5 Ways to Be Green in 2013

Written by Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green For All
Crossposted on The Huffington Post. Read the original post here.

As we launch into 2013, we face some daunting challenges. We've had a frightening glimpse at the havoc global warming threatens to bring -- from floods and drought to wildfires and super storms. And our most vulnerable folks continue to be hit hardest and hit first. Meanwhile, big polluters are fighting more viciously than ever to block our march forward into a clean energy future. 

And yet, I'm filled with hope. I'm filled with hope because I see the movement for a sustainable and healthy planet expanding -- becoming stronger and bigger and more resilient than ever. I've seen it on the national level, with the EPA's history-making safeguards to protect us from pollution like mercury, soot and, most importantly, the greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

But I'm most encouraged by what everyday people are doing to change the world. In neighborhoods and communities across America, people are taking matters into their own hands. Through their individual actions, they're working to keep our air and water clean and leave a healthier future for our kids.

That's why Green For All is joining EPA and Amplify Public Affairs to launch a new campaign focused on engaging individuals in environmental stewardship: Be Green 2013. This week, in Washington, D.C. we'll be joining EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and green activists, leaders and business owners for a discussion about how individuals can make our country -- and world -- more sustainable.

You can join the event via livestream. And we'll be asking everyone in the audience -- including folks at home -- to take our Be Green 2013 Pledge and choose from one of five simple actions that will fight pollution and global warming:

1.  Save water by installing a rain barrel. If just 100 people install a simple rain barrel in their yards this year, we can save a whopping 130,000 gallons of water.

2.  Drive less. Walking or biking can make a huge difference in keeping our air clean. Leaving your car at home just two days a week can reduce your carbon footprint by an average of two tons per year. That means if just 100 people do this, we can reduce global warming pollution by an average of 200 tons per year.

3.  Switch your light bulbs. You can save an incredible amount of energy -- and cut pollution -- just by switching to energy efficient bulbs. If just 100 people replace a single incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, we will save 57,000 pounds of greenhouse gases over the lifetime of the bulbs. That's the equivalent of keeping 27,000 pounds of coal from being burned.

4.  Recycle electronics. By being smart about disposing of electronics like cell phones, we can recover precious metals and prevent the need to mine and process new materials. That helps save our natural resources and prevents unnecessary air and water pollution -- including greenhouse gas emissions. We can recover 3.7 pounds of copper alone just by recycling 100 cell phones.

5.  Spread the word. One of the most important things you can do is organize an event in your community or talk to your neighbors about going green. If you do, you can create a ripple effect that will touch many other lives.

Whenever we take a small step to make our planet healthier -- whether it's saving water or advocating for clean energy -- we are acting from the best parts of ourselves. We are acting out of a sense of responsibility to future generations and to our neighbors. And that gives me great hope.

We have our challenges cut out for us, to be sure. But already, across America, people from all walks of life are making a difference. They're doing it by planting community gardens. By riding their bikes instead of driving. By saving energy and conserving water. They're doing it by organizing their neighbors to work for clean transportation, open spaces, and green jobs. They're doing it by supporting local green businesses. Family by family, street by street and block by block, these everyday heroes are helping lead us into a brighter future. And you can be one of them. Join us. Be Green in 2013.

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