7 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint That Nobody Does
1. Drive less
Driving my car less is one of the easiest ways I can reduce my carbon footprint. According to the EPA, transportation accounts for around 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and over half of that comes from passenger cars and trucks. Simply carpooling, taking public transportation, biking, or walking instead of driving whenever possible makes a big difference. I aim to drive at least 20% less per month than I used to. It saves money on gas and maintenance too!
2. Eat less meat
Reducing my consumption of beef, lamb, and pork is an impactful way to shrink my carbon footprint. Ruminant livestock like cows and sheep generate high amounts of methane during digestion, a potent greenhouse gas. Studies show that cutting out meat and dairy products one day a week can reduce an individual’s carbon footprint from food by up to 8%. I now enjoy meatless Mondays and aim for at least 2-3 vegetarian days per week. Exploring new plant-based recipes can be fun too!
3. Cut food waste
Wasting less food is an easy and underutilized way to reduce emissions. Food waste is a major source of methane when it rots in landfills. The average American wastes over 200 pounds of food per year! I’m trying to be more conscious about proper portion sizes, creatively using leftovers, and composting whatever scraps I do have. Meal planning has helped me buy only what I’ll actually use.
4. Upgrade lightbulbs
Switching to LED lightbulbs may seem small, but it’s one of the most effective ways I’ve reduced my home energy use. LED bulbs use at least 75% less energy and last 25 times longer than traditional incandescent bulbs. It’s a simple swap that has lowered my electricity bill! I replaced bulbs one at a time as old ones burned out until my whole home was LED. The cost savings from fewer replacements and lower energy use has paid for itself quickly.
5. Line dry clothes
Letting clothes air dry rather than using the dryer shrinks my electricity use significantly. Dryers account for about 6% of a home’s energy use. I purchased a couple drying racks and now line dry around 75% of my laundry loads. It takes a bit more time upfront, but saves energy and money in the long run. As an added bonus, air dried clothes last longer because they aren’t exposed to as much heat damage from the dryer.
6. Seal air leaks
sealing any air leaks around my home helps prevent energy loss and heating/cooling costs from escaping. Things like water faucets, electrical outlets, windows, doors, attic hatches, and baseboards often have gaps and cracks. I used caulk and weatherstripping to seal these trouble spots. It helped make my home more energy efficient. Properly sealing and insulating a home can reduce its energy use by up to 20%!
7. Buy green power
Purchasing renewable energy from my electricity provider has been one of the most impactful steps I’ve taken. When you opt into a green power program, your utility invests in things like wind and solar farms to offset its traditional fossil fuel sources. I’m now matching 100% of my electricity use with renewable energy credits. While it costs a little more per month, I see it as a worthwhile investment in cleaner energy. Collectively, consumer demand for green power increases adoption of renewables on a broader scale.