10 STEPS 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 someplace 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 and regional bike maps. County representatives also work with Bikestation in Pioneer Square to expand biking options. If you need to use a car, try car sharing with ZIPCAR , 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 and Seattle City Light.  Both utility companies provide 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 estimates per household energy usage for the King County geography: King County energy usage per household map (2.9MB PDF)

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 bringit , heat it, and treat it after you use it. Visit the County’s Wastewater Treatment website for tips on easy ways to conserve.

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 getting to zero waste and reducing your carbon footprint.

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.

6. Make your home and garden greener

Lower your greenhouse gas emissions during home remodeling projects by using 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.

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 Volunteer Opportunities 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.

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 and the Seattle Climate Action Network.

Energy Calculators

Use these, to estimate your energy and cost savings by using energy-efficient products.

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Track Your Project

Make a green home improvement to-do list and track your progress.

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Idea Gallery

Browse and submit photos organized by rooms.

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Weekly Survey

What percentage of central heating thermostats are programmable?

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