Alissa Huntington, DC Resident
Growing up, my family instilled in me energy saving and climate focused behaviors that have become second nature: separating waste into recycling and compost, turning off lights when I leave a room, taking shorter showers, and picking up trash at the beach. My mom would leave out our energy bill to show how our consumption compared to our neighbors – asking us to reduce our use to shrink our footprint but also save money on our energy bill. Now that I’m a renter myself, I continue to try to conserve energy wherever possible. I’m proud to live in a city that’s striving for a 100% renewable electricity future and understands how we need to change all aspects of our economy and daily lives to address the threat of climate change. Here are a few areas I focus on to decrease my impact:
Lighting – As a renter, I try to focus on actions within my control – most major decisions (like converting large appliances) are either in the hands of my landlord or not something I want to invest in if I might move soon. LED lights, while more expensive up front, last longer and save money on your bill over time (according to DOE, replacing five of your most frequently used lights could save you $75 annually). You can find them at hardware or drug stores.
Reducing Energy Consumption – I plug appliances into an extension cord so that I can turn them all off when not in use – including my TV. Now that I am working from home, I unplug my monitor and computer charger every night after work. I also use a drying rack instead of a dryer to dry most of my laundry – after an upfront cost, you never have to pay for that on your electric bill again! In addition to saving energy by not using my dryer, I also try to save water by running my dishwasher and washing machine (on the cold setting) only with full loads.
- Food Consumption and Disposal – According to the New York Times, the world’s food system is responsible for a fourth of annual greenhouse gas emissions (Your Questions About Food and Climate Change, Answered). I don’t buy meat to cook at home but will eat it occasionally at a restaurant. On the disposal side, I compost my organic material by dropping it off at the Dupont farmers market weekly. Around DC there are a few places to drop off compost (during COVID-19, some may not be accepting at this time). While there, I try to pick up a few things to support local farmers and make sure to bring reusable bags when shopping. You can even buy reusable produce bags, sandwich bags, or cling wrap (I’ve found on Amazon), which is my next step.