What You Can Do to Fight Climate Change
Everyone can do their part in combating climate change. Below are just some of the ways you can reduce your carbon footprint.
In Your Home
- Swap out your old incandescent light bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs. They use a lot less energy and last for years.
- Turn out lights when you're not using them. And look around for "energy vampires" in your home: appliances and devices that draw energy, even when they're not in use, like home entertainment electronics and phone chargers. Unplug these devices when not in use, or plug them into a power strip you can turn on as needed.
- Turn your air conditioning up a degree or two in the summer and keep the temperature little lower in the winter. You'll be surprised what a difference a degree or two makes in your energy usage (and your bill!)
- Add more insulation to your attic.
- Invest in solar panels. Solar is becoming more and more cost effective and there are programs that allow you to have panels installed with no money up front.
- Consider a hot-water-on-demand system. It heats water efficiently as you need it, so you save energy by not having to maintain a tankful of hot water.
- Wash your clothes in cold water: most machines today are designed to optimize cold-water cleaning.
- Dry clothes outdoors when you can.
- Change filters: be sure to change your air conditioner and furnace filters monthly. It's better for the air you breathe, too!
- Make sure your heating and cooling systems are maintained and running efficiently. The City of Fayetteville offers a Housing Rehabilitation Program for low-to-moderate income homeowners that can help with HVAC repairs and other home needs.
- Weatherize leaky windows and door frames. Use caulk or weather-stripping to keep the cold air from getting out and the hot air from getting in! The City of Fayetteville provides free weatherization kits to qualifying low-to-moderate income residents.
- Get a water-filter pitcher and a reusable water bottle so you can stop using water in single-use plastic bottles.
- Have an energy audit conducted on your home. Energy professionals can evaluate your home and let you know where its inefficiencies are and how you should prioritize changes.
- Recycle what you can (see what the City of Fayetteville recycles) and reuse what you can't: like butter tubs or yogurt containers.
- Cut back on the amount of meat you consume, particularly beef and pork, which are big sources of greenhouse gas.
In Your Yard
- Plant trees! Planting leafy trees outside sunny, south-facing windows helps shade and cool your house in the summer and allows light to reach those windows in the winter for passive heating. Trees also remove huge quantities of pollutants from the air, aid in erosion control and decrease stormwater runoff. Each year in the fall, the City of Fayetteville hosts the Celebration of Trees, featuring a free tree giveaway!
- Restrict the use of pesticides or herbicides that can wash into storm drains and contaminate rivers and streams. Many of these products are also toxic to bees, which are vital to our food production.
- Don't blow or sweep grass clippings into the street. When clippings are washed down storm drains, they add too much nitrogen to the waterways, which causes an overgrowth of algae, decreasing the oxygen that fish and other water creatures need to thrive. Likewise, minimize your use of fertilizers on the lawn, which can upset the ecology of waterways when it gets washed away.
- Let the rain soak in! Minimize the amount of impermeable surfaces (surfaces that don't allow rainwater to pass through them, like rooftops, sidewalks, or swimming pools) on your property. Stormwater runoff can cause flooding, erosion and can carry pollutants from the road into storm drains, where they make their way to our streams and rivers. Consider using gravel or permeable pavers for your driveway or patio. Get a rain barrel to catch and store water from your down-spout. This can be used to water plants outside, cuts back on runoff and lowers your City water usage. Learn how to make your own rain barrel.
- Plant some food! Growing your own fruits and vegetables cuts down on your carbon footprint by lowering the amount of time your food spends in a truck, moving from farm to store to your home. Plus, there's nothing like a fresh, homegrown tomato. No space for a garden at home? Participate in the City's Community Garden program!
- Mulch to save on watering. The City provides low-cost mulch that you can spread on your garden beds to hold water, discourage weeds and keep the soil cooler, making your plants happier. City of Fayetteville mulch costs $10 per scoop plus tax (one scoop equals approximately 2.5 cubic yards or the bed of a pick-up truck).
- Choose to walk or bike instead of driving whenever you are able. Cutting back on car emissions can have a positive impact on your carbon footprint.
- Keep your car well maintained and tires inflated properly to keep it running as efficiently as possible.
- Choose to buy local produce: the food you purchase at the Fayetteville Farmers Market has driven a much shorter distance to reach you than the food you find at the grocery store. Similarly, focus on food that's in-season. Blueberries in winter have come an awfully long way to get here.
- Bring your own shopping bags. Plastic bags are one of the top sources of pollution in our streams and rivers. Though they deteriorate in sunlight, plastic bags can take hundreds of years to decompose, if ever, in a landfill.
- Just say no to Styrofoam™. Styrofoam remains in the environment indefinitely, breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces without ever actually decomposing and causing damage to wildlife and the ecosystem. The same goes for single-use plastics such as plastic cups, straws, stirrers, plates and tableware. Opt for reusable items or compostable paper.
- Choose minimal packaging. Whenever you can, opt for products that are not packaged in unnecessary plastic. Use bar soap and shampoo to cut back on plastic bottles.
- Buy bulk: Staples like rice, cereals and other grains are often available in the Bulk section of your grocery store. Purchasing this way saves on packaging and transportation.