Climate change is a serious matter, whether you like it or not, and it’s affecting our planet as we speak. The oceans are rising, the polar ice caps are melting, and global temperature is on the increase. People disregard this problem because they believe there isn’t much they can do as individuals. The most damage is due to the carelessness of large industries, but believe it or not, there are smaller ways to lessen your own carbon footprint, and help Mother Earth regenerate. If more individuals lessened their carbon footprint, the effect could be greater than we thought it could ever be.
The term “carbon footprint” refers to the amount of greenhouse gases that are being emitted into the atmosphere by any given individual. These gases contribute to global warming and climate change, by trapping heat in the atmosphere. It can be reduced just by making a few tweaks to your everyday habits – how you maintain your home, shop, or eat. This is how you can be more mindful of your carbon footprint.
1. Minimize electricity use
The largest source of greenhouse gas, electricity, accounts for 29% of all U.S. emissions, as about 67% of all electricity comes from burning fossil fuels. This is why you should be mindful of how you use electricity. Adjust your home thermostat to keep the space warm/cool enough to be comfortable, unplug and turn off devices that aren’t in use, use minimal amounts of hot water (take short showers), buy energy-efficient appliances, and switch to LED light bulbs. Also, check whether your cooled or heated air doesn’t escape due to bad house insulation.
2. Drive less
Cars release a lot of carbon dioxide, so driving your car to the store or everywhere you go needs to stop if you want to reduce your carbon footprint. Instead of driving, ride your bike to work or walk to the store (when the weather allows it). If you’re travelling long distance, consider carpooling or public transportation. Hopping in your car and going wherever is pretty convenient, but these solutions can make a huge difference to both the environment and your wallet.
3. Make “greener” fashion choices
Clothes that are produced quickly to reflect current trends are called “fast fashion”. Their manufacturers use fabrics such as polyester (cheap and petroleum-based), to keep costs down. During the production of these fabrics, large amounts of greenhouse gasses are released, while the cheap fabrics quickly wear down and end up in landfills, where they produce methane in the process. Instead of fast fashion choices, choose timeless items (that you’ll wear regardless of current fashion trends) and sustainable, eco-friendly fashions like bamboo clothing.
4. Cut out the plastic
It’s ridiculous how much plastic this planet produces and uses. We use plastic to make toys for our children, water bottles, bags at shops, and plastic is everything at fast food places. But the worst thing is that these items are thrown away after being used only one time. What’s the moral of this story? We make billions of little plastic items by burning non-renewable fossil fuels, and we use them once, throw them away, and contaminate our soil and water. It’s disgusting to see dozens of trash cans filling up our garbage dumps, or floating in the ocean in front of you, while you just wanted to spend a day off on the beach. Reduce plastic waste in whatever way you can.
5. Choose locally grown food
A certain amount (approximately 15%, according to The Guardian) of greenhouse emissions comes from food production and transportation. Some time ago, in the old days, everything was grown, sold, and consumed locally. This was people’s way of life. It was much simpler as their needs were simple as well. And it does make sense, why should you buy berries that had to travel thousands of miles when your neighbor is growing them right there in his yard? Buy locally grown food from local merchants and farmers whenever you can. If you have a garden, make sure you also turn it green!
Just by being mindful and aware of how much waste you’re producing in your daily life, you’ve won half the battle of fighting your personal carbon footprint. Make smarter choices whenever you can, teach your spouse and children to do so, because we must do everything we can to save our planet. It’s the only one we have.