How to Reduce your Carbon Footprint: A Guide to Living Sustainably

by Sharon

Almost everyone is wondering how to reduce their carbon footprint. The conversation on climate change is growing in urgency. This brings about the need to discuss the role of individuals and institutions in fighting environmental degradation. While most of the work that needs doing falls under the scope of policies both on the national and international levels, there are things that we can do individually to contribute to the efforts made in dealing with climate change.

First, you need to try and determine what your carbon footprint is. Thanks to modern technology and innovation, some applications and websites could help you determine the impact of your activities on the environment. By identifying which of your activities contribute the most to climatic factors, you will establish how to reduce your carbon footprint effectively. Once you know where your personal carbon emissions are coming from, then it’s time to learn how to reduce your carbon footprint and implement your greenhouse gas reduction strategy.

how to reduce your carbon footprint - urban density and building envelope considerations

5 Areas to Focus on to Reduce your Carbon Footprint

Several things contribute massively to the emission of greenhouse gases, which are detrimental to the climate. Watching your consuming capacity and practices in the following five areas allows you to reduce these emissions.

1. Energy

Most of the energy used to power our homes comes from fossil fuels such as coal and oil. While we need it to survive, it is crucial to question the impact that the production, processing, transportation, and distribution of this energy does to the climate. For instance, coal is one of the primary sources of methane gas. It is a naturally occurring element in the seams of coal, and its emission can be as a result of massive impact like during mining. However, sometimes, the release is unexpected and natural such as during earthquakes or tremors. This means that while it is possible to find ways to contain the release of methane that is found in coal, it is impossible to cover all the possible causes of emission completely.

When it comes to transportation and distribution, there are unstable human-made factors that lead to the release of more methane to the atmosphere. To curb this and reduce the emissions, you should look into adopting sustainable energy in running your home. The most common alternatives in the market at the moment include solar, wind, water, and geothermal.

There is also a need to focus on reducing the overall amount of energy you consume in your daily activities. For instance, if you are leaving the house or not using an item, consider plugging it out. This is because despite not being in use or the socket being off, the device sucks unnecessary energy, which leads to a higher carbon footprint.

When you decide to add an appliance or device that needs energy for powering, always go for energy-efficient options. Some bulbs consume less power, and while these are an excellent option for most, those who have more funds to put into home lighting should consider a smart system that turns itself on and off. This ensures that if you forget to turn off your lights as you leave the house, you do not have to worry about the wasted energy or the bill you incur. However, if you do not have a smart system, always do a run-through of the house or office whenever you are leaving, especially if it is going to be unoccupied for a significant period. Turn the lights off and unplug devices.

For most devices such as computers, you will find that some consume more energy than others. This means that if you are intentional about how to reduce your carbon footprint, you will take time to identify the items that massively cut your energy consumption significantly. For instance, laptops are preferable to desktops, and electric cars are a better alternative to fuel ones.

driving personal cars and how to reduce your carbon footprint

2. Transportation

Going green when it comes to transportation comes on two levels; these are alternatives and consciousness. First, if you have to go somewhere, you might look into the different ways to get there. Biking and walking to work or other frequent destinations is one of the most common alternatives that people use. This not only allows you to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but you also get to get your work out sorted. When these two are not viable options, you could always use public transportation. While the vehicle still has a carbon footprint, it is significantly less than that which results from numerous individual cars.

Sometimes, these alternatives are not accessible, or they won’t work. This means you have to use the means that will increase the emissions. In such situations, it is best to find ways to make your trips more environmentally conscious. When driving, avoid unnecessary acceleration and braking. Also, take proper care of your car. If the vehicle is a great state, it performs better, which means that the climatic impact is minimal.

Avoid being caught in traffic snarl-ups by using applications that guide you through routes with the least traffic. You should also consider scheduling your commute, especially when running errands outside of peak hours. This way, you also get to save on time. Additionally, avoid making numerous trips to get things done. Group your errands and do them based on their urgency and compatibility. If you are going to do groceries, write a shopping list to ensure that you get everything. This reduces the last minute hassle that can be hectic.

Reducing the use of air conditioning is also one of the ways to reduce your carbon footprint. As such, avoid driving in hot weather, consider rolling down the windows instead to let in a breeze.

Finally, if you are flying, go for non-stop journeys and fly economy.

ways to reduce your carbon footprint - grow some of your own food

3. Food

Consider eating less meat or quitting altogether. If you can remove or reduce the amount of meat, and especially the red variety, and dairy products, you reduce your carbon footprint due to two factors. First, there is the amount of water required to produce a particular amount of products. The number is massive for ruminants compared to other sources of meat, such as poultry. Then, there is the contribution of ruminant animals in the emission of methane gas. The decomposition of methane gas in anaerobic conditions leads to the production of methane gas. Also, the presence of microorganisms in the animal’s stomach allows the creation of methane. The gas has the potential to cause massive effects on the climate. As a greenhouse gas, its emission has more significant repercussions than that of carbon dioxide.

If you wish to increase the nutrient content in your food, eat healthily, and contribute to the climate, you should consider doing your shopping in bulk at the local farmers’ market. Buying in-season products is also something you should try. This is because you reduce or eliminate the need to wait for transported food products that lead to a lot of emissions. The food you get from other areas sometimes undergoes early harvesting, which impacts its nutritional value.

Other than getting healthier food, there is also the idea of promoting your local economy, which is an additional bonus. Alternatively, you could opt to grow a garden in your backyard or balcony. This allows you to select the type of food you want from the planting stage. As you tend to your plants, you use the best methods, using minimal chemicals that are normally used in large-scale farming. The pesticides applied have a massive income to both your health and that of the environment. Planting things like tomatoes, fruits, and spices is a great way to contribute to the health of both.

Also, focus on the idea of wastage. Avoid making more food than you can consume, but if you happen to, put it away for later consumption. Wasted food ends up in landfills, and the deposition process produces methane that is harmful to the climate.

Finally, consider using glass containers, reusable shopping bags, and bottles. This not only allows you to be cautious about your contribution to the environment, but it also allows you to reduce the amount of junk and take-away meals that you eat. This is because since the packaging used in most of them is wasteful, you get to avoid anything that increases your carbon footprint and, at the same time, develop a healthier diet.

4. Water Usage

Water is a valuable resource on the planet. While there are different deposits in different areas, a tiny percentage of the total amount has the right components in the perfect proportions for human consumption. As such, it is crucial to focus on proper usage and conservation. The impact seen in climatic change is directly reflected in the water supply.

To comprehensively cover how to reduce your carbon footprint, you need to look at how you use water at home or work. For the latter, it is vital to implement personal guidelines to help in reducing wastage. This may include turning the water off as you lather, both when showering or brushing your teeth. Then you can turn it back on when you want to rinse. Also, carefully monitor how much time it takes for you to take a shower. This way, you can limit the time you spend under running water by setting a timer that notifies you when it’s time to stop. For most people, the best way to check time is by creating a playlist that lasts the exact amount of time they need to finish showering. Once the last song plays, they turn off the water. Taking shorter showers also reduces the amount of water you use.

In the kitchen, you should avoid washing dishes or fruits under running water. If you use a container or limit the flow in any way, ensure that you double clean to ensure proper cleaning. Finally, watch what you flush, do not throw things down the toilet. Some items will not go down with the first flush, and some will lead to blocked drainage.

5. Clothes

Textiles are some of the most common sights in landfills. This is because most people find some of their clothing disposable, leading to increased production and disposal. Fast-fashion is the idea of trendy and fashionable items going out of style quickly and creating the need to get rid of what one already has and purchase the latest ones. This is a strategy adopted by manufacturers and designers to promote sales. Avoid falling into the fad by buying items you need or those that you can use for an extended period. Also, instead of throwing clothing, you should donate to second-hand charitable organizations and stores.

When it comes to washing clothes, adopt energy-efficient methods such as using cold water and line-drying. Most drying technology consumes significant amounts of power to get your laundry dry, and this hurts the environment.

how to reduce your carbon footprint - buy local from small sustainable businesses

The 5 R’s that Guide your Journey to a Reduced Carbon Footprint

All these areas discussed above are subject to the 5 r’s if you are looking to make a significant leap towards conscious living with regards to climatic change. These are;

  1. Refuse – eliminate plastic and paper products and start using reusable alternatives such as glass.
  2. Reduce – avoid buying unnecessary items. For most people, adopting a minimalistic perspective in all areas is a viable alternative. If you can, you should consider the lifestyle and determine whether it works for you.
  3. Reuse – many of the things you use in the house you can repurpose. This allows you to reduce the number of things you sent to the landfill.
  4. Rot – there are composting alternatives that you can use that ensure the food and kitchen waste you throw is beneficial in other ways.
  5. Recycle – paper, glass, metal, and electronics are some of the things you can send to the recycling center. To participate in recycling, you should divide and categorize your waste to ensure none of these items ends up in a landfill.

Taking Steps to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Climate change seeps into different areas of our daily activities. It is, therefore, essential to ensure that our focus on curbing the effects starts from the foundational elements to the broader aspects. This means that each person needs to find how to reduce your carbon footprints. Taking up individual responsibility allows the possibility of a combined effort to fight the progression of climate change.

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