Energy Diet

David Maxwell Braun

David Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s education, science, and explorer programs.


At Home (62%)

  • Changed thermostat
  • Changed settings on refrigerator, freezer, water heater and washer
  • Replaced at least one third of light bulbs with CFLs or LEDs
  • Disconnected electronic devices when not in use

Wild Card Items

  • Eliminated second freezer or refrigerator
  • Insulated water heater
  • Replaced appliances with green-certified products
  • Hung clothes up to dry instead of using the dryer
  • Sealed all of the windows and doors

Food (72%)

  • Ate a vegetarian diet one day a week
  • Cut down on take-away meals
  • Limited daily intake of beef to 8 ounces
  • Switched to sustainable seafood

Wild Card Items

  • Started a food-based garden
  • Ate vegan or raw for a certain number of days per week
  • Bought grass-fed beef instead of conventional
  • Gave up at least one processed food

Transportation (70%)

  • Drove no faster than the posted the speed limit, avoided rapid acceleration or braking
  • Removed extra weight from car, inflated tires
  • Used public transportation instead of driving
  • Reduced your planned air travel by one trip

Wild Card Items

  • Bought carbon offsets for travel
  • Carpooled or found a ride-sharing program
  • Invested in a more fuel-efficient car

Waste Disposal And Reduction (90%)

  • Recycled all glass, aluminum, plastic, batteries and paper
  • Eliminated advertising mail
  • Changed to paperless billing
  • Eliminated the use of plastic and paper bags

Wild Card Items

  • Began composting at home
  • Used biodegradable bags for trash or walking the dog
  • Recycled or donated old athletic shoes and clothes
  • Recycled or donated old electronics

Water Use (80%)

  • Gave up bottled water
  • Turned off tap when brushing teeth, scrubbing dishes
  • Shortened showering time
  • Replaced shower head with a low-flow model

Wild Card Items

  • Used xeriscaping for yard
  • Installed a rain barrel to collect water for garden, lawn and plants
  • Installed a low-flow toilet

What You Buy (91%)

  • Tallied stats for water, electricity, natural gas and gasoline use
  • Switched to organic produce
  • Switched to eco-friendly cleaning methods
  • Switched to locally made (non-produce) products where possible

Wild Card Items

  • Cut use of disposable items
  • Repaired or extended use of clothing items
  • Stopped using wrapping paper for gifts
  • Changed Printing Habits
  • Rented or borrowed instead of buying infrequently used items
Total Points: 515

In the few weeks I started the 360-degree Energy Diet I have made measurable progress in shedding some of the more profligate aspects of my lifestyle. But more importantly, I have reset my consumption habits and hope to be a better steward of our planet going forward.

As we near the end of the 360-degree Energy Diet I find I am stumped to come up with something that really makes a difference. For this portion of the Diet we are focusing on waste and recycling. I think I have a good scorecard, but I am wondering how to do even better. Here…

Feeling the sting of the spray of Niagara Falls a number of times during the recent holiday weekend, I was conscious of how limited is our global supply of freshwater.

It’s a tough nut to crack, but here are some thoughts about cutting the energy use through transportation.

At our stage in life we can sit back in our home and admire not only a lifetime of tchotchkes collected on numerous birthdays, anniversaries, Christmases, and travels – but also many of the sentimental things we inherited from our parents and grandparents. Each item is a symbol of some precious memory of a person,…

For the third step of 360 Energy Diet we are supposed to focus on food. Meat particularly is extremely energy-intensive, requiring a tremendous about of inputs to raise, slaughter, process and distribute the billions of birds and mammals humans consume every year.

After studying consumption records and enrolling in an electricity conservation program, we’re all set to reduce our energy use this summer. Let’s hope we don’t have a heat wave!

I have agreed to take part in the energy diet because I believe there is always room for improvement. We are concerned about the impact our lifestyle has on the planet. It’s no good thinking that we cannot make much of a difference as individuals. It’s precisely because most people think like this that we make no real progress in reducing the human impact on the planet.