Big Improvement

Small Changes Add Up to Large Cut in Carbon Emissions

A new study from Michigan State University demonstrates how altering everyday decisions can collectively reduce direct U.S. household carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent annually in 10 years, “with little or no reduction in household well-being.” That’s equal to 7.4 percent of U.S. household emissions, and more than the total national emissions of France.

Researchers note that most policy attention has been placed on long-term options such as clean energy technologies and cap-and-trade programs, but changing individual habits is reasonably achievable in the near-term. Adopting fuel-efficient vehicles and smart home weatherizing top the list of doable changes, followed by use of energy-efficient appliances and heating/cooling equipment, as well as fuel-smart driving behavior, low-rolling resistance tires and carpooling (

Entrepreneur Robin Chase, who founded Zipcar (, the biggest urban car-sharing program in the world, is now also catalyzing a broader communications network for carpooling, called ride sharing, via local social networks of friends, coworkers, fellow church-goers and school chums. She notes that car sharing, in which users reserve and pay for the time they use a common-access vehicle, has been proven to reduce road time, as well as personal gas, insurance and maintenance costs.

Create or join a ride-sharing group at

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