Reduce your carbon footprint
How does being green help save species?
Recycling, reducing consumption, and making sustainable shopping decisions decreases the need for mining, fracking, logging, and quarrying, protecting precious habitats and the animals and plants that live there. Going green also decreases energy consumption, which greatly reduces greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change. Taking simple steps to leave less of a footprint on the Earth we leave behind will help protect it for the generations who will inherit it after us.
Reduce, reuse, recycle, repurpose!
- Reduce waste by carpooling, buying in bulk, or buying items with less packaging.
- Reuse by bringing your own grocery bag or water bottle.
- Recycle everything you can to help save energy by not creating new items.
- Repurpose by finding a new way to use something that would be otherwise discarded.
Keep a green home
- Use air-conditioning wisely. Conserve energy by installing a programmable thermostat. In the average home, this can save about $100 per year on energy bills and prevent about 1,800 pounds of air-polluting CO2 per year. To save more energy, set your thermostat higher (at least 78 degrees) in the summer. Planting shade trees around the air-conditioning unit can save as much as 10 percent of your energy, too.
- Reduce junk mail. Each American receives almost 560 pieces of junk mail per year and wastes about 8 hours per year dealing with it. Producing and delivering junk mail consumes more energy than 2.8 million cars and requires 100 million trees every year. Several organizations, such as Eco-Cycle, exist to help get you off junk mail lists.
- Use energy-efficient lighting. Because only 10 percent of the energy used by standard bulbs goes toward creating light (90 percent is turned into heat), standard bulbs are incredibly wasteful. Compact fluorescent light bulb (CFLs) last 15 times as long and save over $100 in electricity over the lifetime of each bulb.
- Wash clothes in cold water instead of hot. Since 80 to 90 percent of the energy used to do laundry goes to heating the water, each year, the average household will save around $60 and keep 1,280 pounds of CO2 out of the air by washing in cold. Cold water actually does clean everyday clothes just as well as hot, and since there will be less fading and shrinkage, clothes will last longer.
- Use chemicals cautiously. Runoff from lawn chemicals can destroy ecosystems in rivers, lakes, and oceans, and it can harm the animals and plants that live in those habitats. Fertilize and control pests naturally.
- Prevent erosion. Use native plants to anchor the soil in your yard to prevent erosion and attract wildlife to your backyard. As an added bonus, native plants require less fertilizer and watering.
- Compost yard waste and kitchen waste and use it to feed your yard. You’ll put less matter in the landfill while nurturing your plants naturally.
Keep green pets
- Adopt a pet. An estimated 3 to 4 million homeless dogs and cats are euthanized at shelters each year.
- Spayed and neutered pets live longer and help to end the cycle of overpopulation and unwanted pets. Don’t forget the pet bunny—overpopulation has made the rabbit the third most common animal surrendered to shelters.
- Keep cats indoors. Widespread bird species that were thought to be secure have seen as much as an 80 percent decrease since 1967 (National Audubon Society report Common Birds in Decline). Free-ranging domestic cats kill between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds annually in the lower 48 states. (Smithsonian). If your cat does roam, try a bird-safe collar or bell collar to help reduce cat predation and save wild bird populations.
- Inflate your tires properly, which improves gas mileage, extends the life of your tires, and reduces CO2 emissions. (Not to mention, it’s safer!)
- Use an alternative method of transportation. Even if it’s once a week, biking or walking to work reduces pollution, saves gas, and it’s good exercise!
- Use cruise control when you can to keep a consistent speed and save on gas.
Only 10 percent of the fossil fuel energy used to generate food goes into growing it; 90 percent goes to ads, packaging and transport. Do what you can to make sure the majority of your purchase goes toward the product by following these guidelines.
- Plan your shopping. Almost 100 billion pounds of the U.S. food supply goes to waste each year. Before buying groceries, make a list, and don’t shop hungry.
- Buy locally. Most of our food and drink travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles before we even put it in our carts. Buying locally produced goods means you’ll get fresher food that has required less energy use while supporting local farmers!
- Reduce plastic consumption! Plastic is primarily made up of oil. The U.S. uses 17 million barrels of oil each year just to create plastic water bottles–enough to fuel 1 million cars for a year!
- Reduce packaging, which makes up almost 50 percent of municipal solid waste. Choosing concentrates and bulk over single-serving items will also reduce waste and usually costs less, too.
- Bring reusable shopping bags. On average, a plastic bag is used for 12 minutes but takes 1,000 years to break down.
- Avoid bottled water. Americans consume more than 2.5 million bottles of water every hour, and only around 10 percent are recycled.
- Try Meatless Mondays
- Buy sustainable seafood
- Buy products with sustainable palm oil
See how Zoo Atlanta stays green, and volunteer to help our green efforts.