100 days of climate action archive

Day Four:  Save, Learn, Connect

Over the course of 100 days, we’ll build up to bigger actions and bigger impacts.  For today, let’s keep it simple. 

choose one or more of these actions:

Save electricity

Walk through your home this evening and turn off lights that aren’t needed.  You’ll save energy and money, especially by turning off incandescent bulbs which generate more heat than light. 

An LED light bulb is much more efficient than an incandescent bulb. photo: joe mazza / brave lux

You may have heard that it’s more efficient to leave lights on– that’s not true for most modern lights (older technologies, like some fluorescent tubes take a lot of energy to start up).  If you want more on the math and physics of energy use, look at this primer from the Department of Energy. 

Take note of which lights are on for no reason.  Check back on these every few days to see if this is a recurring opportunity to save energy.  Can you use LED bulbs in these places?  Can you and your family or roommates adjust your habits to reduce waste?

Learn about corporate climate action

Over the past couple of days of action, you may have read about climate change and the science that helps us understand what is happening.  Today, find out more about what the corporate world thinks of climate action.  Businesses spend a lot of time thinking about risks and opportunities in the future, and they recognize that climate change is already creating a different business environment.

Many businesses, including Fortune 500 companies, have expressed their commitment to reducing greenhouse gases and their support of the Paris Agreement, in an open letter to the President of the United States.  Review the letter and a list of businesses that have signed on.

Connect to policy

Take a look at the list of businesses that have signed a letter supporting climate action.  Do you have a connection to any of these companies?  Do you work for one of these companies?  Do you do business with it?  Does a friend work at one of these companies?  Which companies are not on the list?

Day Three:  Calculate, Conserve, Discuss

The last few days have been busy!   As you settle in to Sunday evening chores and leisure, try a new approach to laundry, assess your climate footprint and talk with a friend about climate action.

choose one or more of these actions:

Calculate your footprint

Calculating your climate footprint helps you understand your impact on climate change.

Before we go too deeply into reducing our own climate footprints, this would be a good time to assess your footprint– to create a baseline and to figure out where we can do the most good.  There are several footprint calculators online that will help you understand, and measure, your footprint.

Here are two to try:

Both are good; use the one that works best for you today.    And– come back and do this again in a month.  We’ll post this activity again!

Conserve hot water

Doing laundry today?  Try this:  wash your clothes in cold water.  You’ll save energy because water doesn’t have to be heated for simply washing clothes.  If your water heater uses natural gas or electricity, you’ll cut greenhouse gas emissions.  And, you’ll save a lot of energy since the heated water accounts for 90% of the energy needed to wash clothes in a machine.

Worried that your clothes won’t get clean?  Don’t fear!  Newer machines and newer detergents work well with cold water.  Even Proctor & Gamble is into cold water washing.  (And, in the personal experience of this writer, cold water laundry has worked for me for 30 years).  Plus, you’ll save money and have enough hot water when it matters– in the shower!

Already doing this?  Get geeky on the chemistry and try some of these ideas (from the Dept. of Energy– a big and busy place!) for cleaning up your footprint.

Discuss with a friend

Talk to a friend about climate footprints.  Ask a friend:  Do you think you have an impact on the climate?  What do you think your biggest impact is on climate change?

See if they want to calculate their footprint and compare!

Day Two:  Learn more, Reuse, Discuss

Today is a day of mobilization for many people who are concerned about current events; tens of thousands are taking part in the Women’s Marches in D.C. and around the world.  Take some time today to read some very recent climate news, to talk about activism or simply to make a small change before you head out of the house.  Or, maybe, you’ll want to do all three actions today.

choose one or more of these actions:

Learn more about rising temperatures

The latest data, released this week, show that 2016 is the hottest year on record in the modern era.  This is the third year in a row for record high temperatures.  Read about the data in this New York Times article.   You can dig deeper into the results with this analysis by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Reuse stuff

Going out today?  Bring a water bottle with you.  You’ll reduce waste and save money by bringing your own drink.  It takes energy to make, fill and transport plastic water bottles.  And energy usually comes from burning fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases.  Plus, there’s an environmental cost to dealing with the disposable bottle when you’re done with it.  Simplify things– BYOB.

Discuss activism

women’s march in chicago 1/21/17

Talk to a friend about activism.  Ask your friend: are marches useful in promoting change, raising awareness or building a movement? How do you feel about marches?

Day One:  Learn, Conserve, Connect

Today is a big day of transition, perhaps even upheaval.  Take some time to think about what’s important to you and to share your hopes and concerns with someone you trust.  Commit to doing something to protect what you love.  Then, today, make a small effort to change the world for the better.

choose one or more of these actions:

Learn about climate change

It never hurts to refresh your fundamental knowledge about climate change.  Read this primer from the US EPA  to make sure you understand the basics.  For a more in-depth report, with more data, about climate change, review the National Climate Assessment (the 2014 report is the most recently published).  Explore the websites to learn more about the topics or regions that interest you most.

Conserve energy

What’s the temperature at your house?   In winter, a general rule is to set the thermostat to 68° F, but see what works for your home (much depends on how the air circulates and where the thermostat is located).   Choose the coolest temperature that can keep you comfortable while wearing your cozy winter favorites.  When you lower the temperature on your thermostat, you save fuel and that means you cut greenhouse gas emissions.  Imagine if 100 people did that today– or 100,000– or 100,000,000.

While you’re at it, look at the heating registers and radiators in your home.  Clear away any obstructions— curtains, furniture, piles of dog hair, whatever– that block the heat.  This is an easy way to make sure that the heat can circulate well– efficiency and comfort in one fell swoop.  Plus, it’ll reduce the risk of fire.

Connect with someone

We’re all in this together.  It can help to talk to someone you trust about your hopes and fears.  Ask a friend about their plans, concerns and ideas about  climate change.  Today, which is a hard one for many people, talk with someone who shares your concern for the future.  Here are two questions to start with: 1.  What concerns you about the US role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions?  2.  What gives you hope that someone, somewhere, is successfully making a difference?

The news can be overwhelming, distant and impersonal.  But when you talk with the people you love, you’ll be reminded of the good that is in us and the good that we can do.