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Get cozy. You can eliminate up to 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions this year by simply putting on a sweater and throwing another blanket on the bed instead of turning up the heat.

Buy and use the cloth reusable grocery bags. Over 500 billion petroleum-based plastic bags threaten wildlife, waste energy, pollute oceans, and clog our landfills each year. Plastic bags and other plastic garbage thrown into the ocean kill as many as a million sea creatures every year!

Take your own reusable coffee mug each time you go get coffee. According to Recycling-Revolution.com, Americans throw away 25 billion Styrofoam cups each year. Break the habit; bring your own.

Millions of plastic water bottles end up in Cape Cod landfills each year. Switch to filtered tap water and a reusable container. Also pack your lunch in reusable containers to keep disposable plastic bags and packaging out of our landfills and oceans.

Start a program where you buy in bulk and share the extras with friends and family. You’ll all save money and gas costs. This includes trips to BJs in Hyannis, Walmart in Falmouth, or off-Cape to other “big box” stores.

The power of “Just One.” If every U.S. home replaced just one light bulb with an Energy Star bulb, we’d save enough energy to light 3 million homes for a year. What if we all replaced two...? Switching to CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) eliminates 300 pounds of carbon emissions each year. If everyone switches to CFLs, that’s like eliminating 7 million cars from the road.

Pay bills online to save time, postage and trees. If everyone switches to online banking, we’ll cut 1.6 billion tons of waste and 2.1 million tons of carbon emissions each year.

Washing clothes in cold water eliminates 2 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per load. How many loads do you do each week? To save even more carbon emissions with your laundry, use a clothesline in the sunnier months – line drying can eliminate 600 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions in just six months.

Wrap your water heater with an insulated blanket ($12-$20) to eliminate 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions each year. Eliminate another 550 pounds by lowering the thermostat to 120 degrees.

Making Every Day a Little Greener

by Katie O’Sullivan

“Going Green” and “Reducing Carbon Footprints” can sound like daunting tasks. It doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. If we all take the time to think about our actions and change one little thing at a time, we can each leave smaller carbon footprints on our world.

Here are 20 simple, inexpensive ways we can decide to help the environment in the coming year, just by making small changes in the ways we live. A lot of little things added together can equal a bigger change, and a better world for us all.

Information from this article was gathered from several sources, including Positively Green and Recycling Revolution and the National Recycling Coalition.

Invest 2-3 hours to caulk or weather-strip the leaks around your windows and doors. By spending $25 in materials, you can save $600 in heating costs over four years.

Unplug all those electronic devices and power chargers when not in use. Many keep drawing power even when not in use. Add a power strip to make conservation easier – one flick of the switch and you’re done.

Save energy and increase the life of your computer by changing your setting so it goes to sleep when not in use during the day, instead of using screensavers. At night turn it off completely.

Can you figure out a way to drive ten fewer miles each week? If you can, you’ll reduce your carbon footprint by 500 pounds this year. And check your tires. Properly inflated tires roll easier, last longer, reduce engine wear, improve gas mileage and prevent 250 pounds of carbon emissions each year from polluting the atmosphere.

Add green plants to your home and office environments. Plants add cheer, improve air quality, and absorb toxic gasses from office equipment. Landscape your yard with native plants. Native plants typically cost less, use less water, and are easier to care for.

Install rain barrels to collect rainwater from your roof and gutters. Use the rainwater for your garden and plants. The ones we have at my home are made of durable plastic, and are available in several stylish varieties online from Gardener’s Supply Company

Recycle! The United States is the number one trash-producing country in the world at 1,609 pounds per person per year. If every U.S. citizen recycles half of their annual waste, we could recycle a 280-million ton mountain of trash—the equivalent of 550 Empire State buildings!

Local farming

Support your local farmer by buying locally-grown fruits and vegetables. This eliminates fuel emissions caused by long-haul produce trucks, trains or planes. Check the Buy Fresh Buy Local website to find a farm stand near you.

Instead of sending old blankets, towels, sheets and rugs to the landfill, check with local animal shelters to see if they can use them. On Cape Cod, call the Animal Rescue League’s Brewster Animal Shelter at 508-225-1030.

Your vote counts! We really can save our lakes, rivers, oceans, forests and skies—but only if individuals and government work together. Follow the issues and know your candidates positions. Vote wisely every time.

Support “green” companies. Look for and purchase from companies that are striving to create environmentally-friendly products and services.

Katie O'Sullivan

Katie O’Sullivan is the Editor and a contributing writer of this magazine. She lives in Harwich with her husband, three children and two large dogs.

In addition to reporting and editing, she writes contemporary fiction. Her first suspense novel, "Unfolding the Shadows", was released October 1, 2009 from Cerridwen Press.

Visit Katie at her website or visit her blog.

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