Tomorrow Foundation

How to Reduce your Carbon Footprint

The Earth is warming quicker than scientists predicted, and it is up to every single person to reduce their carbon footprint in order to help combat climate change.

A lot of people hear that they have to change their lifestyle in the name of climate change and think drastic, difficult changes are necessary.

That isn’t the case, and there are a number of simple things you can do today to reduce your carbon footprint and help the planet.

Rethink Your Transportation

76.4% of Americans who commute to work drive alone rather than carpooling or taking public transportation and only 5% of commuters in the United States use public transportation to get to work.

Car emissions account for one third of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in both the US and UK and a large part of those emissions are due to people driving alone to work rather than using public transportation.

The average driver in the US uses 3 tons of C02 per year, which is twice as much C02 as the goal committed to in the Paris Agreement.

Taking public transportation to work can reduce your household’s GHG emissions by up to 10% and if you get rid of one of your cars in favor of public transportation, it will reduce your C02 emissions by up to 30%.

Driving to work may seem convenient, but taking public transportation is one of the most effective ways to reduce your carbon footprint.  Plus, you save a lot of money on gas and parking!

Eat More Plants and Fewer Animals

Eating a vegan diet is the single best way to reduce your carbon footprint.  You can reduce your carbon footprint by up to 73% by removing meat and dairy from your diet and eating plant-based.

If everyone stopped consuming animal products, global farmland use would be reduced by 75%, which would significantly drop GHG emissions.

The land would become wildland again and help revitalize the wildlife population and reduce mass extinction events.

If you’re not ready to commit to eating a solely plant-based diet, you can start by participating in meatless Mondays where you eat plant-based every Monday.

Studies have shown that when you don’t eat meat or other animal products, your carbon footprint is reduced by 8 pounds per day.

Reduce and Recycle

One of the pillars of sustainability is to reduce, reuse, recycle.  It is also one of the easiest ways you can reduce your carbon footprint.

For example, recycling one tonne of glass reduces C02 emissions by 315kg, and recycling aluminum cans reduces the energy required to produce new cans by 95%.

Landfills account for approximately 25% of all GHG emissions per year, and diverting as much product as possible to recycling centers is a simple way to reduce your carbon footprint without much effort.

Perhaps more important than recycling is reducing your waste and consumption.  Only purchase what you need and try not to waste food and other products.

1.8 billion tonnes of food per year is thrown out.  That is approximately 30% of all food produced.

If that food was given to people in need or simply not produced because we don’t need it, it would reduce carbon emissions by 8%.

Similarly, 3.8% of global emissions are caused by single-use plastic bags.  You can reduce (or eliminate) your contribution to this by bringing your own reusable canvas bag when you go shopping.

Small changes like this add up quickly and help reduce your carbon footprint without you noticing you’ve made a lifestyle change.

Choose Energy-Efficient Appliances

When it comes time to replace your appliances, installing energy-efficient ones is an easy way to reduce your carbon footprint.

Energy-efficient appliances decrease your water consumption and emissions and save you money on your energy bill.

For example, an energy-efficient washing machine uses 25% less energy and 33% less water than a standard washing machine.

An energy-efficient fridge uses almost 10% less energy than a standard one, and an energy-efficient dishwasher uses 3,800 gallons less water in its lifetime than a standard dishwasher.

There are government incentives and tax credits in the US to motivate people to install energy-efficient appliances, so you have no excuse not to do it!

Reduce Energy Consumption

There are a few easy ways you can reduce your home’s energy consumption and reduce your carbon footprint.

A few examples include:

  • Turn down your furnace during the night
  • Use energy-efficient settings on your furnace
  • Invest in insulation for your home
  • Use energy-efficient lightbulbs
  • Wrap your hot water heater with an insulating blanket to reduce heat loss
  • Make sure the seal on your windows and doors is airtight
  • Unplug phone chargers and small appliances when not in use

These small steps help reduce your carbon footprint and save you money on your energy bill each month.

How is My Carbon Footprint Measured?

  • Transportation use
  • Electricity use
  • Dietary choices
  • Purchasing habits
  • General waste

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