Hi Angela, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to be more sustainable. What are some ways that I can easily reduce my carbon footprint and become more eco-friendly?
This is a great question! It’s always good to embrace new ways to help the planet.
To put it briefly, your carbon footprint is the calculation of the amount of greenhouse gasses released into the atmosphere as a result of your day-to-day actions. For example, driving a car, buying food from the grocery store, and watching TV all produce various levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide. It’s important to reduce the amount of these gasses because they trap heat in the atmosphere and raise the average temperature of the earth.
Making a few simple changes to the way you go about activities that produce greenhouse gasses can make a significant impact on your carbon footprint. Many of the following tips can also help you save money!
Here are 15 ways you can reduce your carbon footprint:
1. Cut down on food waste. On average, around 40 percent of all food in America is wasted. Plan your meals and freeze excess portions to extend their shelf-life. Be aware that bulk-buying might seem like a good deal, but it’s a waste if you don’t eat it all before it goes bad.
2. Eat less meat and dairy. Even one day a week of avoiding meat and dairy can reduce your carbon footprint by over 400 pounds a year! Reducing your consumption of red meat is especially good, due to the amount of methane produced by cows.
3. Empty and rinse food containers before putting them in the recycling bin. A dirty container can spoil a whole batch of recyclables.
4. Keep a reusable bag in your car so that it’s on hand to use when you go shopping.
5. Shop secondhand and donate or repurpose old clothes. Many animal shelters will also take old sheets and towels for bedding.
6. Buy new appliances with an Energy Star symbol. This certification means that the product has met the highest energy efficiency and performance standards.
7. Keep lights and appliances off when you’re not using them. A smart power strip can help by detecting when devices are not in use and turning them off.
8. When your regular light bulbs go out, switch them over to LEDs. Though LEDs may cost more, they use a quarter of the energy and last up to 25 times longer.
9. Avoid streaming movies and TV on a game console, as they aren’t optimized to play films and use more energy to do so. Instead, use a Smart TV or streaming device.
10. While driving, avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration and turn on cruise control when possible. Also, be sure to maintain your car and keep your tires properly inflated. Bonus tip: using a resource like Waze can help you avoid sitting in traffic for long periods of time. That’s a win-win!
11. Carpool whenever possible in order to split emissions between everyone in the vehicle.
12. Avoid layovers when you fly. Because airplane landings and takeoffs use the most fuel, it’s best for both your time and the planet.
13. Planting trees and shrubs around your house can help with insulation and air quality.
14. Keep curtains and blinds closed, especially during the summer, to help keep the temperature inside your home stable.
15. Buy carbon offsets. Sometimes, contributing to your carbon footprint is unavoidable. However, you can offset it by donating to a project that helps capture or destroy greenhouse gasses that would otherwise have been released into the atmosphere.
If everyone does their part to reduce their carbon footprint, the combined results can be substantial. Together, we can help contribute to protecting the environment.