The Quest to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Written by: Rachel Zuckerman
By participating in a TerraCycle Brigade program, you’re doing a big part to reduce your carbon footprint. When you send your waste to TerraCycle, it is used to create new products, reducing the need for new materials to be extracted from the earth and processed. Extracting and processing materials are responsible for a large portion of a product’s carbon footprint. For example, a TerraCycle pencil case made with upcycled candy wrappers requires no raw materials to be extracted from the earth and processed, resulting in a carbon footprint that is one-third the carbon footprint of a pencil case made with new materials.
Now, the United States government is joining you in your efforts to reduce carbon emissions. On June 2, 2014, the Obama administration made history when it announced a proposed Environmental Protection Agency rule to reduce carbon emissions from the nation’s power plants by 30% by 2030, using emission levels from 2005 for comparison. The rule, which will be finalized in June 2015, will have tremendous environmental and public health benefits, but the ultimate test of its success will be if other countries follow suit, because universal collaboration will be necessary to curb global carbon emissions and avoid catastrophic climate change. Until now, rapidly growing nations like China and India have resisted pressure to cut carbon emissions, arguing that they shouldn’t have to act if the United States has failed to do so. Now, the United States can point to this rule as proof that the American government is acting against climate change, and can potentially use this rule as leverage in negotiations with other countries. This will be especially important when countries meet in Paris in 2015 to finalize a new universal agreement on climate change.
If you want to get involved in the proposed Clean Power Plan, you can submit comments on the proposal here. You can also attend public hearings during the week of July 28 in the following cities: Denver, Atlanta, Washington DC, and Pittsburgh. You can find more information on these hearings here.
Looking for more ways to reduce your carbon footprint in your own home and community? Here are a few ideas:
- Unplug appliances – Almost one-third of America’s carbon emissions comes from electricity generation. Unplugging your chargers, lamps, toasters, and more when they’re not in use will save energy and money.
- Join the Meatless Monday movement – The meat industry is responsible for 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Cows produce a lot of methane, a greenhouse gas that is even more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide. If a four-person family skips steak once a week, it’s equivalent to taking your car off the road for almost three months!
- Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs – CFLs use up to 75% less electricity than traditional incandescent light bulbs. If every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with a CFL, in one year it would prevent the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions used by 800,000 cars.