Simpler Ways To Lower Your Carbon Footprint
Climate change is said to be one of the biggest threats to modern day civilization. In order to face this behemoth of a challenge, we all need to take responsibility for our individual contributions to climate change. One of the most effective ways to fight climate change is by lowering our carbon footprint. In the United States, the average carbon footprint per person is said to be estimated at 16 tons. This is extremely high compared to the rest of the world, nearly 4 times more than the world average. With that being said, there are many ways to reduce our carbon footprint by implementing small changes into our daily habits and living.
What Is A Carbon Footprint?
The total amount of greenhouse gasses generated by our actions is called a carbon footprint. This covers every aspect of our everyday life, from the electricity we use in our houses to the food we eat and the transportation we utilize. These emissions are usually measured in tons. Worldwide, energy production accounts for 72% of global carbon emissions, with the other 28% coming from natural sources. Furthermore, the biggest contributors to carbon emissions are electricity and heat (31%), transportation (15%), manufacturing (11%), agriculture (11%) and forestry (6%). This means that these are the areas which we can focus on when reducing our individual carbon footprints.
How To Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
By taking the time to calculate your carbon footprint you will be able to better understand your impact on the environment. Additionally it’s a helpful tool in identifying practical ways to reduce your emissions. Firstly you will need to determine the sources of your carbon emissions resulting from your daily life. The most common sources would be transportation, home energy use, transportation and food consumption.
The next step is to gather the relevant information regarding your energy consumption. Gather your electricity bills, gasoline receipts, trip mileage, shopping and store receipts. Once you’ve gathered this data, you may calculate your total using an online carbon footprint calculator. Knowing your total allows you to compare your various emissions and analyze the data to identify areas where you can practically lower your carbon footprint.
The Paris Climate Agreement
The Agreement was a historic convention that took place in 2015. World leaders from over 200 countries gathered together to plan towards a fossil-fuel-free future for our planet. The key takeaways from the convention was to eliminate fossil fuels completely by 2050, and to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees. This convention was important because it strengthened the global response to the severe threat of climate change. This was truly an important step in the battle of reducing carbon footprints. It was the first truly global treaty regarding the fight against climate change. Now that governments are supporting the reduction of carbon footprints, here’s exactly how you can play your part and reduce your carbon footprint.
How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Fortunately there are many simple and practical steps that we can take to lower our individual carbon footprints, and minimize our impact on the planet. From reducing your energy use to making sustainable food choices. These tips will help you to make an impact on the environment.
Travel And Transportation
If you have the option when purchasing a new vehicle, you should consider choosing a vehicle that has a high fuel efficiency and low emissions. There are many hybrid and electric vehicles that are now on the market which will reduce your carbon emissions significantly. If this is an unaffordable option for you, there are other ways to reduce the carbon emissions of your vehicle. Carpooling is a great initiative in reducing the number of vehicles on the road. For shorter trips you should consider walking, or riding a bike to minimize the use of your vehicle.
Additionally you should try planning your trips to the supermarket beforehand. Include any errands or other activities into one trip to avoid multiple trips. Another way to reduce your transportation emissions is to reduce flying. Opt for the bus or train if possible, as air travel has a significant impact on your carbon footprint.
One of the biggest contributing factors to energy consumption in a home is the need for air conditioning and heating. Instead of using conventional heating and cooling methods, you should think about energy-efficient insulation choices. Your home should remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter with proper insulation. Look for “Energy Star” certified devices when upgrading outdated appliances. These appliances fall under strict energy efficiency standards stipulated by the US environmental agency. These products can not only reduce energy use, but will also save you money on your utility bill.
Additionally, consider replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs which are up to 80% more efficient than their counterparts. If renewable energy is within your budget you should definitely implement these sources of energy, which can be in the form of solar panels or small wind turbines. This is a great investment that saves you money in the long run and reduces your carbon footprint.
The best way to adjust your carbon footprint through your diet is to avoid meat consumption, especially beef. Livestock let off copious amounts of methane and there is an intense amount of energy required to produce feed for these animals. You don’t have to completely cut out meat from your diet, but if you are serious about reducing your carbon footprint then you should definitely lower your meat consumption. There are many plant-based proteins such as legumes, nuts and seeds that have a much lower carbon footprint than animal-based proteins. You should also consider eating locally, and buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. This lowers your carbon footprint by reducing emissions associated with food transportation and refrigeration.
Smart shopping involves the concept of reducing, reusing and recycling! Products that contain heavy plastic and cardboard packaging require energy to produce and can contribute to waste. Choose products with minimal packaging and support brands that package their products in an eco-friendly way. Additionally, avoid purchasing single use products and consider reusable options. Small changes such as using your own shopping bags when buying items and using a glass bottle as opposed to plastic can have a huge impact on lowering your carbon footprint. Furthermore, we suggest avoiding products that contain potentially-harmful chemicals, and to seek out more natural alternatives wherever possible.
Why Is It Important To Reduce?
Many people choose to ignore climate change, and some may have the opinion that it’s not their problem. However, this simply is not true, as climate change is affecting every single person around the world whether they realize it or not. By choosing to take a more proactive approach to climate change as an individual, you will most likely be consuming a far healthier diet, and you will be cutting costs in multiple ways. Remember that you have the ability to inspire others around you to take climate change more seriously, and spark a chain reaction that can lead to a significant impact on reducing carbon emissions. If not for yourself, or the people around you, do it for the future generations on this Earth. At the end of the day this is our home, and we need to love and respect our planet.
Reducing our carbon footprint is an urgent and essential step towards a better future for humans on Earth. As we’ve discussed, there are many simple lifestyle changes and shopping choices that can have a huge positive impact on our carbon footprint. Together, we can create a more sustainable future for ourselves and the next generations, but it all starts at the individual level. Take action now to protect our planet and ensure a prosperous future for all!