Chicago has become a hub for alternative energy and green energy jobs. Phil Ponce and a panel of experts discuss this and more on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.
View a slideshow below of graphics from The Clean Energy Supply Chain in Illinois: Wind, Solar and Geothermal report and the Chicago Climate Action Plan Progress Report: First Two Years.
Here are a few tips on how to use less energy in your day to day life.
• Try to buy food from local farmers markets, and you’ll end up supporting local business as well as helping the environment. Transporting food takes energy, so visit the Chicago Farmers Market for local, sustainable produce.
• Don’t buy or prepare more food than you actually eat. The study “Wasted Food, Wasted Energy“ by the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy at The University of Texas at Austin reveals that the energy embedded in wasted food represents roughly 2 percent of annual energy consumption in the U.S., a substantial amount, but one which is, nevertheless, controllable by simply preparing the right amount of food.
• As a third and final food tip, eat less meat and cheese. According to a report by the Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health, part of the Environmental Working Group, if everyone in the U.S. skipped meat and cheese one day a week for a year, it would be the equivalent of not driving 91 billion miles. Try to incorporate one less meatless meal a week, or even become a weekday vegetarian, and reduce your cheese intake, too. Meat and cheese take more energy to produce, and consequently have a greater toll on the environment than other types of food.
• Shop at vintage or thrift stores whenever possible. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, roughly 12.7 million tons of textiles were created in 2009, 5.2 percent of municipal solid waste generation. New clothing takes energy to produce in addition to creating waste, so throw away less, purchase only what you’ll wear, and buy more secondhand to save money and the environment.
• Buy eco-friendly garments. As environmental issues become evermore pressing, more and more clothing companies are developing eco-friendly lines. For instance, in March, Emma Watson launched her own eco-friendly line, Pure Threads, and H&M released its new Conscious Collection in April. H&M has also pledged to increase the amount of organic cotton they use by 50 percent every year until 2013. American Apparel makes organic shirts, while Levi Strauss uses organic cotton, recycled hardware and natural dyes.
• Be creative with the wardrobe you already have. Whether it’s digging in the closet to unearth those items you forgot you had or making something new out of the old, utilizing your pre-existing wardrobe is a great way to save money and the environment while testing your creativity. Books like Generation T by Megan Nicolay can teach you how to turn a T-shirt into everything from a skirt to a bag. For a more extreme approach, consider the Uniform Project–Sheena Matheiken’s fundraising pledge to wear a new outfit based off of the same little black dress every day for a year—as inspiration.
Monitor Your Energy Intake:
• Be effective and monitor your energy intake. If you don’t have a Smart Meter installed, consider acquiring one. This meter records your electric energy consumption hourly so you can make informed decisions about your energy use. It can also help reduce your bill and allow you to decrease your energy consumption.
• Don’t use unnecessary energy. Another smart product, Smart Strips, also monitors your electrical use. A Smart Strip automatically stops supplying power to items that are turned off. You might think that your printer, for instance, isn’t draining any power, but even when switched off it maintains an idle current. The Smart Strip detects how much power the items plugged into it are using, so it can give them the appropriate amount, increasing efficiency and decreasing energy consumption.
• Switch to Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs) instead of using incandescent light bulbs. Although they require more energy immediately after being turned on, they then use roughly 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. They contain a small amount of mercury vapor, but offset its use with their environmental benefits.
For more tips on greener living, click here.