7 Unconventional Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact

7 Unconventional Ways to Reduce Your Environmental Impact

The climate crisis is an existential threat that requires urgent action from all of us. While most people know about straightforward eco-friendly practices like driving less or going vegetarian, there are also many unconventional, under-the-radar ways to be greener in your daily life.

Here are 7 unexpected tricks for reducing your environmental footprint:

1. Buy Carbon Offsets When You Travel

Flying and long-distance driving are some of the most carbon-intensive actions an individual can take. If you need to travel, consider purchasing carbon offsets to counteract the impact.

Carbon offsets fund projects like reforestation that actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Popular offset providers include Cool Effect and Terrapass. While not a perfect solution, offsets let you lessen your carbon footprint from essential travel.

To use offsets most effectively:

  • Calculate your trip’s emissions via an offset calculator.
  • Purchase accredited offsets to cover at least 100% of emissions.
  • Opt for offsets backing new emission reduction projects when possible.

2. Switch to a Green Web Host

The internet contributes significantly to climate change, producing as much CO2 as the airline industry. Most of this comes from powering data centers and servers.

You can help by choosing a green web hosting service for your website or blog. Eco-conscious hosts like GreenGeeks use renewable energy to power their operations. This prevents tons of carbon emissions compared to conventional web hosts.

Some other green options:

  • AISO.net – Carbon neutral hosting powered by wind and solar
  • DreamHost – Options for powering your website via renewable energy credits
  • WPEngine – Leading web host with focus on sustainability

3. Change Your Thermostat Strategically

Heating and cooling accounts for a massive chunk of home energy usage. You can optimize your thermostat to use less energy while staying comfortable.

Some ideas:

  • Set the temperature 2-3°F higher in summer and lower in winter when possible.
  • Use a programmable thermostat to automatically adjust temps when you are out.
  • Make sure your thermostat is properly located away from direct sunlight or drafts.
  • Clean your air vents and filters regularly so your system runs efficiently.
  • Try using a smart thermostat like Nest to automate temperature changes.

With strategic thermostat adjustments, you can reduce associated emissions and also save on utility bills.

4. Seal Air Leaks in Your Home

Air leaks let conditioned air escape from your home, wasting energy. Finding and sealing these gaps can provide big efficiency gains.

Some sneaky spots where leaks happen:

  • Wall outlets and switches – Seal with foam gaskets
  • Windows – Weatherstrip any gaps around frames
  • Ducts – Use mastic sealant on joints and connections
  • Fixtures and pipes – Caulk or foam openings around them
  • Doors – Install weatherstripping around frames

You can also schedule an energy audit to locate leaks. Sealing airflow gaps could reduce your heating and cooling bills by up to 30%.

5. Invest in Eco-Friendly Mutual Funds

Stocks and funds focused on sustainability help shift capital towards green industries. This expands the economy’s capacity for renewable energy, electric vehicles, and climate solutions.

Options for eco-friendly investing include:

  • ESG (environmental, social, governance) funds – Support companies meeting sustainability criteria.
  • Green energy funds – Invest in solar, wind, geothermal, etc.
  • Fossil fuel-free funds – Exclude oil, gas, and coal stocks.
  • Socially responsible indexes – Track eco benchmarks like the MSCI KLD 400.

Talk to a financial advisor about aligning your portfolio with your values. Divesting from fossil fuels and funding renewables accelerates the zero-carbon transition.

6. Plant Native Species in Your Yard

Non-native plants harm biodiversity and require synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Switching to native species provides habitats for wildlife and also cuts down on chemicals.

Some tips:

  • Research native plants suited to your region’s climate and soil.
  • Gradually phase out thirsty, non-native grass lawns.
  • Consult local conservation guides for the best native plants to attract bees, birds and butterflies.
  • Let some areas revert to natural meadows.

This improves local ecosystems and eliminates emissions from mowing, fertilizing, and watering.

7. Buy Goods With Less Packaging

Product packaging makes up a massive amount of solid waste per year. Seek out product and grocery options with less disposable wrapping to reduce your environmental impact.

You can:

  • Shop at zero waste or plastic-free stores in your area.
  • Choose reusable produce bags instead of plastic.
  • Seek out foods and personal care items sold in bulk.
  • Opt for paper instead of plastic when possible.
  • Avoid overpackaged items with lots of unnecessary wrapping.

Being mindful of packaging reduces waste and encourages companies to rethink disposable materials.

The climate crisis demands big systemic changes. But individual choices also move the needle – especially when multiplied by millions of people. Implementing these unconventional sustainability hacks in your own life makes a measurable impact. Our collective efforts steer humanity towards a brighter future.