Pete Wirth (Climate Change Action & Awareness) and Yvonne Chu have been working together to get
the word out about how Central New Yorkers can mitigate climate change by taking small steps and
changing their routines. They’ve had success getting their message out but they wanted to create a
community and a program that would showcase how easy it is to make small changes that will really
help the environment. That led the team to create The CNY Carbon Challenge.
The website is a six-week challenge to help Central New Yorkers focus on one change per week to
combat climate change. Our team has signed up and we’ll be writing about our experience going
through the challenge. The challenge will include reminder emails with simple actions you can take to reduce your carbon footprint. Plus, you can join a Facebook group that will have plenty of friendly people who will answer questions and offer advice. https://www.facebook.com/groups/CNYCarbonChallenge/
The good news is the challenge will not only help the planet, but many parts of the challenge will also return
dollars to your budget as you save money doing things like energy efficiency work, installing solar
panels, changing the setting on your thermostat and even turning off lights when you are not in a room.
This week’s email asks you to calculate your carbon footprint by going to https://coolclimate.berkeley.edu/calculator. The calculation is put together based on questions about
your travel, home, food, and shopping habits.
Our community is taking a huge step outside the challenge this week as plastic bags are being banned at some local stores ahead of the law that goes into effect in March. Many people are concerned that their checkout experiences will take a little bit longer and they will forget to bring in their reusable bags. But our effort will have a huge effect on the environment right here in Central New York. Take a look at
- “Plastic bags can take from 15 to 1,000 years to break down.
- An estimated one million birds, 100,000 turtles, and countless other sea animals die each year from
- According to the Environmental Protection Agency, which has been collecting plastic bag statistics for
more than a decade, roughly 2% of plastic bags are recycled in the United States. The rest are left to live
on indefinitely in landfills or decompose in our oceans, where they leech toxins into the water and soil.
- It takes 12 million barrels of oil to produce the plastic bags that the U.S. uses every year.
- One person using reusable bags over their lifetime would remove more than 22,000 plastic bags from the environment. “
We are proud that Central New York is changing a habit that has crept up on a generation. When we
look back at the way our parents and grandparents shopped at grocery stores, some of us remember loading filled up paper bags into a grocery cart to roll back to our car. Plastic bag use took off
in the 1980’s and as the years have gone by we’ve stopped loading up and now put two or three items in two plastic bags.
Those bags from the ‘80’s are probably still breaking down in our landfills. Changing that habit will have
an impact on our landfills and our environment. We should pat ourselves on the back that we are course-correcting so we can leave the planet in better shape for our children and our children’s children.
We will be back next week to give you an update on the first challenge. But for now, you can join the second group of Central New Yorkers who are reducing their carbon footprint and saving money at the same time. We hope you will join us!