Reducing your ENVIRONMENTAL footprint

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Many people refer to it as the “carbon” footprint but I like to take it a little step further an talk about the environmental footprint rather. Carbon is one thing; the environmental impact of our species goes further than any carbon per se. Therefore we should really be looking at it in that way too.

Much is being talked about our need to reduce CO2 emissions – and that may be so – but nothing seems to be said about all the other things. As I have said before, it would appear as if Climate Change, previously called Global Warming, has pushed all the other, often more important issues, to the background.

What good is a cool planet if we no longer have a healthy soil, fish in the sea and all that? None whatsoever. All things must go hand in hand and we must not forget the other issues that may not have much to do with CO2.

We all hear the disaster scenarios – and actually I do take them pretty seriously – but not many of us can personally start building wind-farms, and many also do not have the funds to even have their own little wind turbine and photo-voltaic cells for the home, so how do we make some deep cuts in our emissions?

First of all measure. There are a great number of on-line calculators now where you can feed your energy bills, gasoline usage, and such like, in – and out pops your supposed CO2 footprint. This is a must to get started on reductions (otherwise, how are you going to know what you should be reducing and how you're doing?!). Just type 'carbon calculator' into any search engine.

Next shop with an eco-eye. But how do I do that, I hear you ask. Find recommended Eco Stores online or in the real world. There is a warning here though that I may like to give and that is that there are many things out there claimed by the green stores and many green magazines too be real great and good for the Planet, such as they claim as regards to bamboo fiber clothes, or the Eco Button, and other things, that are, in fact, nothing but greenwash. Some reviewers either have no idea as to how to review or they have links to the reviewed products in one way or the other. At the GREEN (LIVING) REVIEW we pride ourselves on being impartial and we will not award good marks to any product, book or service, that does not deserve it.

Make a record. Reducing CO2 will reduce your bills – because, for example, you are using less energy produced from burning fossil fuels like coal. But, I think it is also important to note down what you are doing and what the impact is. It will help you see the reward. Again, there are various websites that will give you a chance to input data and save it.

Forget about carbon offsetting despite of what some might like to advise to the contrary. Carbon offsetting is nothing but gimmickry. And in the large scale it is basically indulgences. Let's be serious and if you wish to help some solar project in India or wherever then do it out of the goodness of your own heart or because of how much you have saved following your energy audit rather than as an indulgence for the CO2 emissions for which you are still, directly or indirectly, responsible.

Many eco-stores on the high street and the Internet try to sell you this or that gadget with which to, supposedly, reduce you carbon emissions, etc., and you may also, and that is true, save some money in the long run in that you reduce your heating or electricity bill.

However, many things you do not even have to buy in order to do and here is and idea...

Instead of, for inctance, falling for the sales pitch and buying a Radiator Booster (fan) you can do something yourself though and that is much cheaper: Put a panel of reflective aluminium foil behind each and every radiator. That will reflect the heat away from the wall and prevent loss to the outside. It also will reflect heat back into the room, obviously.

There are also other ways that you can do – without having to spend any or much money – in order to reduce heat loss, for instance.

The draft snake, for instance, that you can easily make yourself, instead of buying for between $10 and $20 from the green stores and craftspeople. And I could go on but won't, at least not for the moment ...

Copyright © 2010 Michael Smith