If you want to know how to reduce your carbon footprint, you’ll love this article.
It’s about time that everyone starts doing his or her part to protect and preserve Mother Earth — and this is the guide you need to know the basics! It contains proven steps and strategies on how to reduce your carbon footprint and teaches you how to start living a green lifestyle.
What is a carbon footprint and why do you need to reduce yours?
The concept used to measure the environmental impact of a particular individual, community, company, country, or a continent is a carbon footprint. It looks at the lifestyle or the workings of each unit where its impact to the environment is measured in units of carbon dioxide.
Why is it focused on carbon dioxide? This is because one of the most noxious of the greenhouse gases that create global warming is carbon dioxide. There are other gases such as ozone or methane but they are taken into account in carbon emissions. These gases are converted into the amount of carbon dioxide that would cause the same effects of global warming. As such, it becomes an equivalent carbon dioxide amount.
The carbon footprint is an essential concept to understand the effectsof a person ’ s behavior that leads toglobal warming. In other words, a person ’ s carbon emission is seen when you drive a car, since the engine burns gasoline that emits a certain amount of carbon dioxide.
It is also seen when you use electricity, because heat in your house for the generation of electric power also emits carbon dioxide. And it is also seen when you buy food and other products since their production also emits some quantities of carbon dioxide.
To put it simply, your carbon footprint is the cumulative amount of all the carbon dioxide produced because of your activities. Usually, a year is used to calculate a person ’ s carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is composed of two parts — the primary and the secondary footprint.
The addition of all the direct carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of fossil fuels is the primary footprint. The secondary footprint, on the other hand, is all the indirect emissions which originated from the industrial manufacturing (processing, packaging, shipping, and the like) of all the services and food that an individual buys or an industry uses.
With the knowledge and awareness of a person concerning his carbon footprint, it makes him more sensitive on how to handle this problem. It may seem small but big changes usually start in small steps.
When a person takes responsibility for his own carbon emission and influences his neighbors to do the same, and when his neighbors influence the rest of the neighborhood, it turns into this domino effect where a lot more people practice it.
And when a lot of people reduce their carbon dioxide emission,they greatly reduce the impact of their population ’ s carbon footprint to the environment.
The dangerous effects of climate change affect the entire world. And because of this, it is a global concern. As such, countries and states must work hand in hand in order to address this problem in order to avoid more destruction to Mother Earth.
No matter how small the task or contribution is, the actions of each and every individual are important. With issues like climate change, it is best addressed if one first focuses on the practices and habits of each individual household.
In lieu of this, as an individual, there are many ways in order to make a difference to the big picture. There are simple steps that do not only save or reduce an individual ’ s carbon emission but also help in the conservation of resources as well. With practice and force of habit, these simple steps would not only reduce your personal carbon footprint but your household ’ s as well.
How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint:
Your carbon footprint in food
You may not realize it at first but you CAN reduce your carbon footprint through the food that you choose to eat. As discussed in the earlier part, the secondary source of carbon dioxide emissions come from those companies or industries that are responsible for the processing, packaging, shipping, and the like of all products such as food and services that you purchase in big and small retailers or groceries.
In making conscious decisions on this, you can reduce your carbon dioxide emissions through the following examples:
1. Consume red meat in moderation or less.
Cows, cattle, and sheep traditionally produce red meat. While taking care of these animals, they produce large amounts of methane that is also considered one of the greenhouse gases covered by the carbon footprint measurement.
Aside from that, these animals also consume a great amount of resources — especially cows. So not only do they emit a greater volume of carbon dioxide, but they are also expensive to take care of. With other types of meat such as chicken or pork, lesser emissions are produced.
This is not to say that red meat should be removed from the menu entirely but it would help if you lessen your usual amount for consumption.
2. Local produce is good for you.
When you buy local produce, you would not only help local businesses but you would also lessen carbon dioxide emissions. This is because of the concept of food miles. Food miles explain how an item of food has been transported in order to reach thehousehold ’ s dinner table.
Therefore, it calculates or measures how much carbon dioxide has been emitted during the transportation of these goods. So if you buy a product that has been locally produced, it will usually have a lower carbon dioxide emission because it is locally grown and need not use other means to arrive at your home.
Compare local products to those shipped to stores from far places: They need more resources in order to be packaged and shipped. Simply put, a local product need not travel far in order to reach you whereas big industrial packaged food items still need to be processed, packaged, and transported.
As such, shopping for local produce does not only reduce a community ’ s carbon footprint but it also helps the local economy thrive.
3. Make organic food buying a habit.
The choice of organic food is sometimes not taken into account. But what people fail to realize is that growing organic food doesnot use fertilizers — and fertilizers are usually carbon-rich based. Organic food is also a healthier alternative to packaged food for it lacks the additives and preservatives used in the latter.
And since it does not use fertilizers and other preservatives, a consumer is assured of all the nutrients that one can get from consuming organic produce.
4. Embrace the beauty of an organic garden.
Growing your own food makes you feel both fulfilled and relaxed. The most important but unnoticed effect is that it makes you a more conscientious citizen of the world. It is fulfilling to the grower because you need only to walk a few paces from your home in order to pick out fresh herbs or vegetables from your garden to prepare your meals.
And with this, your own organic garden may also provide your household with big monetary savings for the future.
Water as a resource
Water is a main resource necessary for a househol d ’ s everyday needs. But it is how you treat it that affects your carbon dioxide emissions to the environment. Here are some of the ways that do not only reduce your carbon footprint but also help in the conservation of water resources.
1. Filter your own drinking water at home.
Most families buy bottled water for their consumption. This is because families think that tap water still has microorganisms that might be detrimental to their health — hence, the purchase of bottled water.
That may be so, but in filtering your own water to drink, a household can do a lot of saving because there is no need to buy water in the first place. Purified water in plastic bottles are usually made and packaged in another place and need more resources to be transported to be sold to the average consumer.In such energy use, it emits a significant amount of carbon dioxide.
Through water filtering at one ’ s own home, not only can you reduce your carbon footprint and save money, but you can also minimize the use of plastic bottles since plastic is also another waste that the environment does not need.
2. Take a shower instead of a bath.
A shower uses minimum amount of energy compared to a bath. This is because a bath needs a bigger volume of water to fill up a tub and more energy to heat the water. The shower uses a continuous heated spray and if done economically, it should use less water, too.
There are also available showerheads in the market that you can install which caterto “ low flow ” mechanics that can limit the amount of water being used but still maintains a functional spray as you shower.
3. Stop using pressurized water hoses.
In a chore as simple as washing your car, a person may be able to reduce his carbon footprint. This can be done by choosing a pail of water instead of using pressurized water hoses that also heat the water.
A pressurized hose uses a significantly greater volume of water as you wash the car. A pail, on the other hand, merely uses a few liters to wash with the help of your washing rag. And with the latter choice, not only does it save water but it also helps you exercise as you carry a pail to and fro.
Modes of transportation
Inthis day and age, a person — more oftenthan not — spends more time in a car wherein the vehicle is emitting its own amount of carbon dioxide into the environment. And to add all the individuals and their individual cars into the equation, surely it is not difficult to see the volume of carbon dioxide emissions this brings about.
Here are some of the ways you can lessen your carbon footprint while travelling or commuting .
For transportation on land
1. Know the benefits of shifting gears sooner.
There is a technique in shifting of gears when you drive a manual car, and this technique is one sure way to lessen the carbon dioxide emission of your vehicle with a manual transmission: It is to shift into a higher gear sooner.
This is because by doing so, your engine is maintaining a higher speed without burning so much fuel. And when an engine does not need to exert much force in order to run, it also lessens the emission of carbon dioxide into the air. Not only will you lessen your carbon dioxide emissions, but you also get to save money on gas.
2. A hybrid is your green go-to car.
Although hybrid cars are expensive, these cars are fuel-efficient and emit less carbon dioxide into the air. Most hybrid cars run on clean electricity so it is a better alternative than those cars that use gasoline and diesel as fuel. And in the long run, you will find that you have more savings because of lesser fuel consumption. In addition to your gas savings, you also help the environment through fewer emissions.
3. Be mindful of your driving style.
Most people choose to have private cars in order to arrive at their destinations faster. With that, individuals who drive their own cars tend to accelerate more.
But when they keep hitting the gas pedal in order to go faster, they use more fuel and in effect, emit a bigger volume of carbon dioxide into the air. This does not only waste gas and money but also increases a person ’ s carbon footprint.
4. Try carpooling.
In addition to less cars on the road, carpooling also helps you save money. Maintenance of cars is expensive most especially if you are the type of person that travels a lot. Carpooling is the best option (1) where you can get a ride without the hassle of driving yourself and thinking about your own parking space.
There are even countries that completely support carpooling such that they have allotted an exclusive carpool lane on the road. Now you can save money and have your own lane at the same time.
5. Choose public instead of private transportation.
When there are more people choosing public transportation, there would be fewer cars on the road. With fewer cars, there are less traffic congestions while travelling.
Aside from this, the carbon dioxide emissions become less because it is shared between many people who take public transportation together instead of having to take their individual cars. If one bus emits 50 lbs. of carbon dioxide during its trip while carrying 50 people, then each person in that bus only emits 1 lb. of carbon during that time.
On the other hand, with the use of private cars where one person with one car emits 20 lbs. of carbon dioxide in the air during the same trip, you can see how choosing public transportation greatly decreases carbon dioxide emissions.
For transportation on air
Travelling on air is generally one of the most expensive modes of transportation. This is because airplanes use a big amount of petroleum-based fuel. As such, to lessen carbon dioxide emissions, it is advisable to avoid flying as much as possible. But if it cannot be helped, fly in economy or coach instead of first class.
1. Economy class is the better class.
Economy class is best because it works in the same reason as carpooling or public transportation in land. Each individual who flies economy class takes a share of the airplane ’ s carbon dioxide emissions in the duration of the trip.
As such, these emissions are lesser because it is distributed to all the passengers in the flight. So instead of indulging in first class or flying private, it would help the environment if you choose economy class. Again, you not only lessen carbon dioxide emissions but save money as well.
2. Check your travel destinations.
When you are choosing a location to have a vacation, choose places to stay in that are not too far away or where land transportation is difficult or not possible. It would also be a good experience to drive to your destination, or to even carpool with friends and family.
Either way, vacations need not require a plane ride in order to be considered a good one.
The power of choice in electricity
Since electric power is intimately connected withmodern society ’ s everyday life, the choice on what do to with it greatly affects the amount of carbon emission a household gives to the environment.
So a conscious action, no matter how small, would help in reducing the carbon footprint a family makes.
Here are some tips to get you started.
1. Ceiling fans trump air-conditioning.
Air conditioning is one of the must-haves in a home, most especially during the months of summer. But choosing to use ceiling fans instead of air-conditioning is more practical because the former use less electricity and run on less energy, thus lowering your carbon dioxide emission.
2. Make a habit of unplugging.
You have your gadgets working every day for you non-stop. So powering off these gadgets isn ’ t just beneficial for your devices but it is also good in helping the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. This is because plugged gadgets or appliances still use a specific amount of electricity even when it is turned off.
So if an appliance or gadget is not in use, it would be better to unplug it entirely. That way, it does not make use of electricity unnecessarily.
3. Laptops are better.
Laptops are known to use significantly lesser energy than that of a desktop computer (2). This is because it is designed to be energy-efficient. The battery life is one of the most important variables considered when laptops are being created and designed.
The LCD screens, hard drives, CPUs,and adaptors — which are all energy-efficient — are what make laptops better tools for the planet. And unless a desktop is absolutely necessary, a laptop is the more practical (and handier) choice.
4. Replace all of your regular lightbulbs.
You may not notice it, but a person uses at least 10 lightbulbs daily. If you use regular lightbulbs, these emit more carbon dioxide emissions for they use more energy in order to function. With CFL bulbs or compact fluorescent bulbs, these outlast the regular lightbulbs up to 15 times.
They also use significantly lesser energy. Aside from being energy-efficient, CFL bulbs are also friendly toward your electric bill.
In relation to lightbulbs, it would also help to turn off the lights that you are not using and every time you leave the room. Another good alternative to CFL bulbs are LEDlights for they use a minimal amount of electricity but provide bright light — just enough for room use.
5. Go with the trend of clean renewable energy.
Markets all over the world now provide easily installed solar panels for household use. Not only does it save you money on your electricity bill but it is also an investment that would benefit a home in the long run.
Renewable energy is the new trend for energy. This renewable energy includes solar and hydro-electricity to name a few. This is important because even without the harmful greenhouse gases, oil, natural gas, and coal are limited sources of energy.
With renewable energy, a cleaner type of electricity that comes from these technologies would now be available to households and would reduce the use of high-carbon fuels like petroleum.
And as of today, more and more energy suppliers already offer this service. And when more people convert to this kind of practice, then the world
enjoys a cleaner and more carbon-free environment.
6. Choose to buy appliances which are energy-efficient.
While these appliances are more costly than those that are not energy-efficient, you will see in the long run that you can offset the price from the savings that you make. To invest more in sensible technology is to also invest more in a cleaner future. Not only are you helping the planet by doing this but also future generations as well.
The importance of being constant
The previous paragraphs have already enumerated and discussed the ways to lessen carbon dioxide emissions, from one ’ s home to one ’ s daily activities. It is easy to begin something but harder to remain true and constant to a cause or activity. As such, you must realize the importance of having to lessen the carbon dioxide emissions that your activities produce to continue what you have started in your home.
If people would focus on lessening their carbon emissions and the reduction of emissions brought about by the past few decades, everyone may be able to avoid the detrimental consequences of greenhouse gases and climate changes.
In order to achieve this, the world must support energy technologies that emit little to no carbon dioxide. A study in Princeton University in the United States developed an initiative with a purpose of enumerating the efficient methods of capturing and sequestering carbon emissions from high-carbon fuels.
This study has listed the 15 strategies that may be able to reduce global carbon emissions significantly. And depending on how one goes about these strategies, one may be able to undo all the untoward effects of the greenhouse gases caused to the environment so far.
There are three primary methods listed for reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The first is the use of energy efficiency and conservation practices which were already enumerated and discussed in the previous part.
The second is the use ofcarbon-free or reduced-carbon energy resources. And finally, the third method is capturing and storing carbon — either from high-carbon fuels or from the environment.
This article has already given examples on the second method which is to use carbon-free or reduced carbon sources of energy. Carbon-free sources generally produce energy without putting out carbon dioxide into the environment.
These carbon-free sources of energy are also called green energy which includes geothermal energy, solar energy, wind power, hydropower, and nuclear power. And to revert from high-carbon fuels like coal and petroleum to reduced-carbon fuels like renewable energy results in reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
The third method is carbon capture and sequestration. It involves collecting and storing carbon dioxide found in the atmosphere or from high-carbon fuel. According to recent studies, carbon dioxide can be removed from the atmosphere.
After its removal, it can be kept within plants and soils to further the plants ’ growth and for the sustenance of the soil. In the application of this, carbon dioxide is hence taken from high-carbon fuels and is then kept or stored within the earth.
These are the methods that guide people in their daily decisionsto reduce their carbon footprint — may it be in their school, their work, or in their career choices. It is also seen in something as simple as cooking meals as well.
Going green and living green is not only a choice you make once. Instead, it is a continuous and joint effort in order to preserve and save the environment. To be able to go about your activities without consideration for something as seemingly small as carbon dioxide emissions is pure selfishness.
You jeopardize not only your health and the current environment but also the chances of the future generations as well. Going green and living green is not just for yourself but also for a better future. So why not start today? Know that you can do it!
I hope this text was able to inspire you to reduce your carbon footprint by going green and living green.
The next step is to continue and be consistent in what you have started for a better future! Remember, living green is a choice that you should consciously make every day. It is not a one-time thing, but a series of repeated motions that should become second nature as you get used to living green.