How to reduce your carbon footprint and have a positive environmental impact.

I get it, climate change can be overwhelming.

Turn on the news on any given day and it is environmental doom and gloom.

I am not going to sugar coat this…

Reversing the damaging effects of climate change will require action on a global scale. 

But….

There are choices you can make in your day-to-day life to lessen your personal impact on the planet and environment. 

And just think if you do it, and your friends, and your neighbors, and thousands of others, what a difference can be made!

I am going to give you 15 ways you can reduce your carbon footprint to help the health of you, your family, and the planet. 

What Is Carbon Footprint?

First off, what is a carbon footprint anyway?

A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that an individual, group, or organization let into the atmosphere. 

These emissions include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. They all trap heat in the atmosphere, which contributes to global warming. 

And global warming isn’t just about more days that can be spent at the beach.

Nope, it causes extreme weather, the spread of vector-borne diseases, depletion of potable water, pollution, and environmental damage. 

Learning how to reduce your carbon footprint will help benefit both your family and the environment. 

Environmental Consequences

Come on. Is global warming really that bad

Um…

A big fat YES! 

Here are a few ways global warming and carbon emissions impact the environment:

  • More frequent and severe weather- floods, hurricanes, forest fires, storms, and droughts
  • Dirtier Air- pollution from cars, factories, and other sources 
  • Higher wildlife extinction rates- As land and sea undergo rapid changes, the animals that inhabit them are in danger. 
  • More acidic oceans- As acidification accelerates, it poses a serious threat to underwater life.
  • Higher Sea Levels- the world’s ice sheets are melting fast and water levels are rising. 

If you want to help contribute to a healthy and vibrant planet, for you, your family, and for future generations, then take steps towards reducing your carbon footprint. 

Carbon Footprint Facts

Here are some sources of emissions:

Paper Production Contributes to Carbon Emissions- The more paper you use, the more you are contributing to carbon emissions. Or worse, deforestation, which is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s cars, trucks, planes, and ships put together. Wow!

Your Water Has a High Carbon Footprint- Maintaining and purifying water takes up energy and results in CO2 emissions from the supply and treatment of water. 

Food Production Accounts for 83% of Carbon Emissions Each Year-  Businesses that produce food contribute to emissions of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane, including the methane released by their livestock like sheep and cattle. In addition, transporting food accounts for 11% of carbon emissions.

Electronics and Appliances Has A High Carbon Footprint- Electricity used at home contributes to indirect emissions because fossil fuels are burned by power plants to produce power. For each kilowatt-hour generated in the U.S., an average of 0.954 pounds of CO2 is released at the power plant.

Trash and Waste Contribute To Your Carbon Footprint- Landfills are sources of greenhouse gases and pollution. The EPA claims that for every pound of trash you throw away, you’ll create one pound of greenhouse gases.

Your Car Isn’t Helping Either- The average passenger car emits 0.78 pounds of CO2 per mile driven.

Choices you can make in your day-to-day life to lessen your ecological footprint

How to reduce your carbon footprint. 

Here are 15 ways:

1. Unplug Your Devices

cord being unplugged

Electronics are emitting 10.3% of the U.S. total greenhouse gas emissions. 

Even with electronics are plugged in and turned off, they are still drawing energy. 

So although your phone or computer or appliance isn’t charging or turned on, you are still contributing to your carbon footprint. 

Leave your devices unplugged or use a power strip and turn off when electronics are not in use. 

2. Minimize Driving

Driving a vehicle accounts for 17% of the total U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. 

To help reduce your ecological footprint, find other ways of transportation when possible

Carpool, ride public transportation, walk, bike. 

Find ways that you can minimize driving. Only get in your car when it is necessary. 

3. Drive A Low Carbon Vehicle 

If you live in an area that you have to be dependant on your vehicle, look for low carbon options. 

Consider leasing or purchasing an electric vehicle. 

Even though the electricity to charge your car will be partly generated in a gas or coal power station, electric vehicles are much more efficient than gas-powered vehicles. 

Another option is to keep your car in good working order so it lasts as long as possible. This will help cut down on greenhouse gas emissions of producing new cars.

Keep your old car on the road longer by maintaining it properly and using it sparingly. 

4. Reduce Energy Use

Cut down on your environmental impact by focusing on reducing energy in your home.

Use appliances and electronics only when you need to use them. Wash clothes in cold water and use your dryer less. 

Open the curtains and windows to cut down on using your lights and air conditioner. 

Don’t keep your thermostat too high or too low. 

Find ways that you can make easy changes in your home to cut down on your carbon footprint. 

5. Shop Local

Here is how shopping locally helps the planet:

  • It reduces food miles. By shopping locally, you are purchasing goods produced in your local community. Conversely, when you shop at the grocery store, many of the food items you buy travel over 1500 miles to reach your plate. 
  • More accessible. You don’t have to travel far to shop local. Most markets are in neighborhoods and are easily accessible by walking or biking. This helps decrease fuel consumption and carbon footprint.
  • Protects local land and wildlife.  By buying local, you are supporting local farmers and producers. Thereby reducing the chance of developers and big business producers to buy out the farm and incorporate inhumane and non-eco-friendly farming practices.
  • Low Impact Practices. Farmers selling at markets minimize the amount of waste and pollution they create. Many local farmers use certified organic practices, thereby reducing the number of synthetic pesticides and chemicals that pollute soil and water.

6. Live Minimally

Embrace the minimalist lifestyle.

Once you do it, you won’t want to go back.

Trust me. 

I have been living minimally for most of my adult life and I can’t imagine any other way.

It is freeing, less stressful, and feels healthier.

Declutter your home and donate unneeded items to charity and second-hand shops. Shop for electronics, home goods, furniture, cars, and other products used whenever possible.

7. Line Dry Your Clothes

line dry clothes

Use the power of the sun and not greenhouse gas emitting appliances to dry your clothes.

One dryer load uses 5 times more electricity than washing. Hanging your clothes to dry can save ⅓ of your carbon footprint!

You can use an outdoor clothesline or a drying rack for your laundry room.

I actually learned this while living and building gardens in Europe.

Line drying clothes wasn’t common in my midwest town but I noticed that almost everyone did it where I lived in Europe.

When I moved back to the States it was one of my first purchases and I use it every time I use the washing machine. 

Look at your local hardware store for a good drying rack or clothesline. 

8. Recycle And Reuse

By buying used products and reselling or recycling items you no longer use, you can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint.

Up to 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from manufacturing, transport, and final disposal of consumer products and packaging. 

Your first step towards a greener lifestyle is to always reuse and recycle before wasting and buying new. 

9. Avoid Flying When Possible

Sometimes there is no way around it. You need to fly.

For work. An emergency. Taking a trip overseas.

But air travel is one of the largest contributors to your carbon footprint. 

The average domestic commercial flight emitted 0.39 pounds of CO2 per passenger mile. This is almost a quarter of the average person’s annual emissions.

Now, I love going on a trip and traveling so flying is a necessity in my life. But, my husband and I look for ways to cut down on air travel. Be it going to places closer to home or look up train schedules as an alternative. 

10. Make Your Home Energy Efficient

Switch to LED lightbulbs, minimize the use of fireplaces or wood stoves, and install a programmable thermostat. 

Make sure your home is well insulated and has weatherstripping. Especially for doors, windows, attic and attic door. 

Keep up on appliance maintenance and when it’s time to buy new appliances look for efficient options for your HVAC and water heater. 

11. Reduce Water Use

Look for ways to reduce your water use.

And no, this isn’t about drinking less water.

Turn the water off when doing dishes or brushing your teeth. Buy low flow shower and faucet heads. Install water-efficient toilets, washing machines, and dishwashers.

Check for leaks and fix them.

Stop watering your grass. Please!!! Instead, buy native and drought-tolerant plants. 

How often do you really need to wash your car?

Take shorter showers and don’t fill the tub all the way up. 

12. Produce Less Waste

Reduce, Reuse, and recycle.

Don’t just throw it in the trash.

When shopping, look for items with the least amount of packaging. Don’t have a receipt printed if you don’t need one. Use reusable bags, produce bags, coffee mugs, straws, utensils, and anything else that can be reused over and over.

Commit to using less paper and get reusable napkins and paper towels. 

Don’t print documents of you can avoid it. 

Seek out where to take your recyclables, glass, and unwanted goods.

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Make a choice every day to produce less trash and waste. 

13. Shop Sustainably

Becoming truly sustainable would mean you wouldn’t buy anything new ever again.

That’s not really realistic for most of us. 

But you can be more eco-friendly by supporting those that are working towards a sustainable future. 

Look for companies that support low carbon emissions.

Buy from businesses that are concerned with climate change and are actively reducing their climate impact. 

14. Choose Low Energy-Intensive Activities

Everyone wants to have fun, right?!?

How about looking for ways to relax and unwind that don’t require CO2 emissions.

Go kayaking instead of taking the jet ski out. Buy a wingsuit instead of sky diving. 

Go hiking, swimming, and enjoy a picnic.

Look for low energy-intensive activities that won’t contribute to your carbon footprint.

15. Consume Less

consume less

One of the easiest ways to reduce your carbon footprint?

Consume less.

Buying less stuff is a surefire way to lower emissions and pollution. 

Before you make any purchases, think, “do I really need this?”.

In a society that wants “to keep up with the jones” and “fear of missing out” I get the gimme, gimme, gimme attitude.

But, think about how your choices will impact the environment. Not only that, but how it will impact the health of you, your family, and of future generations.

Stop the instant gratification culture and think about the bigger picture.

I know. This may be easier said than done. I love shiny new objects too.

But, instead of looking for new things to own, seek out new experiences to have.

It’s the right thing to do. 

Conclusion Of Carbon Emissions And How To Reduce Them 

You can make choices every day to cut down on CO2 emissions and reduce your carbon footprint.

Take steps that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions that have a damaging effect on the environment. 

Changing your day-to-day habits is one of the most significant things you can do to help the planet.

Your grandchildren will thank you. 

From living greener and being more eco-friendly, you can help reduce global carbon emissions. Every step counts!  

What do you do to minimize your carbon footprint? Share in the comments to help inspire others. 

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