Assessing My Sustainable Daily Life

In my last post, I outlined how cities are leading the climate change fight, and summarized Newton’s “Take Action”, initiative. The initiative outlined 18 different actions I could do to live a more sustainable life. I have grouped these actions into 4 categories:

  • Daily life – the things you do each day
  • Energy Consumption – relates to daily life, but focused on energy
  • Capital projects – requires from larger upfront investment, or spend
  • Community programs – Volunteering in the community to promote climate change

In this post I will share what changes I have made or need to make in the daily life category. From Newton’ s action list this includes:

  • People-Power Your Errands
  • Eat a More Plant-Based Diet
  • Compost at Home or With a Service
  • Invest Like a Climate Activist
  • Saving Water Saves Energy

“People-power your errands” essentially means try to leave your car at home when you are doing errands like shopping, going to the post office, etc. Americans typically make 1500 trips in their car a year, with 45% done for errands and shopping. I work from home, and really enjoy walking to the store to buy some groceries, and shop in my local neighborhood. My main challenge is getting my kids to do the same.

I understand the benefits of more of a plant-based diet. For me this is both a choice of priorities and the fact that I enjoy eating meat. From a priority standpoint based on my carbon footprint assessment, the higher priorities are my airline travel and home heating. As a step to make some progress, I am going to try to cook a vegetarian dinner once a week for the family.

The city of Newton offers composting bins and curbside pick-up. I used to have a compost bin in the previous house, but when we moved we had a disposal. Clearly, the best option is a compost bin since it reduces waste. However, it is unclear to me whether a curbside pick-up is better than disposal. One uses extra fossil fuels, the other uses extra water. This seems like a good blog post topic in and of its own. For all the yard waste, fall leaves, and tree branches, I don’t bag them and leave them for pick-up, as this also uses more fuel. I am lucky enough to have a grove of trees in my back yard where I can dump them (although I think it is on my neighbors’ property – they have not complained yet.).

Changing my investment strategy to support climate change makes sense. This is simply one that will have to wait until I knock of a few other actions in my list.

The average American family uses 320 gallons of water per day, about 30 percent of which is devoted to outdoor uses. More than half of that outdoor water is used for watering lawns and gardens . “Saving Water Saves Energy” is always something I try to adhere to and educate the rest of my family on. We have low-flush toilets, take generally short showers. Outside the house, perhaps to my neighbors’ dismay, I hardly ever water the lawn, or wash my car. This isn’t due to laziness, is simply wastes water.

Definitely, some areas to improve, but overall not too bad.

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