One More Reason to Walk (or bike)
I don't need to tell you that gas prices have hit a high across the country, nor that it saves you money each time you walk, ride your bike, or ride with another driver instead of driving yourself. But, I recently came across some statistics that give me a little more proof that my efforts help future generations and our fragile ecosystem, instead of just my wallet and my waistline.
There are so many things you can do, if you simply know to do them, that will save literally tons of carbon dioxide from polluting the atmosphere. This pollution is helping to destroy the earth's protective ozone layer and in turn is contributing to global warming. The heat wave felt across the country in early August was not a coincidence. According to the Chicago Tribune Redeye's Kyra Kyles, you can start doing these easy things right now to do your part:
- 1. Ditch your car twice a week and opt for a walk, ride your bike, or use public transportation--you will save 1,590 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from being dumped into the air. A 20 minute walk, instead of a 5 minute drive, will burn about 200 calories. If you walk home too, that is an extra 400 calories a day you are burning simply by commuting. That can add up to losing 2-3 pounds a month. (If you are trying to gain weight, add those calories to your diet with another healthy sandwich).
- 2. Recycle trash instead of throwing it in the regular garbage can--you will save 2,4000 pounds of carbon dioxie emissions.
- 3. Air dry your clothes--700 pounds of emissions GONE. Plus, it takes more energy to hang them up instead of tossing them in the dryer, so your shoulders get a workout.
- 4. Change three light bulbs to flourescent bulbs--it takes 1 minute to get a step stool, change the light bulb, and toss out the old one. Saves: 300 pounds of Carbon Dioxide emissions and $60 per year. I did this recently, and although I spent about 50 cents more per lightbulb, they haven't gone out once, unlike the store brand ones I used to buy. Added muscular benefit: Your glutes, quads, and calves get a workout from climbing up onto your step stool.
- 5. Shop for products made from recycled goods or with a percentage of post-consumer recycled products.--it will take fewer virgin materials from being used in the production process. Also, try to buy products with minimal packaging. It will save that much more trash from having to enter your trash can.
- 6. Buy local produce--this will reduce the amount of fuel required to drive your products to your store. Plus, the time between fruits and vegetables being picked and making it to your table is much shorter, so you reap the benefits of better tasting food with higher quality nutrition. (And remember to walk to the farmer's market if at all possible!)
you will save 1,590 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions from being dumped into the air by substituting driving for walking twice a week.
If you can't do without your car due to the distance you commute, or because you are carpooling kids around town, make sure to keep your tires adaquately inflated. It will save 250 pounds of emissions and $840 per year, according to experts at stopglobalwarming.org. Additionally, check your car's air filter. A clean air filter will help you save $130 a year and will prevent 800 pounds of emissions from entering the atmosphere.
By doing simple steps such as those listed above, you can reduce your personal contribution to destroying the atmosphere and ecosystem. The average person contributes 45,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air each year, according to statistics from the Enviornmental Protective Agency, Kyles writes.Every step you take and extra ounce of energy you use to help prevent pollution will help. If you want more examples of what you can do to help, visit stopglobalwarming.org or keepwintercool.org.
So, next time you see me walking down the street with an empty plastic cup or aluminum can (which I have been known to do on almost a weekly basis), you will know it is because I am waiting until I see a recycling bag, not because I can't find a trash can or am too absent-minded to remember to throw it away. I think the ounce of energy it takes my hand to hold onto that cup is worth it for those who use the Earth and its resources after me. It's the least I can do.