Reducing your carbon footprint is easier than you think. With a few simple changes to your daily habits, you can make a big difference in lowering your personal greenhouse gas emissions. Here are some easy ways to get started:
Transportation makes up a large chunk of most people’s carbon footprint. Try to drive less by combining errands, carpooling, taking public transportation, biking, or walking when possible. When you do drive:
- Maintain your vehicle – Keep tires properly inflated and get regular tune-ups to improve gas mileage.
- Drive efficiently – Go easy on the brakes and gas pedal. Aggressive driving wastes gas.
- Slow down – Driving fast significantly lowers MPG. Each 5 mph over 50 mph is like paying an extra $0.24 per gallon for gas.
If able, purchase a more fuel efficient or electric vehicle for your next car. Even hybrids make a big impact. Sharing rides through carpooling or ride shares like UberPOOL also divides the emissions per passenger.
Use Less Electricity
The electricity used to power your home releases carbon. Simple usage cuts like turning off lights, unplugging devices when not in use, and replacing incandescent bulbs with LEDs can reduce your home’s energy demands. Further ways to save electricity:
- Adjust the thermostat – Keep it a few degrees warmer in summer and cooler in winter. Turn it down at night and when away.
- Seal air leaks – Weatherstrip doors and windows to prevent drafts wasting heating and cooling.
- Upgrade appliances – Choose Energy Star rated washers, dryers, fridges, etc. which use much less electricity.
- Switch energy providers – Select a utility offering renewable energy like wind and solar.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The energy used to produce, transport, and dispose of products has embedded carbon emissions. Cut these by:
- Buying less overall stuff. Avoid impulse buys.
- Choosing products with minimal packaging.
- Buying used, borrowed, or rented items when possible.
- Repairing possessions instead of replacing them.
- Donating or selling unwanted items so they avoid the landfill.
- Recycling everything accepted in your area.
Also, reconsider paper use. Go paperless with bills, documents, and other correspondence when you can. When printing is necessary, print double-sided.
Animal-based foods like meat and dairy release more emissions per calorie than plant-based foods. Eating lower on the food chain reduces your diet’s carbon impact. Ways to move towards plant-based eating:
- Do Meatless Mondays – Skip meat one day a week
- Eat more fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts and whole grains
- When you do eat meat, choose chicken and fish over red meat
- Select organic, local and seasonal produce to cut transportation emissions
- Avoid wasting food – only buy what you’ll eat
Air travel produces high levels of greenhouse gases. Reduce flights when possible, especially shorter trips where you can take ground transportation. Other tips:
- Take non-stop flights – Landing and take-off burn the most fuel.
- Fly economy class – First and business class seats take up more room, increasing emissions per passenger.
- Offset your flights – Invest in carbon-reducing projects to counter travel emissions.
When vacationing nearby, stick to car, bus, or train travel. Consider alternatives like biking, hiking, or boating. Select accommodations with green practices in place such as renewable energy, efficient appliances, and recycling programs.
Everyday purchases can support or harm the planet. Making eco-conscious choices like:
- Seeking out sustainable brands using eco-friendly materials and processes.
- Purchasing reusable over single-use products like water bottles and straws.
- Avoiding excessive packaging and single-serving items.
- Supporting B Corps and businesses giving back.
Also, buy less overall and make purchases durable and long-lasting when possible. Mend and care for items to extend their lifespan.
Lifestyle changes alone cannot solve climate change. Call and write your elected representatives urging support of climate policies like:
- Carbon pricing programs making emitters pay.
- Strict emissions standards for vehicles and industry.
- Investments in renewable energy infrastructure.
- Restoring forests and wildlands that sequester carbon.
Vote for leaders who make climate action a priority. Support local initiatives to promote sustainability and prepare for impacts. Your voice matters!
Share your commitment to lowering your carbon footprint with family and friends. Actions are contagious. Let others know of simple, achievable steps they can take through leading by example.
Small day-to-day choices can significantly decrease your individual emissions when added up. By following these tips, you can reduce your carbon footprint without much added effort. With some adaptation to your habits and mindset, living sustainably becomes second nature.