Let’s make an impact
Greenworks Tools has teamed up with Earth Day 2020 to help clean up our world. The 50 Acts of Greenworks is a community challenge inviting you to chip in and make an impact.
Yes, riding a bike really can save the world. According to a 2015 study by the University of California at Davis, shifting more urban trips to bicycling, and cutting car use accordingly, could reduce urban transportation CO2 emissions by 50 percent worldwide by 2050. That seems especially feasible when you consider that half of all urban trips are a bikeable six miles or less.
Just because a device or appliance appears to be off doesn’t mean it’s not drawing power. About a quarter of all residential energy consumption is used on devices in idle power mode, which means “sleep mode” is costing upward of $19 billion in electricity bills. Things like your cable box, laptop, and even your speakers may be using almost as much power when they are off but plugged in as when they are on. Group appliances on power strips so you can turn them off at the same time, especially if you’re going on vacation.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 2013 Americans generated about 254 million tons of trash and recycled and composted about 87 million tons of this material, equivalent to a 34.3 percent recycling rate. We need to do better.
Whether it’s left on your plate or rotting in your fridge, wasted food is a big problem in the U.S.—to the tune of 38 million tons a year, according to the EPA. Luckily, small changes to your routine can make a big difference. Here’s a great list of ideas for saving food, including ways to be thrifty and smarter about storage and preservation.
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that under-inflated tires have a negative effect on fuel economy. You can improve your gas mileage by 0.6 percent on average—up to 3 percent in some cases—by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Better gas mileage means fewer trips to the pump and a reduction in carbon-dioxide emissions.
Earth Day Event on National Mall. Organizations across the country like the Sunrise Movement are hosting events to bring attention to climate action.
Plastic bags are incredibly destructive to the environment: They take hundreds of years to break down, contaminate soil and waterways, and cause widespread marine animal deaths. To combat the problem, cities and states around the country have enacted plastic-bag bans or fees on single-use bags. Switch to reusable bags and use them consistently.
Don’t drink bottled water. Landfills already contain more than 2 million tons of plastic bottles. And 1.5 million barrels of oil are used to manufacture water bottle every year. And those bottles take more than 1,000 years to biodegrade. Yeah, that reusable water bottle does sound like a good idea.
The average American throws away about 80 pounds of clothing a year. Not only is fast fashion wasteful, but the environmental cost of manufacturing and distributing new clothes is devastating. A handful of retailers offer recycling programs, while companies like Patagonia will actually purchase, refurbish, and resell your gently worn garments.
Shade, serenity, sustainability—trees add so much to the urban landscape and ask so little. Many cities, such as Philadelphia, give away free trees, have planting services, or require tree planting permits, so check your local rules before you start digging.
From Los Angeles to Boston, cities across the U.S. are working to make their rivers cleaner and more enjoyable. There’s even a movement to create a designated swim park in Boston’s Charles River and to install a floating pool in New York City’s East River. Check out American Rivers for information on how to support a river clean-up near you.
In 2014, over 76 percent of commuters in the United States drove to work alone, most often in their own personal vehicle. Carpools save money on gas, reduce your carbon footprint, let you work during the drive, and get you access to specially designated carpool lanes that are reserved for high-occupancy vehicles.
Most Americans still wash their laundry in warm water, which costs more money and takes a toll on the environment. Approximately 75 percent of the total energy use and greenhouse-gas emissions produced by a single load of laundry come from warming the water itself. That’s unnecessary, especially because studies have shown that washing in cold water is just as effective as using warm.
A simple home energy audit can show how much energy your home consumes and give you tips on changes that can make things more efficient. Most assessments help homeowners save between 5 to 30 percent on their energy bills, and audits can significantly reduce a home’s carbon footprint.
If you live in an apartment building, you can still capture your rainwater to save water and cool streets. Philadelphia offers free training for homeowners on stormwater management. Afterward, attendees receive a free downspout planter box for their home.
Transforming food scraps and lawn clippings into fresh, nutrient-rich soil gives home gardens a boost (and if done right, doesn’t create an olfactory offense). Roughly 20 to 30 percent of what we normally throw out can be composted. And the process offers huge benefits at the city level, too. New York City’s composting program creates “black gold” in the form of rich soil, saves money on shipping organic waste to landfills, and even generates energy from methane.
There are more than 90 million clothes dryers in the United States, and if all Americans line-dried for just half a year, it would save 3.3 percent of the country’s total residential output of carbon dioxide.
A dirty filter on your air conditioner or heater will make the system work harder and waste energy.
Quality LED lightbulbs can last 25 times longer, are more durable, and use at least 75 percent less energy than other bulbs. In the United States, widespread use of LEDs over the next 10 years could save the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large power plants (about 348 TWh).
Did we miss one? Create your own Act of Greenworks to help make our planet a cleaner, greener, more beautiful place!