Go green to save green | VailDaily.com

Go green to save green

Scott Wirth
Community Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

Coloradoans have heard a lot of talk about “carbon footprints” in the media recently, especially with the Democratic National Convention being billed as the most environmentally sustainable political convention in modern American history.

If all of the hype left you wondering what a carbon footprint even is, and whether you as an individual can really make a difference, here are some answers.

Put simply, a carbon footprint is a number scientists and environmentalists use to measure the impact human activity has on the environment. More specifically, it refers to the quantity of greenhouse gases produced and measured in units of carbon dioxide. Right now, the United States is one of the world’s worst offenders in greenhouse gas emissions, but there are simple things you can do to help.

Consider this: According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Energy, if everyone in Eagle County replaced just one standard incandescent light bulb with a compact flourescent lightbulb (CFL), the environmental benefit would be equivalent to removing approximately 1,575 cars from Eagle County streets for one year.

Turning down your thermostat at night is another way to make an impact. By turning the heat down this winter just 10 degrees over eight hours, you’ll see a 10 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. This is simple if you have a programmable thermostat, and if you’re sleeping you’ll probably never notice the difference.

Also, consider swapping the standard plastic shopping bags for reusable bags. According to BookTrackers Co., Americans use 70 billion disposable shopping bags every year, which requires approximately 12 million barrels of oil to produce and several hundred years to decompose.

According to statistics from the web site http://www.onebagatatime.com, if every consumer in Eagle County used a reusable bag instead of a plastic bag just five times this year, it would save enough petroleum to drive a car more than 17,000 miles ” the same distance as driving from New York to California and back three times and then some.

In many cases, making a few simple changes to “go green” can actually save you some green. CFL bulbs can save you $30 or more in electricity costs over each bulb’s lifetime, and because of its ability to help control usage, a programmable thermostat can save consumers on average $150 per year.

Anywhere you can cut utility consumption will help your bottom line, as well as the environment. Be sure to winterize your home this year, invest in a blanket for you water heater and think about unplugging those electronics you don’t use regularly.

As an individual, knowing your own “footprint score” can help you quantify how you are contributing to global warming and can help you understand where you can make the most difference.

To determine your own carbon footprint score, visit http://www.earthlab.com.

Scott Wirth is owner of Vail Valley Ace Hardware. For more information about energy efficiency, please visit the store or call 970-476-8282.

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