Reducing your carbon footprint may involve big choices and lifestyle changes, but it can also involve small choices that add up day after day. Here are five everyday ways you can be greener in Farmington:
1. RIDE THE BUS: Did you know that Connecticut Transit buses run along Route 4 to the UConn Health Center and into West Hartford and downtown Hartford at roughly 30-minute intervals throughout most of the day, every weekday? Some buses continue on to Tunxis Community College. The buses run about once an hour on weekends. The fare is $1.25. An express bus to downtown Hartford makes three round trips daily with stops in Unionville and the village. The fare is $2.25 each way.
How it helps: If you drive, your car is almost certainly your biggest contribution to carbon dioxide emissions. Switching to public transit can reduce those emissions by up to 20 pounds a day, and commuting by bus or train can reduce your household’s total carbon emissions by up to 10 percent, according to the American Public Transportation Association.
More information: Connecticut Transit, www.cttransit.com
2. EAT LOCAL: The Hill-Stead's Farmers Market will be held every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. between July 10 and Oct. 23, 2011. You can take the localvore idea a step farther if you have the room to plant a garden. No room? The Kolp Community Garden still has a few 25-by-25-foot plots in the Meadows that you can rent for $20.
How it helps: The closer the source, the less energy is used to transport the food. Keep in mind, however, that the total carbon footprint of produce also depends on how it was grown. A tomato from a local greenhouse may ultimately cost far more in energy and carbon than an imported field-grown tomato.
More information: www.hillstead.org
3. WASH IN COLD: Not you – your laundry. You can conserve electricity and reduce carbon emissions by washing your laundry in cold water with a cold-water detergent. Washing full loads also cuts overall energy use. And bypassing the dryer to hang the laundry out just adds to the greenness.
How it helps: About 90 percent of the energy that a typical top-loading washing machine uses to clean a load of laundry is consumed by heating the water, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
More information: Project Laundry List, www.laundrylist.org
4. AIR DRY THE DISHES: If your dishwasher has an air dry option, use it. If not, turn the machine off before the drying cycle, prop the door open and let your dishes air dry. The Department of Energy also recommends that you avoid using the “rinse hold” for small quantities of dirty dishes because it uses extra hot water. (Experts generally agree that washing dishes by hand consumes considerably more energy and water than machine washing, by the way.)
How it helps: The drying cycle uses about 15 percent of the energy it takes to clean a load of dishes, according to the Green House Project.
More information: U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Savers,www.energysavers.gov/tips
5. LEARN TO BE GREENER: Tunxis Community College offers an online course called Going Green at Home. The non-credit course lasts six weeks and covers such topics as reusing and recycling, nutrition, commuting and heating. It will also explore that eternal question: paper or plastic. A new session starts every month. The course fee is $109.
How it helps: The course descriptions says "By the time you’re done, you’ll know how to make your living space eco-friendly from top to bottom!"
More information: Tunxis Community College, www.ed2go.com/tunxis