By Janeen Ellsworth
It's the final day of November, which means you're facing one final challenge to cut back on using fossil fuels.
That challenge is: walk!
According to The Motley Fool, "Americans consumed 140.43 billion gallons of gasoline in 2015, or about 384.74 million gallons each day."
Let's dial that back!
Walk to the office instead of drive.
Walk your kid to school. Walk on your lunch break. Walk to the grocery store (bring a backpack!). Walk to happy hour after work today!
It feels good. It slows life down. It helps you notice the nice things happening in your neighborhood. And it's heart healthy--bringing longevity, a positive attitude, and a rosy glow to your already darling face.
Do I hear snickering in the crowd?!
Okay, fine! If you live too far away to make walking to wherever you need to go sensible, hitch a ride with your local transit company.
Bus, subway, train, incline, whatever!
If you live in Pittsburgh, find your local route's schedule here, at the Port Authority of Allegheny County's website. You might be lucky enough to catch the official Grinch Bus, that's spreading cheer throughout the city!
Carpool. You'll get to enjoy critical socializing most of us are lacking these days: morning coffee with a friend on the drive in to work.
If you worry you might be one of those Americans we hear about all the time who isn't getting enough social interaction, check out this checklist from Bustle for all the telltale signs. An easy way to fix that problem is to make a commute friend.
This will take coordination and pre-planning that maybe you didn't get around to in time to put into place today, but you can bring it up at the water cooler later and make plans to carpool starting Monday. Make sure you decide how you'll handle splitting gas money, and set the rules straight for who gets to be in charge of the radio dial.
Bike, for cryin' out loud! Even in the snow! Think you're too much of a delicate flower to handle it? Think again! I did it for years and I'm usually a wus. It was a daily challenge but made me a tougher individual, kept me skinny, let me get my workout in before 9 a.m. and for totally free, and biking got my productivity kick-started every day.
For guidance on how to get started, Bike Pittsburgh offers a 101 Guide to navigating Pittsburgh's streets on two wheels. Gear-wise, I recommend investing in a pair of lobster gloves for winter riding, an attractive bank-robber-style balaklava to really freak people out but keep your face warm, and a pair of nylon booties to pull over your riding shoes.
Check out this link from bicycling.com that lists some of the winter riding essentials and where to find 'em.
No matter which mode of transit you choose, think before sliding into your comfortable, warmed-up car by yourself. Save gas. Cut down your use of fossil fuels. Choose just one day a week to use alternate transportation to a place you'd typically drive, commit to doing it five times or more, and you're on your way to building a new positive habit all while helping to save the planet.
And I'll see you on the Grinch bus, maybe:))
By Janeen Ellsworth
Unplug all devices & appliances when they're not in use:
Today's energy savings tip for the November Monthly Challenge!
Many of us leave our phone chargers plugged into the wall so we know where to find them next time we need a zap. It's just convenient that way.
We leave home with our routers and modems and cable boxes buzzing and flashing all day long with no one to keep them company.
Stereos and microwaves are ready to work for us, yet for hours on end we don't play music or reheat soup.
Our coffee pots and toaster ovens, too, sit empty, yearning in their loneliness to prepare someone breakfast while they're plugged in but cold.
Problem is, each of these appliances sucks electricity out of the walls--even when they're in the "off" position, thus requiring coal to be burned at a higher rate, thus contributing to higher carbon outputs, thus exacerbating climate change.
According to a study conducted by the National Resources Defense Council in conjunction with Home Energy Analytics and the Stanford Sustainable Systems Lab, we Americans own an average of 65 electronic appliances per household.
And many of them drain power all day and night, whether they're on and functioning, or totally off; they even suck a surprising amount of energy just sitting there idle in standby mode.
Check out this New York Times article that charts average home device power usage in both on and off positions. It's kind of a shocker (you love these puns, don't you!).
"This always-on energy use by inactive devices translates to approximately $19 billion a year—about $165 per U.S. household on average—and 50 large (500-megawatt) power plants’ worth of electricity," says the NRDC report.
The simplest way to fix the problem? Unplug whenever you're not using a device!
It'll save you money.
It'll keep your fossil fuel consumption down.
It'll lower your carbon footprint and make you feel half-decent about yourself because, after all, you won't be contributing to a worse-than-forecast future of intense heat, drought, sea-level rise and famine!
Good job, you!
So, in honor of our November monthly challenge, we're unplugging all our devices whenever they're not in use. Our future depends on it--and our checking accounts will thank us:)
Go forth and unplug, friends, and please let me know in a comment below how your energy consumption diet is going!
I'm Janeen; writer, mother, wife, and full-time, radical Reductionist. I share stupid-easy tips on how to save money while reducing your impact on the environment, & I'm committed to helping others live a life of simple sustainability.
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