The new books on display in the front of the library had an “Earth Day” in one section which grabbed my attention because it actually relates to my white paper theme of sustainability. The book I chose is called How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: 365 Simple Ways to Save Energy, Resources, and Money by Joanna Yarrow. I think the title says it all.
I picked it because my studies in civil engineering made me realize the importance of sustainability and how we as people, Americans especially, disregard the effects our practices has on the environment. Although it is a struggle to change the macro systems of our society, there are such simple things we can do at home to minimize our carbon footprint. Being guilty myself, we have developed everyday bad habits that are just wasteful and lazy. There have been many” zero emissions” homes built around the world, even some communities. This is more expensive than our traditional homes, so if you cannot afford to help our environment out that way, I would suggest reading this book to learn the simple, easy things you could do to save energy, resources, and money!
The book is split up into ten chapters (besides the introduction and bigger picture concluding chapters) that address various components of our lives. They are: heating and cooling, electricity and electronics, cooking, washing and cleaning, gardening and D.I.Y. (do-it-yourself), shopping, children, work, leisure, and transportation. Flipping through the book I found some interesting facts that make you think deeper about something you would typically overlook: “Houses that don’t have air-conditioning typically use half as much energy as those that do,” and “Electronic appliances left in standby mode account for 5% of all domestic power consumption in the U.S., costing consumers $3.5 billion a year.” Other statistics I came across amazed me because it regarded things I do every day without thinking, like brushing my teeth, preheating the oven, and using other appliances inefficiently.
Today being Earth Day and all (April 22), I decided to look at the leisure chapter in the book, because I could guess what all the other chapters included. I wondered what this chapter could include seeing “Celebrations” as a subsection. This chapter was very interesting because it touched on the mundane behaviours/traditions we have that are wasteful. The amount of electricity we use on christmas lights is astounding. “The ingredients for a typical Christmas dinner travel up to 30,000 miles.” The wastefulness of wrapping paper is rediculous just to hide the present for a moment, to then later be ripped of in a few seconds. This tip made me think of an exercise that Professor Orsborn did with my marketing class last semester. He had us go through the life cycle of a toothpick – cradle to grave. It was absurd to see all the effort, energy, and transportation involved in getting a little piece of wood to a consumer so they can pick at their teeth for a few minutes, and then toss it away. All of this is typically free to the consumer; but imagine all of the wood used, all the fuel used on gas for transportation from the tree, to the manufacturer, to the distributor, to the restaurant, and all the money spent by these businesses to offer an immediate substitue for floss. I would love to see a number placed on the effects that a toothpick’s lifecycle has on the environment for a mundane luxury that we all can live without.
This book does not only give easy tips that could help the envirnoment and yourself, but it also makes you aware of the effects of our every day lives. It gives you a sociological imaginative view of your habits, and how little changes could save our world.