How to Lower My Carbon Footprint
There has been a lot of talk recently about a person’s carbon footprint and the environmental impacts of lowering one’s carbon footprint. Let’s cover some of the ways you can lower your carbon footprint.
Start with using less electricity. There are lots of ways to save on electricity including simply adjusting the temperature on your air conditioner. For this article, let's focus on ways beyond conserving electricity to reduce you carbon footprint.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint on the Road
Everyone knows that your vehicles fuel economy is important, but there are still other ways to reduce your carbon footprint on the road than just buying a fuel-efficient vehicle.
- Don’t use drive-through windows. Park your car and go inside. If you are at a drive-in restaurant (like Sonic) then turn your engine off while you wait for your food.
- Don’t leave your car running in idle. Turn your engine off anytime you are parked and waiting on someone, such as when your husband is picking out a movie from Red Box or your wife is running in for a prescription.
- Combine (or even eliminate) trips. Do you really need to run to the store at 10:00 pm just for a bag of popcorn? If it can wait, let it. Instead, pick up popcorn next time you are at the store and get a few extra bags for the next movie night.
Use Less Stuff
Everything you purchase was an impact on your carbon footprint, some things more than others. So, anytime you can use less of something you are helping to lower your carbon footprint. This applies to packaging as well - if you can find the same product with less packaging, that means less materials that had to be used to make that package. A good way to visualize this is the old CD packages - which used about twice the amount of plastic as the newer CDs (or how about NO packaging when you buy an mp3).
Here are some easy ways to reduce the amount of stuff in your household without impacting your lifestyle.
- carry (and use) reusable shopping bags - just make sure to bring them into the store.
- don't use a bag at all - if you are only buying one or two things, you can just carry the items without a bag. My pet peeve is the plastic bag that Subway restaurants uses for a sandwich, which is already wrapped; what a waste.
- pack lunch in reusable snack and sandwich bags. My kids love their Snack Happened bags and they are easy to wash.
- buy in bulk - next time you buy rice or beans, buy them by weight from the bulk stand in the produce section rather than in a box. Even better, bring your own reusable produce bag to weigh it in.
- use a reusable coffee filter - there are models available for almost every coffee maker on the market. You can even get a reusable k-cup for your Keurig single serve coffee maker.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint In the Kitchen
You can also reduce your carbon footprint in the kitchen.
- Buy local. The less distance that the food traveled to your plate, the less energy was used to transport it, which translates to a lower carbon footprint for you. Not to mention the added benefit of eating healthier.
- Buy less processed food. The more energy that was expended to produce your meal, the higher the carbon impact. So, if you are deciding between a frozen dinner and a fresh dinner, pick the fresh dinner. If you are reaching for a snack, pick a locally grown apple rather than a bag of chips. A good rule of thumb is that the closer a food is to it's natural form, the better it is for you and for the environment.
- Grow you own. Even better is if you can eat from your own backyard garden, which has the added benefit of helping you eat healthy on a budget. If you have any amount of space, you can grow your own produce. There are plenty of vegetables that grow well in pots, such as peppers and tomatoes. Even if all you have is a sunny window, you can grow fresh herbs.
- Don't waste food. All food requires food, water, and energy to grow, and to be transported from the farm or factory to your table. When food is wasted, all the energy used to produce and transport that food was also wasted. So, but only what you think you can eat and find ways to use leftover food.
- Start a compost. You can reduce your trash by composting your fruit and vegetable scraps. This returns much needed nutrients to the soil, improving your fruit and vegetable harvest. But, if you start a compost, just don't make the same mistakes I made when I started composting.
These ideas are only the start of how you can reduce your carbon footprint. Once you start making a conscious effort to reduce your carbon footprint, you will see endless possibilities to reduce it even further.