The environment is one of the most important topics for people to understand these days. With so many different environmental issues being faced, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure what you can do about them.
This blog post will provide 10 ways that anyone can reduce their carbon footprint – no matter how small.
Tip 1: Reduce your meat consumption
Meat has a stark effect on climate change because of how it is produced. The production of meat takes up a lot of land and the process impacts many parts of the environment, such as water usage. Additionally, methane gas emissions are also seen to be increased due to livestock farming.
A single kilogram of beef is estimated to equal up to 300 kilograms of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the UN FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations).
Cutting down on meat consumption is a very effective way of reducing your carbon footprint with little compromise. Don’t be alarmed if you love your burgers, because you don’t need to cut meat out entirely – every bit counts. Choosing a different protein once a week (or every two weeks) can make a huge difference in shrinking your carbon footprint.
If you’re open to new experiences, however, try going vegan one day a week – or replacing red meats with plant based proteins such as beans, nuts and tofu to help reduce the amount of water used for farming animals!
Tip 2: Use energy efficient appliances
You can reduce your carbon footprint by reducing your energy use through upgrading older equipment or installing new ones that consume less power. You should start off by replacing any old light bulbs with LED lights in order to save money on electricity bills long-term (along with saving the planet)!
Sure, there’s an upfront cost to replacing your existing equipment, and if it’s not consuming excessive amounts of electricity and it’s still works flawlessly, it might actually be better to hold on. But from a purely financial side of things, many such upgrades tend to pay for themselves – especially when we’re talking about lighting.
Tip 3: Buy products with less packaging
In order for a product to be sold in stores, it needs packaging. In the past this was made from materials that could easily be recycled by consumers or companies – but these days, things have changed.
Nowadays, due to advancements in technology and therefore lower costs of production, many businesses are opting for more plastic-based items rather than cardboard or paper-based materials. In the UK alone, more than three million tonnes of plastic packaging is wasted each year – which has a huge negative impact on our environment.
However, there are still plenty of companies that offer great alternatives to single use plastics and excessive packaging. By shopping around for different brands you can reduce your carbon footprint by reducing your waste.
Tip 4: Take public transportation instead of driving
Aside from electricity, fossil fuel usage is one of the biggest everyday contributors to climate change. In the UK, for example, transport emits around 24% of all greenhouse gas emissions – which is more than any other sector!
While the vehicles used in public transportation is increasingly becoming more climate friendly, the key advantage is not that the vehicles themselves are more efficient, but that their emissions are split among all passengers. Even a gas-guzzling old school bus would be more energy efficient per passenger mile when fully seated than if you’re driving your personal car alone.
This means that by taking public transportation you can have a positive impact on our environment and lower your carbon footprint.
Tip 5: Turn off the lights
Make a habit of always turning of the lights when you leave a room or go into a dark area of the house/building outside at night time – turn on motion sensor lights if necessary.
While modern lights in general, and LED lights in particular, are very efficient, lights still account for a significant portion of our energy usage.
By always turning off the lights when you’re not in a room, you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money on electricity bills. You can take this further by unplugging your appliances when you’re not using them (which also applies to TV’s and other equipment) or by limiting the amount of time spent in front of a screen.
Tip 6: Use a programmable thermostat
Programmable thermostats are one of the most effective ways to reduce household energy usage by automatically regulating indoor temperature.
By installing a programmable system you can significantly lower your carbon footprint and save money on electricity bills long-term. Simply adjust the settings for when everyone is out or asleep, then during normal waking hours set it at a higher temperature.
This way, you’ll never have to suffer from a cold house or an overheated bedroom, and you can cut down substantially on energy usage.
Tip 7: Buy sustainable or recycled products
Most of the products we buy end up in landfill sites at some point. While recycling is certainly important, it doesn’t account for a significant portion of waste reduction – and many times you simply can’t fully recycle certain items (such as certain electronics).
By choosing sustainable or recycled products over new ones, you’ll not only reduce your carbon footprint but also help to reduce the amount of waste produced by society.
Choose items that are made from sustainable materials or contain recycled content, and look for packaging that is easily recyclable – this way you can have a positive impact on our environment while saving money in the long term.
Tip 8: Use a reusable water bottle
As humans, we need to drink a lot of water, and most of us don’t even drink enough of it. That’s why we often default to bottled water or fizzy water when it’s easy available and we feel the need to quench our thirst.
Bottled water may be convenient, but it’s also wasteful and harmful to the environment. In fact, according to “Ban The Bottle”, Americans use around 50 billion plastic bottles every year – which is enough to circle the Earth more than 400 times!
By using a reusable or refillable water bottle instead of buying bottled water, you can reduce your carbon footprint and help to cut down on waste.
You’ll also save money in the long term as well as avoid exposing yourself (and potentially others) to harmful chemicals such as BPA that are often found in plastic bottles – particularly those without a BPA free label.
Tip 9: Use eco-friendly cleaning products
Cleaning is an inevitable part of life, and one that we can’t really avoid. However, many people don’t realize the damage they’re doing to the environment when it comes to choosing household cleaners – often opting for harsher chemical options for their perceived effectiveness.
What’s easy to forget is that cleaning products don’t just affect your immediate surroundings when used, but they also need to be manufactured. Estimated carbon footprints of chemical production vary widely from chemical to chemical, but according to some of the most recent estimates, produce around 0.7 pounds of CO2 per pound of product.
Hence, going for natural products or researching which chemicals you should use beforehand goes a long way. Instead of using harsh chemicals that are bad for the environment (and possibly your health), you can switch to eco-friendly cleaning products. These will still be effective, but without posing any threat to yourself or the surrounding area.
Tip 10: Go paperless
Paper is a renewable resource, but it also takes a lot of energy and water to produce. In fact, the pulp and paper industry is one of the largest contributors to environmental damage in terms of CO² – accounting for around 11%!
By going paperless you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Even if you don’t opt for a digital service or device, simply making an effort to go paperless can make a big difference. Use online banking instead of visiting the bank in person, send letters and documents via email rather than snail mail – even recycle old bills that come through your door.
Bonus tip: Get started today
Whichever tip you decide to follow of the above, the most important thing is to get started right away. Every single effort counts, no matter how small – a smaller carbon footprint is always better than whatever carbon footprint you had before.
These 10 easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint will help you do good for the environment without having to break a sweat. From choosing sustainable or recycled products over new ones, using reusable water bottles, going paperless and opting for eco-friendly cleaning products – there are plenty of simple changes that can have an enormous impact on our planet.
And remember, whatever you can’t reduce yourself, you should consider offsetting!