One of the most significant concerns we face as a species is climate change. We are on the verge of an environmental disaster due to human activity over the last 200 years. While real solutions may necessitate global action, there are decisions you can make in your daily life to reduce your environmental effect. One such step is lowering your carbon impact. We will look at what this means and what you can do about it.
What Does It Mean To Have A Carbon Footprint?
A carbon footprint refers to the quantity of greenhouse gas emissions produced by a product or service during its manufacture, use, or disposal. It comprises carbon dioxide, the most prevalent gas released by humans, and other gases such as methane, fluorinated gases, and nitrous oxide, all of which trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to global warming. Transportation, housing, and food usually account for the majority of an individual’s carbon footprint. Even the type of dog food your purchase has an impact on your carbon footprint. Calculate your dog’s carbon footprint online with Jiminy’s Eco-calculator.
Food & Your Carbon Footprint
Eat foods lower in the food chain.
While food systems are complex, and research on the best environmentally friendly diet is still growing, experts generally agree that reducing meat consumption, particularly red meat, is a better decision for the environment. This is because red meat production consumes a lot of feed, water, and land. As a result, scientists believe that following a vegan diet has a better effect on the environment. Red meat has up to 100 times the environmental impact of plant-based cuisine. Beef, according to a study, emits more than six pounds of CO2 per serving. In contrast, rice, leguminous plants, potatoes, and other vegan meals emit less than half a pound of carbon dioxide per serving.
Experts agree that eating low on the food chain as much as possible is an excellent approach to lower your carbon footprint and maintain your health. That involves including veggies, fruits, grains, and legumes on your plate.
Put Your Dog on a Low-Carbon Diet
Omnivorous cats and dogs, like humans, consume food that has a high greenhouse gas footprint, such as beef or lamb. Over the course of its life, beef emits 13 times more greenhouse emissions than vegetable proteins, while lamb has a carbon footprint that is 50 percent higher. Choose dog foods that have a lower impact on the environment. Like Jiminy’s sustainable dog food made from insects. Dog food that is made from insects like grubs and crickets have a much lower carbon footprint than dog foods made from proteins like chicken or beef.
Buy In-season Produce.
Transporting food from afar, whether by truck, ship, rail, or plane, necessitates the use of fossil fuels for both transportation and cooling to prevent food spoilage.
Whenever possible, buy goods in bulk and store them in your reusable container.
Cut down on food waste by pre-planning meals, freezing leftovers, and repurposing leftovers. If possible, compost your food waste.
Clothing & Carbon Footprints
Don’t fall for quick fashion.
Trendy, low-cost things that swiftly fall out of style are deposited in landfills, where they disintegrate and release methane. The average American currently discards around 80 pounds of clothes each year, with 85 percent of it ending up in landfills. Furthermore, because most fast fashion comes from China and Bangladesh, delivering it to the United States necessitates the use of fossil fuels. Instead, invest in long-lasting, high-quality apparel.
Even better, go to a consignment shop and buy vintage or recycled apparel.
Use cold water to wash your clothes. Coldwater detergent contains enzymes that are meant to clean better in cold water. Each year, doing two loads of laundry in cold water instead of hot or warm water can save up to 500 pounds of CO2.
Reducing Your Carbon Use At Home
Conduct a home energy audit. This will demonstrate to you how you consume and waste energy and assist you in identifying ways to be more energy-efficient. Set your thermostat to a lower temperature in the winter and a higher temperature in the summer. In the summer, turn off the air conditioning and instead use fans, which use less electricity. Also, research on additional non-air-conditioning techniques to beat the heat.
Replace incandescent light bulbs, which squander 90% of their energy as heat, with light-emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs are more expensive, but they consume a fifth of the energy and live up to 25 times longer. They are also better than compact fluorescent lamp bulbs, which contain mercury and emit 80% of their energy as heat. When you leave a room, turn off the lights and unplug any electrical equipment that is not in use.
Reduce the temperature of your water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This will save approximately 550 pounds of CO2 each year. Install a low-flow showerhead to save 350 pounds of CO2 by reducing hot water usage. Shorter showers are also beneficial.
Enlist the help of your local utility or a licensed renewable energy provider to receive your electricity from clean sources. Green-e.org can assist you in locating green energy sources that are certified.
Because natural gas and renewable energy are being used to generate power, transportation became the largest source of CO2 emissions in the United States in 2017. Each year, the average car emits roughly five tons of CO2 (though this varies depending on the type of vehicle, its fuel economy, and how it is driven). Changing how you travel around can help you save a lot of money on your carbon footprint.
Reduce your driving time. When possible, walk, rideshare, carpool, take public transportation, or bike to your location. This not only cuts CO2 emissions but also decreases traffic congestion and the associated engine idling.
If you must drive, here are some tips on driving more efficiently:
- Avoid excessive braking and acceleration if you must drive. According to particular research, aggressive driving might result in 40% greater fuel usage than conservative driving.
- Take good care of your vehicle. Keeping your tires inflated can boost your fuel efficiency by 3%, and keeping your automobile well-maintained can boost it by 4%. Remove any unnecessary weight from the vehicle.
- When running errands, attempt to group them to cut down on driving time.
- Avoid getting trapped in traffic by using traffic applications like Waze.
- Turn on the cruise control for long trips to save petrol.
- Even if the weather is hot, use less air conditioning while driving.
Shopping for an eco-friendly car
If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, consider a hybrid or electric vehicle. However, remember to account for both the car’s manufacture and its operation’s greenhouse gas emissions. Because of manufacturing implications, certain electric vehicles produce higher emissions than internal combustion engine vehicles at first, but they make up for it within three years. Carbon counter assigns a score to cars depending on their mileage, fuel type, and emissions from both the car’s manufacture and, in the case of electric vehicles, the generation of electricity to power them.
Whether you fly for business or pleasure, air travel is likely to account for the majority of your carbon impact. Driving may produce fewer greenhouse gases for shorter trips. If you must fly, try to fly nonstop to save fuel and reduce emissions from landings and takeoffs. Book a flight in economy class. Because the carbon emissions of a trip are split among more people in the economy, the business class is responsible for about three times as many emissions as the economy class; the first class could emit nine times more carbon than the economy class.
If you can’t avoid flying, offset your travel’s carbon emissions in other ways.
A carbon offset is a monetary amount that can fund a project that eliminates greenhouse gas emissions in another location. When you offset one ton of carbon, you assist in the capture or destruction of one ton of greenhouse gases that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere. Offsets also help to promote sustainable development and the utilization of renewable energy sources.
My Climate Calculator calculates the amount of money needed to offset your flight’s carbon emissions. For example, Flying in economy class roundtrip from New York to Los Angeles will lead to the emission of 1.5 tons of CO2 and costs $43 to offset.
Carbon offsets can be purchased to compensate for some or all of your other carbon emissions. The money you pay is directed towards projects that help to safeguard the environment. These programs are supported by a variety of organizations.
Get politically active
Finally, and probably most significantly, because the most effective climate change solutions necessitate government action, vote! Become politically involved and tell your elected officials that you want them to take steps to decarbonize the country and phase out fossil fuels and as quickly as possible.