I’ve been thinking still about overconsumption and how it affects the earth, and how each of us can change some small things to make a greater impact on our consumption of resources. The following is from Conservation International:
Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent lights (CFLs). Look closely at labels when buying light bulbs. Those marked as CFLs last 10 times longer and use 66 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. As a result, CFLs save an average of $30 in energy costs over their lifetimes – as much as 10,000 hours, though turning CFLs on and off too frequently will shorten their lives. CFLs also reduce the release of greenhouse gas emissions and are safer because they burn at a lower temperature (100° F) than incandescent and halogen lights, which can burn at temperatures up to 1000° F.
Turn down the hot water heater. Set your water heater to 130° F. While you’re at it, throw on a sweater and lower your thermostat for the winter by just three degrees. These simple actions can have enormous positive consequences, preventing the emission of nearly 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide over the course of the year. And that’s just from you! Get your friends on board, and the benefits will multiply.
Choose your seafood wisely. We can’t afford to wait until 2008. The world’s seafood will be entirely depleted by 2048, according to an early November report in the journal Science. That means the moment to shape up is now. By buying and eating certain types of seafood, you can discourage harmful fishing practices and avoid the more depleted or threatened species. Take a look at Seafood Choices Alliance or Seafood Watch to make smart choices.
Replace your showerheads and faucets with high-efficiency models. Retrofitting just one showerhead and two faucets will reduce water usage by 50 percent to 70 percent, while maintaining the same user experience. The cost savings you’ll see on your water and electricity bills will pay for the retrofit in only three to 12 months.
Offset your carbon footprint. Carbon footprints are soooo last year. Luckily, CI’s new carbon calculator guarantees you’ll be on the cutting edge. It empowers you to offset your personal impact on Earth’s rising climate. Donate $10 to offset your cross-country road trip, $20 for the upcoming family reunion, or $7 for a domestic roundtrip flight. Your money will help protect the roughly 832,000-acre Makira Forest in northeast Madagascar and prevent millions of tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.
Buy locally produced meats and produce. Sounds like a good idea, but you don’t know where to start? Just type in your zip code on Local Harvest’s website to see a list of farms and farmers’ markets close to home, as well as nearby restaurants committed to supporting their neighbors. Buying locally produced food cuts out the middlemen and the vast amounts of energy required to get your products onto store shelves. Most produce in U.S. supermarkets travels an average 1,500 miles before it is sold!
Drink more water from reusable glassware. It’s great for your bank account, your health, and your planet. The average American consumed more than 400 beverage bottles and cans in 2006, leaving behind wasted glass, plastic, steel, and aluminum. That adds up to excessive amounts of fossil fuels and hydropower for mining, processing, refining, shaping, shipping, storing, refrigerating, and disposing of those materials. Of course, changing your drinking habits both at home and at work is applicable to just about every other habit, as well. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: Reduce, reuse, and recycle.
Turn down the thermostat just three degrees in the winter and up three degrees in the summer. You can prevent the emission of nearly 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide annually.
This isn’t the complete list; I just wanted to include things which dealt with what we consume, so here they are. These are simple things you can do – some of them tonight or tomorrow – to change how you impact the planet. Do you have a minute to run to the hardware store to get compact flourescent lights? We’ve been using these for a few years now, and all I can say is that I can’t remember the last time we had to change a light bulb. Still chilly out where you are? Go put on a sweater and turn the temperature down in your house. Or better yet, grab a blanket and snuggle with someone special (my son’s in bed right now, but he’s pretty snuggly sometimes for a two year old).
Did you get rid of some of your “want triggers” today? It’s not easy, I know. These ideas are easier because they’re more immediate and less ingrained than learning to be content with what we have. Jesus said we should consider the lilies of the field, for they are clothed more beautifully then Solomon in all his glory; and also to consider the birds, for neither do they toil nor reap, yet God provides for their needs. While this passage is more about worry, I think it’s a good way to look at being content. God will provide for all our needs. Should we really focus so much on the wants?