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10 Low-Carbon Ways to Save Money For Earth Day and Beyond
With Earth Day just days away, there is no better time to be thinking about steps you and your family can take to protect the environment and our climate. And the most impactful steps are often the ones that cut your carbon emissions and save you money.
In Cooler Smarter: Practical Steps for Low-Carbon Living, my colleagues and I analyzed and measured the most effective actions each of us can personally take to address the global warming emissions from our decisions as consumers.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
We identified a broad menu of options that fit any lifestyle and help keep you focused on the decisions that matter the most, which, our research found, are how we get around, the energy we use in our homes, the food we eat, and the stuff we buy.
Fortunately, there are lots of measures you can take that will save money right away, while also lowering your carbon footprint. Here are 10 money-saving, low-carbon living tips for you to consider as we celebrate Earth Day:
- Make your house more airtight. Even in reasonably tight homes, air leaks may account for 15 to 25 percent of the heat our furnaces generate in winter or that our homes gain in summer. If you pay $1,100 a year to heat and cool your home, tackling those leaks could save you as much as $275 annually.
- Use smart power strips in your home office and home entertainment center to curb “phantom loads” and save a surprising amount on your electric bill. Shutting off your laser printer when you’re not using it, for example, could save you as much as $130 annually.
- Upgrade your refrigerator and air conditioner, especially if they are more than five years old. New ones are twice as efficient or more. With older fridges, an upgrade can pay for itself in as little as three years in energy savings alone.
- Get an electricity monitor from your local hardware store or even borrow one from many local libraries to see where the energy hogs are in your home. This can help you save hundreds of dollars annually.
- Change those light bulbs. New LED light bulbs can give the same light for less than one-quarter the electricity and can last for 20 years. That can add up to more than $100 in savings for most families each year.
- Wash clothes in cold water. They get just as clean with today’s detergents. Hot water washes use five times the energy — and create five times the emissions. Cold-water washing could save you nearly $100 a year.
- Go car shopping for a car with better fuel economy. Upgrading from a 20-mpg car to a 40-mpg car can save you 4,500 gallons of gasoline over the car’s lifespan. At today’s gas prices, that’s a total savings of almost $18,000. And whether you are not in the market to buy a car now or not, consider ways to drive smarter. By taking simple steps — like keeping your car tuned up, maintaining proper tire air pressure, driving 65 instead of 75, avoiding unnecessary idling and jack rabbit starts at traffic lights — you could save more than $500 a year, and cut your annual carbon emissions by 5 to 7 percent.
- Eat less meat, especially beef. Cattle turn out to be a major contributor to climate change, so cutting down on meat can be a smart—and probably healthy—way to cut your carbon. An average family of four that cuts its meat intake in half will avoid roughly three tons of emissions annually.
- Buy less stuff. Reduce, re-use and recycle. In addition to having more money to focus on the really important things, this strategy will lower your emissions to and help combat global warming.
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By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.
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