TAKING STRIDES TO REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
Climate change is real, and while vaster solutions will require action on a global scale, there are many adaptations you can make to your daily life that can lessen your personal impact on the environment, such as shrinking your carbon footprint.
Firstly, what is carbon footprint? A carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (comprising of carbon dioxide, methane, fluorinated gases, nitrous oxide and more) that are produced as a result of our actions. These gases trap heat in the atmosphere and cause global warming. Individuals can make an immense positive impact by simply reducing their personal greenhouse gas emissions. This doesn’t have to require any financial investment or even a lot of effort, so why wait?
The first step to reducing your greenhouse gas emissions, is to actually calculate your own carbon footprint, and you can do so at https://www3.epa.gov/carbon-footprint-calculator/
which shows you the amount of carbon and money you can save by decreasing your footprint. In order to successfully calculate this, you will need to know approximately how many miles you travel by all means of transport, the amount you spend on shopping, the energy usage in your home, and the composition of your diet. Don’t worry about your score, it is certainly nothing to feel guilty about, we all start somewhere, and there are always ways to improve!
One of the most effective ways to begin your changes is to reconsider how you travel, and how often you travel. But let’s be realistic, you’ll have to travel at some point, so how can you travel but harm the environment less? Try taking public transport such as the train or the bus, or better yet walk or take a bike. You can significantly shrink your carbon emissions by simply flying less, but if flying is unavoidable, you can always use third party companies such as https://www.atmosfair.de/en/about_us/what_is_atmosfair/ to offset your emissions by donating to an environmental cause.
When it comes to driving there are multiple ways to cut down on your footprint, for example, go easy on the gas and brakes, driving efficiently will lessen your carbon emissions. Carpooling is especially efficient, as it completely cuts your passengers’ emissions as you’re only using one car, instead of multiple. Regularly check your tyres, as low tyre pressure will hurt your fuel economy, and use cruise control when you’re able to, as it can help save on fuel. Try cutting down on using your air conditioning and avoid driving through cities as they can increase your emissions. Being stuck in traffic can waste fuel and create unnecessary c02 pollution, so try to use traffic apps to avoid this such as Google maps, and Waze, which changes your route based on real-time traffic, accident, construction, and police information.
If you want to go the extra mile, and are looking for a new car, you can use this website; https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/findacar.shtml which rates the efficiency of vehicles in order. Cars with lower emissions can end up costing less to run, better for you and the environment!
However, it isn’t just cars and travel that are affecting your carbon footprint. It’s also a lot closer to home. You can improve your carbon footprint by simply blocking the draught areas in your home. Think about your letterbox, as helpful as they are, they let out a lot of heat which is wasting valuable energy. Sometimes the seal underneath your front or back door can become loose due to wear and tear, so you can either buy draught stoppers, just roll up some newspaper or use an old towel to stop your heat from escaping.
Remember when your dad would refuse to put the heat on and tell you to “put another jumper on”. As annoying as it was, through keeping your thermostat to 18 degrees or less, and putting on another layer, you will instantly be on the way to creating a better carbon footprint for yourself. Now that you’re in your extra layer, think about other aspects in your home that could change. Every morning and night, you clean your teeth for two minutes each time. If you keep your water running for four minutes a day, every day, that’s 1460 minutes a year. According to the Environmental protection agency, we waste 4 gallons of water every time we clean our teeth. By simply turning off the tap, you’ll be saving water too.
The food you eat on a daily basis is more than likely affecting your carbon footprint. A lot of food bought from supermarkets is flown over from a variety of countries, which increases the planet’s global emissions, effectively increasing your own carbon footprint. So buy local, organic food where possible. A great way to dramatically improve your carbon footprint is to meat out of your diet, specifically meat deriving from animals that emit large quantities of methane, such as cows and sheep. Or even better, completely convert to a vegan lifestyle, doing this will improve your carbon footprint by 20%.
There are so many ways for you to improve your carbon footprint. By altering your daily habits, such as consuming less meat, turning the tap off or cycling to work instead of driving, you will be reducing your own carbon footprint but also helping to save the planet too.
By Helen Hunt & Isabel Astill