Climate scientists have been sounding the alarm on greenhouse gases (GHG) for a long time. Recently, reports have been more alarming, indicating the need for immediate change to mitigate the impacts of climate change. It’s a huge global challenge. However, there are ways you can contribute by reducing your carbon footprint at home.
A carbon footprint is a measure of the GHG emissions like CO2, caused directly and indirectly by your activities — from where you live, to what and where you drive — even how often and how long you shower. Various tools are available to help you measure your carbon footprint, but basically, the lower your footprint, the better.
The average carbon footprint of American households is 48 tons of CO2 equivalents. However, each year even those Americans with the lowest energy use still produce more than twice the global average. While that’s a sad statistic, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t aim to be as energy efficient as possible. Not only will it help shrink your carbon footprint, but it will also help you save money in the long run.
To help you take steps toward a better carbon footprint, consider these energy conservation tips:
Think efficiency: One way to cut energy use is to buy newer, more energy-efficient appliances. However, that comes with significant upfront costs, which might be prohibitive. Regular maintenance and cleaning can help keep your appliances running efficiently which helps lower energy consumption. Even adjusting your thermostat a few degrees can result in significant savings over the course of a year. Wondering which appliances are draining energy and your wallet? EnergyCloud by Blue Line Innovations is an energy monitoring system that matches energy use to appliance profiles to help identify your energy wasters.
Rethink your fridge: While a more efficient fridge is a great idea, we’re not talking appliances here. Recent studies show changing what we eat can significantly lower GHG emissions. The best way to do that? Cut back on meat consumption — especially red meat. It takes considerably more resources than plant-based foods and even other meat sources. According to research, beef uses 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions than chicken or pork.
Sourcing locally-grown seasonal fruit and vegetables will also make an impact. Food systems contribute up to 30 percent of global GHG emissions — and almost a third of all food is lost or wasted. By shopping locally (and more frequently) you avoid food waste and cut transportation emissions.
Switch it up: Everyday, you get to make choices that impact your carbon footprint. Buying a new lightbulb? Consider an LED bulb — while they are more expensive to start, according to Consumer Reports LED bulbs last anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 hours, much longer than other bulbs — and unlike CFL bulbs, have no mercury to deal with when disposing of them. Switching from plastic bags to reusable cloth bags is a choice you can make every day. Conserve energy by line-drying your laundry and consider public transit or biking to limit your carbon footprint even further. If you do drive, make sure you keep to the speed limit and keep your car running smoothly to ensure peak efficiency.
Shop Smart: Marie Kondo’s tidying might be about sparking joy, but the idea of owning less can also improve your carbon footprint. Be more selective about what you buy. Before buying, consider how far it had to travel to get to you — and how long you will own it for. Research to see if it’s something you can buy second-hand. If it’s an item you only need for a short time, find a rental service or borrow. Wherever you can, try buying items with less packaging. Many bulk stores — and even some grocery stores — will let you bring your own reusable containers. By being more selective about what you buy and where, you can save money and reduce your carbon footprint.