By Skylar Johnson
As a winner of the 2018 Innovate Fort Collins Challenge, Pretty Brainy is working with the City of Fort Collins, CO, to empower and educate the community on reducing carbon emissions in municipal areas. Making an impact on the damage already done to the climate requires every one of us to purchase sustainably made products and implement sustainable, carbon-conscious behaviors. Below are five products to adopt for a more carbon-conscious lifestyle while reducing the need for single-use products. Pretty Brainy’s student leaders invite you to take this step in reducing carbon emissions and to continue this endeavor in September 2019 through the MISSion: Innovation App.
1: Power Strips
Did you know that your appliances and chargers are using power even after you’ve turned them off? According to a study conducted in 2015 by the Natural Resources Defense Council, idling appliances are responsible for nearly 25 percent of residential energy use. This is because users think that an appliance is off when it actually is “on alert” and waiting to receive a signal to be turned back on. That’s an overwhelming amount of carbon emissions that harm the planet every day. Why? Electricity is responsible for about 34 percent of carbon emissions in the United States. So, just how much energy are you using to power appliances that are not even supposed to be on? You can see for yourself by using this electricity monitor or by getting a power strip for your appliances with the greatest idling energy draw (typically entertainment systems and computers). A basic power strip will cut the power to plugged-in appliances when the strip manually is turned off so you do not need to unplug each item individually. Alternately, check out this “smart” power strip that can be turned on and off from your phone and even set on a timer so you don’t need to think about it. Either way, it’s a small change you can make to drastically reduce carbon emissions and money spent on electricity.
2: Reusable Produce Bags
It’s practically common knowledge that plastic devastates marine life and takes up to 1,000 years to breakdown in landfills. Many grocery stores and sustainability projects have been providing reusable grocery bags to reduce the 1,500 plastic shopping bags used by the representative consumer household in the United States each year. But do you know how many plastic produce bags you use when you shop? These produce bags are washable, reusable, and will save you from using hundreds of plastic bags every year.
3: Reusable Beverage Container
Approximately 42.6 billion plastic water bottles are purchased each year in the United States and only 23 percent are recycled. Each person who switches to a reusable water bottle saves 156 plastic water bottles from going to a landfill. Annually. Not only will your drinking from a reusable bottle help the environment, but it will save you money after just a few weeks.
4: Blackout Curtains
Air conditioners and heaters used in homes in the United States cause pollution from carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses. Blackout curtains are a good way to help warm and cool homes while reducing pollution. In hot-weather months, for example, 76 percent of sunlight that falls on standard double-pane windows infiltrates a home, resulting in an energy increase of 30 percent or more to try to beat the heat. Consider purchasing blackout curtains to keep the sun from heating your house when it is at its brightest.
5: Set Your Amazon Day
Have you ever placed an online order only to realize that you needed one more item the very next day? It has happened to everyone, but the environmental cost of the additional plastic packaging, cardboard, and transportation is high. Compensate for this with Amazon Day, a setting for Amazon Prime users to have all of their products shipped on one day! According to Amazon, over several months Amazon Day saved “tens of thousands” of cardboard boxes. The move reportedly is part of Amazon’s effort to achieve net zero carbon from one-half of its shipments by 2030. Prime users can set their Amazon Day at check-out.
While new, useful technology is important to our everyday lives, we need to use it responsibly. One person conserving energy can become a chain reaction for people around the globe. It’s as simple as changing a few items throughout your home.
“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5ºC or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems.”
-Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body for assessing science related to climate change
How Concerned Are You About Climate Change?
Have you gained at least one new takeaway from our top 5 list of household products for living a more sustainable life? We’d love to hear your feedback. Please post your comments below under “Leave a Reply.”
Skylar Johnson is a recent graduate of Fossil Ridge High School who plans to attend Colorado State University to study Criminology. She loves being outdoors hiking and camping, as well as working at her job. She also likes spending time with friends and family taking road trips and exploring new places. She cares about the environment and thinks that making little changes at home can have a big impact on the planet.
Contributors to this post are Emma Younger, Katie Schutt, Lauren Isenhour, and Madzie Boyles. Learn more about them and their leadership of MISSion: Innovation.