It’s no secret that humans do more harm than good when it comes to the environment. Although everyone’s carbon footprint is different depending on the activities we engage in, the foods we eat, and the ways we travel, all humans can take simple yet effective measures to reduce their carbon footprint and guarantee the continuity of life on Earth.
The terrifying truth is that global warming will become irreversible in less than 8 years if the current level of neglect continues unabated. This will mean worse weather conditions, more widespread famine, and even more limited water availability. To help prevent this from happening, do your part to save the planet and reduce your carbon footprint before time runs out!
Reduce, reuse, recycle!
One of the most important steps in reducing your carbon footprint is reducing the amount of waste that you personally generate. Simple methods you can integrate into your lifestyle include using refillable water bottles rather than plastic, single-use bottles, opting for items that come with less packaging, such as produce picked from a bin rather than individually wrapped produce, and recycling all recyclable materials.
The acceptable recyclable materials vary from county to county, so double check with your local resources to find out what can and can’t be recycled. When you do recycle materials, make sure you take everything apart because all items are recycled separately. For example, remove the cap and label from a water bottle before tossing it into the recycling bin.
You might think water is an abundant natural resource, but it really isn’t. A very small portion of the planet’s water supply is freshwater, and it’s extremely high in demand. When the global temperature increases, droughts worsen and water becomes even more scarce. What’s worse is that humans waste outrageous amounts of water every single day.
Reduce your water consumption by turning the water off when brushing your teeth, shampooing and conditioning your hair, and shaving your legs. You can conserve gallons of water by taking shorter showers and turning the water off when you’re not actively rinsing. Don’t use water to defrost food; use the microwave instead. When doing laundry, only do full loads rather than half loads, and always choose the appropriate water level for the amount of clothes you’re washing.
Bike more, drive less.
Cars annually contribute about 75% of all carbon monoxide pollution in the US, and the US contributes about half of the entire world’s automotive pollution! These numbers are shocking and tragic since the US only contains 30% of all the world’s vehicles. Needless to say, we ALL need to do better.
Bicycling is a great alternative to driving because it not only contributes zero carbon emissions, it also serves as an excellent form of exercise. Instead of driving to the 7-11 down the street to satisfy your late-night munchies, hop on your bike and cruise over for an impromptu workout and a refreshing evening breeze!
Cut out meat and dairy.
If you think your diet has nothing to do with the environment, think again. Animal agriculture produces 15-20% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions! Cows produce methane and nitrous oxide, which can poison water and turn into carbon dioxide that then contributes to air pollution. All byproducts of cows, including all dairy products, contribute toward that pollution.
Pigs, chickens, and all other livestock have a larger carbon footprint than anything that grows from the ground, including all vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and wheat. If you adopt a vegan lifestyle, you will cut your yearly carbon footprint by 60%—that’s more of a reduction than if you were to never drive again for the rest of your life!
Use reusable produce bags.
Reusable produce bags are typically made out of cotton, mesh, or other recyclable materials. Use these bags instead of single-use produce bags that are thrown away after one use. If you go shopping once per week and buy produce every time, you’re averaging 35 to 60 single-use bags per month and 420 to 720 per year.
You can significantly reduce the amount of waste you produce by opting for reusable produce bags, which can be washed, dried, and reused many times before wearing out. Plastic bags are made from petroleum and take over 1,000 years to degrade, whereas cotton and mesh bags degrade much more quickly and can be composted, which effectively eliminates their carbon footprint altogether!
Turn off and unplug everything when not in use.
Even if an electricity-powered appliance or device isn’t being actively used, it’s still consuming trace amounts of energy just being plugged into the wall! Although it’s not reasonable to unplug literally everything you own when not in use, you can make a world of difference by just unplugging your phone charger, coffee maker, toaster oven, stereo system, microwave, computer, desk lamp, and any power strips you have that a bunch of electrics are plugged into.
Be car efficient.
Being car efficient doesn’t just mean you should drive a fuel-efficient, hybrid, or electric car. You should also take care of your car so that it produces less smog and overall pollution. You can be car efficient by always changing your oil on time, getting your smog checked every so often, keeping your tire pressure at the proper level to optimize your fuel efficiency, and removing excess weight from your backseat and trunk, which means getting rid of everything that doesn’t need to be in your car!
Being car efficient also means reducing the number of trips you’re making on any given day, which means you should combine your errands to reduce the overall miles you travel. Take shortcuts and use traffic apps to avoid traffic jams so that you’re not sitting in your car for hours without moving. Lastly, turn on cruise control when you’re driving on a highway for a long period of time to save gas.
Will you take these simple steps to reduce your carbon footprint and help preserve the environment? Comment your thoughts below!
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Jamie graduated from Cal Poly Pomona in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in English. She is an aspiring writer, professional editor/proofreader, and piano player. In her free time, Jamie enjoys reading classic literary works, composing music, and playing Xbox with her husband!