As a self-proclaimed environmentalist, I sometime feel wasteful to be traveling around as often as I do (especially my 32 mile each way commute to work). If you have read a travel article, magazine, etc. in the past couple of years, the concept of off-setting your carbon footprint has been popular and debated. One website gives you a cool option of calculating how much you “owe” the environment for the travel (or other activities) you do.

I think it’s a good way to get people thinking about the impact they have on the world – regardless on their views about global warming. Simply put, the debate comes in with how the money actually fights off the effects of the carbon emissions. Because, you know, the environment doesn’t have a checking account.

With Earth Day coming up on Friday, I thought I would share some of the other ways you could use to offset your footprint. It’s a place to start, but I know I could do a few more things. I’d like to think that with constant everyday efforts I can make a dent in reversing my own travel pollution – but I guess we’ll see. Maybe if you add one or two as well, I’ll be even.

1. Composting. This is new for us, we’ve been doing it for about 7 months or so. In fact, we haven’t actually produced any compost yet – but I think it’s getting close! The can to the left sits on our counter which reminds Brian and I to put things in there and the actual compost ball sits on our porch and spins around to mix it all up. I feel like we throw away so little now between this and…
2. Recycling. I know it’s been around forever, but based on the number of bins I don’t see outside my neighbor’s houses (no judgment here, honest) I think it’s okay to remind ourselves that it is important and can have a huge impact on your waste stream. I would always suggest making sure the things you throw in the bin are really recyclable because if it’s trash mixed in it could all get dumped in with the trash. It’s different in every city and sometimes there are drives to collect things like electronics.
3. Garden. I wish I could say that I grew these – or that I garden – but I do not. A bunch of my friends do and I like to hear their stories – including those of my friend Amy who shares tips. I just like to encourage people to garden and I am happy to help them when they grew too many tomatoes.
4. Driving a fuel efficient vehicle. I realize that biking would be better, but I do have that long commute. I have started working from home one day a week to cut down my emissions a little bit. I might try for two days once the fall hits. I really love my Nissan Altima Hybrid – I like to try to make the remaining fuel miles on the odometer go backwards – I know it, I’m a nerd, and I also know that that doesn’t make sense unless you’ve seen it.
5. CFCs. I don’t like hearing the same thing over and over, it’s something I am trying to develop more patience for, so I am not going to regale you with a message about using CFC lightbulbs. What I will say is that you need to recycle them. This is a box in my garage where I collect dead ones to be taken to Home Depot for recycling. They have enough mercury in them to be harmful in a traditional trash can.
6. Reduce usage of appliances. This is my clothesline. It’s not original but it is a little renegade as it is apparently against our Homeowners Association. I have an environmental argument saved up in case anyone challenges it. This weird metal thing came bolted to the porch when we bought our house so I thought I would reuse it for something useful.
7. Shop local. Shopping locally is good for two reasons – and probably a lot more. One, you travel less and hopefully the items you are buying also are traveling less to get to you. Two, you are supporting local people who care about doing things for your local community. I can’t wait for our local farmers’ market to open – next Saturday! (Also, I love this ornament that hangs on my bulletin board in my office.)

Finally, I don’t eat meat anymore. I think that is helping my health (because hot dogs twice a week a couple of years ago was normal for me) and the environment. Thanks for checking in!

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