Saturday, January 13, 2007

Eco Decalogue (borrowed)

Trawling the ecological niches of the web, I came across this list of ten New Year's resolutions on Conservation International:

(Kate Barrett, Staff Writer) We are all creatures of habit. Whether you vow to stop bad habits or start good ones, now is the time to make New Year’s resolutions you can keep. These ten simple tips for creating a healthier Earth are sure to last through 2007 and beyond:

1) Replace your incandescent light bulbs with compact florescent lights (CFLs). Look closely at labels when buying light bulbs. Those marked as CFLs last 10 times longer and use 66 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. As a result, CFLs save an average of $30 in energy costs over their lifetimes – as much as 10,000 hours, though turning CFLs on and off too frequently will shorten their lives. CFLs also reduce the release of greenhouse gas emissions and are safer because they burn at a lower temperature (100° F) than incandescent and halogen lights, which can burn at temperatures up to 1000° F.

2) Inflate your car tires. When walking or biking isn't feasible, you can do something to better protect the Earth while driving. Take a step in the right direction by inflating your car tires. Pumping them up can improve your gas mileage by about 3.3 percent – a savings of about 7 cents per gallon. It‘s the right thing to do for your wallet and the right thing to do for the Earth.

3) Weigh your ecological impact. It’s far easier than stepping on a scale. Take CI's short eco-footprint quiz to find out if you need to tread more lightly on Earth’s biodiversity. Measure how last year’s habits stack up, and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a full-fledged eco-warrior in the year ahead.

4) Turn down the hot water heater. Set your water heater to 130° F. While you’re at it, throw on a sweater and lower your thermostat for the winter by just three degrees. These simple actions can have enormous positive consequences, preventing the emission of nearly 1,100 pounds of carbon dioxide over the course of 2007. And that’s just from you! Get your friends on board, and the benefits will multiply.

5) Choose your seafood wisely. We can’t afford to wait until 2008. The world’s seafood will be entirely depleted by 2048, according to an early November report in the journal Science. That means the moment to shape up is now. By buying and eating certain types of seafood, you can discourage harmful fishing practices and avoid the more depleted or threatened species. Take a look at Seafood Choices Alliance or Seafood Watch to make smart choices.

6) Plant a tree. It’s not nearly as labor-intensive as it sounds, and it’s a small price to pay for a healthy Earth. Trees soak up carbon and absorb harmful greenhouse gases, but they are disappearing at a shocking rate. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that an average of 32 million acres of forests are destroyed each year. Not if we can help it. Order your tree online at a website like this one: Tree In A Box.

7) Offset your carbon footprint. Carbon footprints are soooo last year. Luckily, CI's new carbon calculator guarantees you’ll be on the cutting edge in 2007. It empowers you to offset your personal impact on Earth’s rising climate. Donate $10 to offset your cross-country road trip, $20 for the upcoming family reunion, or $7 for a domestic roundtrip flight. Your money will help protect the roughly 832,000-acre Makira Forest in northeast Madagascar and prevent millions of tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere.

8) Buy locally produced meats and produce. Sounds like a good idea, but you don’t know where to start? Just type in your zip code on Local Harvest's website to see a list of farms and farmers’ markets close to home, as well as nearby restaurants committed to supporting their neighbors. Buying locally produced food cuts out the middlemen and the vast amounts of energy required to get your products onto store shelves. Most produce in U.S. supermarkets travels an average 1,500 miles before it is sold!

9) Drink more water from reusable glassware. It’s great for your bank account, your health, and your planet. The average American consumed more than 400 beverage bottles and cans in 2006, leaving behind wasted glass, plastic, steel, and aluminum. That adds up to excessive amounts of fossil fuels and hydropower for mining, processing, refining, shaping, shipping, storing, refrigerating, and disposing of those materials. Of course, changing your drinking habits both at home and at work is applicable to just about every other habit, as well. You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: Reduce, reuse, and recycle.

10) Get an early start. Make a year-end gift to support conservation efforts in 2007. It will be money well-spent. CI has received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent evaluator of charities. More than 85 percent of our expenses go directly to conservation programs and only 4 percent to fundraising. And if you donate before the ball drops at midnight on Dec. 31, you can double your impact on conservation in our Chairman’s Council Challenge Fund.

I think, when I have leisure, I may have a try at writing my own 10 resolutions. The most obvious ones, missing here, are to keep from flying (try going by train instead; there's a great website to help you: and to drive as little as possible. Also, if you haven't done so already, join a pressure group.


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