Easy Changes You Can Make Today To Help Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

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17Apr

You’ve decided you want to lower your carbon footprint. But how?

It can feel overwhelming—after all, you’re just one person. Reducing atmospheric carbon should be the entire world’s concern. Still, it starts with individual people doing their part. You can make a difference.

Eating

Changing the way you purchase and use food is one of the simplest ways to lower your carbon footprint.

Eat Local

Instead of heading to a chain grocery store, get your food from local sources as often as you can. While it’s true that you can’t find locally grown Pop-Tarts, you can probably find farms in your area that sell meat and produce.

Search for farms in your area. Go to local farmers’ markets. You might even find foods that surprise you, like local olive oil, jam, honey, and more. You’ll know that gas-guzzling trucks didn’t transport your food across the country (or from other countries).

Here’s another bonus: Since you purchase local produce when it’s in season, it tastes better.

Don’t Waste

Food waste is a problem that arose along with modern life. In the past, and in some places even today, it would have been unthinkable. Nowadays, it’s easy to let things rot in your fridge before you remember to eat them.

Keep track of the food you already have, and make a point to use it in creative ways before it goes bad. Meal planning can help in this area. And always eat your leftovers.

Clothing

Skip Cheap Trends

Inexpensive clothes that follow current trends aren’t made to last. Called fast fashion, they live up to their name: They deteriorate fast and often look dated within months. Classic, higher-priced clothing is a more significant investment but costs less over time.

Go Thrifting and Buy Vintage

The easiest, least expensive way to reduce your carbon footprint in the fashion realm is to buy used clothing. Some people worry that it’s dirty, but there’s a simple solution: Just wash it. Others fear that used clothing will already be worn out, but you’d be surprised what people get rid of. If you go thrifting regularly, you’ll find barely-used clothes that people donated after only a few wears.

Buying

Minimalism

Give minimalism a try. If you follow lifestyle trends, you’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo, an organization expert. She advises people to pare down their possessions. Her advice is to keep only items that are regularly used or spark joy.

Reusable Bags

Why collect or throw away hundreds of plastic bags a year when you can use the same cloth bags over and over again?

Packaging

Choose items that have less packaging instead of more. Buying in bulk often helps with this by reducing the proportion of packaging to product.

At Home

Light Bulbs

Use LED bulbs. They cost a bit more when you purchase them, but they last far longer than incandescent bulbs while using less energy.

Lights Off and Electronics Unplugged

When you were a kid, your parents probably chastised you if you left the lights on when leaving a room. They had a good reason! Even LED bulbs eat up energy. There’s no good reason to leave them on when you’ve left the room.

You should also unplug electronics when you aren’t using them—even if you’ve turned them off. Many people are surprised to learn that, even when you’ve pressed the off button, electronics still take up energy if you leave them plugged in.

Water

  • Turn your water heater down to 120 F°.
  • Install low-flow showerheads.
  • Shorten your showers.
  • Wash your clothes in cold water.

Heating and Cooling

The human ability to control our environmental temperature is pretty new, and people survived long before we could do it.

  • Turn down your thermostat.
  • Don’t turn your air conditioning too low.
  • If you’re hot, use fans. They don’t gobble up much energy.

Driving

Drive Less

Depending on where you live, you might need to drive. But you can still cut down on how much. Even if you live in the middle of nowhere, running all your errands at once will reduce driving time.

If you live in an area where you can take public transportation or walk to destinations, do so. As a bonus, walking might improve your health.

Cruise Control

Breaking and acceleration use more gas. Cruise control will allow you to keep at a steady speed without constant adjustments.

Car Care

Car care reduces your carbon footprint in multiple ways, but here are two:

  • You won’t have to get repairs as often—which means you won’t need to replace parts as often.
  • If your car uses gas, a car in tip-top shape will stay gas-efficient longer.

Steer Clear of Traffic

The longer you sit in traffic, the more gas your car wastes. Apps like Waze or Google Maps can often help you avoid traffic jams by directing you to alternate routes.

Flying

The simplest way to reduce your flight-related carbon footprint is to skip it entirely. However, if you can’t avoid flying, choose nonstop flights. Since they don’t divert to an unnecessary location before arriving at your final destination, they use less fuel.

Conclusion

Though there are complicated or expensive ways to lower your carbon footprint—like starting your own garden or buying an electric car—they’re not the easiest things to do. If you can’t manage huge steps, you can still do lots of little things. Taking even just some of the steps above will significantly lower your carbon footprint.

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