10 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint: A Step by Step Guide
Looking for some actionable, simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint? Good news! you have found the right article. Before we get into all that, let’s establish what a carbon footprint actually is.
What Is a Carbon Footprint?
A carbon footprint is how much carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere as a product of our actions and activities. The truth is that our current carbon footprint as a society is staggeringly high, but if we strive for carbon neutrality, it can get better.
Why Is Carbon Neutrality Important?
Being carbon neutral means that you offset the amount of carbon you put out. We will go more in-depth on carbon offsets later, but the real key is to contribute as little carbon as possible. While some carbon is unavoidable, carbon offsets come into play as we work to minimize our footprint.
How Can We Reduce Our Carbon Footprint?
There are more ways than one to work towards reducing our carbon footprint. Here are some ideas to get you started:
Embrace Meatless Mondays
Livestock farming has a substantial negative impact on our environment. Many resources must be used to grow food, provide shelter and raise these animals. Most livestock eat a fully plant based diet, so we end up feeding them plants we could be eating ourselves.
Not only do the animals also require daily water, the plants that are fed to them do too. When all this adds up, it results in a tremendous amount of unnecessary waste and use of resources. Most of these resources wouldn’t even be needed if we all just ate the plant products to begin with.
There’s more, animal agriculture is such a significant contributor to deforestation.
In fact, 26 percent of the earth’s land (that is not ice) is used for livestock. On top of that, 33 percent of the total land used to produce crops is designated for feeding animals that will later become food. This is all to say that feeding our hunger for meat, dairy, and other animal products results in a tremendous sum of land and resource loss.
On the bright side, there is an easy solution to rectify this issue. If we simply cut down on the amount of meat we all eat, our land could instead be used for growing crops. The growth of crops takes up significantly less land than grazing animals.
When this land is no longer used for animal agriculture and thus can revert to its natural state, the ecosystem will also bounce back on the newfound open land. Native plants and animals who had their habitats taken away for the sake of livestock will be able to recover, bringing our planet’s natural lifecycle to a much healthier place. All this is possible if we just eat less meat.
If you are not ready to give up meat entirely, that is okay! You have already made great strides just in becoming more aware and doing the research to educate yourself. Even by lowering your weekly meat consumption from where it used to be is a step in the right direction.
Meatless Mondays are a tradition where you avoid meat and animal products for the duration of the day. Though the alliterative name is catchy, the day you do not eat meat doesn’t have to be Monday. If you are feeling particularly adventurous , you could even embrace Tofu Tuesday or Seitan Saturday.
An extensive percentage of the population drives cars to get from point A to point B.
This means that we are constantly using fuel that then becomes greenhouse gas emissions. Vehicles on the freeway emit roughly 1.6 billion tons of greenhouse gases per year, most of which is carbon dioxide.
This can all be diminished, or even avoided by being more aware of how you commute. Many cities have great public transportation systems that are just waiting to be utilized. If you are unfamiliar with the offerings around you, just look up your city as well as bus routes, subways, trains, and more. Something is almost sure to pop up that will drop you conveniently near where you need to be.
In some situations, using public transportation or only using public transportation is not a feasible option. If this is the case for you, there are still ways you can help the planet with your commute. Instead, look into making the switch to a new car that is either a hybrid (meaning it uses a combination of electricity and gas) or, better yet, is fully electric.
It will save you a fortune on gas expenses since your car now runs on a renewable energy source and has greater fuel efficiency. Take this to the next level by forming a carpool. A bike is also a great way to get around for shorter distances and building up those quads
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Reducing, reusing, and recycling is so much more than just a catchy phrase. When implemented correctly, this mantra can help prevent waste of all kinds, give new life to items you once thought were done.
By reducing, you are much more aware of the resources you use, and if they are necessary—the cycle of wasting stops here, which easily leads into the other two stages.
When you obtain fewer unnecessary resources and products, reusing comes naturally. Look around the things you have, such as old clothes, a water bottle, and more. Could these things continue to be reused? If they are still perfectly good, keep using them. If they still function but are not something that you can use any longer, try donating them.
Lastly, we have recycling. Recycling is an integral part of these three steps because it recognizes that a product will not last forever. Once it can no longer be reused, it is time to return it to the earth to help make other resources in the future.
For a product to be recycled, it has to be made of certain sustainable materials. Make sure that what you are purchasing is biodegradable or, better yet, compostable (more on that later).
Wash Clothes In Cold Water
You can achieve this just by washing your clothes with cold water in place of hot water. This simple swap reduces your carbon footprint by lowering your total energy consumption regarding water heating.
Heaters take up a lot of energy, and warm water is not always better. Some clothes do much better in cold water as opposed to hot. Also, while we are on the subject of clothes washing, be sure to only do a load of laundry when you have enough dirty clothes to fill the machine. Doing a whole load for just a few items is a huge waste of water and detergent. Also, more work for you!
So we have established that full loads are the way to go when it comes to washing, but what about drying? Drying is a process that will naturally happen over time anyway, so instead of using all the energy to dry your loads of laundry in a machine, consider instead hanging them out to dry. You will have dry,clean and comfortable clothes in no time, with only a small portion of the energy used than if you had stuck them in the dryer.
Take Shorter Showers
A standard showerhead uses 2.5 gallons of water per minute, meaning that a ten-minute showerrequires a whopping 25 gallons. By being aware and taking shorter showers, we can remain just as squeaky clean while reducing our water usage.
This principle also applies to the other ways in which we use water. Always make sure that all of your faucets are leaklessand completely turned off. Even the occasional drips can add up.
Stay Away from Single-Use Plastics
Other than our rampant (and often unnecessary) water use, single-use plastics are possibly the biggest threat to our natural water sources. This goes back to reducing, reusing, recycling. We must use recyclable materials and use them sparingly.
By reusing, we ensure that a product is not immediately seen as trash. We should also strive to use products that are not made of plastic. For instance, reusable cloth bags and reusable water bottles are convenient and helpful ways to avoid single-use plastic.
Purchase Carbon Offsets When Flying
Air travel is objectively horrible for the environment. Planes produce a large amount carbon emissions that are unmatched by any other method of transportation. The answer to this is to avoid flying whenever possible and look into other transportation methods.
That being said, there are occasions that flying is the only option. When that happens, it is time to consider purchasing carbon offsets.
A carbon offset combats the carbon activity by positively contributing to the environment, such as planting a tree. There are helpful calculator tools available online that will determine an activity’s carbon footprint and tell you how many carbon offsets to purchase to counteract them without contributing to global warming.
Even better than recycling is composting. With a compost bin, you can add your food scraps and certain other biodegradable materials that will eventually break down and make an excellent fertilizer.
If you do not have room for a compost bin, check out community compost piles in your area. You can also contact your local waste department to look into getting a yard waste bin to compost all your grass trimmings and leaves.
Invest In a Smart Thermostat
Cranking up the heat on a Regular thermostats results in heightened energy bills as well as much larger amounts of wasted energy. Smart thermostats are Wi-Fi enabled and will determine how to best keep your home at the desired temperature in an energy-efficient way.
Shop Zero Waste
Money talks, so shopping from zero waste vendors is one of the best ways to tell corporations that the time of mindlessly wasting is over. Make sure you do your research to make sure a company and product align with your values.
Reducing your carbon footprint might feel like a tall order, but in reality, there are so many small and large changes we can make to get that number down.