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Low carb(on) diet

You’ve all heard of the Atkins diet, and the Miami Beach diet, but have you heard of the latest diet craze in green circles? It’s the “low carbon” diet and many of you are probably “dieting” without knowing it. If you’ve been reading this blog and others on how to “green” your lifestyle, and have been making changes to be green (or greener), then you’re on your way.

Why is this important? Because we (I’m referring to Americans right now, though really, it’s humans in general) are the biggest polluters on a per capita basis. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration states that the average American emits about 35,000 to 40,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year. This includes home, work and recreational habits, as well as the products we consume.

So, how can we decrease our footprint? Here are some interesting facts, following on the heels of the last blog (Did you know?), but this time focusing solely on the action and carbon emissions generated by that action. As always, there are many sources available, and though the numbers may differ somewhat, this should give you an idea of the impact:

Action

Estimated impact*

My two cents

Recycle half of the items that could be recycled

2400 lbs. saved per year

Ideally, you should be recycling all the items that can be recycled, but let’s start with half!

Wash 2 loads of laundry a week in cold water

250 lbs. saved per year

The clothes get just as clean with cold water. 90% of the energy goes to heat the water, not to mention that a typical washer/dryer emits about 5lbs. of CO2 per cycle.

Bike 15 miles/week instead of driving

800 lbs. saved per year

Every mile driven is equal to about 1lb. of CO2 for a car that gets 20 mpg.

Replace bulbs with CFLs

100 lbs. saved per bulb

The cost may be more up front but you’re saving money in the long term— they last longer and use less energy!

Reduce your shower time to 5 minutes

300 lbs. saved per year

Heating hot water for a 10 minute shower can generate up to 4 lbs of CO2, so cut your time in half (and get a low-flow showerhead).

Go vegetarian

5,000 lbs. saved per year

If you’re not quite ready, take a day or two off from eating meat per week—the savings add up, not to mention that it’s good for you!

Purchase Energy Star appliances

Varies with the appliance

Ex: 125 lbs saved for a dishwasher, 500 lbs for front-loading clothes washer

* Amount of carbon dioxide that is saved” or not released in the air.

I’m sure you’ve heard of carbon calculators, and I’ve covered them in a previous blog as well. A couple of others are the EPA and Live Earth ones—take a look and see which you prefer given the amount of information you have (some require you to have detailed information about monthly energy used, etc…). Happy dieting!