What you can do as an individual
Climate change is a challenge, but it is also an opportunity for each of us to show that we can change our habits and make a collective difference in reducing climate pollution.
Experts say American households can cut their climate pollution, such as carbon dioxide, by about 25 percent in six months through a few simple steps. Some of them save you money, and others keep you healthy.
Here are 10 STEPS you can take today to start reducing your carbon footprint:
1. Bus, bike, or walk instead of driving
Bus, bike or walk to your errands. Transportation — driving alone in our cars — is our biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Washington state. We know it's hard to give up your car, but why not try a new way of getting around for even just one or two trips a week?
King County Metro Transit
has more than 200 bus routes that you can use for commuting, running errands, or going some place fun. Metro also sponsors nearly a 1000 vanpools and vanshares that people use for their daily commuting needs. And, King County supports bicycling in our region, with bike racks on buses,
regional bike maps, and works with
in Pioneer Square to expand biking options. If you need to use a car, try carsharing with
, located in convenient spots near your home and workplace.
Check out these maps that estimate per household and per employee transportation related greenhouse gas emissions for the King County geography.
2. Be energy efficient
Purchasing energy efficient products and appliances helps you save energy and money too! Compact fluorescent light bulbs help save electricity and are safe to use, but be sure to recycle of them properly through the Take it Back Network 206-296-4466 or their
website. When looking for household appliances, look for the ENERGY STAR appliances and earn rebates from Puget Sound Energy, which provides rebates to qualified customers on such items as energy efficient clothes washers and dishwashers, compact fluorescent light fixtures and compact fluorescent light bulbs. For energy efficiency rebates, tips, and information, call an energy advisor at 1-800-562-1482.
See also this comprehensive
Sustainable Building Web site
to help professional builders and individuals recycle, reduce waste, save money, and get recognition for embracing sustainable building practices.
Check out this map that estimate per household energy usage for the King County geography:
King County energy usage per household map
3. Become an EcoConsumer
King County's EcoConsumer program
offers resources to help balance consuming and conserving. These include tips on reducing junk mail and links to Tom Watson's EcoConsumer columns in the Seattle Times.
Conserve water to reduce the amount of energy it takes to bringing it , heat it, and treat it after you use it.
Protecting water quality starts with you.
4. Seek zero waste - reduce, reuse, recycle, compost
Reduce your emissions by your consumption and waste management choices. By reducing and reusing what you buy, and recycling and composting what you no longer need, you reduce greenhouse gases. See the King County Solid Waste site,
What can you do?, for many tips for businesses and residents on how to get to zero waste and reduce your carbon footprint. For more information about recycling, visit the
5. Buy locally grown food
Help keep local farmers farming and taste the freshness in food grown for flavor not shipping. Check out any of the more than three dozen farmers markets across King County—some are open year 'round. Schedule not right for a market? You can sign up for weekly Community Supported Agriculture boxes of food delivered direct from a local farm or pick your own veggies and fruit. Visit the
for all the details.
6. Make your home and garden greener
Lower your greenhouse gas emissions during home remodeling projects by suing the EcoCool Remodel Tool. You'll find tips and resources ranging from selecting healthy paint products, to what you should consider when replacing your furnace, upgrading your kitchen or landscaping your yard.
Green home remodeling
creates, healthy, comfortable spaces that can increase your home's value and help protect the environment. To learn how easy it is being green visit the
King County Being Green website.
7. Restore habitat
Planting native trees and shrubs in parks, natural lands and your own backyard provides many ecological benefits including habitat for wildlife, shade to keep streams cool for salmon, improved water quality and reduced soil erosion. Volunteer to work on King County park natural area restoration projects—your help is needed! Visit
or call 206-296-2990.
8. Know your 'carbon footprint'
Your carbon footprint is the amount of climate pollution you produce, measured in units of carbon dioxide. Knowing which of your daily activities at home and work create greenhouse gas emissions is the first step to changing your habits. Bonneville Environmental Foundation provides
a "carbon calculator" tailored to the Pacific Northwest.
9. Change your thinking
Our activities can have a positive effect. Green technology can save and even make money for us. We are living in one of the most challenging times in history, but it also presents some of the greatest opportunities for doing things differently for a better future. To learn more about what King County is doing to combat climate change, visit the
10. Plug in…to the local environmental action community
King County is proud to be partnering with many regional organizations that are working to protect the region’s economy and the environment. It encourages citizens to engage in the efforts of these organizations, including
Climate Solutions, the
Cascade Land Conservancy, the
Cascade Bicycle Club
Seattle Climate Action Network.