So Easy, a Child Can Do It
As a family, we have made several changes around the house to reduce our carbon footprint. Some of the easiest, and most obvious, are changing our regular light bulbs out for energy-saver bulbs, keeping our thermostat set a few degrees lower than normal, and turning off lights when we aren’t in the room. I know turning off lights sounds like the simplest thing in the world, but it makes a huge difference.
Having an almost-four-year-old running around makes it a little more challenging, since she is now tall enough to reach the switches and is enamored with her new found “light” independence. But, even she is learning to turn them off. If a four- year-old can remember to do it, shouldn’t we be able to? Another thing we’ve done is to identify places in our house where the cold winter air is sneaking in and our warm air is flooding out. This was also fairly simple to do: there is the old fashioned way of just feeling around, and then there is the new, high-tech way of using a thermal leak detector. Either way works, but the leak detector helps to find places that you might not think to check.
For us, the biggest problem area was under the door that leads into the garage. We had, what we call in our house, a door snake there to help seal it, but after using the thermal leak detector we realized that it wasn’t helping very much. The fix was as easy as putting down some new weather stripping. You have a couple of options for this. The first is super simple: all you have to do is peel off the backing and stick it on. The second way is pretty simple as well: replace the threshold with one that will seal the gap more efficiently. Most of these thresholds are held in place with just a couple of screws, so all you have to do is cut it to fit your door width and then screw it in place. These changes have made a dramatic difference in our energy consumption. If you want to take it a step further, install a programmable thermostat.
Another shocking revelation came when we went to the store and then counted the plastic bags when we got home. On average, we use around 40 plastic bags a week. This to me is one of the most wasteful things we do and most easily remedied. All we have to do is to remember to take our reusable bags to the store with us. I’m not a math genius, but when you multiply 40 bags a week by 52 weeks, you get a whole bunch of wasted plastic bags. If we all stopped using those 2,080 bags a year, just think of the impact we could make on the planet.
I consider us an environmentally conscious family, but I am quickly realizing that there are many more ways that we can do our small part to leave the planet in better shape for our kids and grandkids. If we all take small steps to live more green, think of the giant step we will take as a society.