How to be a Lazy Environmentalist

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A few key eco-actions (switching to green energy & being a hard-core recycler) make a huge difference in reducing your carbon footprint. And, they're so easy, it's almost lazy.
A few key eco-actions (switching to green energy & being a hard-core recycler) make a huge difference in reducing your carbon footprint. And, they’re so easy, it’s almost lazy.

Most people want to do the right thing for the environment, but two things consistently get in the way of good intentions: our super-busy lives and the perception that being green is expensive and hard.

The good news is there’s nothing wrong with being a lazy environmentalist, if you’re good at it.  As luck would have it, Maryland offers two things most states don’t: deregulated utilities and single-stream recycling*. Give this slacker greenie thing a try, it makes a big difference.

Did you know the emissions generated from your home or apartment’s energy and trash total half of your carbon footprint?  The average Maryland family emits roughly 50,000 pounds of CO₂ every year. Here’s the percent breakdown: cars (50 percent)), electricity (24 percent), natural gas (22 percent) and trash (4 percent).

Be an awesome lazy environmentalist and cut CO₂ 24 percent

1. Switch to 100% emission-free wind electricity

Only nine states deregulated both their electricity and natural gas markets. This is a big green deal because BGE offers Baltimore homeowners and apartment dwellers eco-friendly electricity and natural gas options. Today, 30 percent of homes in the BGE area have chosen another supplier.  

By switching to a green energy source, you are requiring BGE to add cleaner, 100 percent wind energy into their grid system. You will not experience any service and billing changes, as BGE will still service and distribute electricity and still bill your home. Buyer Beware: Do not choose a variable rate. Only lock into a long term fixed rate.

BGE’s “standard” electricity is dirty, half coal and half nuclear, and each residential kilowatt is  through May 2015. As of this post, Green Mountain Energy’s 100% wind rate of 10.9¢ for 12 months is the best deal. 

Click here for everything you need to know, including rate comparisons. If you have any questions, email [email protected], a green energy consumer for 8 years.

2. Single-stream recycle everything

Baltimore has one of the country’s best recycling programs with no sorting and almost everything is accepted. By knowing the “yes” recycling listup to 70 percent of  trash can be diverted to recycling. Recyclables are sorted mechanically and then re-sold as raw materials. Every ton of recycling saves Baltimore City and Baltimore County $100 by reducing disposal fees and generating recycling income. Sadly, the Baltimore-metro trashes $8 million every year in recycling because our residential single-stream rates are so low; Baltimore County is 16 percent and Baltimore City is 18 percent. 

Be a kick-ass lazy environmentalist and cut CO₂ 50 percent

Check off #1 and #2 above, and switch your home or apartment’s natural gas to a climate-friendly supplier.

Lock in a yearly rate by choosing Washington Gas Energy Services natural gas paired with CleanSteps® Carbon Offsets.  This product is Maryland’s only climate-friendly natural gas option which pairs conventional natural gas with a cool local offset program designed to reduce Baltimore and the DC metro area’s air pollution. WGES climate-friendly natural gas price is higher than BGE’s rate. Natural gas rates are rock-bottom since fracking has flooded U.S. natural gas markets and driven down rates. Gas rates in 2008 (pre-fracking) were above $1 per therm, today they average around 60¢ in the winter. This kick-ass option does mean giving back some of fracking’s natural gas savings and paying about $150 extra per year for a climate-friendly option (assumes 830 therms per year.)

Yes, we had a little fun with this post, but climate change is a pretty serious topic as we posited last week: Climate Change: Why the numbers 450 and 7 Matter. The real takeaway is that reducing your climate footprint can so simple and still make a significant impact.

* Most Maryland municipalities offer single-stream recycling.

Laurel Peltier
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