Our Planet, Our Responsibility

Clean WaterMost of us do the best we can to reduce our carbon footprint by recycling more, taking more public transportation, or using less electricity to heat and cool our homes.

Environmental experts agree that reducing the amount of waste we produce is the best way to help our planet. But there are many additional steps we can take.

This year, we are bringing and taking reusable or paper bags to and from stores, after legislation was passed banning the use of carryout plastic bags. This means less waste is ending up in our landfills, waterways and landscapes.

But what else can we do to help protect the Earth we all share? From our Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control experts, Outdoor Delaware has compiled a list of some of the best ways to reduce our carbon footprint – one step at a time.


We should all do our best to recycle the waste we produce, reusing our shopping bags is a good place to start.

Delaware Recycling LogoHere are some other tips:

  • Consider composting your food waste.
  • Reuse items that you may usually only once, like washable towels.
  • Pick up trash in your community and reuse or recycle items you find.
  • When you’re out and about, or even at home, use a reusable water bottle instead of single-use plastic ones.

Got questions about what can and cannot be recycled? Use our new Recyclopedia – it’s easy, thorough and quick.

Conserve Energy

Electric Vehicle ChargingSince energy production still relies heavily on the burning of fossil fuels that generate harmful greenhouse gases, using less energy means less greenhouse gas enters the atmosphere. Most vehicles also run on fossil fuels, which produce more pollution and generate greenhouse gases. Each one of us can take steps to reduce the amount of energy we consume. You can also:

  • Ride a bike, take public transit or walk to stores or friends’ homes.
  • Turn off lights when you leave a room.
  • Buy an electric vehicle. The prices are coming down, and rebates are available from the federal government and DNREC.
  • Weatherize your home to make it more energy efficient – DNREC offers the Weatherization Assistance Program for those eligible.
  • Add solar panels to your home. The federal government offers a tax credit, and DNREC offers rebates to add to the savings.
  • Combine trips to do errands at the same time.
  • If you’re a boater, use a carbon monoxide detector. Boats have poor fuel efficiency and create an abundance of carbon dioxide. Learn how much you’re using and try to find other, more energy-efficient means of propulsion for your boat.

Conserve Water

Water is a finite resource and many of us use too much on a daily basis. Here’s how you can reduce that amount:

  • Don’t leave the water on when you’re brushing your teeth.
  • Use water-saving shower heads and toilets in your home.
  • Water your lawn sparingly.
  • Use a lower fill setting on your washer.
  • Don’t run your dishwasher until it is full.

Conserve Our Landscapes and Waterways

When you go outside for a walk, hike or a run, the last thing you want to see is trash spoiling vistas, roadways, woodlands, rivers and streams. Here are some actions you can take:

Natural Landscape

  • Leave no trace. Take out anything you take in when you leave, especially in our parks.
  • Pick up any trash you see that others have left behind.
  • Plant trees, flowers or plants that are native to Delaware.
  • Plant a native wildflower meadow in place of a section of lawn or cropland.
  • Reduce mowed lawns and turf grass by converting to natural wildlife habitat.
  • Keep your grass at least four inches tall – this keeps your lawn healthy and reduces mowing.

Keep It Local

Using and buying locally-made items and food helps the environment by cutting down on transportation, a leading contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. It also helps your local economy by supporting businesses in your neighborhood. So shop locally – buy from local businesses. Eat locally-produced food items from farmers markets. And buy Delaware-caught or raised seafood.

Get the Word Out

Perhaps most importantly, share these tips with your neighbors and community groups, as well as any other steps you are taking to decrease your carbon footprint.

It’s our planet and taking care of it is our responsibility.