In the face of World Environment Day, we cannot deny the fact that climate change is real and we are doing our best to solve it. There are a lot of actionable steps that we can undertake even in our busiest times. So in order to save the environment, we can start by reducing our carbon footprint by doing the exact things but in a different way. When thinking of ways to reduce your impact, it is best to look at different areas of your life where you know you can work on it in the best way possible. It can also help you feel less overwhelmed by the idea of making changes in your life by taking one area at a time. So follow concentrate on these areas:
- Food – We are what we eat, how we eat, and where we are getting our food from impact our environment. If the next time, you are picking up groceries at the supermarket or ordering food online, take a moment to think about the journey that your food had before it landed on your plate. Agriculture is one of the biggest industries that is causing greenhouse gas emissions on the planet as energy and fuel are needed for packaging and distribution of foods. Eat more food on the low level of the food chain that is vegetables, fruits, grains, and beans. Livestock is to be avoided as it is responsible for 14.5 percent of man-made global greenhouse gas emissions that are mainly derived from feed production and processing. If you forgo meat and dairy, you are reducing your carbon footprint by 8 pounds and that’s 2,920 pounds annually. Still, in the food area, you can start by choosing organic and local foods that are in season. Opt for food that requires less transport! If you are buying food in bulk then choose your reusable container. Reduce your food waste by planning your meals ahead of time and freezing the excess and reusing the leftovers. If you live in an area where you are free to compost your food waste, then do it!
- Clothing – Dump fast fashion clothing! It is better to discard trendy, cheap items that go out of style quickly and end up in landfills where they produce methane as they decompose. About 85 pounds of clothing is discarded by the average American which accumulates to 85% of the landfills. Most fast fashion clothing is from China and Bangladesh which adds up to transport. Instead, invest in quality clothing that will last longer! It is even better to buy vintage or recycled clothing at consignment shops. Wash your clothes in cold water as the enzymes in cold water detergent are designed to clean better in cold water. Do two loads of laundry weekly in cold water instead of hot or warm water as it saves up to 500 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. When shopping, better buy less stuff and go for recycled items whenever possible. Bring your reusable bag whenever you are going for shopping and try to avoid items with excess packaging. If you are buying a computer, then opt for a laptop instead of a desktop as it requires less energy to charge and operate than desktops. Shopping for appliances or lighting or office equipment or electronics, then look out for the Energy Star products which are certified to be more energy efficient. Don’t forget to support and buy from companies that are environmentally responsible and sustainable.
- Home – Do an energy audit for your home as it will help you to identify if you are wasting or using energy and introduce you to some ways to be more energy efficient. Opt for light emitting diodes (LEDs) rather than incandescent light bulbs which waste 90% of their energy as heat. LEDs are affordable and are available almost everywhere. Remember to always switch off the lights when you leave the room and unplug your electronic devices when they are not in use. Don’t forget to turn your water heater down to 120F in order to save about 550 pounds of CO2 a year. Install a low-flow shower head to reduce hot water use and save 350 pounds of CO2, also take a shorter shower! Decrease your thermostat in winter and raise it in summer. If possible, use less air conditioning in summers and opt for fans which require less electricity.
- Transportation – Transport became a major source of CO2 emission in 2017 as electricity comes from natural gas and renewable energy. Although there are fuel-efficient vehicles, it is not enough to cut your carbon budget. There are many ways you can reduce your carbon footprint. Drive less especially for small distances. Walk or take public transport. If you are going to work, then try carpooling or ride-share to your destination. If you must drive, then avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration and focus on calm driving. Ensure your car is maintained by checking if your tires are properly inflated as it can increase your fuel efficiency by 3%. When buying a new car, better choose a hybrid or electric vehicles, but do check before as not electric vehicles is recommended. If you have the habit of traveling by air, then opt for the economy class as it emits a lesser carbon footprint.