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7 Ways to Reduce Light Pollution

Did you know that on some nights it’s impossible to see more than 500 stars with the naked eye? That’s because light pollution from nearby sources of artificial light, such as streetlights and building lights, interferes with our ability to see stars and constellations. Luckily, there are several simple ways you can reduce light pollution at home and in your neighborhood – without even changing your lighting habits – that will have a huge impact on reducing light pollution nationally and internationally.

Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs
The easiest and cheapest way to reduce light pollution is to use energy-efficient light bulbs. They use less electricity, which means they produce less wasted light. This also lowers your carbon footprint because you’re reducing how much coal and natural gas you need for power. And as a bonus, you’ll save on your monthly electric bill.

Shield Outdoor Lighting
Shielded lighting is directing light down on the ground where it’s needed and not up in the sky where it’s not. Bad (unshielded) lighting wastes energy, money and creates unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions.

Unplug Electronics When Not In Use
Unplugging electronics and appliances is an easy, zero-cost way to reduce energy consumption and light pollution. Saving electricity costs money and reducing light pollution has a positive impact on our view of stars at night. It’s a win-win!

Plant Trees Around Light Sources
If you live in an urban area, it can be difficult to see anything but streetlights at night. Trees planted around light sources provide shade and block out excess light. To save money, plant native trees that don’t require extra water or fertilizer to thrive. You can also encourage your local government or park district to create dark sky parks—places where residents are encouraged to shield outdoor lights in order to better view stars and planets in their natural beauty.

Inform Others About Light Pollution
When you think about pollution, it’s natural to focus on major health hazards like air and water pollution. But did you know that light pollution also affects your health? Streetlights, bright store signs and other artificial light sources aren’t just an eyesore—they contribute significantly to unhealthy amounts of light in our skies. Fortunately, everyone can do their part to reduce light pollution with one simple action: spreading awareness.

Become a citizen scientist
Astronomy enthusiasts and stargazers can take part in a number of citizen science projects, which allow you to directly contribute data that can be used for future research. This way, not only will you get a chance to explore your local night sky, but you’ll also contribute valuable information that will help improve how we all see it.

Support the International Dark-Sky Association
This non-profit organization was founded in 1988 by amateur astronomer and astrophotographer, Dr. John Bortle. Their goal is to preserve and protect dark skies for future generations by influencing legislation, educating children and adults about light pollution, and encouraging environmentally conscious lighting practices. Join them today!