10 Ways to Reduce your Carbon Footprint
Your carbon footprint is a way of measuring the amount of carbon dioxide you emit each day as a result of your lifestyle and energy usage. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that is harmful to the atmosphere and a main contributor to climate change. On average, an American’s carbon emissions break down into the following categories: 14% are from food, 17% come from home heating and cooling, 28% are from transportation, 26% come from the stuff you buy and 15% come from other home energy usage. With 325.7 million Americans currently living in the United States, all of the small activities you might take for granted every day may add up in a big way, contributing greatly to climate change and rising sea levels.
However, with a little mindfulness and willingness to learn, there are many steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint over time. Here’s just 10 small ways you can reduce your carbon footprint and help make the world around you a healthier place:
1. Walk or bike whenever possible.
Cars emit a lot of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and are a big contributor of air pollution. When possible, skip the car trip and take a train, bus, subway, bike or even walk to your destination. Also, be mindful and try to avoid air travel if possible. Ideally, if you’re going somewhere within 2 miles of your home, you should make it a goal to walk or bike every single time, as this will dramatically reduce your impact on the environment. Not only is walking good for you, but it’s good for the environment, too.
2. Buy energy efficient appliances and bulbs.
Luckily, more and more appliances are made to be energy efficient these days, so you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg to find a quality energy-saving appliance. This is especially true for larger appliances like washers and dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and air conditioners, as these appliances use the most energy. Additionally, replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED ones. There won’t be any difference in lighting and you will cut down on your monthly energy bill.
3. Be mindful of your car and driving style.
Of course, buying an electric or hybrid car reduces carbon dioxide emissions greatly, but there are steps you can take before ditching your car for a new one. Keeping your tires properly inflated improves your gas mileage up to 3%. Make sure you’re also using the correct grade of motor oil and keep your engine tuned. Making minor maintenance fixes regularly, like fixing faulty oxygen sensors, could increase your fuel efficiency by up to 40%.
Also, be mindful of the way you drive. Speeding and unnecessary acceleration both reduce gas mileage by up to 33%, waste gas and money, and increase your carbon footprint.
4. Turn off lights when not in the room.
Make sure you turn off the lights whenever you leave a room. While this might not seem like a big deal, it’s the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by the power stations that supply your home with energy. The more lights you use and the longer you have them on, the more energy the power station supplies to your home and has to keep supplying, which increases carbon dioxide emissions from the power station.
The amount of carbon dioxide created by not composting food waste pales in comparison to the amount of methane that is created, then released, into the atmosphere by not composting. True, the more waste you produce and throw away, the more that has to be taken to the landfill, which creates more carbon emissions. But more importantly than that, it’s how the food waste breaks down in a landfill that causes the bigger problem.
Once in a landfill, food waste breaks down into a gas mixture of 50% methane and 50% carbon dioxide, which does not happen when food waste is properly composted. Because of the anaerobic decay in landfills, every pound of food thrown away results in about 3.8 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions. While the carbon dioxide produced by the landfill food waste is bad, the methane produced is about 25 times worse for the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. On average, American families produce about 20 pounds of food waste per month.
However, if you compost your food scraps, your leftovers become beautiful nutrients for your future garden because they break down in the presence of oxygen, which is absent from the airtight landfill containers.
6. Recycle and reuse.
In a similar vein as composting, about 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the “provision of goods,” which means the extraction of resources, manufacturing, transport and final disposal of these “goods.” This is everything you’re buying, except for food - the goods have to make it to the store somehow and the transportation of these items are a big contributor to climate change. By buying used products and reselling or recycling items you no longer use, you dramatically reduce your carbon footprint from this process.
7. Consider adding solar panels.
Solar panels are great for your budget and the environment long-term. Not only will your energy bill decrease dramatically over time, you’ll be producing your own clean energy from the sun. Plus, any excess energy you produce the electric company will pay buy from you, so it’s a win-win for all.
8. Grow your own food or buy fresh produce.
Thirteen percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the production and transportation of food. Transporting food requires petroleum-based fuels, which are harmful for the environment. Plus, many fertilizers used to grow commercially sold food are also fossil fuel-based, thus harmful for the environment. Cut down on your carbon footprint by purchasing fresh produce from local farm markets, or grow your own food and learn how to store it properly for the winter.
9. Turn the faucet off when brushing teeth.
Decreasing your water usage is essential to lowering your energy usage and carbon footprint. Brushing your teeth with the water running wastes about 4 gallons of water every day. However, by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth, you can save up to 4 gallons of water every day. The same goes for showering. Take shorter showers to reduce your water usage. Turn off the shower when lathering up with soap or shampooing your hair to reduce the amount of water you’re wasting every day.
10. Embrace a minimalist lifestyle.
Declutter your home and donate unneeded items to charity. Buy, borrow or rent used clothing, electronics, house decorations and furniture, cars and other products whenever possible. Bring reusable shopping bags with you when grocery shopping. The less you collect, the less you have to waste energy and resources on. Plus, you’re helping out the environment, too.
To calculate your carbon footprint, just follow this link: carbon footprint calculator. At Beardy Boys, we serve good food for good people, which means using only non-GMO, organic ingredients packaged in glass jars. To learn how we like to reuse our glass jars and reduce our carbon footprints, click here. We want a healthier future for both ourselves and the environment.