January

this month \\ Here, you'll find monthly updates about what we at the Earth Year Project are trying to focus on. Each month has a unique theme, message, or idea about how to create change in your life for a greener future.  Head over to the blog's stories here or Marina's Corner here for updates. We hope to be a source of inspiration and to remind you that every day is Earth Day. 

Take a look at how your lifestyle impacts the planet. Tasks to help understand your role in our global ecosystem.

01 — January

Mindfulness/What do I know?

first thing's first \\ Happy New Year! Welcome to 2020. A new decade, a fresh start, and hopefully a year in which we will see dramatic change with regards to how we as a species treat our only home.  

January \  is all about mindfulness, and becoming conscious of what our role is in this big game. Whether you are here just to see what is possible, or in it all the way, we hope you learn something along the way. Our goal is to help you understand what your impact is on the planet: what resources you use the most of, how much carbon your lifestyle produces, how much trash you produce, and so on. Below is a list of a few things we're focusing on with the Earth Year Challenge. Take it one thing at a time, number one goes for week one! 

1. Carbon Calculator \  A carbon calculator takes information about where and how you live and spits out a number of tons of carbon that you emit each year. We recommend this calculator: https://www.conservation.org/act/carboncalculator/calculate-your-carbon-footprint.aspx#/

\  Marina filled out her information and got 14.60 Tons of carbon that her lifestyle produces each year. She fell below the average in most places, as she is a vegetarian and doesn't commute very far to work. She was above average in the amount of miles she flies, though. Read more about her results from her blog post here.

 \  What you'll need to fill out the online calculator:  

  • your zip code and type of housing

  • the square feet of your housing

  • your annual car mileage and car's mpg

\  What it'll tell you:

  • your carbon footprint (in tons of carbon per year)

  • the number of trees needed to offset your footprint

  • how you compare to the average US consumer

  • disclaimer:

    • the site offers advice on how to reduce your footprint​

    • the site also has a place to buy offsets for your footprint

    • Earth Year Project is not related to this site in any way, we are simply using the calculator offered on this site and have no connection with them

\  Take a minute to think about the different options the calculator asked you to select. If you have time, play with your answers and see what areas of your lifestyle make the biggest difference. Could you take the bus to work? Or eat vegetarian (or vegan) for a day? Do you need to fly as far as you do? 

 

\  The point of this exercise is to get us all to think about how we impact the planet in our everyday lives. Next time you hop in your car to drive to work, or the store... is there another option? Could you go with a friend? Or ride your bike? This month is all about asking those little questions that could make a world of difference.

Ready for more? \  Stop reading if you've put in your five minutes and need to move on with your life. The Earth Year Challenge wants you to make little changes! It is our goal to make bite-sized chunks for our readers (and Marina herself) to digest. What follows is extra credit, maybe save it for next week or next time you have a spare few minutes on the Internet. Ready to roll? Here's what we have in store for week two...

2. Energy \  Let's dive a little deeper into our carbon footprints by focusing on the energy company we rely on. This week's challenge is to look up your local electricity provider and find out what kind of power plant is used. Is it coal? Natural gas? Is there any percentage that is renewable energy? Some power companies have a way to opt-in for more renewable sources with a different bill, are you eligible? 

\  As important as our own energy usage might seem, it's actually more important to understand that the majority of energy consumption is by businesses and corporations. What are the big ones in your life? Do any of the businesses you support try to offset their carbon footprints by using renewable energy? 

3. Transportation \  How do you get from point A to point B? How far is that distance every time? If you commute to work, is there a more sustainable way for you to travel? What are other ways that you could travel? Start thinking about the impact you're having each time you leave your house to go out and explore.

4. Food \  Where is your food coming from? If it's from far away, is there an option to buy food from closer by? Food items (and other goods) travel long distances to reach their consumer, reducing the travel distance of items you buy reduces their impact. Could you buy your food from a local farmer's market? If not, does your grocery store cary locally grown food? Start reading the labels of where your food items come from.

5. Waste \  How much waste do you and your household produce each week? Each month? Where does it go? Look into your waste management's website to see where the landfill is, and how much it takes in each day. The numbers are staggering.

 

How about your recycling? Do you recycle? What is your provider capable of recycling? Even though aluminum, glass, and plastics are all recyclable, this is no guarantee that your county has the facilities to actually recycle everything you think is recyclable.

 

If you have time, visit one of these facilities. It is important to realize that throwing your junk 'away' is never really away. It ends up somewhere, and if it's plastic (which most of it probably is), then it's probably ending up in a pile somewhere for thousands of years. Remember the movie Walle? Yeah, that might be our future if the stream of waste from manufacturer to consumer to landfill doesn't stop, and soon. 

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