What We Can All Do to Help Save Our Planet

The primary culprit of Climate Change is excessive Climate Change (CO2) being released into the atmosphere from the insatiable appetite of Our Affluent Lifestyle.  There is almost no part of our lives that does not impact Climate Change from the goods we consume to the conveniences we treasure.  So there are plenty of opportunities for each of us to mitigate Our Individual impact.  It isn’t only about government regulating carbon emissions.  It is also about each of us doing our part to reduce the use of energy that is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions.  We can no longer wait for someone else to reduce it for us.

We must stop blaming other nations such as China and India for producing excessive greenhouse gases because we are responsible for far more greenhouse gases per capita than any nation on earth.  Some of their emissions are used to make products we consume.  We must each take Personal Ownership for Our part in this.  Sure we can support legislation for controlling companies producing greenhouse gases such as power plants and manufacturers of products directly emitting them such as cars.  But it cannot simply stop there.  We are each culpable for the demand for energy-consuming products and services that generates greenhouse gases.  So what are we doing to cut the demand for natural gas, gasoline, electricity, and manufactured products?

This is an example of what I did over a 4 year period:  I replaced our refrigerator, dishwasher, and washer and dryer with energy-efficient appliances.  I did some homework on the best rated appliances to buy and waited for them to go on sale.  Most of these appliances also had energy rebates.  I bought enough clothes that we need only wash them every other week.  I also replaced our electric stove with an inductive stove which works far better than the old electric or gas stoves and uses less than a quarter the electricity.

I purchased an electric pressure cooker that uses very little energy to cook foods quickly and releases no steam.  I changed my diet to largely fresh salads with chopped spices, vinegar, and olive oil.  We replaced most red meat with fish, and some bone and meat soup cooked in the pressure cooker with onions, carrots, ginger, and celery.  This healthy diet change not only reduced electricity used for cooking but costs far less, needs less prep time, and resulted in the lose of 15 lbs.

I replaced all our incandescent lights with LED and mini-fluorescent lights.  My electric bill went from over $100 per month to typically $20 a month but more importantly greatly reduced the demand for producing more greenhouses gases from the generation of electricity.

In order to save on gas usage I installed high quality vinyl double pain windows in the third year of my energy-saving efforts.  I have a two-story house with the upstairs bedroom facing south and the downstairs bedrooms facing north and west.  In the summer I would move to a downstairs bedroom which is relatively cool if I close all windows and doors and closed the window shades on hot days.  My house was already well insulated.  So I need no air conditioner.

In the winter I would move upstairs where the lower winter sun shines more directly into the bedroom windows during the day keeping it comfortably warm except on cold cloudy days when I occasionally used the upstairs heater set to 65 degrees F.  At night we turn it down to 55 and use an electric blanket.  Admittedly it is a bit chilly when going to the bathroom in the middle of the night so I do it quickly.  Heat rises so upstairs is naturally warmest.

We use a small portable heater when my wife needs to cook downstairs but cooking is quite simple and quick and we try to prepare 2 days of meals (salad and soup) at a time to save on effort and energy.  The pressure cooker can be plugged in upstairs since it produces no steam.  It can also reheat food.  We literally live upstairs in the winter.  I save more than $100 a month on gas alone.  But more importantly I am responsible for the production of far fewer greenhouse gases.

I used to own a car but being retired hardly used it.  So I donated it and bought an electric bicycle that only needs charging once every 4-6 month.  I pedal it most of the time to get around town for exercise and to do chores.  The motor helps with going uphill and getting started at signal light stops.  Otherwise I walk a lot.  This saves a lot of car expenses and hassle on maintenance, smog checks, gasoline, registration fees, and insurance.  So in my small way I have reduced our dependency on oil and the emissions of greenhouse gases.

All of these efforts to save on greenhouse gases have a couple of drawbacks but many personal benefits.  The appliances and windows required some cost, about $50,000 over 4 years which I considered long-term investments.  The change of diet and the use of a bicycle instead of a car required a lifestyle change.  But on the plus side I save more than $500-$600 each month on gas, electricity, food, and car expenses for a total savings of more than $6,000-$8,000 per year to pay back my investments.  More significantly is the improved diet and increased exercise which have resulted in a loss of weight and probably fewer medical expenses and a healthier and hopefully longer life.  But the most important thing is that I probably use 80-90% less greenhouse produced energy than I used before.  And I continue to challenge myself with saving even more greenhouse gases by the products and services I purchase.  I have done similar things to save on water which is now more important than energy in California due to our continuing drought.

I am also working with my city government to encourage more bicycle riding and am a member of the Sierra Club and a local public transportation organization to encourage more transportation alternatives and Smart Growth for a more sustainable city.  Though I am a tiny player in a huge energy and greenhouse gas saving effort, I don’t let that discourage me from doing my very best to do what I can, tiny as it may seem.

But if there were many more who took similar responsibility for reducing energy consumption we would not need so much renewable energy or any fossil fuel to generate energy since our consumption would be small.  Sure I am sometimes inconvenienced but I have gained far more in long-term improvements in health and economic benefits and so can you.

I am really a very simple person willing to do my small part to help save the world for my children’s children’s children.  Will this hurt our economy?  I don’t know, but I do know it will save the world for future generation from Global Warming.  I challenge you to do what you are willing to do to fight Climate Change.  Find your own ways to save on energy and greenhouse gases.  If we all work on a personal basis we can make a huge cumulative difference without the government having to regulate so much what they think needs to be done.  It’s really UP TO EACH ONE OF US.

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About Frank G

Sustainable Bicycle Advocate
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