My article on ‘The Failure of the Green Media to Communicate Simply‘ generated a very rich discussion amongst readers. All agreed on the importance of not overwhelming people with extensive green to-do lists, and the need to direct the focus instead, on the top household contributors to greenhouse gases emissions. This is where numbers come in. I searched and found this chart from the Energy Information Facts Agency at the Department of Energy, the best in my opinion, in terms of its ability to showcase actionable data.
Another way to massage those numbers is to aggregate car and home contributions and rank the resulting contributions, in terms of percentage of direct household emissions:
- car 49%
- space heating 24%
- lighting and appliances 12%
What does this mean in terms on individual green actions and priorities? The Union of Concerned Scientists recommends the following:
- drive less and drive more fuel-efficient and less polluting cars; carpool, take mass transit, walk, or bike whenever possible
- use Energy Star appliances, replace your old light bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent lights), and ask each household member to be responsible for turning off different appliances, lights.
- contact your city for home energy audit; insulate your home, and install programmable thermostat, set temperatures to recommended levels.
Still a lot to chew on, for most people, myself included. But a useful framework for green communication strategies and behavioral interventions at the household level. Next, I will try to address my friend Anne’s request of ‘Tell me the one green thing I should do‘.