Ready to make some impactful – and attainable – resolutions for 2018? One of your goals for the New Year should be one of the easiest of them all – “going green.” By changing just a few everyday habits, not only can you help the environment, you can also save money and enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
As part of our monthly “New Year’s-themed” series of articles to help riders achieve their goals, check out our five of the top-ranked “eco-friendly goals” to help you start the New Year off right!
- Donate Your Time and Money
Even small actions can have a great impact. Volunteer whatever time you to organizations that work to protect plants, animals and our natural resources.
Want to help from home? Plant a tree! A single tree can absorb a ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime! Trees also produce oxygen, reduce pollution caused by water runoff, clean pollutants from the air, prevent soil erosion, provide vital wildlife habitats, and more. To leave your legacy, one sapling at a time, join the teams at Keep Denton Beautiful.
Interested in mixing purpose with pleasure? You can volunteer in beautiful places throughout the U.S. and around the world by donating your energy and efforts to organizations like Projects Abroad, Greenpeace and The Nature Conservancy.
Don’t have time to spare? There are many environmental groups that consistently transform financial donations of any size into meaningful environmental impacts. Pick from organizations like Conservation International, the Environmental Working Group, the Rainforest Alliance, Earth Justice, The Nature Conservancy, the Ocean Reef Group, the Coral Reef Alliance and Ocean Conservancy. To learn more about the donation usage of charitable nonprofits, visit Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance.
- Eliminate “Phantom Power”
It takes approximately one second to unplug the charger for your cell phone, mp3 player, e-reader, or iPad — but if you really can’t be bothered, then let nifty, energy-efficient gadgets do the work for you. Use power strips to turn off all your appliances at once; put your television, DVD player, game system, and stereo on a timer so they automatically shut off overnight; and invest in chargers that stop drawing current when the device’s battery is full. You could cut your energy bill by as much as 10 percent annually — without lifting a finger.
- Adjust Your Diet
Eating less meat can help you become more environmentally friendly. The meat industry is a substantial contributor to the emission of greenhouse-gases, such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane. Producing just 2.2 lbs. of beef emits the same amount of carbon dioxide as driving for 3 hours in a car that emits average vehicle carbon emissions. The meat industry also consumes tremendous amounts of water and land. It takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce a pound of beef, and 468 gallons to produce a pound of chicken… but only 132 gallons to produce a pound of wheat.
Purchasing and preparing food in consumable amounts can help, too. A study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations found that one-third of food produced for human consumption globally (approximately 1.3 billion tons per year) is wasted, ultimately generating greenhouse gases in landfills. Choosing locally-produced or organic foods can also help. Shipping food long distances not only contributes to air and water pollution, but also depletes food of its nutrients. Organic food produced without the use of chemicals dramatically reduces water, soil and air pollution. To find farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs in-and-around Denton, check the Local Harvest website or the local food directory on USDA.gov.
- Remember the three R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
The average American generates 4.4 pounds of trash each day – or more than 1,600 pounds per year, per individual. Limiting your waste by reusing and recycling can not only reduce the acreage devoted to landfills, it can also go a long way toward reducing the emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
One simple thing you can do: wash and reuse disposables like plastic cups, plates, utensils and plastic food storage bags instead of throwing them away. Another easy habit: bring your own reusable eco-bags to the grocery store instead of using their plastic bags. By switching to a cold-water wash for your laundry, and setting your home thermostat to 68oF in the winter and 78 oF in the summer can net you big savings on your energy bills and reduce your carbon dioxide emissions by up to 2,500 pounds a year. Likewise, switching to a low-flow shower head can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an additional 350 pounds of per year.
- #RideDCTA for the wellbeing of… well, everything!
This year (and every year) make wise transportation choices. Instead of driving everywhere, walk, bike, carpool or ride DCTA! All of these things can help reduce gas consumption, as well as reduce one pound of carbon dioxide emission for each mile you don’t drive. Consider the following facts:
How public transit helps conserve energy:
- Buses use 8.7 percent less energy per passenger-mile than a typical automobile. A bus with as few as seven passengers is more fuel-efficient than one, average single-occupant vehicle used for commuting. The fuel efficiency of a fully occupied bus is six times greater than one, average single-occupant vehicle.
- Commuter trains use 23.7 percent less energy per passenger-mile than a typical automobile. The fuel efficiency of a fully-occupied train car is 15 times greater than one, average single-occupant vehicle.
How public transit helps reduce air pollution:
- Buses emit 80 percent less carbon monoxide, 90 percent fewer hydrocarbons, and 25 percent fewer nitrogen oxides per passenger mile as a single-occupant auto.
- Trains emit 75 percent fewer nitrogen oxides per passenger mile as a single-occupant auto, and nearly 100 percent less carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
Riding DCTA is beneficial in many other ways, as well. Economically, it’s cost effective, especially as gas prices rise. It can also reduce your stress levels because someone else is driving. During the summer months, when harmful ozone levels are highest, it can make a big difference for those with health and breathing problems.
All that considered, is it any surprise that a study conducted by the University of East Anglia Norwich Medical School, in Norwich, England, found that commuting to work by bus, train, bicycle or foot makes people happier than those who use a car each day? Researchers found that riding buses or trains gives people time to relax, read and socialize, plus there’s usually an associated walk to the bus stop or railway station, which appears to cheer people up. Even that small amount of physical activity decreased feelings of worthlessness, sleepless nights, unhappiness and other emotional measures. Researchers also found that people who gave up their cars and rode the bus or train to work lost weight and were physically healthier.
Excited about attempting some of the goals we listed? Leave us a comment about which ones you plan to do, or if there’s one we may have left out!