There’s still a long way to go until there’s enough collective will worldwide to heal the planet’s environment in a real way. But, there are still many ways that you can try to reduce your personal greenhouse gas emissions, or in other words, reducing your carbon footprint. This not only helps the planet but lets you save energy in the long run.
The following are just some simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint and the more cost-effective ones out there since they require little financial investment and only a modicum of effort, but if you feel like you can contribute more, then go above and beyond!
First of all, calculate your carbon footprint
Like we mentioned above, the carbon footprint is the number of greenhouse gases that you produce just by keeping your lifestyle and daily habits. According to the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, everyone on Earth should average an annual carbon footprint of 1.87 tons by 2050, but the average U.S. per capita footprint is around 18.3 tons. That’s a long way to go!
Using Carbon Footprint’s and the EPA’s calculators, you can tell how much carbon and money you’ll be saving by reducing your footprint.
Eat local organic veggies, less meat
Choosing mostly fruit, veggies and grains are not only better for your overall health and your wallet, but it’s a good step towards reducing carbon around the world. Meat and dairy production represents 14.5 percent of the manmade global emissions, considering the tons of methane that beef and sheep belch out yearly. Every day you avoid meat and dairy represents an 8-pound reduction in your carbon footprint (2,920 a year!).
Further, consume more foods that are in season, since transporting food from far away utilizes far more resources than it’s sustainable to do. You should also buy in bulk when possible, and reduce wasted food by planning your meals.
Reconsider your transportation choices
Choosing to use the bike, bus, subway or just walking wherever you need to go means that you’re leaving the car at home and reducing global CO2 emissions, and that is a great way to help the environment. There are now over 65 million cyclists in the U.S., and increasing that number will only mean that infrastructure will evolve to make things easier for them and public transport, which is known as green infrastructure.
If you definitely can’t avoid driving a car, there are still some ways to help, like driving calmly instead of aggressively (reducing fuel consumption by 40% in most cases), avoiding traffic jams whenever possible, and you can even consider buying an electric or hybrid car.
Reduce your home energy consumption
No more asking yourself how to reduce your carbon footprint at home, because these tips are so easy to pick up that you can start this very day. For example, changing your incandescent light bulbs to LEDs; they cost a little more, but reduce energy consumption by a quarter and last 25 times longer.
Turning your water heater down to 120° F will save an average of 550 pounds of CO2 per year, and installing a low-flow showerhead will save a further 350 pounds while lowering your energy and water bills as well.
During the summer, try raising your thermostat a little, and lower it during winter. Also, use much less air conditioning in the summer, or opt for using fans or spending more time outdoors. If available, you can also change your energy provider to a green energy one.
Preferring climate appropriate plants for your garden means that you will use less water to keep them alive, and you can switch to drip irrigation for the whole patch, so each plant gets only what they need.
If you live in a city, you can always get involved in your local administration and push for the adoption of environmentally-friendly measures and advocate for the creation of more and larger green spaces that absorb carbon, mitigate the heat and help fight climate change.
As you can see, there are so many ways to help reduce your carbon footprint and slow down global warming that all you have to do is choose which ones to focus on first before adopting more nature-friendly habits. Reducing waste is also a good way to do this, so keeping the house clean and tidy it’s not only in your family’s best interest but of the planet at large.