The most powerful agent of change is your own personal experience.
Think of what you can do to promote green buildings and green operations where you live. Here are a few examples:
• Start keeping track of your gas, electricity and water use, along with the number of gallons of gasoline purchased and airline miles flown.
• Try to cut down on energy and water use by 10% in the next year by examining all of your habits and seeing where you can combine trips or cut down on optional travel.
• Go even beyond 10% reduction: create a "year of living sustainably" that commits you to dramatic changes in lifestyle to meet sustainabil-ity goals; if you have kids, enlist their help and creativity. It will strongly supplement the education they're typically getting in school.
• If you can't stop traveling, because of your job or family needs, then start by purchasing "carbon offsets" or Green Tags for all of your mileage, so that you're offsetting their impact with clean power or tree plantings somewhere else.
• Buy a hybrid car or a more fuel-efficient vehicle; you can find the top ten green cars each year listed by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.3
• Look into state and federal incentives for installing solar electric and thermal systems on your home; if you're a renter, discuss the benefits of doing this with your landlord or management company.
• Call the local gas or electric utility company and ask for a home energy audit to find out what are the "low-cost/no-cost" things you can do to cut down on energy consumption; in some areas, the local water company will offer technical assistance or free kits for cutting water consumption.
• Install dual-flush toilets to cut water use from toilet flushing by half or more; install other water-conserving measures such as drip irrigation.
• Form a neighborhood "sustainable living" group to engage the creativity of others in finding additional ways to cut energy and water use, reduce the use of poisons in landscape maintenance and enhance local recycling efforts.
• Consider your purchasing patterns and their "upstream" impacts, including waste in production, transportation costs (if made far from where you live) and embedded energy of production, distribution, use and disposal.
• For home remodeling, try to support local retail stores that specialize in sustainable products, such as healthy paint and carpet and reclaimed or salvaged building materials.
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