5 Simple Yet Effective Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Even though the climate has fluctuated naturally for millennia, industrial activity since the turn of the twentieth century has accelerated the change to an extent never seen before. Fossil fuels, like coal and natural gas, are the main contributors to the rate at which climate changes. As a result, we can notice a constant rise in the Earth's surface temperature. Our oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, sea levels are rising, and glaciers are melting. What's more, the rate of climate change is increasing so fast that plants and animals can hardly keep up. After all, adaptation is something that takes place over multiple generations, not over a decade or two. Now, the damage has been done, and there's not much we can do to reverse it. However, you, as an individual, can reduce your carbon footprint and, thus, slow down our planet's demise.
How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint?
Carbon footprint refers to the total quantity of carbon dioxide emitted by a person or organization due to fossil fuel consumption. It's a cause of stress for many, especially since catastrophic scenarios will follow unless we take concrete action to lower it. In fact, the temperature of Earth's surface is projected to, in just short of a century, increase by approximately 2 degrees Celsius. Those two degrees are the maximum our planet can withstand without disastrous changes occurring to our food production process, wildlife, sea levels, etc.
It's our job to do everything in our power to stop this from happening. Even minor adjustments matter if we all make them. For instance, if you are about to relocate soon, you can make your move sustainable by donating the items you no longer need and using eco-friendly materials to pack the rest. Furthermore, if you travel to work by car, how about you switch to walking instead? All in all, there are many changes you can make, including the five below.
#1 Say Goodbye to Fast Fashion
Ten percent of the world's carbon emissions come from the textile and apparel industry, making it one of the largest industrial polluters behind the oil industry. Polyester fiber is the most widely used fiber in fast fashion, with its production consuming over 70 million barrels of oil annually. Clothing from fast fashion brands has been worn an average of 5 times and then thrown away after 35 days, resulting in almost 400% greater carbon emissions per item than clothing retained for a year and worn 50 times.
The fast fashion industry also facilitates massive-scale deforestation. More than 70 million trees are destroyed yearly to make cheap materials like rayon, modal, viscose, and lyocell. It's also one of the causes of water pollution, thanks to herbicides used on cotton fields and toxic dyes.
By saying goodbye to fast fashion, you stay clear of unethical practices surrounding the manufacturing process of clothes. A lot of manufacturers these days are turning to greener alternatives. You are encouraged to purchase their apparel or, better yet, shop in second-hand stores. That way, you'll reduce your carbon footprint without sacrificing your style.
#2 Consume Less Meat and Dairy
At least 32 billion tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere annually due to livestock and their byproducts. That is more than the total exhaust fumes from all forms of transportation combined. Unfortunately, unless more sustainable food production systems are widely implemented, these emissions are anticipated to climb by 80% by 2050. Furthermore, reports suggest that approximately 90% of Amazonian deforestation is caused by the meat and dairy industries, leading to the extinction of countless rare plants and animal species. But it doesn't have to be this way. The availability of high-quality vegan, vegetarian, and organic options in local supermarkets and restaurants is making it much simpler to cut back on meat and dairy.
Statistically speaking, a vegan saves 1,100 gallons of water, 20 kilograms of grain, 30 square feet of forest, 9 kilograms of carbon dioxide, and one animal's life every day. However, if going vegan isn't feasible for now, that doesn't mean you cannot help the planet. Shopping locally and seasonally, eating less, adopting a pescatarian or flexitarian diet, as well as cutting down on food waste are all fantastic ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
#3 Adopt a Plastic-Free Lifestyle
It's time for everyone to go plastic-free or embrace a zero-waste lifestyle if they want to impact the planet positively. Estimates suggest that by 2050, plastic will be responsible for 17% of all global carbon emissions unless we take action now! Luckily, individuals can make a huge dent in these numbers by choosing not to use disposable plastic products. Here are a couple of suggestions on what to do instead:
- Don't go to the store without your reusable bag;
- Avoid using disposable plastic by bringing your containers, mugs, and cutlery;
- Get a reusable glass water bottle;
- Opt for straws made out of bamboo;
- Invest in laundry detergents, soaps, and shave creams that don't come in solid packaging;
- Stay clear of items that are heavily packaged;
- Make your own cosmetics and store them in reusable containers;
- Do your produce shopping at local markets that sell fresh products without plastic packaging.
#4 Reevaluate How You Use Transportation
Transportation is responsible for 13% of all greenhouse gas emissions, second only to the meat industry. But as much as we'd like to, giving up transportation entirely isn't as simple as, say, giving up meat or plastic straws. Most of us will continue to rely on transportation powered by fossil fuels, resulting in unavoidable CO2 emissions, for at least the next decade. Therefore, the next step in reducing our carbon footprint is to cut back and reconsider our travel habits. Here are a couple of things to think through/consider doing:
- If something is only a few minutes by car away, is it possible to walk or cycle to it instead?
- Turn off the car's engine when in a traffic jam, at traffic lights, or whenever you need to wait for someone or something.
- Is taking a bus or a train a possibility? You won't believe how convenient and cheap modern public transportation is.
- Furthermore, some cities offer rides in electric buses, making it a win-win combination.
- If you really need to use a car, can you share the ride with someone?
#5 Unplug Electronic Devices When Not in Use
Turning off the lights is the first rule of energy conservation that everyone follows. However, did you realize you could be wasting energy through something called the idle load? Or does the word ''ghost energy'' ring any bells? No? Well, allow us to explain. Idle load, aka ghost energy, refers to the power consumed in our homes even when we aren't present. In fact, approximately 30% of typical household electricity consumption accounts for such energy!
Naturally, the less electricity the household uses, the lower the carbon footprint. And what better way to reduce energy consumption and, thus, greenhouse gas emissions than by putting a stop to idle load? That said, here's what you can do:
Immediately after your phone is charged, unplug it from the socket;
Unplug devices like TVs, computers, and gaming consoles when not in use;
Invest in smart outlets that prevent devices from using electricity when they aren't operational;
Replace old, energy-draining appliances with their newer, power-saving counterparts.
Knowing these adjustments will help you impact the planet less and conserve more of its limited resources is encouraging. But, there is more than simply a crown of glory to be attained. Each of these modifications to your routine can help you save money, which can quickly add up to a sizable sum. Others, like changing how you eat and travel, may even positively affect your health.
We hope you have realized that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks when working to reduce your carbon footprint. Yes, you will have to make a slight mental adjustment and may experience minor inconveniences. However, you will get used to them relatively fast, at which point the quality of your life will significantly increase, just like planet Earth's.