We all know we should be helping the environment by reducing our carbon footprints. We Brits that have gardens are usually wealthy than most so we can do more. As the world’s population rises, we are releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at a very fast pace. Climate change has been a topic for many years, but every National Climate Assessment Report in the United States shows more alarming data about how concerning it really is. Even though governments have a great deal of responsibility and policies can be made, individuals may also contribute to reducing personal greenhouse gas emissions. If we all make small changes to our day-to-day, the results can literally change the world and preserve the place we live in.
Here’s a list of 10 simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint and still live a happy and comfortable life:
Table of Contents
1. Walk instead of driving to nearby places
Every car in the street produces around 5 tons of CO2 every single year, but you’re not to blame if you have one as long as you use it responsibly. For example, if you can walk instead of driving you would be achieving your daily recommended exercise to be healthier and contributing to reducing your carbon footprint. Even using public transportation instead of your car to complete a 20-miles is known to reduce carbon footprint by 4,800 pounds every year.
2. Use hot water responsibly
Heating water consumes considerable energy, and not using hot water responsibly may lead to undetectable and concerning rises in carbon footprint. For example, doing loads of laundry in cold water instead of hot water can reduce your carbon footprint by 218 pounds of CO2 every year, and you will be saving $40 in the process. And even though many of us like to shower with hot water, turning the heater to 120°F saves 550 pounds of CO2 yearly. Moreover, if you install a low-flow showerhead and take shorter showers, you can further reduce carbon footprint by 350 pounds a year.
3. Reduce or cut back your meat intake
What you decide to eat has an environmental impact because livestock is an important source of CO2 emissions every year. Thus, eating meat indirectly contributes to greenhouse-gas emissions, and vegans cut in half their total carbon footprints according to a study in the UK. Having just one meat-free day in the US would reduce carbon emissions by 1.69 million tons, but if you don’t feel attracted to a vegan diet you can also change to chicken instead of beef. That would reduce your CO2 emissions by 270 kilograms (30 gallons) every year.
4. Turn off the light and unplug your charger
Lightning is a necessary commodity, but not every time. In many cases, we tend to leave the lights on in certain parts of the house. Nobody is around, nobody actually needs the light on, it won’t be dangerous for a senior to trip if you turn off the light, and that light bulb keeps consuming energy all night long without anyone noticing. Similarly, chargers are not always in use, but if they are always plugged in, they will continue draining energy, even if they are not actually connected to any device. These are common ways to waste energy and increase your greenhouse gas emissions without even noticing.
5. Change to fluorescent light
Turning on the lights consumes energy, but we can’t help it and won’t change that. However, it is possible to change incandescent lighting to fluorescent light bulbs. They reduce energy consumption by 60%, which contributes to saving money at the end of the month and carbon dioxide emissions by 300 pounds a year. Fluorescent bulbs last longer and will be a more efficient source of lighting for your house.
6. Beware of fast-fashion articles
Fast-fashion is a temporary must-have trend that is very cheap to acquire and is always evolving and changing. This is a strategy for clothing retailers to keep buyers engaged and the society consuming clothing articles continuously because it is low-price. Many of these fast-fashion articles end up in the trash and contributes a great deal to textile waste. The majority of these items contribute to contamination in another way: They are made with cotton that is genetically modified and sprayed with pesticides that increase greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to water contamination.
7. Plant a tree!
It might seem simple and sound like a politic campaign, but planting some greens in your apartment or house will not only contribute to the appearance of your place but will also reduce carbon footprint. Green plants absorb carbon dioxide and reduce the effect of greenhouse gasses in our environment.
8. Give your car regular maintenance
You would be amazed to learn that maintaining your car actually contributes to saving the planet. Fully-functioning cars without any mechanical problem will reduce your carbon footprint and make you save more money. For example, by just keeping your tires inflated you’re saving up to 700 pounds of CO2 emissions every year because your car will reduce energy requirements to keep on moving.
9. Don’t fly when you can drive
Flying is one of the major sources of carbon footprint nowadays, and sometimes we take short flights that we can easily avoid by driving. Even though driving involves some CO2 emissions, they are nothing compared to those consumed by flying the same distance. Limiting your air travel when you can actually drive can save up to 3,527 pounds of carbon dioxide every year. You could further reduce greenhouse gas emissions by flying in economy class instead of business class, as the latter is known to create three times more emissions than the former.
10. Line-dry your clothes
This traditional method of drying your clothes may seem old-fashioned and involves a long waiting time, but it is the best choice if you care for the environment. It is estimated that one single dryer load consumes 5 times more resources than washing the same clothes. So, you can reduce by 1/3 your carbon footprint if you line-dry your clothes. This apparently small step is equivalent to turning off 225 light bulbs for one hour. So, if you’re trying everything above and not taking this advice, it is likely you’re still contributing a great deal to greenhouse gas emissions.
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Wynes, S., & Nicholas, K. A. (2017). The climate mitigation gap: education and government recommendations miss the most effective individual actions. Environmental Research Letters, 12(7), 074024.
Stern, P. C., & Wolske, K. S. (2017). Limiting climate change: what’s most worth doing?. Environmental Research Letters, 12(9), 091001.
Schanes, K., Giljum, S., & Hertwich, E. (2016). Low carbon lifestyles: A framework to structure consumption strategies and options to reduce carbon footprints. Journal of Cleaner Production, 139, 1033-1043.