet another major and frightening storm.
The conversation went something like this:
Woman 1: I guess what they say about global warming is true. This weather is really crazy.
Woman 2: Yes, I’m really glad I won’t be around when it gets really bad. You know in 20 or 30 years.
Woman 1: That’s right. It will be our children and grandchildren who will have to deal with the mess.
Woman 2: Oh well, that’s going to be their problem.”
These women were of a certain age—probably before the baby boom generation but not by much—maybe they were in their late sixties.
How could they just shrug off the mess we’re making of our planet? How could they be so nonchalant?
I shudder at the thought of what my grandchildren will face if we don’t start addressing our climate problems. Is my legacy to my grandchildren going to be a world of super storms, eroding beaches, polluted air and the resulting chronic illnesses? I hope not.
At a minimum we can teach our grandchildren to cherish this planet and to treat it gently. And we can be an example and explain to them why we take the steps we do.
Here are 10 simple things from Earth911.com that we can all practice:
- Change a light. Replacing a regular light bulb with a compact fluorescent one saves 150 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.*
- Drive less. Walk, bike, carpool, take mass transit, and/or trip chain. All of these things can help reduce gas consumption and one pound of carbon dioxide for each mile you do not drive.
- Recycle more and buy recycled. Save up to 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide each year just by recycling half of your household waste. By recycling and buying products with recycled content you also save energy, resources and landfill space!
- Check your tires. Properly inflated tires mean good gas mileage. For each gallon of gas saved, 20 pounds of carbon dioxide are also never produced.
- Use less hot water. It takes a lot of energy to heat water. Reducing the amount used means big savings in not only your energy bills, but also in carbon dioxide emissions. Using cold water for your wash saves 500 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, and using a low flow showerhead reduces 350 pounds of carbon dioxide. Make the most of your hot water by insulating your tank and keeping the temperature at or below 120.
- Avoid products with a lot of packaging. Preventing waste from being created in the first place means that there is less energy wasted and fewer resources consumed. When you purchase products with the least amount of packaging, not only do you save money, but you also help the environment! Reducing your garbage by 10% reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 1,200 pounds.
- Adjust your thermostat. Keeping your thermostat at 68 degrees in winter and 78 degrees in summer not only helps with your energy bills, but it can reduce carbon dioxide emissions as well. No matter where you set your dial, two degrees cooler in the winter or warmer in the summer can mean a reduction of 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year.
- Plant a tree. A single tree can absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.
- Turn off electronic devices when not in use. Simply turning off your TV, VCR, computer and other electronic devices can save each household thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide each year.
I know this issue is far larger than my planting a tree or doing my wash in cold water. But it’s what I can do. It’s where I can start. It’s how I can help my grandchildren learn to cherish our beautiful planet.