wikiHow to Help Reduce Global Warming (Kids)

Six Parts:Understanding Your Carbon FootprintReducing Your Direct Reliance on Fossil FuelsConserving Energy and WaterOffsetting Your Carbon FootprintBeing a Conscious ConsumerEncouraging Friends and Family to Take Action

Global Warming is the increase of Earth's average surface temperature due to effect of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels or from deforestation, which trap heat that would otherwise escape from Earth. Luckily, there are many things that every citizen of the Earth can do to help reduce the effects of global warming, and it’s never too late or too early for children and young adults to take action.

Part 1
Understanding Your Carbon Footprint

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    Learn what a carbon footprint is. A carbon footprint is the amount of carbon and greenhouse gases you use as you lead your daily life and go about your normal activities. In other words, your carbon footprint is a measure of the environmental impact your life has. To live an environmentally friendly life that doesn’t contribute to global warming, you want to have the smallest carbon footprint possible.
    • The idea is to have a neutral or zero carbon footprint.
    • Of all the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, carbon dioxide accounts for up to 26 percent of them,[1] which is why people are concerned with reducing their carbon footprint.
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    Learn what contributes to your carbon footprint. Almost everything we do that contributes to global warming is related to fossil fuel consumption. These can be direct uses of fossil fuels, like riding in a gasoline-powered car, or indirect contributions to greenhouse gases, such as eating fruits or vegetables that had to be shipped from far way to reach your table.
    • Most of the top contributors to our carbon footprints come from the indirect use of coal, natural gas, and oil, including: meat consumption,[2] electricity consumption, personal commuting (such as driving and flying), commercial transportation (like trucks, ships and planes), and using plastic.
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    Determine your carbon footprint. Since greenhouse gases contribute to global warming, knowing your carbon footprint can tell you just how much your lifestyle is contributing to global warming and climate change. Use one of the many calculators available to determine the impact your lifestyle is having.

Part 2
Reducing Your Direct Reliance on Fossil Fuels

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    Choose alternative methods of transportation. Personal vehicles like cars are responsible for about one-fifth of emissions in the United States.[3] Choose an alternative method of getting around if you want to make a dent in your own carbon footprint and reduce your contributions to global warming. Instead of taking the car or getting a ride to the park, school, your friend’s house, or anywhere else, try:
    • Walking or jogging.
    • Riding your bike or skateboarding.
    • Rollerblading.
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    Use public transportation. While trains and buses often run on fossil fuels, they produce less pollution and take less energy to run than the multiple personal vehicles they replace. Next time you have to get around town and it’s too far to walk or bike, take the bus or other public transportation instead of asking for a ride.
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    Set up a carpool. Kids who aren’t close enough to walk but don’t have bus service can organize carpools with the parents of friends who go to the same school. Instead of four parents each driving individual cars to get kids to school, parents can take turns every day or week picking up and dropping off all the kids, meaning there are three fewer cars on the road.
    • Suggest carpooling with friends for other activities as well, like sports practices and games, after-school activities, lessons, and social events.
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    Talk to your parents about buying a hybrid or electric car. Driving a car that doesn’t run on gasoline or diesel can drastically reduce your carbon footprint, because it will reduce your fossil fuel use and emissions, and reduce the emissions created by the production, processing, and distribution of the fuel.[4]
    • Hybrid and electric cars are typically more expensive than their traditional counterparts, so this may not be an option for many families.
    • Be aware that if the electricity you use comes from a fossil fuel, driving a car that’s charged with that electricity may not reduce your carbon footprint.

Part 3
Conserving Energy and Water

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    Turn off the lights. When you leave a room and there’s nobody else in the room, turn off the lights. This goes for shutting off electronics too, such as the television, radio, computer, and other devices.
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    Unplug electronics. When you leave your house for the day to go to school, unplug all the electronics that won’t be used throughout the day. Many devices still draw power even when they are turned off.[5] This includes:
    • Clocks.
    • Televisions and radios.
    • Computers.
    • Phone chargers.
    • Microwaves and other appliances with clocks.
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    Turn off the water. Shut off the taps when you are brushing your teeth, soaping your hands in the sink, washing dishes in the sink, and when you’re lathering up in the shower. Also, use less hot water when you are showering or washing dishes, as it takes a lot of energy to heat water.
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    Keep doors and windows closed. When your house is being heated or cooled in summer or winter, make sure you close all doors behind you, and don’t leave windows open. Hot air or cold air will escape quickly, and your furnace or air conditioner will have to work harder and use more energy to maintain a consistent temperature.
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    Use your blinds and drapes. In the winter, open your blinds during the day to allow solar energy to help heat your home. Close them again when the sun sets to keep cold air from seeping in. In summer, keep your drapes and curtains drawn during the day so that solar energy doesn’t heat your home further.
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    Engage in activities that don’t require electricity. The majority of the electricity generated in the United States comes from fossil fuels,[6] so by using less energy, you can reduce your carbon footprint. Instead of watching TV, playing on the computer, or playing video games, try:
    • Reading.
    • Playing outside.
    • Playing board games.
    • Spending time with friends in person.
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    Take a green approach to chores. There are many positive environmental ways you can change chore time, including running the dishwasher and washing machine only when there’s a full load, washing clothes with cold water, and hanging clothes to dry instead of running the dryer.
    • Ask the rest of your family to adopt these practices too.

Part 4
Offsetting Your Carbon Footprint

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    Plant a tree. Mature trees consume about 48 pounds of carbon dioxide every year, which they convert into the oxygen that you breathe. Furthermore, trees planted around your house create shade and windbreakers that reduce the need for air-conditioning in summer and heating in winter.[7]
    • Planting deciduous trees will provide you with shade in summer, and then when they lose their leaves in the fall, they allow natural heat from the sun to warm your home.
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    Plant a garden. The farther your food has to travel to get to your table, the bigger your carbon footprint will be. Although vegetables are lower on the list than meats and dairy in terms of greenhouse gas generation,[8] they do still have to travel to the markets where you purchase them, and that requires fossil fuels. By growing your own garden, you’ll both reduce your greenhouse gases contributions and you’ll be adding plants to the planet that consume carbon dioxide.
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    Reduce, reuse, and recycle. You’ve all heard the saying “Reduce Reuse Recycle,” but you may not have realized that this mantra can seriously reduce your carbon footprint! Recycling is an energy-intensive process, but it’s still better than having to produce a container from scratch. Reusing is even better, because it reduces waste, cuts out the energy needed for recycling, and reduces your consumption.
    • Practice reusing by upcycling old containers, clothes, and household items. For instance, collect tin cans to make a bottle holder for your parents as a gift.
    • Recycle cans, bottles, jars, tetra packs, containers, and anything else your local recycling facility accepts.
    • Reuse and refill things like ink cartridges and pens.[9]
    • Instead of buying a new soap bottle every time, refill the one you have.
    • Shop in thrift stores instead of buying new clothes and housewares.
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    Compost. The amount of energy and fuel it takes to transport organic matter to a waste facility (if your community doesn’t have composting) will contribute to your carbon footprint. On top of that, organic matter doesn’t properly break down in that sort of environment, so you are much better off composting yourself. Not only will you reduce the amount of waste you send to landfills, but you’ll also have homemade soil to plant and fertilize your garden.

Part 5
Being a Conscious Consumer

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    Use less paper. Paper products contribute to global warming in the sense that their production requires fossil fuels, and the trees that would have captured carbon dioxide are no longer there to do so. You can reduce your paper use by making a few simple changes, such as:
    • Not printing emails you don’t have to.
    • Using the library or reading e-books instead of buying printed books.
    • Getting e-bills and asking that stores don’t print off receipts for you.
    • Asking you parents to buy recycled paper products, like facial tissues, bathroom tissues, and writing and printing paper.
    • Scanning books instead of photocopying them.
    • Sending e-cards instead of paper cards.[10]
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    Don’t buy bottled water. Most municipalities provide perfectly safe drinking water, so there’s usually no need to buy bottled water in America. But consumers love this convenient and portable product, even though it takes three liters of water to produce one liter of bottled water, [11] and millions of barrels of oil are needed to manufacture the bottles, caps, and packaging required to meet the demands of American consumers alone.[12]
    • If your parents buy bottled water, ask them to stop. Even if they don’t, you can opt to use a reusable glass or metal canteen that you refill with tap or filtered water.
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    Avoid products that use excessive packaging. The majority of packaging used in North America has more to do with advertising and gimmicks than it does product preservation or consumer safety. Because most of that packaging is plastic, fossil fuels have been used to create it, and lots of it cannot be recycled. By refusing to buy products that have excessive packaging, you will reduce your carbon footprint and tell businesses that their methods are not acceptable.

Part 6
Encouraging Friends and Family to Take Action

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    Talk to your family about how they can help. Sometimes, there are things that you just can’t do on your own without the help of the people you love. Ask your parents to help you make a difference by implementing some new family policies and practices.
    • Ask your parents to adjust the thermostat by a few degrees so the furnace or air conditioner doesn’t have to work quite as hard.
    • Explain to your parents that CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) will use 70 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs, which will save both energy and money.[13]
    • Remind your parents to remember their reusable mugs when they grab coffee to go.
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    Visit the farmers markets. Most cities and towns have local farmers markets, and going with your friends and family can be a great way to support your local community, teach everyone the importance of shopping locally (so that less greenhouse gases are used transporting food to your table), and find fresh and delicious produce for your meals.
    • Remember to take your reusable shopping bags to the farmers market as well as the grocery store.
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    Choose fresh, loose fruits and vegetables. The packaging used to wrap fruits, vegetables, and premade meals is often plastic, and plastic requires fossil fuels. It might take some getting used to, but it’s possible to leave the grocery store without any excess packaging. Remember, cooking can be time consuming, so offer to help your parents with preparation of meals that use fresh ingredients. This will save them time, help teach you to cook, and encourage your parents to buy fresh more often.
    • Buy whatever you can in bulk instead of prepackaged portions, such as grains, flours, pastas, and spices.
    • Buy loose produce, such as individual carrots, instead of pre-bagged fruits and vegetables.
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    Request that your parents serve more vegetarian or vegan meals. Meat and dairy production account for an estimated 18 percent of global emissions, and cutting these items from your diet completely would cut your food-related carbon footprint in half.[14] Encouraging your parents to eat less meat and dairy is an excellent step toward reducing your carbon footprint.
    • A four-person family that forgoes steak one night a week is equivalent to not driving for almost three months.[15]

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Categories: Environmental Awareness