Pledge to do at least 2 of the actions below (or propose your own) through 2012. Tell us who you are, circle your actions, and then scan/copy/print/cut out this pledge and send it to us. We are asking you to use paper here. The back of something, a scrap, recycled paper — it’s all acceptable. We’re doing this because writing pledges down make them more likely to succeed.
- By email
- Or snail mail:
- Click here for an online pledge
Ann Arbor 350 / Ecology Center
339 E. Liberty St, Suite 300
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Download the pledge here (Note: It says “Winter” and “through March 2012″, but this is going on all year!)
- Add eco-friendly insulation to walls & attic
- Install a low-flow showerhead
- Go the extra mile: Install faucet aerators too!
- Wash laundry in cold water, with a *full* load
- Use LED holiday lights
- Don’t let vehicle(s) idle (it’s the law!)
- Replace 1 vehicle commute by walking or biking
- Inflate tires once a month
- Compost your food scraps
- Go vegan for just 1 meal per week
- BYO grocery bag
- Eat 1 local meal per week
What are the actual numbers?
Unless otherwise attributed, the information below is from the 2010 Ann Arbor Energy Challenge Booklet, written by Kim Wolske with contributions by Nate Geisler. The full booklet will soon be available at a2energy.org.
Improving your attic insulation can save 84 pounds of carbon dioxide each month by decreasing the amount of hot and cold air that escapes through your roof in the winter and summer. Insulating your walls is a bit more challenging, but it saves a whopping 395 pounds of carbon dioxide each month. Sierra Club’s Green Home website provides a lot of helpful information about what you should look for in insulation.
Save 105 pounds of carbon dioxide per month. Select a shower head with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm. This will allow you to use less HOT water — meaning you use less water AND less energy (to heat that water). Here’s a recommendation from our friend Matt at Greenovation.TV:
Bricor – ultra-high efficiency shower head with flow rate of only 1 gallon per minute (gpm). A standard shower head has a flow rate of 2.5 gpm. So, this shower head will save a family of three about 16,000 gallons of HOT water every year. It’s a huge energy saver as well as a water saver. Learn more about what Matt’s done to his house here.
The aerator—the screw-on tip of the faucet—ultimately determines the maximum flow rate of a faucet. Typically, new kitchen faucets come equipped with aerators that restrict flow rates to 2.2 gpm, while new bathroom faucets have ones that restrict flow rates from 1.5 to 0.5 gpm.
Aerators are inexpensive to replace and they can be one of the most cost-effective water conservation measures. For maximum water efficiency, purchase aerators that have flow rates of no more than 1.0 gpm. Some aerators even come with shut-off valves that allow you to stop the flow of water without affecting the temperature. When replacing an aerator, bring the one you’re replacing to the store with you to ensure a proper fit.
This saves 57 lbs CO2 per month. The folks at TreeHugger figured this one out years ago and wrote a lovely article about it:
When you use cold water to wash, you just use energy to run the machine — about .24 kWh — without using any energy to heat the water. That .24 kWh translates to about .41 pounds of CO2 per year. That’s about 8 gallons of gas, or 164 miles of driving. Compare that to the 3595 miles of driving that the top end of the emissions scale (washing in hot/warm, using a top-loading machine and water heated with an electric water heater), and pressing that cold/cold button starts to make a sizable difference.
The estimated household savings of LED holiday lights is 47 pounds CO2/month.
Starting in 2007, the Ann Arbor DDA began using LED (light-emitting diode) holiday lights, 114,000 LED bulbs to be exact, on trees throughout most of the downtown (coincidentally equaling one bulb per city resident – isn’t that an interesting fact!). This is one of the largest LED holiday lighting displays in the country, and attracted NBC national news.
This technology requires 80 percent less energy than traditional lights: 100 LED holiday lights draw 8.8 watts, while 100 regular, mini holiday lights draw 44 watts. Ann Arbor’s 114,000 bulbs equate to an annual energy savings of $7,000, (71,468 KWh) and 70 tons of carbon dioxide, the equivalent of taking 12 cars off the road. LED lights also last much longer as well, with a 40-year life expectancy before they burn out, which translates to a maintenance savings, as well.
If you turn off your car instead of idling, you can save up to 24 pounds of CO2 per month. Each time your car idles for 5 minutes, you waste 1 pound of CO2. There are also an incredible number of myths out there that keep people idling, but — rest assured — idling is NOT better for your car.
If you’ll be parked for more than 10 seconds, turn off the car. Restarting uses less fuel than letting the car idle – and contrary to popular belief – will not damage modern engines. Even in cold weather, modern cars need no more than 30 seconds to warm up. You’ll actually heat the engine twice as fast by driving rather than idling in place.
Save about 20 lbs CO2 per month. Consider walking or biking for short-distance trips. In congested areas, riding a bike can actually be faster than taking a car. Even at a casual pace, a one mile trip can take only 5 minutes on a bike or 20 minutes on foot. Each mile you power by foot – instead of your car – prevents nearly 1lb. of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere.
Save 29 lbs CO2 each month. Looks can be deceiving – half of the vehicles in the U.S. have at least one tire that is underinflated. Under normal driving conditions, your tires naturally lose 1-2 psi per month. Since underinflated tires have more contact with the road, they require more energy – and gasoline – to move and maintain speed. By inflating your tires to the recommended level each month, you can save up to 18 gallons of gas each year. The proper tire pressure for your vehicle can be found on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb or in your owner’s manual.
When you toss banana peels, coffee grounds, and other organic matter into the trash, they end up in landfill where it produces methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more harmful than CO2. Instead, consider returning your food scraps to the earth. You’ll save up to 28 lbs of CO2 each month, halve the number of times you have to take out the trash each week, and generate a nutrient- rich medium for gardening. A number of commercial compost bins are available or you can start a pile in a corner of the backyard.
Vegans are responsible for 1.5 fewer TONS of CO2 emissions each year than meat-eaters. The math is a bit tricky here because most of the calculations have been done for vegetarian meals, but you’ll likely save 11 pounds of CO2 per month if you replace 4 meat meals with vegan meals.
The University of Chicago reports that going vegan is 50% more effective than switching to a hybrid car in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Environmental Defense, if every American skipped one meal of chicken per week and substituted vegetarian foods instead, the carbon dioxide savings would be the same as taking more than half a million cars off of U.S. roads.
The global warming impact of using a single disposable bag is small. But each year Americans use over 100 billion plastic bags and 10 billion paper bags. The typical shopper uses 9 bags per week, at a cost of 6 lbs. of CO2 per month. The next time a cashier gives you the choice of paper or plastic, take pride in providing your own reusable bag instead. Reusable bags hold up better and can even earn you some cash. Many grocery stores provide a cash rebate – up to 10 cents per bag, every time you check out.
Save 4 lbs CO2 per month. The average meal travels between 1,200 to 1,500 miles from the producer to your plate. Aside from arriving short on flavor, high mileage foods also take a serious toll on the climate. After harvest or processing, they’re loaded into an assortment of energy-guzzling transports – freight trains and ships, semi-trucks, and even airplanes. Buying food from local farmers saves transportation-related emissions and puts money in your local economy. If local offerings are sparse, try to pick in-season food that traveled the shortest distance. Many produce labels will indicate the state or country of origin.