Saturday, October 18, 2008

Talking About a Shredolution

Lauren Slater had no idea how much money and energy she could save by making a few lifestyle changes to reduce her carbon emissions. She already lived in a modest home in Vermont, rode her bike whenever she could, was frugal with heat and water use, and generated very little food waste.

But when her mountain biking friends came up with the idea to form a group with the goal of decreasing each person's carbon footprint 10 percent by 2010, Slater was eager to learn about more ways to save energy.

Using David Gershon's book, Low Carbon Diet, as their template, the Carbon Shredders set out to reduce their emissions. The idea behind the group is simple; in addition to following suggestions from the book about calculating and reducing personal greenhouse gas emissions, people from the group also share ideas and useful websites on the topic at monthly meetings.

Since joining the group, Slater and her husband have instituted many simple energy saving steps around the house that may give you some new ideas too. They include:

  • Figuring out their carbon footprint and setting goals for reduction
  • Installing compact fluorescent light bulbs, which has reduced their electric bill by about 8%
  • Becoming more conscientious about turning off unnecessary lights
  • Reducing laundry by using a "clirty" hook for clothes that have been worn but are not yet ready for the wash, which was an idea introduced to them by eleven year-old Matthew Crowell, the group's youngest member
  • Never using the dishwasher's heated drying cycle
  • Turning thermostats down by a few degrees
  • Using only cold water to wash laundry
  • Hanging laundry out to dry
  • Rethinking car trips by combining errands and carpooling as much as possible
  • Reducing overall use of plastic by using reusable water bottles, reusable bags, and buying products with less packaging
  • Buying more environmentally friendly products
  • Taking shorter showers
  • Working from home and video conferencing as much as possible
  • Planning to replace propane water heater with a solar one
  • Looking into installing solar panels on their south facing roof
  • Starting to compost
Forced Labor. The next wave of the carbon shredding movement?

Many of the changes have been incremental, and as the Slaters see how easy it is to reduce some of their consumption habits, they are encouraged to find even more ways to save energy. According to Slater, "The best thing about the program is that it has raised my awareness about how all the little actions really add up. There are things that anyone can do that don't affect your lifestyle at all."

This testimony is good news for the shredders since part of the mission of the group, as well as the theory behind the Low Carbon Diet, is that people will see firsthand how painless it is to significantly reduce one's carbon emissions and will happily spread the word to others.

The time is definitely right to save both money and non-renewable resources, and the Carbon Shredders continue to grow. Check out their website for tools and tips to help form a similar movement in your hometown.

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