Posts Tagged ‘carbon footprint’

Perhaps many of us have a love-hate relationship with public transportation? Waiting for buses and delayed train schedules can certainly be frustrating, but choosing public transport whenever possible is a great step to take for the planet and your bank account.

How much of a difference can public transportation make on your carbon footprint? Almost a third of our nation’s footprint is guzzled by the transportation sector. Of that chunk, individual vehicles are responsible for 64%! This means that changing the way you move around town is one of the quickest ways to cut your footprint down to a manageable size.

san francisco bus

Get on the bus!

The American Public Transportation Association estimates that one person can reduce his daily carbon emissions by 20 pounds, or more than 4,800 pounds a year, just by switching from driving to public transit; this translates to 10% of the entire household’s emissions. If you can’t get on the bus or train, carpooling is another great option that saves you money and time while dropping your emissions impact significantly.

Which forms of transit are the best for the planet? The US Department of Transportation calculates that heavy rail transit, like metros and subways, produce roughly 75% less in greenhouse gas emissions per passenger-mile than single-occupancy vehicles, while light rail systems produce 57% less, and bus transit 32% less. Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley also conducted a full life-cycle assessment for public transit and found that even when taking into account emissions from infrastructure, manufacturing, and upkeep, public transportation still provides consumers a greener option. Innovations in hybrid or renewable technology continues to make public transport ever greener, giving us more reasons than ever to ditch the car whenever possible.

As an added feel-good bonus, public transportation has also been shown to help conserve land, reduce travel time, and spur economic development. Since public transit eliminates the need for large parking lots and highways, businesses can be closer together, helping to reduce travel time between destinations. Instead of being chopped up by ugly freeways, public transportation helps create more close-knit communities where people are more comfortable traveling on foot or on bicycles. Foot traffic is instrumental in the success of small retail and food spots, so next time you have the choice to take the bus, remember that you’re helping support the local economy thrive on various levels.

Perhaps most importantly to many of us, taking the rail, bus, or ferry can also make a huge positive change for your budget. Vehicle maintenance, parking, and fuel costs add up quickly. See how much money you could save by using public transportation with the APTA’s Fuel Savings Calculator. One writer on Treehugger shares how he has saved about $10,000 each year by using public transport. Even though public transit may require a little extra time and planning, it has the big potential to save you some serious cash for more organic food, sustainable wine or gadgets.

Want more information about the benefits of public transit? Start here: 

San Francisco bus image from Flickr

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Single-use plastic and paper pervade our life: a latte, a take-out lunch, a quick snack from the local co-op, a cocktail at a picnic. We’re all complicit in this because a few cups here and there don’t seem like a big deal, right? Wrong.

Data from the EPA show that Americans generate over 251 million tons of trash a year, with paper constituting 27% and plastics coming in at 12.7%. Most importantly, of that 12.7%, 7 million tons of plastic are from disposable cups and plates alone! The EPA successfully recovered/recycled 87 million tons of trash in 2012 (no small feat, to be sure), but because recycling is energy intensive and often pricy, it’s much more important to find ways to reduce waste at the source… which is us!

It can be a challenge to fight against our ingrained throwaway mentality, but there are lots of benefits to choosing reusable lunch boxes, mugs, and utensils as often as possible. Bringing your own containers might seem weird at first (and you might get a few looks from your coworkers). But it can be healthier, cheaper and help you drop your trashy habit of single-use food containers.

resusable mug

sip in sustainable style with a stainless steel mug for your coffee or tea.

The easiest place to start? Begin using a reusable mug for your morning beverage and a water bottle for your hydration. Whether you choose fair-trade coffee or organic tea, your personal mug will keep your beverage warmer/cooler, will show off your sparkling personality, and will easily transport on your bike or car. Find mugs and water bottles of glass or stainless steel from thrift stores or splurge on some eco-luxury brands like HydroFlask. Most cafes offer a small discount for your drink when you bring your own mug. Doesn’t seem like much, but if you drink coffee each day for a year, that’s $36 of savings.

When you’re ready to take the next step, choose a reusable container for your meals. The best option for carrying food to work and school are stainless steel or glass containers with tight fitting lids. Both glass and steel are safer than plastic, they transport safely, and don’t contain harmful chemicals like bisphenol A, styrene, vinyl chloride, and phthalates, which are all often found in plastics. If you don’t feel like splurging on new containers, simply reuse the jars and containers you already have at home until you find the ones that work best for your lunchtime solutions. You will also be feeling better too, as studies show that homemade food of any type is a healthier option than restaurant food!

resuable containers

bring lunch, snacks and more in these study and sustainable containers

This action has a small upfront cost, but offers important benefits for a healthier lifestyle and decreased waste. Carrying your own food and beverage containers around town might seem a bit wacky, but once it becomes a habit it’s hard to go back to formerly wasteful ways. You’ll also be flying your sustainability flag high, and inspiring others with your super conscious choices.

reusable mug image from Amazon; Pyrex containers image from Target

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Making compost is gratifying and wonderfully filthy, since it turns garbage into gold. Food waste, yard waste, and even human waste can be made into compost that boosts the fertility of gardens and farms, removes biodegradable matter from landfills, and helps reduce climate change. It’s a winning trifecta.

composting compost pile

composting turns green to (black) gold

How can funky, mucky compost help us build a better climate? Let us count the ways:

composting compost pile

build your compost bin to fit your life

  • Reducing food waste: Composting helps reduce the amount of food waste and green waste headed to landfills. Both food and green waste breaks down into methane, a potent greenhouse gas. NRDC says that the average American wastes 40% of food grown and produced each year. Learn more about food waste here.
  • Compost reduces the need for water and synthetic fertilizers: A healthy, compost-rich garden or farm can improve moisture retention, saving water and reducing runoff. Beneficial microorganisms and nutrients within the compost will ensure plant health by boosting nutrients and deterring pests.
  • Compost can build and maintain healthy soils: Due to monocropping, over-application of pesticides and other agricultural missteps, soils around the world are being depleted of their natural components. Compost can help bring balance and restore farms and fields to a healthier state. Compost also functions as a major carbon sink: compost adds carbon back to the soil and, with increased plant growth, pulls more carbon from the atmosphere in a virtuous cycle.
  • Compost is FREE and EASY: Like most of our Actions, composting is accessible to everyone, whether you’re a townie or living off the grid in the forest. Compost can be as complicated as a DIY compost bin for a big yard, or a small worm compost bin for your apartment balcony. Many cities offer green waste and food waste collection too, making it easier than ever.

Want to learn more about composting and making “black gold” from your food waste? Here are some great resources:

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Compost image from Flickr Creative Commons; compost sign image from Flickr Creative Commons

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We’re quite excited to announce that Oroeco will have a presence at two very cool events in March! First, Oroeco has been nominated in the category of Sustainable Tech for the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive event in Austin, Texas on March 13-17. SXSW Interactive is one component of the larger SXSW events held throughout the month. Each event brings in tens of thousands of guests, and we are looking forward to introducing Oroeco to each one of them.


SXSW Interactive speakers are awarded prizes in multiple categories that prioritize creative innovation in the digital industry, focusing on advancements and developments taken place in 2014. Last year, Oroeco was invited to present at SXSW Eco Startup Showcase where Oroeco was a finalist in the Cleanweb category, which featured web and mobile apps that improve the environment.

Oroeco’s founder Ian Monroe has been invited to speak at TEDxHonolulu on March 28th. TEDx events highlight ideas worth spreading in communities across the world. Speakers have been invited from all over the country to speak for TEDxHonolulu’s Paradigm Shift theme.

TEDxhonolulu rectangleindex

In both talks, Ian, who also lectures at Stanford University in the School of Earth Sciences, will focus on how information technology is accelerating clean technology adoption, and empowering us all create the world we want to live in through incentivized everyday decisions and social network collaboration. He’ll elaborate on how we now all have the power in our hands to mainstream our culture of sustainability and create virtuous cycles of positive change.

Oroeco’s paradigm shifting apps offer an interactive, game-like way for everyone to understand their personal impact on climate change, and compels them to take actions every day to reduce their impact, save money and become better climate citizens. We are so excited to share Oroeco with audiences across the country this coming month.

Join the community of Climate Heroes: click here to join our newsletter!

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If you want to reduce your impacts on climate change (which is of course why you’re here), you’ve got two options: 1) reduce your carbon footprint by changing your lifestyle choices, and/or 2) purchase carbon offsets that reduce carbon elsewhere by funding climate-friendly projects, like clean energy and forest preservation. If you want to fully eliminate your carbon footprint and live a carbon neutral life, offsets need to be part of the equation. Offsets give the buyer “carbon credits” for emissions in exchange for reduced emissions elsewhere. For example, we work with Impact Carbon, an award-winning non-profit that funds clean cookstove technology in Africa. Their projects save wood and fuel, and offers a host of social benefits, too. By buying offsets through Impact Carbon, the carbon savings of improved cookstove technology offset your personal impacts. 

The average American is responsible for about 19 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (“CO2e”) pollution each year, and the average European pollutes around 8 tons of CO2e per year. Frequent fliers and drivers can have a carbon footprint that’s several times higher. To stop climate change we need all carbon pollution to drop to zero as quickly as possible, including our personal pollution. There isn’t yet a global tax or price on carbon, so the responsibility for a cleaner climate rests with all of us as individuals to reduce what we’re willing to with cleaner lifestyle choices, then offset the rest.

But how do you know how much to offset? It’s said “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” and most of us don’t currently measure our climate impact. Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to track your climate impacts with our fun (and FREE!) software at Oroeco. Once you answer some questions about your lifestyle you can visualize the carbon footprint of every aspect of your life, including diet, shopping and transportation. Then you can act to reduce your impacts with our personalized tips for saving carbon and money. And, if you’re ready to up your climate-savvy kudos, you can achieve personal carbon neutrality and Climate Champion status by subscribing to offsets.

Not all offsets are created equal. There are definitely some bad projects out there. It’s important to only purchase offsets that are verified as legitimate, and, ideally, your offsets should have positive impacts on people and the planet beyond carbon reductions. Oroeco partners with the award-winning non-profit Impact Carbon, which works with clean cookstove projects in Africa, where the CO2e savings comes from efficiency improvements that decrease demand for fuel and reduce deforestation rates. The social and environmental benefits from these Gold Standard certified offsets also go far beyond climate: women and children breathe cleaner air while cooking at home, money is saved on charcoal, less time spent collecting wood means more time for work and school, and healthier forests improve water quality and biodiversity.

Ready to take the plunge into a fully carbon neutral life? Here’s how to get started:

  1. Sign up for Oroeco here (if you haven’t already): Answer a few questions to calculate your climate impacts and get access to our personalized tips for reducing your impact.
  2. Subscribe to Offsets: Once you’re logged into Oroeco, head to our Offsets page, and use the slider bar to decide how much of your monthly carbon footprint you want to offset.
  3. Be a Climate Hero: Your Climate Hero status will improve as you track, reduce and offset your climate impacts each month. You can also invite your friends and family to Oroeco to share, compare and collaborate. The more friends you invite to fight climate change with Oroeco the more chances you get to win cash and great prizes. It’s our way of saying thanks for helping grow our community of Climate Champions!

Join the community of Climate Heroes: click here to join our newsletter!

andrea head shot circleAbout the Author: Andrea Bertoli helps to spread awareness of personal climate impacts via social media, blogging, advertising and community outreach for Oroeco.

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Looking for a gift that helps both people and the planet?

Impact Carbon provides offsets that reduce climate impacts and serve social justice causes.

Impact Carbon provides offsets that reduce climate impacts and serve social justice causes.

Oroeco has you covered with a chance to help some of the poorest families in Africa while simultaneously helping your friends and family fight climate change!

Oroeco has partnered with Impact Carbon to offer matching gifts of carbon offsets that support clean cookstoves in East Africa. Traditionally, cookstoves use a significant amount of wood for fuel, creating localized environmental degradation and putting women and children in unhealthy and dangerous situations from smoke and wood gathering. Clean cookstove technology means less fuel, less smoke, less exposure to violence, more time for education and livelihoods, healthier families, and a healthier climate for all of us. To learn about what kind of impact these stoves can really have, read more here!

Here’s How to Give:

  1. Send an email to gifts@oroeco.com with the NAME and EMAIL address for each person you’d like give the gift of one month of FREE carbon offsets to support clean cookstoves. Make sure to include the name of the giver (that’s YOU!), along with any special instructions about when you’d like the gift to be emailed (like if you want it to arrive on a holiday or a birthday). We’ll even let you add your own name to the list to give this gift to yourself as our way of saying thanks!
  2. We will send all your gift recipients a personalized email with information and instructions about how to redeem their gift. They’ll need to create a FREE Oroeco account (if they don’t have one already), then go to oroeco.com/offset to subscribe to the clean cookstove offsets.
  3. If you’d like to further personalize your gifts, and increase the chances that all your gifts are received and used, you can download this gift certificate to print and/or email to your loved ones at your leisure.

Thanks for supporting Oroeco, Impact Carbon, and families throughout East Africa, and happy holidays to you and yours from Team Oroeco.

Join the community of Climate Heroes: click here to join our newsletter!

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Up to 40% of food is wasted on its way to your plate.

Did you know that eating less red meat and cheese affects the environmental impact of your diet more than eating all local and organic? And it turns out there’s an even easier way to green up your groceries: only buy what you’ll actually eat. A new study by NRDC estimates that up to 40% of food in the U.S. is wasted, which includes waste at the farm, supermarket, in your fridge, and scrapped off your plate. All this rotten rubbish adds up to a tremendous waste of resources each year: 25% of all freshwater used in U.S.; 4% of total U.S. oil consumption; $165 billion in food costs; $750 million just to dispose of the food; and 33 million tons of landfill waste (leading to methane emissions, a greenhouse gas ~25 times more potent than CO2).

While part of the problem lies with inefficiencies in our food production and distribution infrastructure, which could be rectified with some government intervention, the good news is that you can also be a big part of the solution. Only buy and cook what you’ll eat and don’t shun imperfect produce (that’s still perfectly edible) and you’ll go a long way towards improving the efficiency of the whole system. Efficient eating is made extra enticing by the fact you’ll even save money in the process. And perhaps you’ll also avoid packing on pounds from polishing off overly-plentiful plates, a win for both the wallet and the waistline!

Join the community of Climate Heroes: click here to join our newsletter!

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