The more we reduce our carbon footprint today, the better the world will be for future generations. Already, we’re seeing, feeling, and noticing the effects of climate change—which are only getting more extreme by the day.
If we take actionable steps as individuals, we can begin to slow some of these adverse effects. Additionally, if we share this information with friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers, we can perhaps form a community that cares about combatting climate change.
And care about we should. For one, 2019 was the second-warmest year on record. The five warmest years from 1880–2019 have all occurred after 2015.
We don’t want to incite fear so much as motivation to make a change. Use this guide to consider some of the many ways you can begin to reduce your carbon footprint and make a difference locally and globally.
1. Consider Installing Solar Panels
A common reason many homeowners have avoided solar panels is their price point. However, residential solar costs have dropped by over 55% in the past five years, making them much more affordable.
Additionally, solar is a fantastic way to reduce your carbon footprint.
When we burn fossil fuels for energy, we add pollutants in our air, which is not only bad for pollution’s sake but for human health reasons, too. Solar singlehandedly reduces those carbon dioxide emissions, as well as other pollutants. This point is especially important when you consider the concentration of C02 is the highest it’s ever been—416 parts per million.
So, if you’ve always wanted to install solar, now’s the time. You may be one of the last ones to reap the benefits of solar incentives from the government, too.
2. Make a Compost
Composting at home is easy and sustainable—and it’s just plain fascinating! If you’re a green thumb, you’ll derive even more benefits from composting, as it makes a wonderful, nutrient-rich soil for plants.
Twenty-eight percent of what we throw away boils down to food waste and yard waste. Those things can easily be composted rather than tossed, which not only keeps these organic materials out of landfills but also minimizes the release of greenhouse gases such as methane.
Every compost needs three things: browns (dead leaves, twigs, or branches), greens (grass, veggie waste, food scraps, etc.), and water, which is crucial to compost development.
3. Hop on Your Bike More Often
There are several ways for you to reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to transportation. Most modes of transportation require energy, but some require far less than others—such as your bike!
Public transportation is a fantastic option, as it gets many people to once place, all at once. Imagine the difference between twenty people driving twenty cars, or twenty people taking one bus. It’s no small thing!
You can also consider inexpensive travel by rail or bus if it’s available in your city.
If not, that’s when personal transportation such as bikes, motorcycles, or electric cars come in. Biking is entirely body-powered; motorcycles are fuel-efficient and inexpensive; hybrid or electric cars save money on gas and are fuel-efficient, too. The list goes on!
So, the next time you need to get somewhere, consider how you’re getting there. Are there eco-friendly alternatives?
4. Buy Local Food, Clothing, and More
When you buy in-season food from local farmers or secondhand clothing at local shops, you’re contributing to a community-focused mindset—but that’s not all.
You’re not only supporting people from your own neighborhood, but you’re providing local jobs, too. Additionally, buying from those within your community means less transportation, traffic congestion, habitat loss, and pollution.
Similarly, when you buy secondhand clothing, you’re putting a dull in production of fast fashion. Fast fashion has terrible effects on the environmental state of the world, contributing largely to carbon emissions. In fact, it produces 10% of all carbon emissions in the world, which is second only to water supply and more than international flights or maritime shipping.
So, when and if possible, go to your local farmer’s market or thrift shop the next time you’re grocery or back-to-school shopping.
5. Reduce Your Water Usage
There are several ways your household can reduce the usage of water in the home. A few of those methods include:
- Collecting rainwater in buckets for the watering of plants
- Turning off the faucet when brushing teeth, shaving, etc.
- Investing in a higher-efficiency dishwasher or washer and dryer
- Taking shorter showers
- Learning to use every last drop of water through repurposing
Even implementing some of these practices into your home life can do a world of good. For one, faucets run at about two gallons per minute. If you turned your tap off while you brushed your teeth, you could save hundreds of gallons per month!
6. Go for Meatless Mondays
Meatless Mondays (or any day, for that matter) can not only be healthy for the environment, but for you, too.
Meat production contributes to harmful carbon emissions. Therefore, having a day (or two, or three) of your week dedicated to meatless meals can directly reduce your carbon footprint, helping you to conserve precious and scarce environmental resources.
It can also help you by lowering your chances of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as promoting kidney health and maintaining a healthy weight.
It’s a win-win!
Do Your Part to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
You may think that, as an individual, your attempts to change the world are fruitless—but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. What if everyone thought, “It’s only one straw”? Before you know it, our oceans would be even more filled with plastic straws.
We need to think on a larger scale.
You can make a difference. You can take actionable steps today to reduce your carbon footprint, influencing those in your community, who then affect those in their circles, and so on.
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