As our office engages with the community around Oʻahu, we are often asked “What can I do right now to help fight climate change?” Here is a selection of tips and ideas for reducing your personal energy usage, living a more sustainable lifestyle, and helping our island become more resilient. Numbered in the order we post them, not by their relative importance, these tips cover energy and water use, transportation, building resiliency through community, and other topics to help build sustainable habits one step at a time.
We update the list frequently so please stop back often for more ideas.
Sustainability Tip#1: gET THERE WITHOUT YOUR CAR
Instead of hopping into your gasoline powered car to go to work or run a quick errand, think about whether you could get there another way. Could you bike or walk? Is there a public transportation option nearby? If you need to drive, could you carpool or switch to an electric vehicle? If you can’t go car-free right away, try leaving your car at home for at least one trip a day. You might discover that you don’t really need your car as much as you thought.
Sustainability Tip #2: Don’t let the water run & run
Wasted water means wasted energy. From pumping water to purifying it, a lot of energy goes into ensuring the water flowing from your tap is clean and safe to drink. By turning off your faucet while you brush your teeth or while you scrub dirty dishes, you can help reduce water wastage and the associated energy.
Sustainability Tip #3: Try a VIdeo COnference
Air travel is a huge contributor of carbon emissions. If you need to travel for a meeting, consider a video conference instead. Not only will you save time and energy, you’ll save money and get to sleep in your own bed.
Sustainability Tip #4: Adopt Renewable Energy
If you own your home, installing solar panels will help you cut energy costs and reduce your household carbon emissions. Installing a full solar array sound too daunting? A solar hot water heater system alone can make a huge dent in your energy use.
Sustainability Tip #5: Create a “Green Team”
If you work in an office or with a team, create a “green team” responsible for implementing sustainability efforts. An eager team with the support of management can have a big impact on an office’s habits. You might be amazed by how much energy you can save and how much waste you can divert when you empower your team.
Sustainability Tip #6: Let your electronics Sleep
While a screensaver can be a calming thing to look at while on a long call or a good way to show vacation photos, running a computer screen that you aren’t actually using is energy that is wasted. Set your electronics to enter sleep-mode after 5-15 minutes of inactivity. It’s better for the environment and could keep a nosy passerby from sneaking a peak at your information.
Sustainability Tip #7: Say no to bottled water
Rather than drinking water from a single-use plastic bottle, bring your own reusable water bottle. The most sustainable way to recycle is to not create trash at all. Reusable bottles allow you to keep your water cold, add flavors you like, and express yourself with patterns and colors.
Sustainability Tip #8: Take the Stairs
Elevators and escalators can use a lot of energy. To get fit and help reduce carbon emissions from buildings’ energy usage at the same time, take the stairs whenever you can. Ever been stuck on an elevator that stops on every floor? That wouldn’t happen if you were taking the stairs.
Sustainability Tip #9: Eat Your Veggies
Reduce the amount of imported meat and dairy you eat and focus on locally grown veggies to cut emissions and build resiliency. The most resilient food system is the one that we build on our own island. Growing animals and shipping them from far away has a huge carbon footprint. When you are at the grocery store, think about how far your food has traveled to get to your cart. Whatever you choose to eat, the closer to home your food is grown, the better.
Sustainability Tip #10: Open your Windows
Don’t run your AC all day when you aren’t home. Get a programmable thermostat that allows you to cool the house only when you need it. Want to reduce your cooling costs even more? Ditch your AC. Take advantage of breezy days and open your windows instead.
Sustainability Tip #11: bring your own fork and spoon
Single use plastic creates a huge amount of waste. Bring your own silverware in case you eat lunch somewhere that only offers throw away utensils. There are tons of stylish and affordable options to help keep your lunch as green as your salad!
Sustainability Tip #12: Choose drought hardy plants
Not only are native plant gardens beautiful, many are drought tolerant and attract pollinators like bees and butterflies. There are workshops monthly at Halawa Xeriscape garden to teach you how its done.