Energy Diet


Christina Nunez is a Washington, D.C.-based producer of energy content at National Geographic. Previously, she has been a producer, editor and writer at websites including and Christina thinks that of all the things to worry about, the state of the earth is one of the most deserving and important.


United States Participants

United States
Your Points Percentile:
Total Country Participants:

At Home (45%)

  • 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

At the Store (84%)

  • 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
  • Rented or borrowed instead of buying infrequently used items
  • My own action: Got an eco-friendly mattress

Food (81%)

  • 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
  • My own action: Bought local organic products when possible

Transportation (15%)

  • 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 (0%)

  • 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 walking the dog
  • Recycled old athletic shoes and clothes
  • Recycled or donated old electronics

Water Use (45%)

  • 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
  • Insulated water heater
Total Points: 285

Sum of the Parts

The idea of taking on the 360º Energy Diet tends to inspire a half-full or half-empty response in people: Some look at the list of suggestions and see opportunities to cut their energy usage, and maybe their bills too; others zero in on a few uncomfortable-sounding things (“I’m not giving up [insert creature comfort here]!”)…

Purchasing Power

Taking part in this diet has caused me notice many things about my lifestyle. Just as soon as I’m ready to congratulate myself for hardly ever driving a car or eating only sustainably produced meat, I am confronted with my beauty product habit or my salt and pepper grinders. I absolutely love these grinders. All…

Cleaning Up My Act

Going on a diet is always an opportunity for self-discovery — you find that certain changes aren’t as bad as you expect them to be, and encounter points of resistance that maybe you didn’t expect. This week I was put to the test on the task of “substituting old printer paper, magazines, retail shopping bags…

When All You Can Do Is Vote

All of us can be doing simple things to reduce our energy consumption, but as we’ve seen in so many examples on this diet (from Yogesh being unable to find parking at the metro to Boudour having no recycling access at her residence), there is only so much we can do by ourselves. We’re dependent…

Big Things, Small Packages

A few coworkers and I were talking the other day about this diet and ideas for the next round, which begins in May. The question of doing “big” things (say, engineering one’s car to run on biofuel) versus “little” things came up. “I don’t know,” one of us said. “There are some little things, like…

That Hamburger Is Very Thirsty

I’m not sure when it started, but the idea of wasting water has bugged me ever since I was a teenager. It annoyed me how my dad would turn the tap on and then do other things at a leisurely pace while he waited for the water to get cold. I wondered whether we really…

Rethink the Basics — Even Pasta

When we started coming up with tasks for this diet at National Geographic, it quickly became clear that there was no one-size-fits-all approach. Given the stunning diversity of households on this blog — and on the planet — not everyone would be able, logistically or financially, to do every task. But we also knew that…

Full Tank… Full Trunk

Starting work at National Geographic had an immediate impact on my carbon footprint that had nothing to do with this diet: my commute went from an hour-long drive each way to a 12-minute walk, or about 14,000 miles driven per year to about 800 miles per year. I loathed driving that much every day —…

Taking Some Things Off My Plate

For three years in my mid-thirties, I lived in San Francisco, California, which is sort of the mecca for sustainable food. Having been raised in the Washington, D.C., area on a diet that featured a heavy rotation of frozen meals (my family was partial to Stouffer’s, especially the french-bread pizzas) and take-out, the ideas and…

My Artificially Low Footprint

This week, I earned a big fat goose egg for our biggest task, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. All of us were to tally our statistics for annual use of electricity, gas and water. (This task was not made very clear in the diet — we meant gasoline, but many of us understandably…