I recently thought about what I have been leaving behind for later generations to deal with. What I realized was that almost everything I do impacts the environment in some way. I also learned that I can offset the negative carbon footprint I leave behind by doing a few things that are not burdensome at all.
I can change a few light bulbs, drive my car one or two times less per week, unplug some appliances when I'm not using them or just take a bath instead of a shower one time each week. By doing these things I will reduce the size of my footprint by more than half.
To see how big, or small your carbon footprint is go to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPAs) Household Carbon Footprint Calculator at: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/ind-calculator.html
I did this and after committing to some very simple suggestions from the EPA I will reduce my total annual carbon emissions from 2,483 pounds to 79 pounds. Pretty impressive wouldn't you say?
The ultimate goal we all should be striving for is to, not only reduce our carbon emissions, but to reverse their overall effects. The commitments I made are really minimal compared to all the things I could do. For example, I never committed to buying organic or locally produced foods, buying products that are minimally packaged, drinking tap instead of bottled water, washing my clothes in cold water or, and this is a big one, having family and friends over for dinner once or twice a month.
The idea is to leave the world in better condition than it was in when I got here, my legacy if you will. I know I can do my part but I cannot expect everyone to do the same, especially if they do not know what they can do because they haven't been informed. I choose to inform every person I know and encourage them to do the same.
It doesn't take much to change the world. We can start by educating just one other person about the possibilities and then see where that goes. Try asking a friend if she knows how many trees it takes to make a ton of paper (a pallet or about 50 reams). According to this page: http://www.conservatree.org/learn/EnviroIssues/TreeStats.shtml, it takes about 24 trees, 40 feet tall, and about 6-8 inches in diameter. This is a good place to start when wanting to bring the issue up.