How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint in Everyday Life
If you try to live a green lifestyle, you know the phrase "carbon footprint" very well. We all contribute to carbon emissions each day, and reducing that footprint is one of the keys to a more sustainable lifestyle. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in our day-to-day activities. Read on for tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint and ensure that your presence on Earth is a positive one for your own and future generations.
Simple Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
- Reduce the amount you drive. This is the first thing many people think of when they think of their carbon footprint, and it's true, your car is one of the worst offenders to the environment. You can reduce your emissions considerably by walking or biking to your destinations whenever possible - and it's also good exercise. For longer trips, make use of public transportation if you can. Finally, if you have to drive, try to make your trips as efficient as possible. This means rolling all of your errands into one trip or offering to form a carpool with your fellow employees.
- Be smart about your water. Water is good for your body, but the single-serve plastic bottles that many of us purchase are not good for the environment. Up to 47 million gallons of oil are used annually just to create plastic water bottles, according to Food and Water Watch. And 75 percent of these bottles are not recycled. Instead of buying bottled water, purchase a filter for your tap water, and you'll live both a healthy and a green lifestyle.
- Reduce waste at home. Pay your bills online to reduce paper materials and reuse plastic shopping bags to line trash cans instead of throwing them away. You can also use old fruits and vegetables to fertilize your garden instead of filling your trash can with them. Use reusable containers to take food to work. When you need to purchase new household items, look for second-hand or recycled goods if appropriate.
- Eat organic or locally. Many of the foods we eat have been shipped hundreds of miles by truck. Eating locally-grown, organic foods reduces demand for long-distance shipping and decreases the amount of carbon that gets burned bringing them to your region. Plus, if you shop for locally grown foods you support the livelihoods of the farmers in your area.
- Cut back on the amount of meat you consume. Industrial livestock raising is responsible for huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, to say nothing of all the trees that get bulldozed to make room for pasture, depriving us of their carbon sucking power. Some people follow vegetarian or vegan diets to avoid using animal products altogether, but if that is not appealing you can still make an impact by reducing your meat intake or saving it for special occasions.
- Be smart about your energy use around the house. Turn off the lights when you leave a room and turn off the television when you're finished watching it. Unplug your devices when you aren’t using or charging them. Washing your clothes in cold water is an easy way to save energy, as is drying them on a line outside. Don't forget to replace your conventional light bulbs with energy efficient LED bulbs instead, and when it’s time to replace your appliances, look for ENERGY STAR rated models that come with extra efficiency settings.
- Put solar panels on your home. If you live in an appropriate location, panels on your roof can generate zero-emission energy that contributes toward a more sustainable power grid. If you have the money to invest and are located in an amenable area, you could also consider other Earth-friendly forms of energy conversion such as geothermal heat pumps or wind turbines.
- Cut down on the number of airline trips you take each year. Flying in a jet is one of the most carbon-intensive activities that most people participate in, even taking into account the fact that you’re just one of dozens of passengers on the plane. Flying can open up the world in a way that no other form of transportation can match, but think carefully about each trip and consider avoiding flying except for times when it is truly important to you.
- Insulate and seal your house. Heating and cooling are responsible for the largest percentage of energy use in most homes by far, and there’s no sense in making things worse by letting treated air escape to the outdoors. Installing proper insulation, sealing leaks and weather stripping doors and windows can make a dramatic difference in how much energy you use – and reduce what you spend on utility bills at the same time.
- Purchase carbon offsets to make up the difference for the emissions that you can’t avoid. Essentially, offsets mean donating money to a group or project that plants trees, promotes renewable energy use or otherwise helps cut back on the amount of carbon that humans send into the atmosphere.
Remember, you don’t have to cut every convenience or pleasure out of your life to enjoy a more carbon-friendly existence. Cutting back on driving doesn’t mean you have to give up your car entirely, but still can make a serious impact on the total amount of atmospheric carbon you are responsible for. With a few smart lifestyle adjustments, you can leverage simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint and give yourself the peace of mind of knowing that you are doing your part to make the world a better place.