7 (almost) effortless ways to reduce your carbon footprint
Global warming is happening: temperatures worldwide have increased since the 19th century, causing changes in weather, sea levels, ecology and more.
The evidence points to human activity and the rapid expansion of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. The good news is with just a little bit of effort, you can reduce your carbon footprint.
1. Compost organics
It happens to everyone – you get busy and you don’t quite get to making that tasty chef’s salad you intended to. Your greens have gone past their expiration date, and the food’s gone to waste.
It still has a chance at new life, though, if you compost your food waste instead of throwing it in the trash.
Compost your organics and use them to help grow your garden, which not only can help cut down on emissions from mass food production but also adds more cleansing greenery to the planet.
2. Grow your own food
Speaking of gardens, planting your own source of food, however small, helps the environment. Gardeners that grew 20 percent of their own food cut their carbon footprint by 68 pounds of CO2 each year.
Even if you only have room for a window box and some pots of herbs, you’re doing something positive. Plus, you reduce the need to drive to the store to pick up that last-minute basil, oregano or mint.
3. Remember to recycle
When you toss out a piece of paper or a water bottle, remember that the item is taking up space and leaching chemicals into the landfill. Everything produced also requires energy in manufacturing, transportation and disposal.
The trucks that transport it to the landfill burn up fossil fuels, which contribute to your carbon footprint. Reusing and recycling whenever possible helps cut your carbon emissions.
4. Wash less often
Running your washing machine and dryer requires energy and contributes to the carbon emissions in the environment. Not every item needs to be washed after one use and you can dry clothing on a line or rack.
Sheets, towels, jeans, khakis, jackets, and any other fabric items can usually withstand multiple uses before needing a wash.
Being selective about washing also extends the life of the items as repeated washing and drying eventually wears out the fabric.
5. Buy second-hand
Sometimes a trip to the thrift store can turn up a treasure or two. It’s super fun to search for stylish castoffs, plus thrift shopping saves clothing from ending up in landfills.
Nearly all clothing is recyclable but sadly most never gets re-processed. Buying secondhand clothing is reusing at its best – you’re not only keeping textiles out of the trash, you’re also reducing the need to produce more and more clothing.
6. Take mass transit
In the United States, transportation produces at least 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The good news is mass transit like buses and trains produce significantly less CO2.
Check out your city’s bus routes and train schedules, try out rideshare apps like Uber, Lyft, Carma Carpooling or Trees for Cars, or dust off your bike. Fewer cars on the road mean fewer emissions and a better carbon footprint.
7. Embrace smart home devices
Installing smart home devices in your home can help reduce energy use.
Smart lights can turn off when you leave the room, ensuring you’re not burning the midnight coal without cause. Smart thermostats can help you heat only the rooms you’re using and keep the temperature lower when you’re not at home.
And there are many other devices that will save energy and help preserve the environment.
The possibilities for reducing our carbon emissions are vast, and it just takes a bit of conscious thinking and effort to create new habits. Even the smallest efforts have impacts we can’t see, but the environment certainly will.