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“350” 24 October 2009 International Day of Climate Change

350 by Keri DouglasClimate change.  It has been an elusive issue in the political world yet it is an alarming visible reality in remote regions of the world.

Recent reports indicate less Arctic Sea ice, more Carbon Dioxide, an increased sea level, an increased global temperature and a larger ozone hole, which are mobilizing the global community to address climate change. is an international project bringing attention to the fact that the number 350 is the “safer upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.” According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Carbon Dioxide level is 386 parts per million.

Is the climate change issue complicated? Yes and no.  Secretary Stephen Chu of the U.S. Department of Energy in many interviews has politely suggested to think and act locally first and act with individual responsibility. So, the big question is what can you as an individual do to mitigate climate change.

The BIG things you can do:

  • Walk, bike, use public transportation or carpool as much as possible.
  • Schedule a home energy efficiency audit and follow their instructions for better insulation and better windows.
  • Install a “white roof” with reflective material or literally a light colored product.
  • When you are away, unplug your computers, stereos and any electronic appliances.  They all add up on your home energy bill.
  • Replace your old incandescent light bulbs with the new CFL light bulbs.  Read the earlier post on how to clean up if broken.
  • Consider creating a biodegradable refuse center within your community, which can convert the compost mass to methane for your cars.
  • Install a toilet with a light and heavy flush option.
  • Recycle at home, at the office and every where you go.
  • Recycle hazardous materials – batteries and CFL light bulbs
  • Use the dishwasher and washing machine – fully loaded – at night.
  • Do electronic billing.
  • Purchase renewable energy for your office and home energy needs.

The SMALL actions with BIG results you can do:

  • Create a Weigh Your Trash contest.  Challenge yourself, your family and friends to a contest.  Who ever has the lowest weight – give them a prize or do a community pot luck dinner.
  • Compost.  Create a garden compost pile for all of your biodegradable items.
  • Add used coffee grinds to the soil around roses and hydrangeas, which actually like a little more acidity.
  • Reuse as many package items as possible.  Instead of buying more plastic containers, try using the glass jars you already have for left overs.
  • Buy in the bulk section of the grocery store.
  • Buy vintage!  Explore the world of vintage and antique furnishing shops for new home items.  There are amazing treasures in these stores.  Go find them.
  • Host a clothing swap party.
  • Donate items you want to share with others.  Package them up for your local charity or consignment store.
  • Visit coffee shops, which give you a real cup.
  • Support local cafes and restaurants, which support your local farmers.
  • Before purchasing anything at the store ask, “Do I want to use this packaging again? or “Do I want the weight in my trash?

When you change your own individual actions, you will inspire another in your community and family.  When you put your purchase power behind your actions, global change will most certainly happen.

By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, DC

More Perspectives:

The New York Times addressed some of the same issues, today.


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