We hope you had a great Earth Day. Since we polluted the environment collectively, it is also our job to clean it up the same way. As you know TRC has taken a pledge to “Make Everyday Earth Day” and, as part of that initiative, we promised weekly activities delivered right to your inbox for the month of April and May. As promised, included below is handout 4. Please note that all information contained is designed to raise consciousness and awareness and not as a means for testing knowledge and aptitude. Let’s join hands and make 2010 a year of commitment, dedication and accountability towards our home and make a pledge to help clean it up. Remember: every little bit helps!
In our previous handout we looked at one of our main pollutants and causes of our carbon footprint being so high: waste disposal. This week we will look at our carbon footprint and some simple tips and suggestions for reducing it.
Objective: To calculate your school’s carbon emissions and help take measures to reduce them
Method: You will need the utility bills (electricity, gas, water etc) for at least a two-year duration (for comparison). You can obtain these from the school administration. If obtaining the bills is not possible, ask for an interview with the accountant and get a rough estimate of the monthly electricity expenses for the time period. For example, if you just want to compare 2008 and 2009, start by obtaining monthly figures for this period. You can then calculate a monthly average. Remember, electricity is one of the contributors to the accumulation of green house gases.
Once you have the figures visit http://www.econeutral.com/carboncalculator.html and input your data. Detailed analysis is quite complicated and unnecessary. The main point here is to figure out the average monthly consumption and implement day to day solutions to reduce the amount of CO2 produced.
Once you know your school’s carbon footprint, there are many steps that can be taken to reduce it. Some suggestions are given below.
What can you do to reduce your Ecological Footprint?
? Buy food that has been locally produced and is free of preservatives, pesticides and other harmful material.
? Plant a garden (by doing this you cut down on pollution from shipping, fertilizers, packaging, etc and your food is fresher!).
? Bring your own bags to the store (canvas or reuse plastic/paper).
? Buy and eat fewer processed* foods: o Instead of drinking packaged fruit juice, eat a piece of fruit.
o Make a salad.
o Pop your own popcorn instead of microwave popcorn.
o Eat a baked potato instead of packaged french fries.
o Eat at home instead of ordering out.
* Processed foods have been frozen, canned, or packaged before coming to your table. They contain preservatives that are addictive and harmful for human beings.
? Make sure all lights are off when not in use.
? Once the room has cooled, turn the air conditioner off.
? Keep doors and windows shut when cooling the house/car.
? Avoid running your car on idle. If the car is parked, turn the ignition off.
? Avoid using photocopiers and laminators when possible.
? Make sure all electricity and appliances are powered off and unplugged when not in use. Some switches will still power electricity to appliances even if the plug is switched off. While it is not enough to actually power the appliance, it is still wasting energy. Avoid that by actually unplugging the appliance from the outlet.
? Take school transportation.
? Carpool to school.
Creating less waste
? Buy products with the least amount of packaging possible (buy in bulk or in big boxes rather than in individually wrapped containers).
? Ask for no bag when you buy something you can carry without one.
? Use reusable bags.
? Recycle as much as possible (and purchase recycled products when you can).
? Mend things that are broken (don’t throw them away).
? Donate old items to someone who can use them.
? Buy items that can be used over and over (not disposable).
? Use reusable containers for lunch.
? Reuse water bottles.
? Start a compost bin in your home. Every day tonnes of food and kitchen waste are thrown into the garbage heap. With composting, this “waste” can be recycled right in your home in a simple, efficient and eco friendly process. In simple terms the process of composting takes food and kitchen scraps and turns it into a nutrient rich soil that can be used for gardening purposes. For simple tips and techniques for composting, please visit
? Turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth.
? Don’t pour toxics down drains.
? Don’t throw toilet paper or any other materials down the toilet
? Run only full loads in your washing machine.
? A simple way to cut down water use drastically is to put an inch or two of sand or pebbles inside each of two plastic bottles to weigh them down. Fill the bottles with water, screw the lids on, and put them in your toilet tank, safely away from the operating mechanisms. Be sure at least 3 gallons of water remain in the tank so it will flush properly. If there is not enough water to get a proper flush, users will hold the lever down too long or do multiple flushes to get rid of waste. Two flushings at 1.4 gallons is worse than a single 2 gallon flush.
? Avoid running the shower for long periods of time.
? Recycle AC water and use it to water the garden, use it in plants, or other outdoor activities (wash car, driveway etc).
? Help reduce garbage and waste. As stated in our last handout, solid waste generation in Pakistan ranges between 0.283 to 0.612 kg/capita/day and the waste generation growth rate is 2.4% per year.
? Recycle as much as you can.
? Educate people in the community about their Ecological Footprint and what they can do to make it smaller – a very informative resource is http://www.myfootprint.org/
? Get involved in Low Carbon Day June 24th 2010 http://www.lowcarbonday.com/.
? Try calculating your school’s Ecological Footprint and get classes to work together to make it smaller.
? Share your activities and findings with other school members to raise awareness.
? Speak to your school administration or sign a petition to install low energy lighting in schools.
? Get involved in recycling and other initiatives to make your school greener and environmentally friendly.
Message from TRC
While all the suggestions above are valuable and in great need, we would like to encourage small, sustainable, simple steps to encourage long term change instead of spreading ourselves too thin and getting overwhelmed by the amount of work needed. With that in mind, we would advise that students pick one activity (they are free to come up with their own) from each area and carry that out on a daily basis for the duration of a month. Our aim is to instil eco friendly and environmentally conscious behaviours as part of daily routine and we can achieve that with consistent and repetitive action. As the student incorporates the idea into their daily routine, it becomes a habit and once the habit is formed, the student is free to move to another idea above (or created by them). This way we can really make “everyday Earth Day” and we have enough initiatives to carry us forward until Earth Day 2011. We would also love and ask for feedback from you with any suggestions as well as updates to inform us what/how your students are doing with the activities. Emails can be sent to [email protected].