How Green Are You?

Check out Real Simple's carbon facts to see exactly how your (small) actions can make a (big) difference.

  • Jennifer Bogo

Your Carbon-Saving Equation

See how your earth-friendly measures make a difference: Simply add up the pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) next to those actions listed below. For a more tangible sense of what that number means, work out whether you have saved enough to offset the pollution that one car emits in a year by dividing your total by 12,037 (the pounds of CO2 that the average car emits annually).*

Action: Recycle Aluminum and Steel Cans

Why it’s worth it: Recycling aluminum and steel cans directs valuable metal into new products, saving 95 percent of the energy required to manufacture aluminum from scratch and 74 percent of the energy needed to make steel.
Your one-year effect: 414 pounds of CO2 saved.
The effect if everyone in the U.S. did it for one year: Equal to 3,934,118 nonhybrid cars taken off the road for one year.

Action: Recycle Newspapers and Magazines

Why it’s worth it: Americans throw away more paper than any other kind of trash. Recycling the pounds of magazines and newspapers the average household accrues in a year not only saves trees but also reduces contributions to air pollution by 95 percent.
Your one-year effect: 581 pounds of CO2 saved.
The effect if everyone in the U.S. did it for one year: Equal to 5,511,566 nonhybrid cars taken off the road for one year.

* All calculations are based on savings per household except for those relating to driving, which are per person.