Updated: Feb 24, 2021
There are simple ways we can all try to help our planet- reducing your carbon footprint is one of them. Here are my top 5 ways to start reducing now, from the comfort of your home.
Eat low on the food chain. This means eating primarily fruits, vegetables, beans and grains. The meat and dairy industry is responsible for 14.5% of manmade global greenhouse gas emissions. By not buying into this multi-billion pound industry, you help create less demand for the products causing these negative environmental impacts. You don't have to go full vegan cold turkey- excuse the pun- but maybe start small and see how cutting out meat and other animals products works for you, your family and your body. Maybe meatless Monday's or fish-free Friday's? Every day that you avoid meat and dairy, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds, adding up to a total of 2920 pounds a year.
Yes, I know it sounds super boring and small-scale, but composting is actually highly effective at reducing your carbon footprint. It has many benefits- saves water by helping soil hold moisture and reduce runoff, recycles organic resources while conserving landfill space, lessens the impacts landfills are having on methane emissions... the list is endless. But basically get a composting bin, or visit your local composting site if you have one!
3. Don't buy fast fashion
This one is... harder than others, for me personally. I love fashion. I love new styles and trends, mixing patterns and fabrics and eras and expressing my personality through my clothes. It's a privilege to be able to buy clothes I like but I have been trying in the past year to reduce the impact this passion is having on the world around us. I shop more in charity shops, I think longer and harder about whether I want something or need it- usually ending in me not getting it. It's okay to treat yourself, to go shopping sometimes, of course, but the idea here is not to buy into fast-fashion fads, and to really think how much you want something. Trendy, cheap items go out of style quickly and get send to landfills where they decompose and produce even more methane emissions into the atmosphere. Currently, the average American discards about 80 pounds of clothing each year 85% of which end sup in landfills. Most of this fast fashion ships from China, Vietnam and Bangladesh, which requires fossil fuel use.
4. Do an energy audit
Doing an energy audit of your own home can help you to identify where you use your energy and areas where it's being wasted. From there, you can research and find ways to be more energy efficient. This one is very personal to what you can afford, access etc, so see what works for you and try it. Then there's other things that aren't reliant on, say, your income- things like using reusable cups and utensils (no thanks plastic straws and paper plates!), not wasting paper, recycling, turning off electronics when they're not in use, only using as much water as you need to.
5. Drive less
Walk, use public transport, carpool or cycle to your destination when you can This helps reduce CO2 emissions and congestion in your local area. If you have to drive, avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration. Studies have found that aggressive driving can result in 40% more fuel consumption than consistent, calm driving. The COVID-19 pandemic has helped us to do this, but assess whether your journey is essential, or if there are better ways to complete it if it is- such as getting a train or ridesharing. Other ways to help reduce your environmental impact while driving include:
- Keeping your tired properly inflated as this increases your fuel efficiency by 3%
- Remove extra weight from the car
- When running errands, try to combine them together or with another journey you have to make, such as the school run or going to work
- Turn on cruise control on longer trips to help save gas
- When looking for a new car, use websites/apps like 'Carbon Counter' to evaluate how environmentally friendly your purchase is. Remember to always factor in greenhouse gas emissions from the production of the car as well as from its operation- for example, some electric/hybrid cars are initially responsible for more emissions than internal combustion engine vehicles because of the way they're manufactured, but make up for it after 3 years
And those are my top five ways to work in reducing your carbon footprint in your day-to-day life! My biggest challenge is the fast fashion one, especially with the draw of online shopping during lockdown, but I'm starting to beat it. My next challenge will be composting!
Let me know what you thought of my top five tips and which ones you struggle with or are going to try.
Let's all try to BE MORE aware of our carbon footprint.