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Make climate change awareness work for your wallet

By: Renee Collini / Published: Feb 21,  2019

Recently, it has felt like an avalanche of reports and articles around climate change are coming out. Understanding the impacts of climate change and potential solutions can be complicated. However, in many places we have not yet started to feel the impacts of climate change, making it hard to get onboard with changes in our lives for something that feels so uncertain. The good news is there are things you can do to help reduce your contribution to climate change while also saving money!

A book I stumbled upon a couple years ago, Drawdown, does a great job explaining some of these things. Below I summarize a couple of the easier cost-saving solutions from the book.

Reducing Food Waste

One-third of food does not make it from where it is made/grown to a person’s stomach. Causes of food waste include: throwing food away based on looks not quality, ordering too much or overly large portions in restaurants and unused food spoiling. Cumulatively, wasted food contributes 8 percent of the greenhouse gasses generated by people.

Like these apples and plums, one-third of food does not make it from where it is made/grown to a person’s stomach.  (Photo credit: iStockphoto.com)
Like these apples and plums, one-third of food does not make it from where it is made/grown to a person’s stomach. (Photo credit: iStockphoto.com)

All of these areas of food waste provide an opportunity to spend less! Food that is not as beautiful can often be purchased at grocery stores for discounts. Consider splitting a plate at a restaurant, especially when they come with a bunch of extra sides. Finally, by having realistic goals on what you will eat and when, you can reduce your grocery bill, only buying what you will actually eat.

Things Around the House

Insulation and thermostat regulation can work together to reduce costs around the house significantly. Between 25 and 60 percent of the energy used to cool/heat a house is because of outside air being introduced to a home. The better insulated a home is, the less you have to pay! Imagine cutting the amount of time your air conditioner has to run in half! Another way you can reduce the time your air conditioner is running is by adjusting thermostats when you’re not home or asleep. This can reduce power consumption by as much as 10 percent. Based on power bills in Mississippi and Alabama, that is a savings of around $150 a year! You can do this manually or you can invest in a smart thermostat. Visit energy.gov to learn more.

Saving Water

I think we have all heard that it is good to use less water for the purposes of conserving water, but did you know the energy to heat and move water is responsible for a quarter of the energy use worldwide?! On average, each American uses 98 gallons of water each day. That is a lot! The good news is you can cut down on your power and water use, saving money on two different utility bills at the same time.

On average, each American uses 98 gallons of water each day. (Photo credit: iStockphoto.com)
On average, each American uses 98 gallons of water each day. (Photo credit: iStockphoto.com)

There are some investments you can make that will cut down on your water use, such as low-flow toilets or water-efficient washing machines. Low-flow toilets and efficient washing machines reduce water consumption on average by about 36 percent. You can also explore changing some of your own habits to reduce water use, such as shorter showers, only running the dishwasher or washing machine when it is completely full and collecting rain water for gardening or outdoor use.

In addition to using less water, you can heat it more efficiently. Energy.gov states that, “For families that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, a tankless water heater can be 24-34 percent more energy efficient than conventional storage water heaters.” That can equal a savings of around $100 a year!

There are a lot more cost-saving things in Drawdown. If you want to learn more about these solutions or if you want to learn more about climate change or sea-level rise, reach out to me at ngom.sentinel.site.cooperative@gmail.com, visit the Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative's website or follow us on Twitter (@NGOM_SSC).

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