Your carbon footprint is how much greenhouse gas you emit in a given year. Transportation, home or office energy use, and shopping habits can all contribute to your carbon footprint.
Many ways to lower your carbon footprint that are easy to adopt, already being implemented in places such as the green city London. Recycling and taking public transport are helpful, but the biggest savings come from becoming vegetarian, giving up air travel and having less children.
1. Reduce your energy usage
Reduced energy usage is the most direct way to reduce your carbon footprint. You can achieve this by only using appliances when they are needed, turning them off in the socket or using smart technology for automated and scheduled operations such as lighting.
Switching to greener energy providers can also help you reduce your carbon footprint. Many are powered by renewable energy, and they can offer discounts for customers who switch to them.
It’s important to drive less. Transportation emissions are the largest source of greenhouse gases. Plan your journeys to make the most of each one. If possible, consider using public transport or cycling. Try to buy local goods that don’t require shipping long distances. Swapping out single-use plastics for reusable ones and choosing to recycle as much waste as possible are other simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
2. Switch to a more sustainable lifestyle
A more sustainable lifestyle is a great way to reduce your carbon foot print. This is not only better for the environment but also more cost-effective for you. This could include reducing resource wasting at home like turning off the lights when you’re not in a room, or using energy efficient appliances.
Grow your own food. This will not only reduce your waste, but also the energy required to grow and transport your food. The US wastes 35% of its food, which is a major contributor to the environmental crisis.
Walking instead of driving is another green habit to adopt. You can also use a car share service to reduce your carbon emissions and save some money. Going green has many benefits, from cleaner air to a healthier diet and reduced energy bills.
3. Reduce your waste
Carbon footprints are largely a result of the production of waste, and the consumption energy. To create new products in factories, and to transport them around the country, fossils fuels like CO2 are burned.
The average family car contributes over 2.4 tons of carbon-equivalent emissions each year, while flying just one transatlantic flight adds 1.6 tons. Beef consumes more water and land than poultry and uses more synthetic fertilizers, such as ammonium-nitrate, which produces nitrous oxide.
You and the planet will both benefit from taking steps to reduce waste and your carbon footprint. You can start by using a carbon footprint estimator, like this one from WWF. You can also reduce your waste by recycling, composting, and buying items with a low carbon footprint. By switching to reusable cups, plates, and utensils instead of disposables, you can save gallons, which is an important portion of your water footprint.
4. Eat a more sustainable diet
Eating sustainably is not only good for the planet but also for your health. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains is low in fat, lowers the risk of heart disease, and contains essential nutrients. These foods also require less energy to produce than dairy and meat.
A diet high in red meat contributes to large greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE), which can be reduced by switching to a more plant-based diet, especially one that avoids beef. Aim for a plate that’s half veggies and one-quarter grains, and choose organic foods whenever possible.
It is better to grow your own fruits and veggies, as this reduces the production, packaging and transportation costs, but also reduces GHGE. You can also cut your food waste by planning meals ahead of time, buying reusable containers to take food to go, and using leftovers. Avoiding wacky vegetables and eating ugly fruit and veg will also help you to reduce your footprint. Over 50 million tonnes of misshaped produce are wasted every year.
5. Reduce water usage
Your everyday water footprint can have a significant effect on the environment. Use rain barrels to collect and reuse water. Avoid overwatering when gardening – water your plants in the early morning or at sunset, as much water will evaporate during the day.
Carbon emissions cause climate changes, which lead to extreme weather events, oceanic acidification, and biodiversity losses. By reducing our emissions, we can help to reverse these ecological threats. It’s easy to see that one person can make a difference, but when you combine the efforts of many individuals and businesses, it can be more dramatic.
6. Drive a more fuel-efficient car
Driving a more fuel-efficient car is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon foot print. Car emissions contribute to global climate change by outpacing forests’ ability to exchange CO2 for oxygen, and by adding to air pollution that can have adverse health effects.
You can also reduce your energy usage by keeping your car in good condition and reducing unnecessary use. Gas is wasted by racing and excessive acceleration, while long periods of idling use more energy than needed. On long drives, using cruise control and observing the speed limit will save both gas and money.
Invest in a smaller vehicle to save on fuel costs, and consider investing in a hybrid or electric model if you’re in the market for a new car. Roof racks should be removed when not in use, as they increase drag and reduce fuel efficiency. Tires that are properly inflated can improve fuel efficiency by 3%.
7. Reduce your travel expenses
Traveling can be a fun way to explore different cultures and places, but it can also have a significant impact on the environment. There are several ways to reduce your carbon footprint and travel.
Try flying economy class first. First and business class seats are larger, so they produce more emissions. Pack light. The more you weigh, the more fuel the plane will have to burn.
Finally, consider travelling to destinations with robust public transport networks. It can be as much fun to ride the subway in Tokyo, or scoot around Paris on a bike, and it will leave less of a carbon foot print than flying.
If you must fly, try to book non-stop flights. Fuel is used more on routes with multiple stops than on direct flights. Bypassing flights when possible will reduce your carbon foot print.
8. Recycle more
The production of single-use products, such as coffee cups and plastic cutlery, generates a significant amount of greenhouse gases. Reduce their use and you can reduce your carbon foot print.
Taking steps to save energy can also significantly lower your carbon footprint. Insulating your home, using LED lights and avoiding leaks can all help you save electricity and cut emissions.
The carbon footprint of a person depends on many factors, such as family size, eating habits, and location. Driving an American SUV and flying on a transatlantic plane both increase your footprint. However, eating a vegan diet can reduce it.
As climate change continues to accelerate, it is crucial that individuals take action to reduce their carbon footprint. This will protect the environment and benefit countless species and people around the globe. In addition, businesses that fail to take steps towards sustainability could suffer from a competitive disadvantage.
9. Go green
We tend to think of governments and large energy companies when we hear about global climate change, but people can also have a significant impact on the environment. This is why it’s important to check your carbon footprint and take steps to reduce it.
Many of these measures will not cost you any money. It is worth pointing out though that when it comes to calculating a person’s carbon footprint, it can be hard to find accurate numbers. This is because calculations often ignore important factors like where people live, what they eat, or how they travel.
Also, it tends to overlook other greenhouse gases than CO2. It is possible to make a simple change that will help you go green. You could, for example, start walking to work rather than driving or carpooling. Or you could switch from emailing contracts to signing them electronically. You could use cloth napkins or towels instead of paper ones.