First of all, what is a carbon footprint?
A carbon footprint is a value that represents “ the amount of greenhouse gases – primarily carbon dioxide – released into the atmosphere by a particular human activity.” You can calculate your own personal carbon footprint by inputting your daily activities into an online calculator. The average carbon footprint in the United States clocks in at 16 tons, which is considered quite high worldwide.
There’s no better time than during a global pandemic to take small and easy measures for you to help reduce your own carbon footprint. In order to be more environmentally conscious, you may think you need to restart your life and buy all new bamboo products… but actually that’s not the best way to do it. Living more sustainably can actually be done on a small scale and a small budget, contrary to popular belief. Here are a few easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
A good place to start is by cutting daily, single-use plastics out of your life, like plastic straws and water bottles. I’ve noticed over the years more people have been sporting reusable water bottles and more recently, reusable straws! Imagine the cost alone if you bought a soda product or a water bottle case every few weeks; on average you’d spend $10 per case. After purchasing only three cases you’ve spent $30. That money could’ve been spent on an awesome, keep-your-drink-colder-than-ever, stylish reusable bottle that you could use for years. We know that filtered water might be a problem, so if you’re more concerned with minerals and electrolytes, there are reusable bottles that can filter and enhance your water!
Focus on what you really need month to month and try to cut down on those random Amazon purchases. When you do order online, try to consolidate your orders to cut back on the packaging, shipping, and manufacturing footprint. E-commerce is not a bad thing, however if a product is not necessary try to remember all of the resources, gasoline, planes, water, and international labor, that might’ve gone into its delivery. Your amazon instant delivery addiction affects more than just your personal wallet. I get it, we’ve all been there, but cutting back on unnecessary online purchases is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint and save money while you’re at it!
The chemicals you use matter! Find alternatives to harmful household cleaning chemicals using this no chemical lists. I know it may be difficult to give up your beloved Dawn duck, but if we want to conserve our water and keep it clean for generations to come then we need to make a change. There is a ton of science behind this, but long story short, the chemicals that go down your drain are the same chemicals that you could be drinking if the system didn’t clean them out. So, do us all a favor and switch your dish soap and shampoo brand. Easy fix: Ditch Dawn and buy Dr. Bronner’s.
Your plate: why keto is not always good (especially when it’s not whole foods). It’s been scientifically shown that in order to reduce your carbon footprint, you have to eat less meat. This doesn’t necessarily mean going full-on vegan, it just means being a conscious carnivore and taking measures to moderate your meat consumption. For example, you could try eating vegetarian one day a week. If you really want to scare yourself into not eating meat, watch “Forks over Knives” and “Cowspiracy” which are both currently on Netflix. However commonplace beef may be, once you understand the true cost of this American staple, it will make you rethink the impact of your diet. Easy meat-lover fix: purchase Impossible Burgers or Beyond Beef instead of real beef.
Heating, lighting, and appliances can sound like a hefty price tag to switch out in order to reduce your carbon footprint. However, it’s the small differences that make the biggest impact. Turn off your lights when you’re not using them, this not only saves you money but it reduces your carbon emissions. Unplug appliances or other electronics when you’re not using them because even when they are not turned on they are using energy. Replace your lights once they burn out to LED lights, which use 85% less energy and last up to 25 times longer than your average incandescent bulb. Another option is to invest in new appliances (after they’re on their last leg) with an Energy Star symbol. This symbol helps you identify money and energy-saving appliances. Easy fix: Turn off the lights when you leave the house.
Carpooling or buying a Prius is the age-old resort to reducing your carbon footprint, but that’s not always feasible for everyone. Carpooling can present logistical issues to already busy, complicated schedules. One simpler way to reduce your transportation carbon footprint is to discern where you need to go from where you want to go. If a grocery store is less than a mile from you, consider biking or walking instead of driving. Not in a rush? Take public transportation. Easy fix: Use highways or more direct routes with less stop-and-go which can increase your average MPG (saves you gas money and emissions).
Buy fewer products that last much longer. If you need something, try to shop locally to help offset imported goods’ shipping and packaging pollution. Take a reusable bag to the store. Invest in quality products that last.