Guest commentary: Lowering your footprint not as hard as it seems
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Here is a climate change mitigation check list people can look to to help:
Wash cold, hang dry
Vent through filter to interior to increase humidity in the house
Use most efficient front loading washing machine
Plant a garden
Compost your plant waste
Resist processed foods
Reduce meat consumption
Buy local foods, in season when possible
Eat food from distant producers sparingly
Use low power cookers for small cooking jobs
Use supper efficient and smallest refrigerator you can live with
Eliminate food waste
Use the RFTA bus, We-Cycle or walk when possible
Make your next car purchase an electric vehicle
Maintain air pressure in tires to help with gas mileage
Reduce flying and purchase carbon offsets when flying
Sweep more, vacuum less
Conserve water with wash bin
Use fewer cleaning products, more elbow grease
Recycle at home and work
Evaluate trash weekly to see what can be reduced in future
Compost plant based scraps
HOUSEHOLD ELECTRIC USE
Choose a 100% carbon-free utility company
Install solar panels
Switch to LED lights
Unplug chargers when not in use
Switch heating and cooking to carbon free electric
Reduce house size
Divest from fossil fuel related investments
Invest in green stocks
Switch from banks that support oil and gas
Replace bluegrass with lower water demand cover, like clover.
Replace gas mower with electric
Eliminate lawn, plant trees or xeriscape
Invest in an energy-efficient heat pump
Install solar hot water heater
Switch from gas to electric
Super insulate your house
Reduce thermostat in winter
Educate yourself and vote
Call and write your members of Congress
Call and write to carbon intensive businesses
Attend local climate events
Buy carbon offsets
Write Letters to the Editors, local, state and national
Talk with family, friends and neighbors about carbon emissions reduction
Divest from carbon intensive industry
Editor’s note: Edited from a list first published by Claire Cohen Norris and John McAndrew.
This year, I’ve been asking everyone, “What is your climate action plan?”
It’s a daunting question, but it needs to be asked. Here’s some of the dialogue it sparked, among experts in the fields of conservation, energy, technology, public health and government.
Amory Lovins, founder Rocky Mountain Institute and energy-efficiency pioneer, asks us an even more daunting question: “What will you tell your grandchildren you did to combat the greatest threat humanity has seen?”
Jill Ryan, executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: “We need an all-hands-on-deck approach. Riding a bike, bus or walking or combining errands, adds up. Rooftop solar is another good way to reduce emissions while saving money. This is a matter of personal and community importance.”
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Hunter Lovins, president of Natural Capitalism Solutions: “Every day have a DOT: ‘Do One Thing.’ Vote for people who get the science and are willing to live their lives as if a future matters. Eat locally grown and grass-fed. Regenerative agriculture is half of the profitable solution to the climate crisis because it takes carbon from the air and puts it into the soil. The other half is eliminating carbon emissions. Drive an electric vehicle, put solar on your roof and buy carbon offsets for your air travel. Eliminate what you can, then offset what you can’t.”
Ziska Childs of ZERO-G Limo: “I have logged 130,000 fossil fuel free miles with my Tesla limo, saved 1 million pounds of carbon with my home solar panels, purchased shares in solar PV co-ops, and reclaimed carbon sequestering soils with biochar. I buy used whenever possible and insulate my house and windows for energy conservation. I’m going out every Friday in 2020 to advocate for Fridays for Future. Who will join me?”
Rick Heede of the Climate Accountability Institute: “It is too easy to stand idly by while thinking that governments and corporations and maybe our neighbors will do something. If we do not engage personally, then surely we shall all lose. Emissions are commensurate with our wealth, and we have the skills, resources, and the moral obligation to take effective action. If we won’t lead, who will?”
Jill Soffer and Rebecca Mirsky with Our Part Foundation: “Personal actions are good, but they aren’t moving the needle enough. Demand that your bank divest from fossil fuels — not just your personal investment portfolio but all of their investments. Demand government get us off fossil fuels as quickly as possible. It’s our job to let them know that it’s their job to protect us and this planet we live on by creating a renewable standard that aims for 100 percent renewables by 2030.”
Bill Joy, computer architect and Green Tech pioneer: “We all need to find ways to help reduce CO2 emissions — eat less meat, drive an electric car, insulate your house and only buy from businesses which are doing such things. Everything matters. We have a long way to go and need to go fast — and we have to all do it together.”
Hal Harvey, CEO of Energy Innovation: “Buy an EV, or better yet, take one of our great RFTA buses. Dial down the meat — and live longer as a bonus. Let your political and corporate leaders know they should amp up their ambition. Put some existential dread into those who fail to make the mark toward carbon emissions reduction.”
When informed citizens demand action from corporations and government they will respond. Locally, our hospitality, service and transportation companies should make the goal to offset 100% of their carbon emissions. We can also join groups like Citizens Climate Lobby who demand a national, market-based carbon reduction solution that has growing bipartisan support in Congress.
If you think that personal action is a distraction from the “real problem,” I beg to differ. Before we can exert our influence, we need to find our own grassroots power. Taking personal responsibility is the pathway to global action for greater change at scale.
The words of Martin Luther King have a special resonance as we go into 2020, “We must live together as brothers and sisters, or we will perish together as fools.”
In 2020, my family will be ramping up our climate action efforts, and I challenge you to do the same. If we all pull in the same direction, we create community through our common purpose. I have included a tear-out climate mitigation reference list online for your refrigerator.
Greg Poschman is on the Pitkin Board of County Commissioners and has been the 2019 chairman.
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With “hands-on” off-limits as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold across the United States, Colorado and Pitkin County, emergency first-responders are having to tweak the traditional ways they go about doing their jobs.