Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into our atmosphere. This is caused by people, organizations, countries, etc. The effects of carbon emissions are climate change and greenhouse gasses. However, from taking shorter flights to eating less meat and even buying secondhand clothes, we as individuals can help decrease our carbon footprint.
There are many ways to reduce our carbon footprint, including reducing airplane miles, eating less meat, increasing home insulation, getting a professional energy audit, reducing milage, being a conscious consumer, using energy-efficient appliances, investing in eco-friendly companies, and more.
The ways to decrease carbon emissions go far beyond those mentioned here. However, these can give you a head start. From buying quality products that last longer to becoming politically active and standing up to support your candidate, are numerous effective ways of reducing your carbon footprint.
Reduce Your Airplane Miles
While traveling is one of the greatest pleasures of life and a top priority on many people’s bucket lists, it greatly contributes to the increase in carbon emissions. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to stop traveling – all you have to do is manage it better.
Jet fuel greatly contributes to the world’s carbon emissions. Commercial airlines burn about 94 billion gallons of fossil fuels every year, and because it’s difficult to calculate this number, it might actually be higher.
Global travel is also on the rise, which means if people don’t stop doing something about it, the global gas emissions will only increase.
Start by looking at flights that have as few stopovers as possible. Ideally, a direct flight with no stopovers is best because take-offs and landings account for about 25% of the airplane’s emissions.
If you’re traveling short distances, consider driving. While driving in a car with a combustion engine isn’t very environmentally friendly either, it will still be better than taking a plane.
Grouping your trips is another way of minimizing your carbon emissions. This means if you have a trip planned to Europe, you might as well meet some family members nearby, so you don’t have to fly out again. Of course, taking fewer flights altogether will significantly help too.
Try To Eat Less Meat
We understand that many people are meat lovers, and it can feel almost impossible to give up meat altogether. However, reducing your intake seems like a reasonable option.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, The Guardian has estimated that only the top 20 meat and dairy companies alone have emitted more greenhouse gasses than the entire emissions produced by Germany. To put things into perspective, Germany is Europe’s largest climate polluter.
Therefore, reducing meat intake can greatly benefit the entire world. To put the effects of reducing meat consumption into perspective, if every American was to cut down on a meat-based meal per week, that would amount to taking more than 5 million cars off the road every year.
Those are indeed staggering numbers and can be multiplied even more when the entire world puts them into perspective.
We’re doing more good than just that. Reducing meat consumption will also improve the lives of animals and reduce many cruel industrial farming practices. This includes overuse of antibiotics in animals, mutilations, and more.
Beef Up Your Insulation
You might not often think of it, but energy consumption can be greatly decreased just by having the right kind of insulators at home.
These kinds of insulations include making sure all the windows of your house are closed. Areas such as the attic need to be properly insulated as well.
These small upgrades help keep out the heat during summer and the cold out during winters. This means you will burn less fuel and, in turn, help improve the environment.
This way, your energy is reduced. However, that’s not all. While you’re doing a good thing for the environment, you’re also reducing your expenses. Electricity bills from air conditioning and heaters contribute to power demand and go heavy on the wallet.
You can also keep the desired temperature all year round if your house is properly insulated. Along with that, that same insulation can also help you with reducing noise pollution.
The benefits of insulating your house don’t just end there. Insulating your house can also help to keep it clean since the filters help prevent contaminants such as dust and other forms of pollutants from entering the house.
Have a Professional Perform An Energy Audit
While many people can have a fair understanding of their house and their energy consumption, many would be surprised to find that there are numerous areas they’re using energy in that they’re completely unaware of.
This is where a professional energy audit comes in. Through a professional audit, they can help determine how energy efficient your house is and where you can improve. Improving and lowering your overall energy consumption will greatly benefit the environment.
A professional energy auditor will help locate problems, such as air leaks, which will help you optimize your heating or cooling. They will help check the insulation at your house, where they assess the standards of insulation and if something needs to be changed.
A professional audit will also help check your heating and cooling equipment. This means your house heaters and air conditioners will go through an assessment to make sure nothing is clogged up and everything is as efficient as it can be.
Lighting is yet another area where the professional audit will help, making sure you’re using energy-saving light bulbs and if you’re using any sensors or timers to minimize your use overall.
Lastly, they will also check your appliances and guide you on how to prevent phantom power loss and which appliances might not be as efficient as they need to be.
Pay Attention To Your Mileage
While driving an electric vehicle is the ultimate way to help the environment, it’s understandable that not everyone has the financial means to get up and simply buy one. However, just because you drive a gasoline-powered car doesn’t mean you can help out. Similar to cutting down on air travel, cutting down on mileage is a great way to start.
Transportation is the largest source of carbon dioxide emissions in California; cars and trucks create about 38% of the total climate change emissions, and those are incredibly high numbers which can be controlled.
You can minimize mileage by maximizing efficiency which is both good for the environment as well as your wallet. Keeping your car tires at the right pressure might sound unrelated; however it can help the engine from producing a lot of greenhouse gasses.
If you can, reduce the amount of luggage in your truck, this means the engine has to move a lighter body and hence less gasses produced.
Fuel economy is affected when your filters are clogged up therefore, it’s important to keep an eye and change your cars filters at the right time. Finally, plan your routes ahead of time and try to look for the shortest routes. This won’t only save on greenhouse gas emissions but also on your trips to the gas station.
Be Mindful Of Your Upgrades
In the modern-day and hyperinflating levels of consumerism, upgrading appliances, gadgets, and even your wardrobe is fairly common. However, there are some things you can do to improve your effectiveness on carbon emissions by reducing your upgrades altogether.
Stop buying fast fashion is a way to start. Currently, an average American citizen discards about 80 pounds of clothing a year. These require water, burning of fossil fuels, and more energy to produce.
There might be new models of your favorite phone coming out every year; however, refrain from upgrading annually and you will help lower the demand for cell phones and other gadget production, which will then bring down the use of fossil fuels and the overall carbon footprint.
Anything that is being manufactured is most likely using fossil fuels and having an impact on the environment. Therefore, try to keep your upgrades to the point when they’re absolutely necessary.
Switch To LED Bulbs
Technologies like LED lighting have made it easier for us to fight the global warming surge and keep temperatures under control. Switching to LED lights is a major way of helping reduce overall carbon emissions. Along with that, they also have a long life span.
When compared to fluorescent and incandescent lights, LEDs come out to be an impressive 80% more efficient. Going into a little more detail, LEDs are so energy efficient that they manage to convert about 95% of the energy into light, which means only 5% is wasted.
They also draw less power. While a traditional fluorescent light can draw about 84 watts, LEDs can take that down to 36 watts or even lower. This means there’s less demand for electricity and production, directly helping reduce the burning of fossil fuels.
Switching to LEDs can save you money, save the environment but also your health. Traditional fluorescent light strips tend to contain toxic chemicals, such as mercury. Which is also harmful to the land, as they end up in landfills. LEDs on the other hand, do not contain any harmful chemicals so they do not harm the environment, nor pose a risk to your health.
Buy Energy Efficient Home Appliances
Home appliances manage to pull in a great amount of power. With that said, we also understand that they are essential to running a house, so it’s impossible to stop using or buying them.
However, modern technology has enabled much more energy-efficient appliances on the market, and making a switch to those is yet another way of reducing your carbon footprint.
A great place to start would be to look for energy star products. They are available for office equipment, home and kitchen appliances, and much more. These are certified to be energy efficient.
If you’re not sure which exact products or appliances to start from, white products such as your fridge, washing machine, and dishwashers are good places to start. Usually, these products last for decades, which means the chances of them using older, less efficient technologies are high.
Modern refrigerators tend to use anywhere between 40 to 60% less energy than those produced before the year 2000. This shows the incredible progress made in energy consumption in just a short time.
Going with ceiling fans over air conditioning units is another way of going energy efficient with your home.
Be a Conscious Consumer
With all the environmentally friendly options available to us, it’s not that difficult for us to become a more conscious consumers altogether.
Start by only buying what you need. By consuming less, you’re making a great impact on the earth by not only reducing demand for manufacturing but you’re helping decrease landfills and garbage piles.
Try to avoid purchasing anything with excessive packaging. When you can, go for products with environmentally friendly packaging, which means made from recyclable materials.
Go for products with a longer lifespan. Many times, a smaller price tag might convince us to buy a lower-quality product however, it will deteriorate quicker, leading to a short lifespan.
This means you’re filling up landfills faster and increasing the carbon footprint by purchasing more often. Try to go for products with longer life spans.
Try to upcycle. Whenever you find yourself looking for something new, first think if you can upcycle or upgrade an existing one. By this not only are you saving money, but also reducing the carbon footprint of manufacturing and production.
Finally, as a conscious consumer, think about the impact of your purchase. By purchasing sustainable products, you’re reflecting your values about care for the planet, and the opposite when you purchase something not sustainable. Stop to consider the bigger picture that your simple purchase might make for the planet.
Consider The CO2 Impact Of What You Buy
As a citizen of the world and a consumer, your purchases make a dramatic difference to the environment, for better or worse. Here are some things you can do to improve your CO2 impact simply from what you buy.
Shopping for secondhand clothes will make a considerable impact on reducing your CO2 emissions. According to a report, the fashion industry produces a staggering 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse emissions a year.
The carbon footprint of these productions is incredibly large. Along with that, a lot of water is also used and wasted in the production of clothes.
Buying from secondhand stores reduces demand from fashion retailers, hence lowering the carbon footprint. Along with that, it saves on landfills and even goes easy on your wallet.
If you can, use a bike! Biking is an easy and fun way of reducing your carbon footprint. A passenger car produces about 404 grams of CO2 per mile, when compared to a bike, that’s 0. While a bike can’t fully replace a car, especially for long journeys, you can certainly substitute it for short ones.
Invest In Your Own Renewable Energy
Investing in your own renewable energy is a great way to make a difference in your overall carbon footprint reduction. By far, the most popular way of having your own renewable energy is to use solar panels.
Using solar panels will greatly help reduce or even eliminate your energy bills. This point is especially useful if you’re living in a city with a lot of sunlight.
You’re also reducing air pollution. The burning of fossil fuels produces great amounts of air pollution. This dirty air can negatively affect our health. Solar panels completely eliminate this problem.
Solar energy, along with numerous other forms of renewable energy like windmills, or hydropower are great ways of reducing our independence from the grid and the burning of fossil fuels, bringing down our overall carbon footprint and helping the environment.
Invest In Eco-Friendly Companies
If you’re someone who’s into investing money into companies, now might be the time to start looking at what those companies do, and what they stand for.
Investing in companies can be a great idea to diversify your financial portfolio and there’s nothing wrong with that, however choosing the right companies to invest in makes a lot of difference.
Companies that are involved in making sustainable products or are using renewable resources are some good ones to look into. By putting your money into them not only are you standing up for what you believe in but also encouraging those companies to continue what they are doing.
Similarly, investing in a company that does not practice any eco-friendly behavior does not only reflect your values, but you’re also encouraging them to continue with unsustainable practices.
Support Carbon Friendly Companies
There are numerous companies out there well aware of their carbon footprint, and they are working towards either becoming carbon neutral or carbon negative.
Carbon neutral is when you take away as much carbon from the environment, as the amount you’re producing. Whereas carbon negative is when you take more from the environment than what you’re producing.
These are both incredible initiatives that allow companies to continue manufacturing but also help the environment at the same time. You can support these companies by purchasing from them, investing in them, or supporting them in any other way to encourage their work.
These companies are also very future-oriented, and they are not afraid to make the first move. Becoming a customer of these companies or supporting them in any other way is a start to a long journey, but one which is going in the right direction.
You become a part of their work in reducing the global carbon footprint.
The world we live in is greatly run and influenced by politics, for better or for worse. Rather than shutting yourself out, getting involved is the better way to go, using the power and influence of politics to bring a change in the world and make it more sustainable.
Becoming politically active in terms of reducing your overall carbon footprint can mean starting voting. Find the best people that represent your values and vote for them. Taking action works, and by becoming politically active you can have the power to change many things which will benefit our earth.
The government can help restore natural parts of the ecosystem and pass laws to protect the rivers, oceans, forests, and wetlands which are currently under threat. They can also help the small producers in the agriculture industry as well as promote green and sustainable energy on a national level, influencing millions.
Politics has the power to bring this change if used in the right way. This is why becoming politically active is a great way to save the planet and help it become more sustainable.
Buy Renewable Energy
You will have to choose an energy company where to get your energy from. However, this doesn’t mean you go with ones that burn fossil fuels and increase the carbon footprint. Try to go with companies that are producing energy from renewable resources.
These can either be solar-powered, wind-powered from wind turbines, hydro-powered. If you can find companies that are completely renewable, you can still go with ones producing natural energy from natural gas. That is still a better option as compared to burning fossil fuels.
Conventual petroleum combustion and companies that burn fossil fuels will see a decrease in demand once you switch to better energy alternatives. This will then help you to decrease your carbon footprint.