What is your carbon footprint? In simplest terms, it’s the total amount of greenhouse gases you generate just by living your life. For the average US citizen, that works out to about 16 metric tonnes annually. Since scientists say we need to get it down to around 1.87 metric tonnes annually by 2050, let’s take a look at some ways you can reduce your carbon footprint.
Get More Energy Efficient at Home
Getting more energy efficient at home is a great way to cut down on your carbon footprint since energy production is another huge contributor to greenhouse gases. Plus, energy efficiency at home doesn’t mean huge lifestyle changes.
Switch over to LED bulbs, which use less energy than incandescent or fluorescent bulbs and typically last longer. Turn off lights when you’re done in a room. Keep your thermostat set a few degrees higher in summer, and a few degrees lower in winter. Pile up enough small changes and you can make a real difference
Less Red Meat
Red meat is one of the biggest CO2 producers in the world. If cows were vehicles, they’re the 1984 Ford Bronco, which got about 10 miles to the gallon. In fact, red meat production produces more greenhouse gases than exhaust fumes from vehicles, all vehicles, worldwide. As if that weren’t bad enough, they’re also a major cause of deforestation in the Amazon.
While giving up meat isn’t on most people’s agenda, eating less red meat can directly reduce your carbon footprint.
Re-Usable Food Containers
One-time food containers like plastic water bottles at the gas station and plastic storage bags for your fridge are terribly convenient. They’re also hideously wasteful. Making them creates greenhouse gases. Then, they go straight into a landfill after one use. Re-usable food containers are a much better option.
Take stainless steel food containers for lunch as an example. You can reuse them for years, throw them in a dishwasher, and you even get some natural antibacterial action. Sure, you pay more initially, but imagine how much you’ll save in the long run.
Drive More Responsibly
It’s easy to end up running to stores three times in an evening, which is a huge waste of gas and pumps more greenhouse gases into the air. Whenever possible, combine errands so you hit all the stores in one trip. Use technology like driving apps to help you find more efficient routes or steer clear of traffic jams.
Take a pass on your car’s air conditioning unless it’s very hot. AC drives up fuel usage and your carbon footprint. Crack a window instead.
It’s not practical for much of the population to give up driving entirely. For anyone living in a rural area, the nearest stores might be 10 miles away or more. For people in suburban or urban areas, though, it often is feasible to drive less.
For example, you can carpool to work if you live near your coworkers. You can take public transportation for tasks that aren’t time-sensitive. Is there a neighborhood grocery store you shop at that’s only a quarter-mile away? You can walk there a few times a week for minor purchases and pick up some bonus cardiovascular exercise.
Much of your carbon footprint comes out of basic lifestyle choices that you don’t think much about. Leaving lights on or using less efficient bulbs. Driving to that grocery store that you can hit with a rock from your front lawn. Eating red meat. These are all lifestyle choices you can change or modify. While no one change will dramatically cut your carbon footprint, a group of considered changes can make a big impact.