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Cut Your Carbon in Half

A hiker's guide to fighting climate change

Home and office
1. Use a power strip for your computer, monitor, fax, copier, TV, DVD player, iPod, and cell-phone chargers, and switch it off when those devices aren’t in use. Most electronics draw power even when they’re off, including empty chargers in standby mode. 2,000, $$$$

2. Change your light bulbs. Swap out incandescents with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). 120 per bulb, $$$$

3. Turn off incandescent lights when leaving a room for even just a few minutes. If you use CFLs, turn them off if you leave for 15 minutes. 89, $$$$

4. Cancel catalogs and remove yourself from junk-mail lists. 15, $$$

5. Telecommute. 5,700, $$

6. Pay bills online and save postage, too. 0.04, $$$$

7. Tell cashiers not to print receipts you don’t need. 0.04, $$$

8. Use both sides of the page to print or copy. 6 per household, $$$$

9. Read the newspaper online to save paper, trees, and carbon. 67 (average paper), 300 (NY Times), $$$$

10. Skip the lighter fluid and start your charcoal with an electric igniter or chimney starter. 6, $$$

11. Eat one less serving of meat a week. Substitute a cheese-free alternative each week. Cheese, an animal product, has the same carbon cost as meat. 195, $$$

12. Ride your bike to work. 2,220, $$$$

13. Use recycled paper (100% post-consumer) in your office. 6 per ream, $$

14. Push an electric mower, or even a reel mower—not a gas model. 80, $$$$

15. Replace exterior lights around your home with solar-powered ones. 110, $$$$

16. Rake leaves and shovel snow instead of firing up a leaf blower and snowblower. 20, $$$$

17. Drink tap water instead of bottled, and you’ll also extend the life of your local landfill. Plastic bottles require energy to make, fill, and ship, and half-liter sizes generate emissions at twice the rate of gallon jugs. Faucet water needs energy only to pump. 52, or 2 per gallon jug, $$$$

18. Tote your groceries in reusable bags. 5, $$$

19. Plant an organic garden and grow your own vegetables. 5, $$$

20. Collect rainwater from downspouts and use it to water your garden. 30 per gallon, $$$$

21. Support local farmers by buying a community-supported agriculture (CSA) share. You’ll receive fresh produce every week and reduce the carbon emissions generated by shipping it thousands of miles. 67, $$$

22. Compost food scraps and yard waste so you can skip synthetic fertilizers, which pollute water and are energy-intensive to produce. 0.7, $$$$

23. Buy local and organic food direct from the farmer whenever possible, and keep dollars in your local economy. The biggest savings are realized in eliminating transportation. 200, $$

24. Use a laptop, not a desktop. Laptops use up to 80% less energy. 400, $$$

25. Water plants with a can or drip-irrigation system instead of a sprinkler, and water only between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m., when less is lost to evaporation. 30 per gallon saved, $$$$

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