- What is Carbon Footprint?
- Why Should We Care about Reducing our Carbon Footprint?
- 22 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
- 1) Buy Products Locally; Avoid Imported Products when Possible
- 2) Switch to Energy-Efficient Appliances
- 3) Support Businesses that Use Renewable Energy
- 4) Reduce Animal Product Consumption
- 5) Grow Your Own Food (or Some of it)
- 6) Eating Seasonally
- 7) Vote with the Environment in Mind
- 8) Compost your Food Waste
- 9) Buying Fewer but Better Quality Products
- 10) Shop Secondhand
- 11) Bike, Walk, and Carpool More Often
- 12) Repair Your Belongings Instead of Defaulting to Donation or the Bin
- 13) Avoid Fast Fashion
- 14) Going Solar
- 15) Upgrade Your Windows and Doors
- 16) Take Advantage of Any Local Recycling Programs
- 17) Learn about Eco-Driving
- 18) Drive a Fuel-Efficient Car
- 19) Buy Only Fairtrade Coffee and Chocolates
- 20) Shop at Farmers Markets and Local Stores
- 21) Join a Local Swap or Buy Nothing Group
- 22) Use Rechargeable Batteries
- Wrapping Up
Every day it seems like we’re learning more and more about the devastating effects our carbon emissions are having on the planet. Since 1988, we’ve produced half of all emissions in Earth’s history. Human activities have caused irreversible damage to our world, and we can avoid further damage if we work together to develop lasting solutions.
One of those many solutions is addressing our impact and find ways to reduce your carbon footprint. While it can often feel overwhelming, there are significant ways we can live more sustainably and reduce our contributions to climate change. Here’s an overview of what a carbon footprint is and some tips to help get you started!
What is Carbon Footprint?
Carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases emitted by an individual, event, organisation, or product, expressed as carbon dioxideequivalent
- For individuals, a carbon footprint signifies the environmental impact of their daily activities, such as commuting to work or purchasing household goods.
- For business owners and large corporations, a carbon footprint represents the emissions associated with their entire supply chain, from raw materials to manufacturing to transportation.
Based on the numbers and data we have available, it’s easy to see that individuals have relatively little effect on climate change compared to businesses and large corporations.
In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the need to reduce our carbon footprints to combat climate change and it has already led to some positive changes, like electric vehicles and corporations implementing genuine sustainability initiatives.
Meaningful changes and tangible actions toward reversing climate change won’t happen through individual lifestyle changes. That being said, we can still take steps to reduce our individual carbon footprints.
Why Should We Care about Reducing our Carbon Footprint?
Reducing your carbon footprint is essential for both the environment and the economy. Focusing on unsustainable growth year over year on a planet with finite resources is unsustainable and unrealistic. The United Nations has described carbon neutrality as “the world’s most urgent mission.“
We don’t live in a sandbox RPG game with unlimited quantities of everything. We live on a planet (Earth), and we need to start taking better care of it before it can no longer support us.
And even though we need to utilise collective action to affect policy change and get corporations to reduce their emissions, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also focus on reducing our own carbon footprints.
Every bit counts and the more people take action, the better! So, let’s discuss specific ways to reduce our carbon footprints.
22 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
1) Buy Products Locally; Avoid Imported Products when Possible
The transportation of goods is a significant source of carbon emissions. When you buy products that are made locally, you can avoid the emissions associated with long-distance shipping.
Buying locally also helps to support the local economy. When you purchase from a local business, you’re helping to create jobs and generate tax revenue that stays within the community. Local products are often fresher and of higher quality than imported goods.
So next time you’re shopping online or in person, take a moment to consider where the products come from. Buying locally is good for the economy, good for the environment, and good for you.
2) Switch to Energy-Efficient Appliances
Energy-efficient appliances use less electricity than their traditional counterparts, reducing your carbon footprint and saving you money on your energy bill.
Utilising energy-efficient appliances is one of the most effective ways to make your home more sustainable. If you cannot afford solar panels due to high costs in your area, buying energy-efficient appliances is one of the best things you can do to reduce your household’s emissions.
While the initial cost of an energy-efficient appliance may be higher than a traditional one, the savings will more than make up for it over time. Energy-efficient appliances often come with other benefits, such as quieter and longer lasting. Consider buying pre-owned appliances to reduce the cost.
3) Support Businesses that Use Renewable Energy
When you support businesses that use renewable energy, you’re helping to drive demand for clean energy. This, in turn, helps to create jobs and grow the renewable energy industry.
There are a few different ways to support businesses that use renewables. You can buy products or services, invest in them, or simply share their website or social media profiles with your friends and family.
Every little bit helps, and the more people support businesses that use renewables, the faster we can transition to a clean energy future.
4) Reduce Animal Product Consumption
One way to reduce your carbon footprint is to reduce your animal product consumption. Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and requires a lot of resources, like water and land.
You can significantly impact the environment by reducing your consumption of meat, eggs, and dairy. Even if you’re hesitant to take animal products off the menu entirely, you can reduce your carbon footprint by halving your meat consumption or by taking small steps that add up.
If you’re not plant-based, here are some ideas for you to work with:
- Switch to a dairy-free ice cream
- Try an almond or oat milk coffee creamer
- Eat meat with dinner 2-3 days of the week instead of 5-7
Many delicious plant-based options are available these days, so you don’t need to miss out on flavour when reducing your carbon footprint. Some great plant-based protein sources include beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, and seitan.
You can also find recipes online or in cookbooks specifically designed for people looking to reduce their meat intake. Plenty of delicious recipes will satisfy even the most enthusiastic meat eaters. Aside from environmental benefits, reducing animal product consumption will likely boost your health.
5) Grow Your Own Food (or Some of it)
With grocery prices on the rise and concerns about the carbon footprint of industrially-grown foods, more and more people are interested in growing their own food. Not only is this a great way to save money, but it can also help to reduce your carbon footprint.
Produce that is grown locally requires less transportation than food that is shipped from long distances. Homegrown fruits and vegetables often taste better than those that are mass-produced. And a surprising amount of produce loses much of its nutritional value within three days of being harvested.
If you don’t have a green thumb or a balcony or yard, there are plenty of ways to get started with indoor gardening. Herbs and greens are relatively easy to grow, and they don’t require a lot of space.
In fact, herbs and greens like lettuce and spinach are some of the most environmentally-friendly crops to grow! That’s because shipping lettuce and other greens around the country is unsustainable. Fresh greens go rancid quickly, so shipping them is a complex process, and it all has to happen fast to get to supermarket shelves without rotting.
Even if you only grow some spinach, herbs, and a tomato plant, you’re still reducing your carbon footprint. Whether you have a large backyard or a small windowsill, you can make a difference by growing your own food. Check out Finn’s Hydroponics guide and iDOO growing system review.
6) Eating Seasonally
Eating seasonally is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. When you eat foods that are in season, they have to travel less distance to get to your plate. This means that fewer carbon emissions are produced in the transportation process.
Seasonal foods are typically grown locally, which further reduces the carbon emissions associated with their production. Eating seasonal foods also helps support local farmers and businesses. Buying local produce ensures that your money goes back into the local economy.
Seasonal foods can taste better, too! When fruits and veggies are allowed to ripen naturally on the vine or tree, they develop more complex flavours than their out-of-season counterparts.
If you’re not sure how to start eating seasonally, a great place to start is your local farmer’s market. Farmer’s markets typically sell produce that is grown locally and in season. Talking to the farmers themselves is a great way to learn about what’s currently in season.
7) Vote with the Environment in Mind
As the effects of climate change become more severe, we must elect leaders who are committed to taking action on this issue. When casting your vote, consider the candidate’s stance on climate change and their plans for reducing carbon emissions. With the environment in mind, make your voice heard at the ballot box.
Be an advocate for voting. Encourage your friends and family to vote in local and national elections. Ask them to come with you to vote! Make a day of it by going out to lunch, doing some shopping downtown, or heading to a park after your voting trip.
8) Compost your Food Waste
Did you know that your food waste can significantly impact your carbon footprint?
When an organic matter like food waste decomposes, it releases methane gas into the atmosphere. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that traps heat and contributes to climate change. You can help reduce methane emissions by composting your food waste instead of sending it to landfills.
Composting accelerates the decomposition process, allowing the food waste to break down faster and release less methane gas. Composting your food waste enriches the soil, which helps to improve plant growth and capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
If you don’t plan to use compost on your own plants, there are plenty of options to give your compost away. Some cities offer a curbside pickup option. If curbside pickup isn’t available, try speaking with local farmers at your farmer’s market, and you’ll likely find someone who will be happy to take your compost. Sites like ShareWaste offer another way to find nearby gardens and farms to drop off your compost and food scraps.
Learning how to compost is probably easier than you think. Check out our guide to composting for beginners and pick a composting method that works best for your living situation. You can compost your food waste even if you don’t have a yard or outdoor area on your property.
9) Buying Fewer but Better Quality Products
One way to reduce your impact is to buy fewer products overall. It’s also essential to focus on quality over quantity. When you buy a well-made item that will last for years, you ultimately save money and resources in the long run.
The next time you’re shopping, take a moment to consider whether you really need an item and if so, choose something that is built to last. Check out our other article on planned obsolescence and how to avoid it here.
10) Shop Secondhand
One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint is to shop secondhand. By buying already-produced items, you are not contributing to the demand for new goods, which requires energy and resources to create. Not to mention, the transportation and packaging of new products also generate carbon emissions.
Next time you need a new piece of clothing or furniture, consider checking out your local thrift store or consignment shop. You may be surprised at the quality of the items you can find.
11) Bike, Walk, and Carpool More Often
Cars are a significant contributor to climate emissions. With gas prices on the rise, many people are looking for ways to reduce their driving. Bike, walk, and carpool more often to reduce climate emissions.
Biking is a great way to get around some areas and doesn’t require gas. Walking is another excellent option, and it’s also good for your health. Carpooling is another great way to save money on gas, and it’s also helpful for the environment.
12) Repair Your Belongings Instead of Defaulting to Donation or the Bin
Repair your belongings instead of replacing them. Every time you buy a new item, it requires energy and resources to create, ship, and package it. Once you’re done with it, it often ends up in a landfill.
If you can patch up a hole in your shirt or mend a torn seam, you can extend the life of your clothes and avoid contributing to the growing problem of textile waste. Repairing broken items instead of buying new ones also saves you money in the long run.
13) Avoid Fast Fashion
Most of us are guilty of it- we see a cute top or pair of shoes on a mannequin in a store window, and we just have to have it. We don’t think about where it came from or how it was made; we just think about how good it will look on us. But the truth is, that piece of clothing has a carbon footprint that is much larger than you might think.
The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Cotton farming uses large amounts of water and pesticides, and the manufacturing process uses toxic chemicals and dyes. The clothing is then shipped worldwide, using even more fossil fuels. And once we’re done with it, most of our clothes end up in landfills.
But there is a way to break this cycle by avoiding fast fashion. Fast fashion is clothing that is produced quickly and cheaply to meet the latest trends. But those trends always change, so we’re constantly buying new clothes.
Suppose we can break out of that cycle and start wearing clothes built to last. In that case, we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint and save money.
14) Going Solar
With the threat of climate change looming significantly every day, it’s more important than ever to do our part to reduce our carbon footprint. One way we can do this is by switching to solar power.
Solar energy is a clean, renewable resource that doesn’t produce harmful emissions during use. It’s also becoming increasingly affordable, with the cost of solar panels dropping by more than 70% over the last decade.
Perhaps best of all, going solar is a great way to save money on your energy bills. In fact, many people who switch to solar power find that their energy costs are reduced by 50% or more.
15) Upgrade Your Windows and Doors
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, improving the thermal performance of your windows and doors can reduce emissions by up to 1,460 pounds annually.
Upgrading your windows or doors or resealing them makes your home retain heat better. It also makes the whole heating system of your house more efficient and sustainable.
16) Take Advantage of Any Local Recycling Programs
One way to take action against climate change is to participate in local recycling programs. Recycling helps reduce the waste sent to landfills, where it decomposes and emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
By recycling items such as glass, paper, and aluminium, we can help to reduce our carbon footprint and slow the pace of climate change. While recycling alone cannot solve the global climate crisis, it is a simple and effective way to do our part.
17) Learn about Eco-Driving
Eco-driving is a simple but effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. You can significantly reduce your emissions without compromising your safety or comfort by making small changes to your driving.
In some places, getting around without a personal vehicle is nearly impossible. These tips are for you if you live in an area without much access to public transport or safe places to walk and bike. Here are a few tips to get you started with eco-driving:
- Accelerate slowly and smoothly. Sudden acceleration uses more fuel than gradual acceleration, so take it easy on the gas pedal.
- Anticipate traffic conditions. If you know a red light is coming up, ease off the accelerator, so you don’t have to brake suddenly when you reach the light.
- Coast to a stop whenever possible. This helps to conserve momentum and reduces wear and tear on your brakes.
- Keep your car well maintained. A well-tuned engine burns less fuel than an engine that isn’t properly maintained. So make sure to keep up with regular oil changes and other routine maintenance tasks.
- Use Google Maps or another tool to determine the shortest possible route to your frequently visited locations. Stick to these routes any time you can.
- When you need to use your car, combine trips whenever possible. For example, if you usually spend your weekends running errands on both Saturday and Sunday, can you combine those trips and get them all done on the same day?
Following these simple tips will help you save money on gas and reduce your emissions at the same time.
18) Drive a Fuel-Efficient Car
If you’re in the market for a new car, choose a fuel-efficient one. Fuel efficiency has improved dramatically in recent years, and there are now many options available if you’re looking to be more environmentally friendly with your transportation choices.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when shopping for a fuel-efficient car:
- Choose the right size. A smaller car will usually be more fuel-efficient than a larger one.
- Consider a hybrid or electric car. These cars use less gas or no gas compared to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.
- Do your research. Use resources like fueleconomy.gov to compare the fuel efficiency of different vehicles.
- Talk to your friends and family. See if anyone you know has recently purchased a fuel-efficient car and ask for their recommendations.
- Test drive the car before you buy it. Ensure you’re comfortable with how it operates and meets your needs.
By taking the time to do your research and choose a fuel-efficient car, you can help reduce your carbon footprint and save money on gas at the same time.
19) Buy Only Fairtrade Coffee and Chocolates
When you buy coffee or chocolate, look for the fairtrade label. This ensures that the farmers who grew the beans or cocoa were paid a fair price for their product. It also means that the farm workers had good working conditions and were not exploited.
Fairtrade coffee and chocolate might cost a few more cents. Still, it’s worth knowing that you’re supporting farmers and workers who are treated fairly. And when you support fair trade, you’re also helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. That’s because fair trade farms are often located in developing countries, which use less harmful farming practices than conventional farms.
Chocolate is an infrequent purchase for many of us, so it usually doesn’t cost us much in terms of convenience to opt for fairtrade.
20) Shop at Farmers Markets and Local Stores
We’ve already discussed the importance of local shopping, but let’s talk about farmer’s markets. When you buy food from local farmers and stores, you support businesses with a smaller carbon footprint than large grocery chains. That’s because local farms don’t have to transport their products as far, and they often use sustainable farming practices.
Shopping at farmer’s markets and local stores also helps you eat seasonally. Eating fruits and vegetables in season means consuming less energy to grow and transport them. When you eat seasonal produce, it usually tastes better too!
Farmer’s markets are a great place to find locally grown food. In some areas, you can join a CSA (community-supported agriculture) or opt for doorstep delivery of your farmer’s market goods! This makes shopping from a farmer’s market more accessible for people who have difficulty leaving their homes, people who lack access to public transport, and for busy parents and working people.
21) Join a Local Swap or Buy Nothing Group
If you’re looking for an alternative to traditional shopping, consider joining a local swap or buy nothing group. These groups are based on the idea of sharing resources and reducing waste.
In a swap group, members bring items they no longer need and trade them with other members. This is a great way to eliminate unwanted items without sending them to landfills. And it’s a fun way to meet your neighbours and build community!
Buy nothing groups are based on the idea of gifting items instead of buying them. These groups usually have an online presence, where members post things they want to give away. Facebook is beneficial for finding these groups.
22) Use Rechargeable Batteries
Disposable batteries are convenient but not very good for the environment. That’s because they end up in landfills, releasing toxins into the ground.
Rechargeable batteries are a much better option for the environment. They can be reused hundreds of times before they need to be recycled. If you use a lot of batteries, consider investing in a solar charger. This will allow you to recharge your batteries using renewable energy from the sun.
In this article, we’ve shared 22 tips and ways to reduce your carbon footprint. These tips include biking and walking more often, carpooling, and learning about eco-driving. Even small changes can make a big difference in helping the environment.
Why not try out a few of these tips and see how much of a difference you can make? Together, we can work to reduce our impact on the planet and help preserve our natural resources for future generations.