Trimming CO2 pounds at home and in the office.
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We've talked about how you can defy your carbon cravings when it comes to big-ticket energy items like your heat, your electricity, the food you buy, and the appliances you use. What about that beloved pursuit of environmentalists everywhere, recycling, and other ways you can spruce up your home, yard, and office, carbon-wise?
The manufacturing of paper, one of the six most energy-intensive American industries, accounts for about 35 million tons of CO2 each year, according to the Energy Information Administration. And using virgin wood to make paper helps deforest the planet, a major factor in global CO 2 counts. Consider that the average American office worker throws out about 150 pounds of office paper per year, and you may see the scope of your own CO 2 problem in this area. Here are a bunch of ideas, recycling and otherwise, for trimming carbon pounds at work and at home:
• Save paper—and CO2 emissions—by being selective about what you print out, making double-sided copies and using scrap paper to take notes or print drafts.
• Use high recycled-content paper.
• If an office building with 7,000 workers recycled all of its paper waste for a year, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 630 tons, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Recycling used aluminum to make cans takes 95 percent less energy than making new aluminum from scratch.
• Invest in energy-saving fax machines, copiers, scanners, and printers, which use about half as much electricity as standard equipment and also default to a low-power sleep mode. Lobby your employer to do the same.
• Turn off your screen saver and let your computer sleep, or turn off the monitor completely. Moving-image screen savers consume as much electricity as a computer in active use. A blank screen saver is only slightly better.
• When it's time to go home, shut your computer down. Don't believe the myth that it's more efficient to leave it on than to reboot the next day. Bonus: You'll extend the life of your machine.
• From dead batteries to cell phones to copiers, recycle equipment whenever possible. Click here to find electronics and other recycling centers in your area.
Meaghan O'Neill is a freelance writer and founding editor of treehugger.com, an eco-Web site and Slate's partner on the Green Challenge.
Illustration by Robert Neubecker.