Climate Diet #2: Families and Homes

This second and continuing episode of “Climate Diet” includes climate consciousness relating to families and homes.

A child born today in the US will generate 16 tons of CO2- per year for the rest of their life.  Families are also one of the greatest joys humans have – how to reconcile the two?? Here are this week’s ideas for making positive environmental impacts. You may have already incorporated some of them. Again, the most important take-away is an awareness of the impacts made on the environment.

  1. Don’t emit when you gather. Each domestic airplane ride equals 1 ton of carbon; 2 tons for an international flight. Meet in central locations and take direct flights.
  2. Re-imagine gifts. 1 billion trees are cut down each year for Amazon and other retailer packages. Decrease impulse on-line buying and try handmade gifts or donate to a 529 for a college/vocational education.  Donate to a charity in someone’s honor, or have a tree planted in their honor.
  3. Carnivorous pets have big carbon footprints.
  4. Make a different kind of family plan. Consider having one child, adopting or fostering existing children.
  5. Change the grid if you can’t get off it. Contract with an ESCO (energy service company) and have your desired power option routed to your home. Shop at We must create the demand for more renewable options until our government mandates it (like Denmark).
  6. Buy power locally. Look for Community Solar Programs – 39 States have CSP’s, including Washington.
  7. Electrify. Natural gas is very “leaky”. It leaks methane every time you turn on your stove, coming out of the ground and in pipelines. It will get more expensive as more people switch to renewables. Change from gas appliances to electric.
  8. Take control of your personal climate. 60% of your energy use is in heating and air conditioning. Turn down your heat at night. Consider a heat pump.
  9. Educate your thermostat. Get a “smart” thermostat. Check with Puget Sound Energy, for pricing and discounts.
  10. Efficient electric versions of water heater, clothes dryer, and stovetops are available. Up-front cost can be expensive but saves in overall cost of operation.
  11. “Vampire power” can be eliminated by totally powering down devices. Get a power strip and turn it off at the end of the day or any lengthy break. Can save you up to $165 a year!
  12. Dress Carbon Light. Buy good clothes and wear them a long time. Line dry if possible. Use thrift  stores to buy “gently reused clothing”.  Returned goods add 6 billion pounds annually to the landfill, so when ordering clothes on-line do so carefully.
  13. Turn your grass (today’s largest “irrigated crop) into a forest – plant trees. And don’t cut down the ones you have!
  14. Live close. Apartment and city living are less carbon intensive. Walk, bike, or use public transportation.