Steps I have taken to reduce my impact on the environment

I’ve been pretty busy the last two weeks, so while I have several sections that are partially complete, I don’t have a completed section of text to post. In the meantime, I thought you, my readers, might be interested in looking at what I have done so far to reduce my environmental impact.  I think that it’s important to "walk the walk", not just "talk the talk".

  • Reduce
    • Have reduced consumption of meat, particularly red meat
    • Print less frequently, almost always duplex
    • Water
      • Low-flow showerheads
    • Electricity
      • Switched from desktop to notebook computers, use energy-saving modes, turn off at night
      • Have replaced over half of my lighting fixtures with compact fluorescent bulbs
      • Use motion-activated security lights
      • Routinely shut off lights in rooms that are not being used
      • Have energy star-rated clothes washer, dishwasher, window AC unit, printer, computer monitor
      • Use smart outlet strips to reduce vampire currents
    • Gas/Transportation
      • Bought fuel-efficient cars
      • I drive a 1994 Saturn with > 115,000 miles that gets ~30 mpg
      • Combine errands to save gas and time
      • Keep car tires properly inflated
      • Shop at local farmer’s market each week, purchase locally-grown organic foods
  • Reuse
    • Have always avoided disposable products; recently stopped using disposable water bottles
    • Stopped using disposable shopping bags, or when I do I reuse them for storing recyclables (paper) or as trash bags (plastic)
    • Give old products to Goodwill or Amvets rather than throwing out
    • I have worn hand-me down clothes my entire life; I had two older brothers, and more recently I wear hand-me down clothing from my father, father-in-law and brother-in-law (everything but underwear)
    • Buy used clothes at the thrift store
  • Recycle
    • Recycle cardboard boxes, paper, plastics, aluminum, glass, tin cans, batteries, computers
  • Increase efficiency
    • Paid extra $ for energy efficient HVAC
    • Bought house close to work
  • Have continuously increased the proportion of organically-grown foods in diet (including those purchased in supermarket)
  • Started a compost pile
  • Started organic farming of vegetables
  • Do not use pesticides, very limited use of locally applied herbicide (not broadcast)
  • Stopped using antibacterial soap (contains triclosan, which is an endocrine disruptor, can react with chlorine to form chloroform, a carcinogen, and can promote the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria)
  • Invest in green (socially responsible) mutual funds
  • Caulked windows
  • Started using phosphate-free dishwashing detergent
  • Switched to paperless bill paying and billing
  • Reduced the volume of junk mail we receive (I forget how I did this)
  • Set the thermostat temperature low in winter and high in summer:


Plans for future:

  • Switch to TVA’s Green Switch program to invest in alternative energy sources
  • Use a clothesline instead of a dryer
  • Replace old incandescent holiday lights with light-emitting diode lights(LEDs)
  • Have chickens in backyard for eggs & meat
  • Grow tra (Vietnamese catfish) in a pond
  • Replace all disposable batteries with rechargeable batteries
  • Replace refrigerators, clothes washer, and dryer with Energy Star models
  • Cancel newspaper

About johncayers

John C. Ayers is a Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Vanderbilt University. As a geochemist he specializes in sustainability and also the chemistry of natural waters. He has been PI on 5 and co-Pi on 2 grants from the National Science Foundation, and has a publication h-index of 14. He has been Associate editor of American Mineralogist and Geochemical Transactions of the American Chemical Society, and does GIS consulting for the ERS group. He is currently writing a book titled " Sustainability: The Problems of Peak Oil, Global Climate Change, and Environmental Degradation."
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