As citizens of the world, we are directly involved in the residential and transportation sectors of energy use (and associated emissions) through the purchase of electricity, natural gas, heating oil, and gasoline; in the U.S., about half of all that is produced. Indirectly, we are involved in the commercial and industrial half through our consumption of everything else-alas, the bedrock of our economy. So it is kind of about us.

Living consciously and making these connections in our daily lives can be challenging, no doubt about it. But sometimes altering seemingly insignificant patterns and habits can result in money saved, smaller carbon footprints, and even less stress.

Driving (one of the stressful parts): It takes two gallons of oil to make a gallon of gas. Every mile driven is about a pound of CO2 emitted, besides all that went into making and getting that gallon of gas! So certainly using less is the ticket.

• Spend less time trying to find a close parking spot.

• Change routes to avoid intersections where you often need to wait to turn left. (UPS has saved 3 million gallons of gas in one year and delivered things more quickly by systematically doing this.)

• Release your foot from the gas when you see a red light or stop sign ahead.

• Drive five or 10 mph more slowly on the freeway. Driving 60 instead of 70 mph uses about 17 percent less fuel.

• If you know that an event will cause some parking stress, and walking or biking is not an option, consider carpooling or public transit.

• One could be radical and choose days without driving at all.

At home, besides only using lights when you need them, you could apply the same rule to equipment – computers,and associated devices like speakers and printers; also TV, video, and stereo equipment. Even when off, phantom loads are drawing current all of the time. Having these things plugged into power strips that you turn off could cut electricity use by at least 6 percent, some say more than 10 percent.

Flying: Nonstop flights are far better than multi-legged ones, if a choice is possible and affordable.

Buying carbon offsets helps with the rest. And hey, they may be guilt-easers, but who can have a problem with funding renewable energy and planting trees?!


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