50 Simple Things: A Guide to Reducing your Carbon Footprint

Looking for a few simple ways to cut carbon? Earth Guardians has been recognized publicly for this comprehensive yet accessible little list. Pretty soon we’ll be launching a campaign that incentivizes folks to collectively commit to taking on one of these items for a week straight. Our goal is to track the carbon our global tribe is cutting. Meanwhile, scope out the list and get a head start on your carbon-cutting practice.

HOME

  • In the winter, turn down the thermostat and wear warmer clothes instead.
  • In the summer, avoid using the air conditioning. Consider getting an evaporative cooler instead.
  • Avoid using the clothes dryer, hang your clothes out to dry whenever possible.
  • Turn down the temperature on your water heater (130 degrees is hot enough).
  • Put a brick or rocks in your toilet tank to conserve water each time you flush.
  • Minimize toilet flushing – “if its yellow, its mellow, if its brown, flush it down”.
  • Remember to turn off your lights whenever not needed, especially during the day.
  • Put stereos and electronics on power strips and turn off when not in use.
  • Replace your light bulbs with LEDs, which use a lot less energy.
  • Use rechargeable batteries instead of disposable batteries for portable devices.
  • Minimize printing of documents from the computer, go paperless.

EATING

  • Eat vegetarian– or better yet: VEGAN! Remember to buy organic.
  • Buy locally sourced food when possible.
  • Eat organic food (pesticide and GMO free)— better for you and the planet.
  • Shop at local farmer’s markets.
  • Start a garden: grow some of your own food! 
  • Compost leftover food, yard trimmings, and organic matter instead of throwing it in the trash.
  • Use all reusable plates, silverware, napkins, tupperware, etc. (Including when you get food to-go!) 
  • Decide what you want before you open the refrigerator, don’t leave the door open.
  • Use a pressure cooker, especially for beans and grains.
  • Avoid supporting fast-food restaurants and chains. Eat at local, community-oriented restaurants. 
  • Buy food in bulk! Plan ahead and bring reusable bags and containers to the market or store. 

BATHING

  • Cut your shower time by 20% or take one fewer shower per week. 
  • Turn off the water while shampooing or washing your body.
  • Turn off the water while you are brushing your teeth or shaving.
  • The cooler the water, the better. Turn it down a few degrees. 

CLEANING

  • Use rags or hand towels instead of paper towels or napkins.
  • Use non-toxic, environmental-friendly products for cleaning.
  • Minimize use of aerosols. Don’t buy it if halons or CFCs are listed.

SHOPPING

  • Local, local, local! Consider paying a little extra to support a local store or restaurant. 
  • Shop at second-hand / thrift stores. 
  • Organize clothing swaps & trade days with your friends / community. 
  • Do some research– get good at distinguishing between greenwashing and legit sustainability standards.
  • Keep an extra reusable bag in your purse / backpack / bike / car. 
  • Buy carrots, onions, potatoes, and other produce loose – no need to use a plastic bag.
  • Buy products made from or packaged in recycled materials.
  • Make your own! DIY!

TRANSPORTATION

  • Walk, rollerblade, skateboard, unicycle, or ride a bike. 
  • Carpool and ride-share whenever possible.
  • Use public transportation (bus, subway, train) instead of a personal car. 
  • Drive a fuel-efficient, hybrid, or electric car.
  • If you own a car, avoid using the air conditioning.
  • Be an eco-driver (slow acceleration, gradual deceleration, smart parking, etc.).
  • Keep your trunk clean, extra weight decreases gas mileage.
  • Make sure the tires on your car are properly inflated and balanced.
  • Keep your car tuned up and clean.

ACTIVITY

  • Replace screen time with socializing, creating, learning, art, and exercise.
  • Pick up litter when you walk; participate in (or start) litter pick-up days in your neighborhood.
  • Start or help with a community garden
  • Get outside every day. Get into the habit of regularly spending time in nature. 
  • Buy a living Christmas tree and plant it somewhere after the Christmas season.
  • Plant trees in your community.
  • Adopt a street or trail, and keep it clean
  • Organize a clean up at a beach, lake, river, or creek.

RECYCLE AND REUSE

  • “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” – in that order!
  • Start by not buying something you’ll wind up recycling. If you buy it, reuse it before recycling it. 
  • Print off the “recyclables” list for the facility in your area. Post it on your fridge & refer to it when you’re not sure.
  • Recycle old cell phones, mobile devices and batteries.
  • Donate to thrift organizations and shop at thrift stores.
  • Use, and re-use cloth napkins instead of paper.
  • Use containers to store food in your refrigerator. Minimize aluminum foil, plastic wrap and bags.
  • Mend and repair rather than discard and replace.
  • Before you throw away plastic six-pack holders, cut each circle with scissors.
  • Visit / request a tour of your local recycling center. 
  • Buy yourself a cool reusable water bottle. Carry it with you at all times.
  • Avoid using styrofoam and plastic as often as you can.
  • Bring a thermos or coffee mug from home to the cafe instead of using disposable cups.
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