11 Foolproof Methods To Cut Down Your Carbon Footprint, Without Making Any Life-Altering Changes
We’ve all come across this fancy term called ‘carbon footprint’; we’ve seen it being thrown around in advertisements campaigning for sustainability and in numerous articles online. But many of us are still a little hazy about what it actually means, and how much of an impact it has at an individual level.
So, what the heck is a carbon footprint?
Similar to the footprint you leave while walking on the sand, a carbon footprint is the mark humans directly or indirectly leave on the environment. These are mainly greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions which have a massive impact on climate change. Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of an individual, organisation or community at large.
What do you and I have do to with carbon footprint, you ask?
Well there are a thousand ways in which we keep increasing our carbon footprint. Our regular activities - from reckless use of plastic, non-reusable products, and many more - exert stress on the already-deteriorating environment. We burn fossil fuels — non-renewable energy sources — when we operate vehicles, heat our homes, and even use electricity. Therefore, it’s essential to make that switch to a sustainable lifestyle before things take a turn for the worse.
The poles are melting, glaciers shrinking, and climate patterns changing, and all of this has a direct correlation to the amount of carbon footprint at an individual level. It’s high time we paid close attention to reducing it. Here's how you can do it.
1. Use public transport, carpool or just walk it.
Right now, vehicles are the largest source of carbon emissions across the world. Most of the modern transportation relies heavily on petroleum; from passenger cars, bikes to trucks, all kinds of vehicles are responsible for 50% of the carbon dioxide emissions. To cut down on your part, start carpooling if you have the choice and if you can walk it, even better - it will help you stay fit while being in tune with the environment.
2. Re-use old clothes by selling, donating, or upcycling them.
There are DIY, repurposing, recycled craft, and upcycling project ideas and instructions across the Internet, use them to cut down your carbon footprint. From being manufactured to being discarded and disposed off, every item of clothing has a ‘carbon impact.’ When you’re buying new clothing, choose garments made from eco-friendly, natural fabrics such as bamboo, silk, organic cotton and hemp. Also buy faux – the production of wool, leather and fur harms millions of animals every year.
3. Reduce meat in your diet or go vegan
Vegan diet tends to be the most environment-friendly, but if getting on that is too overwhelming, all you have to do is cut back a little on your meat consumption. According to studies, Animal agriculture is responsible for 13–18% of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions globally, and less in developed countries.
4. Cut down on your binge-watching sprees
Your weekend binge watching regime is a bad idea when it comes to cutting back on the carbon footprint factor, solely because, streaming videos online can take up a tonne of energy. You will have to make a conscious effort to set proper deadlines to your binge-watch schedule. Also, your eyes will thank you!
5. Rethink air travel
All our family vacations, frequent flier miles, and time in the sky come is harming the planet and contributing to the carbon footprint factor at an alarming rate. It is said that more than 2 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions comes from air travel. Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old environmental activist has helped lead an anti-air travel movement in her native Sweden. Thunberg and her supporters pointed out that cutting down on flying is one of the best ways to reduce carbon footprint.
6. Reduce water use
Reducing the amount of energy used in the pumping of water reduces our carbon emissions, which contributes to greenhouse gases. In addition, lesser chemicals used in the treatment of water and wastewater means less energy and materials used in their production. Making a strong connection between energy and water savings will go a long way in the carbon footprint cutting plan. Be mindful of the amount of water you use for things like washing clothes, bathing and cooking. To be more in tune with water source, switch to a rain water harvesting system - it’s the most cost effective and environmental friendly way of keeping your water supply steady. Also, consider reusing water where you can. For instance, the water you use to wash vegetables can be used to flush the toilet too.
7. Check lights and water every time you step out
Even if it’s a dim night lamp, it needs to be turned off. This is something all of our parents have ‘nagged’ us about, but many of us still don’t give two hoots about saving energy, and indiscriminately use electricity. Being mindful about turning off lights, fans and various electric and electronic devices when not in use, will have a huge impact, if enough of us do it.
8. Compost your food waste
Study shows that by segregating, recycling and composting, a family of four can reduce their waste from 1000 kg to less than 100 kg every year. It’s all about changing the ingrained habits related to waste management and recycling. To maintain the dry waste and wet waste balance, add food waste and wet waste at alternate levels in the bin. You can compost everything from eggshells to coffee grounds to food scraps and food waste that easily break down in the composting bin.
9. Consider installing solar panels
Residential solar energy is one of the fastest growing sectors because it's cost effective and in-tune with the environment. Solar energy is 'green' because of its ability to generate power while giving off zero emissions. Every kilowatt installed lowers your home’s carbon footprint by over 3,000 pounds annually, states this study.
10. Regulate the fridge and freezer temperature
Today’s food system largely depends on refrigeration.Refrigeration creates greenhouse gases, both because of the energy used to operate the equipment and because of the inherent global warming potential. To reduce its carbon footprint, the Department of Energy standards in the US recommends between a temperature of 35 and 38 degrees for the fresh food compartment.
11. Switch to LED bulbs
LED lamps and tubes consume a fraction of the energy consumed by incandescent bulbs. Just by installing LEDs in your home, it is possible to reduce your carbon footprint significantly. Half of the carbon emissions created are generated from the production of electricity. Lighting alone creates 17% of carbon emissions, states this study.
Illustration By Ranak Mann
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