Be part of a Resilient Neighborhoods EcoTeam. Resilient Neighborhoods organizes EcoTeams in Marin County and helps participants “lose” 5,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. Participants calculate their carbon footprints and then choose from a menu of emission reduction actions. Even if you’ve already done a lot, you’ll discover many new earth-friendly strategies. Sign up at www.resilientneighborhoods.org.
Take transit or share a ride. One way to reduce driving is to take the bus, ferry or, starting in 2016, the SMART train. 511 SF Bay brings together all the information you need to plan your transit trip or find a ride share. Their interactive, on-demand system can help you find carpools, vanpools or bicycle partners. Check it out at www.511.org.
Walk or bike instead of drive. Have your child walk or bike to school, and bike or walk to local destinations rather than drive. Safe Routes to School helps organize walking school buses and bike trains for a fun, healthy and safe way to get to school on time. Find out what’s happening at your school at http://www.saferoutestoschools.org/.
Shop locally. Reducing your annual driving mileage by just 10% can make a significant difference in cutting transportation emissions, plus it’s a great way to invest in your local economy. Pick up locally-grown produce and locally-made food items at your farmer’s market, and you’ll cut your food’s transportation emissions, too!
Drive an electric car. From the Smart car to the Tesla Model S, electric cars are coming in all shapes and sizes these days. Driving an electric car can reduce your car emissions by 80% if charging with conventional electricity – and 100% if you charge it with electricity from renewable sources. Many Marin towns are installing electric vehicle charging stations in order to make it more convenient to drive an electric car. Check out your electric car options at http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evtech.shtml.
Install a solar energy system. A solar photovoltaic (PV) system could reduce your electricity consumption by 85% or more. PV systems today can be blended easily into both traditional and nontraditional homes, or installed as a ground-mounted system. You can size your system to offset the most expensive tiered electricity consumption, or size it to take advantage of zero net energy metering, which allows you to take credit at full retail rates for any excess electricity you generate. Learn more at www.gosolarcalifornia.org
Upgrade your home. Installing insulation, sealing duct leaks, and upgrading to energy-efficient furnaces, water heaters and windows could reduce your reduce your home’s energy use by 20% or more. Property owners in Marin County can take advantage of a new energy efficiency program – Energy Upgrade California. The program’s rebates and resources will help you upgrade your home to save energy and water and make other green building improvements. Visit www.marincounty.org/energyupgrade to learn more.
Use CFL or LED bulbs. Replacing your incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) or Light Emitting Diode (LED) can reduce your lighting energy use by 75% or more. Although more expensive then CFL bulbs, LED bulbs last much longer, bringing the operating costs down to a comparable level. California Youth Energy Services provides Green House Calls that include an energy assessment, incandescent light bulb replacement with CFLs, installation of other efficiency measures like showerheads and clotheslines, and information on how to go green. For more information visit www.marinenergywatch.org.
Compost your food waste or put your food waste into your green can. Composting your food waste could reduce your waste emissions by 25%. Today, nearly all of the Marin garbage haulers are offering curbside food waste collection. All you need to do is collect your food waste and scraps in a paper bag and place them in the green can. For more zero waste tips, visit www.zerowastemarin.org.
Go Deep Green. Marin Clean Energy offers its customers the opportunity to purchase electricity from 100% renewable energy sources. At just one penny more per kilowatt hour over regular Marin Clean Energy rates, it’s one of the easiest ways to go green. Sign up today at www.mcecleanenergy.com/deepgreen.
Use environmentally responsible products. Finding environmentally responsible products can be bewildering. Fortunately, there’s a website that rates consumer products according to their environmental, health and social impacts. The ratings are made by a team of scientific and technology experts who have evaluated thousands of products you use every day. Check it out at www.goodguide.com.
Reduce the amount of animal-based foods that you eat. A plant-based diet, especially from local sources, may use fewer resources and result in lower greenhouse gas emissions. To learn how to get started, visit http://features.peta.org/VegetarianStarterKit/.