Reader view: Your one percent (1%) definitely counts — a great deal

Reusing items via thrift-store shopping can help reduce carbon emissions. (Photo courtesy Pexels)

As an environmentalist and an activist preparing for the climate crisis, I am often asked, “What can I do right now, immediately that will really make a difference?” I do have my own suggestions, but recently a friend sent me an article about this same question with an interesting take on the subject.

The writers of the article noted that if everyone in the U.S. reduced their output of carbon by only 1%, that would equal taking 12 million (12,000,000) gas-powered cars off the road for a year. Their point was that for an individual to reduce their carbon output by 1% was so easy, but would result in a huge difference. So what you do, can make a difference. If you are already doing most of these suggestions below, simply add a little to one category to make that 1% difference. If you are not doing these items, pick one that makes sense to you, and start today! You can make a difference.

After you decide what you will do, there is climate quiz below for you to see how familiar you are with climate information. Answers are at the bottom. If you have additional suggestions for ways to make your 1%, please leave them below for others to consider.

Ways to reduce your carbon emissions by 1%

1) Reduce the number of times you take your gas-powered car by one time per week. This will immediately eliminate the carbon you would have put into the atmosphere in the Edmonds area. Or use one fewer tanks of gas this year, which will do the same over the year.
2) Walk or bike whenever possible– to the neighbors, to the library, to the store, to the bus. Not only will you reduce your carbon, but it will be a plus for your health.
3) Take the bus at least once a month. If you have not yet taken the bus, ask a friend where the closest one is and do a trial run with your friend. Then get your ORCA card, and go by yourself.
4) Eat plant-based foods for one day per week, i.e. Meatless Mondays. Animal foods require lots of land, water and fossil fuels.
5) Move your money from a big financial institution (known as the dirty dozen) that invests customers’ money in fossil fuels to a bank that does not invest in fossil fuels.
6) Reduce your use of plastics by carrying a reusable bag and refusing to buy items in plastic. Most plastics are made from fossil fuels and end up in our landfills or oceans.
7) Shop thrift or second-hand stores for clothing. Manufacturing garments requires emissions; second-hand reduces carbon and reuses items that might otherwise be added to the landfill.
8) Air dry your laundry, if you are in a home or location where it is possible. Clothes dryers use large amounts of electricity. If you can air dry  even one load per week, you can reduce your emissions significantly. For those who cannot air dry, use one fewer dryer loads per week.
9) Avoid flying, but if you have to, take direct flights rather than stopping along the way. Most emissions come from take-offs and landings, so direct flights reduce carbon.
10) Cancel one video or media monthly subscription — surprisingly, online subscriptions generate emissions because they require file storage on massive servers, which require a lot of energy.

Many thanks to those individuals and families out there who are — and have been — doing their part to reduce greenhouse gases in the city of Edmonds, who have shown great care for their friends and neighbors in this community, as well as for their own families. Keep up the good work!

Climate Change Quiz

Check your knowledge with the scientists who researched these questions:

1. What percentage of the earth’s planet is covered by the ocean?
A. 71 percent B. 56 percent C. 33 percent D. 90 percent

2. What creatures are especially at risk from ocean acidification?

A, Calcifying species such as shrimp, crabs and coral
B. Whales such as humpbacks, bowheads, and narwhal
C. Pelagic fish such as tuna, swordfish and sharks
D. Acidification poses no risk to marine life

3. How much more carbon does the ocean hold compared to plants and soil?

A. 10 times as much B. 2 times as much C. 20 times as much D. 5 times as much

4. Sea level rise in the past 100 years was 7 inches; what is it projected to be
in the next 100 years, if it continues at the present rate?
A. 7 inches B. 8 inches  C. 11 inches D. 13 inches

5. What is a greenhouse gas?

A. CO2 B. CH4 C. Water Vapor D. All of these

6. What was agreed to at the Paris Accords in 2015?

A. To protect biodiversity and end deforestation of world’s rain forests.
B. To keep global temperatures below 2.0 C pre-industrial levels and to pursue a path to 1.5 C
C. To limit sea level rise to 3 feet
D. To pursue a goal of 100% clean, renewable energy
E. All of the above.

7. What percent of global greenhouse gas emissions are because of transportation?

A. 1% B. 20% C. 33% D. 70%

8. What country emits the most CO2?

A. China B. U.S. C. India D. Russia

9. What country emits the most CO2 per person?

A. China B. U.S. C. India D. Russia

10. What country is the most energy efficient and sustainable?
A. Iceland B. France C. Costa Rica D. Sweden


Answers to Climate Quiz: 1A  2A  3C  4D  5 D  6B  7 B  8A  9B  10D

— By Gayla L. Shoemake

Author Gayla Shoemake lives in Edmonds

  1. Taking public transportation is admirable, however we continue to have mediocre transit options in Edmonds. The Sounder train runs so rarely that it’s barely useful at all and most of Community Transit’s bus lines run only once an hour on weekends and not very often on weekdays either. There is a limit to how long someone is willing to wait for public transit before deciding not to use it. Some will say that the current level of service meets the current low demand for public transit by Edmonds residents, but maybe if we had better and more frequent service then more people would choose to take advantage of that.

  2. Good point, Kevin. When I first started using the bus, I walked over six blocks to the nearest bus stop. Now I’m only2 + blocks away.; it’s much easier. And one does have to adjust to the bus schedule (such as this bus is usually on time and that bus is usually 5 minutes late), which may not be as convenient as a car, but one does feel good about not adding carbon to Edmonds air pollution. Whenever Community Transit asks for public comment, I always respond. Where, in general, do you live and where is your closest bus stop? How about we give feedback to Community Transit to see if they could add a stop closer to your location?

  3. Look at the autos driving around Edmonds. The number of 2-3 ton SUVs, each carrying one or two people, is astonishing. Many of these monsters get as little as 12-15 miles per gallon of high-octane gasoline in urban driving conditions. (My ten-year-old Mazda 3 gets at least 35 MPG in town.) The state should be taking into account the environmental impact of a vehicle when assessing the yearly driving tax. People driving what are essentially small trucks to haul a couple bags of groceries should be paying a heck of a lot more for the privilege of overloading our streets and parking lots.

    1. This is the typical view of a progressive. They are jealous of what others have and complain about everyone else and can’t leave others alone. It’s peoples car or masks or what they eat or the fact that they are gun owners etc…….if you leave folks alone you will be much happier.

  4. Why is it with you climate cultists that everything happening is “anthropogenic” causation ? Never a word about volcanic eruptions (ongoing constantly ), solar activity, tilt of the earth, shifting poles and other natural occurring events beyond human control. The earth is a dynamic “perpetual motion machine” in constant change since time immemorial with no signs of stopping. I am all for preserving the natural environment, having spent most of my 75 years there as a hunter and fisherman. Most of the degradation to the environment I have witnessed is the thousands of windmills and solar panels blighting what was once pristine panoramas as well as the thousands of street zombies and walking dead making our cities into chaotic wastelands.. Finally, climate predictions cannot be trusted as they have never been right yet. Remember a few decades ago when the scientists were “dead sure” we were headed into another “ice age” ? yeah, that didn’t age well, did it ?

  5. People may not realize that the price of electric vehicles has dropped 33.7% since 2022. There are also many used ones on the market now as owners trade in for vehicles that go further on a charge. But if you have a second car that is basically driven less than 100 miles a day, why not trade it in for a used EV? Save carbon emissions and money! EV’s are much cheaper to power.

  6. Hi Frank,

    You are right, there are lots of other factors affecting climate change, and we need to remember all those, which have occurred over millions of years. The reason we emphasize the human factor is that is the only part which we can impact at all. Likewise you are also correct that predictions are based on current information, and some predictors are more optimistic than others, so we need to read and listen for as much as we can find. When I hear scientists who have predicted less drastic impacts report that change is going faster than they expected, it does concern me, and I look for what else I personally might do to NOT make it worse for coming generations.

  7. I agree with all of the above

    However . . .

    1st – petroleum fueled vehicles polute the air – what if we move away from petroleum,and the climate crises continues? AND we all have cleaner air to breathe???

    2nd – Electric vehicles . . .

    How much pollution and destruction of the earth (and the people that live there) are necessary for us to have clean – where they are used – vehicles? (Don’t forget the tires polluting our waterways)

    They may be getting cheaper to purchase, if you are looking/needing another vehicle, however, what’s the word on replacing the batteries,? How much to replace them? What happens to the older batteries? How much pollution and damage to “recycle” them?

    My understanding is that they are much heavier and cause more wear and tear on the roadway

    Fuel is cheaper – for those people that can “refuel”/re-charge them on your private/home electric bill, What about all the rest of us that will have to pay commerical rates and support other companies to recharge? We are not able to leave the vehicle plugged in over night and walk out the next day to a fully recharged vehicle

    While in theory, I agree with moving from petroleum, however … there are other concerns as well

  8. This contribution to MEN is interesting and useful, however, as well intentioned as the recommendations are, few if anybody will follow them. However, there are ways to reduce greenhouse gases which are far more effective and could be done rather quickly.
    First: we should stop sending coal to China. Up to 35 million tons of coal pass Edmonds every year on their way to China; we see them every day. A presidential executive order could stop that and would produce a major reduction of atmospheric CO2.
    Second: as Bill Gates has recommended, we should rapidly develop nuclear power; there are safe, modular, nuclear power plants in existence that can achieve this. Moreover, they will save the millions of birds and desert creatures which are being killed annually by wind and solar power.
    By using natural gas, the United States has reduced CO2 emissions more than any other industrialized country over the past two decades. No other country has achieved this. Although a source of CO2 , it’s use would be a way to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
    While the changes in our behavior recommended by Ms. Shoemake would be helpful, they will not be adopted by enough people to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  9. Thank you for your helpful article. It is so good to know that there are small things we can do to help our planet, along with voting for people who will work for policies that actually support our environment instead of continue to kill it. How hard is it to eat one meatless meal a day? How challenging is it to air dry some sheets? So often change seems impossibly big. It’s great to know that there are ways we can help that cost us little in time, energy, or money, but that make a difference for the only home we have, the place that holds all of human history, the lush diversity of other living things, and the futures of our grandkids. Thank you.

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