In 2016, 195 countries signed the Paris Agreement dedicated to lowering greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. And four years later, the world is still struggling to implement the measures suggested by this Agreement to decrease global warming responsible for many recent global catastrophes. But this strategy is not only for big entities and individual efforts can also make a difference.
To participate in this global action, you need to know how you are contributing to the rise of greenhouse gas emissions. Based on calculations, every person in the world will need to have 1.83 tons of annual carbon footprint by 2050. For the comparison, China has 8.2 tons per capita while the US has 18.3 tons which are quite troubling numbers in the light of the urgency to turn to sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
To reduce your carbon footprint, you will have to make some sacrifices but that doesn’t mean they will have a negative impact on your life. Moreover, they can improve your health and wellbeing just as much they will revive the planet. So here are ways to do it and make the world a better place for the generations to come.
1. Switch to Solar or Wind Power
Changing the power source to an eco-friendly one is something that will be pricey and depends on whether you have the right conditions for it. However, this is something cost-effective in the long run since you can sell the surplus of energy you produce and earn some money. Moreover, your energy bills will be considerably lower and you will quickly see the return of your investment.
Whether you will opt for a wind turbine or solar panels depends on the area where you live. Wind power is more dependable on the right conditions and is still not as developed for households as solar energy. You can install solar panels anywhere, basically – from rooftop to the backyard as long as they are appropriately exposed to the sunlight. Both will reduce the use of fossil fuels and provide you with non-stop electricity even when there is no wind or sun.
2. Buy Energy-Efficient Appliances
Energy-efficient appliances minimize the use of natural resources like oil, coal, and water. They will also minimize your electricity and water bill every month. Both of these reasons make them very popular in households and one of the first ways people choose to reduce carbon footprint.
Today, almost any appliance has its energy efficient-saving version like a refrigerator, dishwasher, and oven. The use of these appliances controls pollution, saves money and downsizes the greenhouse gas emissions like Freon which is common in household devices like an air-conditioner.
3. Drive Less
Driving is still the most desirable way to get from one place to another. Even with gas prices rising or traffic jams, people still opt for this mode of transportation. Granted, it gives you freedom and control over your time but with a better organization, you can do the same with some other means.
Start small to get used to not using your car so often by walking as much as you can or riding a bicycle some days to work. Besides being good for the environment these ways of moving around are also excellent for your health and will keep at bay some serious illnesses like heart conditions. Moreover, CO2 emissions and traffic congestion will decrease making the air cleaner and safer to breathe.
4. Eat Less Meat
Livestock meat and dairy create 14.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally with methane and feed production. Methane, for example, is more efficient in retaining heat in the atmosphere than CO2 which makes it a more potent greenhouse gas. However, if you eat less meat and dairy products you can considerably reduce this harmful effect.
This is one of the most challenging measures for people since they are used to having their milk in the coffee or having steak. But you can do a lot by opting to skip meat on certain days and start using replacements for dairy products like tofu and almond milk. Although cultured meat is the future that many countries are working on mass production which will bring environmental, economic and cultural improvements.
5. Choose Locally Grown Food
Another important issue regarding food is to buy products that are in season. This means that you should support local farms and organic products which don’t use toxic chemicals that pollute the soil and water sources. Having all sorts of vegetables and fruits available at all times means that they are transported from other cities, regions and even countries.
So, using local products will reduce the use of fossil fuels and coolants needed for vehicles and storage conditions. Growing your food is also a nice way to help the environment especially since you can control the way you cultivate your plants. It will certainly reduce your carbon footprint for the amount you would use to drive and buy these products in the store.
6. Be Mindful of Your Clothing
The clothing industry uses a lot of resources and energy for production which can be lowered if people stopped buying new clothes. This is why buying vintage and recycled clothing has become very popular in recent years.
Moreover, affordable clothing is usually made from synthetic materials that lack quality and are more prone to tearing. These clothes end up in the landfills where it produces methane when decomposing. So, it’s best to buy quality pieces of clothing that will last longer and instead of throwing clothes away, donate it or sell it.
7. Be a Green Shopper
Being a green shopper means buying less and only what you need. Concentrate on used or recycled items, use reusable bags and be practical. For example, instead of buying a desktop computer opt for a laptop that uses less electricity.
Also, pay attention to the companies whose products you are buying. Do some research online and see who uses environmentally responsible production and sustainable materials. This applies to all products from makeup to kitchen appliances. This may seem like a small contribution to reducing your carbon footprint but it’s significant on the larger scale of things.
8. Respect the 5 Rs
5 Rs are the basic principles of reducing your waste and being an active participant in lessening climate change. While Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle is something heavily promoted there are two more Rs also crucial for reducing your carbon footprint. Refuse promotes avoiding the use of plastic and paper products, while Rot is dedicated to having a compost system in place.
Proper recycling of materials like plastic, glass, metal, and paper makes possible to reuse them and that way reduces the waste and consumption of production resources. This will preserve forests, water and lead to lower levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.
9. Reduce the Use of HVAC Systems
Households play a major role in creating carbon footprint especially in countries with heavily expressed seasonal changes like summer and winter. But over the years, every country and region have found some ways to reduce the use of HVAC systems to conserve power and join the fight to save the planet. The basic practice is to consider the weather conditions in your region when you plan for heating and cooling in your home.
For example, in Australia, installing external window awnings in Sydney and other major cities is a popular solution. Window awnings reduce the amount of sun that enters the home and therefore lower the need for air conditioning. In the UK where cool weather is predominant, households in London use draught-proofing and energy-efficient windows to retain the heat inside. This may seem like more work than pressing the button on your HVAC, but you will downsize your monthly bills and be good to the environment.
10. Conserve Water
Conserving water is equally important as using eco-friendly power sources and following the principles of 5 Rs. While there may be plenty of water in the world, the truth is that it’s all there is and some of it is not even appropriate for use. With 96.5 percent of water too salty for consumption and two-thirds of freshwater under polar ice, it’s prudent to be economical.
And you can conserve water in many ways that don’t require big sacrifices or lots of effort. Don’t leave the water running when you wash dishes or brush your teeth. Spend less time in the shower, avoid body products that can pollute the supply and start buying reusable items to reduce the use of water in production. For example, the USA uses 36.5 billion rolls of toilet paper annually which is made from 15 million trees and uses 473,587,500,000 gallons for manufacture. A bidet spends much less amount of water and is considered any eco-friendly bathroom fixture.
One step at the time, every individual can contribute in some way to save the planet. To reduce your carbon footprint you may have to sacrifice some commodities like traveling by car all the time and eating dairy every day. However, it will be well worth it when climate change stops posing as such a problem and causing serious damages to humans, animals, and nature.