Human carbon emissions have been targeted as one of the leading causes of global warming and climate change. If you live in a developed country, there’s a good chance you’re contributing to global warming every day. Everything you do that increases carbon emissions is your personal carbon footprint. The good news is there are many ways to reduce that carbon footprint without drastically changing your lifestyle. The first step is recognizing the everyday ways your footprint is made, then the second step is to modify some of the things you buy, eat, or throw away to reduce the size of that footprint.
Some of the heftiest carbon producers used on a daily basis are personal vehicles. Think about how often you drive your car. If your city has a good bus or train system, you can substantially reduce your carbon footprint by taking the time to choose one of those options instead of driving yourself to work, school, or even the grocery store. If you don’t have access to convenient public transit options you can still reduce how often you drive. Consolidate trips so you get as much as possible done at once. Create your own tiny transit system by carpooling with people who are heading the same direction you’re heading.
The best way to eliminate your traveling carbon emissions altogether is to ride a bike or walk as often as possible. More and more cities are installing dedicated bike lanes, especially in downtown areas. Think about grabbing your bike instead of your keys if your destination is within easy distance. Walking or biking are good for the environment, but they’re also good for your own personal health and fitness. It’s a win-win.
One of the worst long-distance carbon emission culprits is the commercial airplane. You can actively reduce your carbon footprint simply by choosing not to fly. Driving a car, or even an RV, on a long trip produces far less carbon than one flight on an airline. The carbon emission produced by the plane is spread out over more people in the economy class simply because there are more people to divide up the carbon cost, similarly to the way the carbon per person is reduced when using public transit.
Everyone is familiar with the idea of recycling. It is a method of carbon reduction that has proven effective for generations. It can take a little extra time to separate out recyclable items, but it is worth the effort because recycled plastics require less petroleum production to produce the same product over again.
Reduce your carbon footprint by switching from plastic jars and bottles to glass or ceramic. Use a water bottle made from stainless steel instead of hard plastic. Use metal or wooden cooking and eating utensils.
Most city power plants rely on some form of non-renewable carbon-burning source to produce electricity for local homes and businesses. Right now it’s still more cost effective to use the city grid, but renewable technology for homes is becoming more affordable. If you can, consider installing a solar panel system to your home. Depending on your system, it’s possible you might not need to rely on the electric company at all, which would save you money in the long run.
Hybrid and electric cars can reduce carbon emissions, but only if they are charged using sources that don’t rely on carbon to produce the electricity in the first place. You could reduce your own carbon footprint more effectively by choosing a smaller car with better gas mileage.
Watch What You Eat
The process of preparing beef, poultry, or pork on an industrial scale produces a great deal of carbon. You can cut down your contribution to global warming by choosing your meals more carefully. Choose cuts of meat that were made from grass-fed or smaller farms.
Try to eat locally grown produce when you can. Eat what is in season in your area. The produce will taste better and your local farmers won’t have to burn gasoline shipping their produce to faraway places. Check your newspaper for farmers markets, and check at your local grocery store for information regarding where the produce was grown. Some stores have begun featuring produce from local farms, especially when customer requests increase.
It might seem impossible for one person to have a serious impact on reducing carbon emissions in the world. But if you think of the difference you can make on a daily basis, it adds up exponentially over time. The best way to make lasting changes to your carbon footprint is to stop and think about the things you do and the things you use.