With many of us working more from home, here are four tips to save energy and carbon emissions at home:
- Green your flush
- Switch to green power (even if you are a renter)
- Eat more sustainable food
- Reduce water use at home
Green your Flush: As COVID-19 was just beginning to impact our lives in the SF Bay Area, I made a rare trip to Costco for a few staples. I have been using Seventh Generation toilet paper or Trader Joe’s Bath Tissue, both 100% recycled content, for years. Yet, as was pushing my huge shopping cart around, a pallet of toilet paper appeared and I got bit by the TP hoarding bug. I actually grabbed one of the Kirkland Bath Tissue (30 rolls!) packages—seemingly like enough to supply our two-person household for a lifetime. You might not realize that Costco’s own Kirkland toilet paper comes from the boreal forest in Canada, the most carbon-dense forest in the world. According to NRDC, “… it is being clear cut at a rate of one million acres a year to make lumber, paper, and, perhaps most egregiously, throwaway tissue products. U.S. companies like Costco drive a lot of this demand, fueling the loss of this globally important forest.” Check out NRDC’s 2019 report The Issue with Tissue: How Americans are Flushing Forests Down the Toilet for suggestions for greening your household paper purchases. I recently tried tree-free bamboo TP and paper towels.
Switch to Green Power (even if you are a renter): The Bay Area offers renters, and home owners not ready to install solar, several clean energy options. For San Francisco residents, CleanPowerSF, San Francisco’s Community Choice Aggregation program, offers cost-effective, cleaner energy alternatives for your home. Enrolling in CleanPowerSF’s 100% renewable SuperGreen energy is the number one action San Francisco residents can take to help the City reach its climate action goals. Greener, cleaner energy is now provided throughout the Bay Area.
Eat more Sustainable Food: Choose Organic, Local Food: We are all eating at home more, so it is even more important to choose local, organic produce and food products. Organic agriculture can reduce carbon dioxide, save energy, slow climate change, and reduce your exposure to chemicals and additives. And, with the average piece of produce traveling 1,500 miles, buying locally-grown produce, or growing your own, can make an impact. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) offers a guide to healthier eating, “Dirty Dozen”, which details the fruit and vegetables you should buy organic if you eat them. To reduce your carbon footprint, learn more about the Low-Carbon Diet, join a community-supported agriculture or grow your own food at home.
Reduce Water Use: In Petaluma, our CSA just informed us that due to lack of rain this season they will not be able to grow vegetables this summer. The pond they depend on for water is just too low. The news of our impending drought has been lost in the shuffle of other national news, but now is a good time to reduce water use at home where you can. We just replaced our 1930s vintage toilet with a new, water efficient one. There are other simple ways to reduce water use at home, including repairing your irrigation system to minimize leaks, plant drought-tolerant plants, get rid of your lawn, or reuse grey water for your landscaping. I just replaced an ancient 1930s, water-hogging toilet with a low-flow version.