It’s that time of year again. A new year is an opportunity for fresh starts and new beginnings. It’s important to set attainable goals with a practical plan. Small, consistent changes over time really add up. Over time, these small changes become normal daily habits. This year, we are encouraging everyone to Go Green in 2023!
With today’s climate change crisis on the rise, it’s important to consider sustainable goals that reduce your carbon footprint. In the last decade, we have noticed an increase in heat waves, storms, and other severe weather events. The increase in wildfires, droughts, tornadoes, and hurricanes is directly related to the ocean rising, which is, in turn, directly related to the increase in global temperatures. These higher temperatures result in faster water evaporation. When there is more water vapor in the atmosphere, we experience more frequent and torrential storms.
Burning fossil fuels for transportation is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. A typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. In the last few years, there has been a push for electric vehicles. EVs are without a doubt a step in the right direction. However, electric vehicles are still very expensive for most Americans. Don’t let that discourage you, there are quite a few ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Consider greener ways to travel by combining shorter journeys with getting physically active by walking or cycling. A great benefit of walking and cycling is exercise but they also provide an opportunity to see more of the environment around you. Sometimes slowing things down gives you a chance to see the details you would likely miss by driving.
You can also consider an e-bike. An e-bike is more affordable than an electric vehicle. An e-bike is powered by battery and muscle. You can get to your destination quicker than walking or biking conventionally while still getting fresh air and exercise. A great benefit is the reduced traffic congestion, and of course, significantly reduced pollution. In fact, replacing a car with an E-bike can save up to 500 pounds of carbon emissions each year. There are many different types of e-bikes on the market and they usually cost around $2-4K. One of the best ways to figure out which e-bike is best for you is to go to your local bike shop.
An e-bike might not take you as far as a car but you can consider combining bicycling and transit by transporting your bike on the bus, train, or light rail. Did you know NJ TRANSIT permits collapsible e-bikes on all trains at all times? In fact, NJ TRANSIT allows you to bring any collapsible personal vehicles, such as bicycles, e-bikes, e-scooters, and hoverboards on all NJ TRANSIT trains. Non-collapsible personal vehicles are also permitted on all weekday trains on all lines from 10 am to 4 pm and from 7 pm to 6 am. You can learn more about this here.
It is important to have a transportation plan. Good Moves is a program of Greater Mercer TMA that offers FREE personalized transportation plans to Mercer County and Ocean County residents.
Carpools and vanpools are flexible, convenient, and quick ways to travel. This option has a magnitude of benefits including, reduced traffic congestion, improved air quality, and reduce wear and tear on your personal vehicle. This option can even replace your personal vehicle altogether, which will save you a lot of money. We at Greater Mercer TMA are here to help with our FREE ride-matching service that connects people to rides with New Jersey’s largest commuter network. Finding a carpool or vanpool that fits your schedule is easier than you think, start by registering here.
Here are some other sustainable goals to consider for 2023:
- Start Recycling and upcycling
Recycling is an easy, impactful, and quick way to reduce your carbon footprint. Recycling eliminates the harmful emissions produced during production. Plastic, wood, glass, metal, cardboard, and paper are materials that are most often recycled. Some counties might have different rules on what can be recycled. Find out what your county allows by clicking here. Upcycling is also a great way to get creative and repurpose something old into something new. This ultimately helps reduce landfill waste and can be a fun hobby or side hustle.
- Plant a garden
About 8% of your carbon footprint is from food transportation. It is estimated that a 600-square-foot garden could produce 300 pounds, worth around $600 a year. Plus growing your own produce means you are in control of how you fertilize your produce. You can compost lawn clipping and food waste to save money on organic fertilizers to save even more money.
- Harvest rainwater
Conserve water, lowers your water bill, reduces the demand for freshwater resources, slows erosion in dry environments, reduces flooding in low-lying areas, and can be used in your gardens.
- Buy a reusable water bottle
It can take up to 1,000 years for a single-use plastic water bottle to decompose in a landfill. Plus, as the bottles decompose they release toxins into the groundwater as they break down. Sure, these water bottles can be recycled. But the production of these bottles takes a major toll on the environment. Disposable water bottles have a carbon footprint of about 828g of carbon dioxide. A reusable water bottle can also save you a good bit of money.
As mentioned above, composting is a great way to add valuable nutrients to your garden soil. Composting reduces greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. Additionally, composting will reduce waste in your trash which will reduce plastic waste and save you money.
- Turn off the lights
When you leave a room make sure you turn off the lights. When you turn off lights that aren’t being used, you can reduce your greenhouse gas emissions by .15 pounds per hour.
- Rechargeable batteries
It takes about 50 times more energy to manufacture a disposable battery than that battery will provide in its lifetime. A rechargeable battery will also save you money by reducing the need to frequently purchase new ones.
- Reduce and increase your thermostat
Reducing the temperature in the winter and increasing the temperature in the summer can decrease your carbon emissions by 2,000 pounds a year. Smart thermostats have gained popularity in the last few years and can help you achieve this with minimal effort.
- Shop small and local
Transporting goods is a huge source of greenhouse gas emissions. Plus supporting a small local business is great for our economy.
- Eat less meat and dairy
Eating less meat and dairy is good for you and the planet. Raising livestock creates as much greenhouse gas emissions as all vehicle emissions combined. Reducing the number of animal products consumed can make a huge difference. Adjusting your diet requires a lot of change that can be overwhelming. Start small by practicing meatless Monday then slowly reduce meats and animal byproducts little by little will add up.
No matter what changes you make to reduce your carbon footprint, we at Greater Mercer TMA are here to support your goals.