When most people think of downsizing to reduce their carbon footprint, the immediate thought that comes to mind is\u00a0tiny houses, where four people try to squeeze themselves and their most prized worldly possessions into a home that\u2019s smaller than the average RV to live. While that\u2019s certainly one way to do it, it isn\u2019t the only way, and it isn\u2019t even a necessary way to reduce your carbon footprint.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nIn fact, it\u2019s the little steps you take towards downsizing your mindset, lifestyle, spending habits, energy consumption, and consumer nature that make the biggest differences. You can even downsize your monthly bills. The greater the effort you make to downsize your life, the better the results for your carbon footprint and for the planet will be.\r\nDownsizing Packaging and Waste\r\nThink about what a difference it would make to consistently choose products with the least packaging over the course of a year. Even for those who recycle, it can go a long way towards reducing carbon footprints.\r\n\r\nConsider the energy involved in recycling. There is fuel required to make the deliveries to recycling facilities. Energy used in the recycling process. That doesn\u2019t even consider the energy used to create the original packaging. Eliminating as much packaging as possible over the course of a year reduces the planetary price that even recycling provides and, in some cases, eliminates packaging items that cannot be recycled from landing in landfills.\r\n\r\nReduce Waste from Lunch\r\n\r\nBringing lunch to work or sending lunch to school with your children is a noble and money-saving venture. However, it often creates a great deal of wasted sandwich bags, plastic water bottles or drink pouches, and other wrappers and paper goods to throw away or recycle.\r\n\r\nJust imagine if you made the switch to reusable lunch bags and reusable wrappers or containers for sandwiches, chips, and other lunchtime treats instead. Think of all the days you work each year or your children are in school. Imagine the reduction in your carbon footprint from this small, simply, money-saving change.\r\n\r\nNix the Plastic Shopping Bags\r\n\r\nAnother important area for downsizing waste and packaging is to eliminate those pesky plastic shopping bags. Invest in a few quality canvas shopping totes, and you\u2019ll never need to bother with plastic again. It may take a few attempts to get in the habit of keeping totes available at all times. Once the habit is established though, you\u2019ll find that you don\u2019t miss those plastic bags at all. And the planet wins in many ways.\r\nDownsizing Consumerism\r\nThe latest mobile device\r\n\r\nThe best example by far of consumer waste is the iPhone craze. People wait in line year after year to get the newest, latest, iPhone \u2013 even though their current iPhones work just fine. It\u2019s become an act of trendiness rather than necessity, and it\u2019s one that\u2019s shockingly wasteful. One of the most shocking things about it is the number of people lining up for these new phones at every release who claim to want to do what\u2019s best for the planet. It\u2019s not just the iPhone. The same thing could be said about any favorite brand of mobile phone or tablet devices that offers a new release yearly (or more often).\r\n\r\nNip the New Car Bug in the Bud\r\n\r\nPhones aren\u2019t the only devices to keep in mind, though. The same can be said of cars. Some people purchase or lease a new car every three years. Not only is this a huge expense, but it is also such a waste of resources and materials. Unless you\u2019re downsizing from a giant gas-guzzling SUV to a hybrid or electric car, there are very few occasions in which buying a new car after only three years could potentially benefit the planet.\r\n\r\nEven then, it\u2019s no guarantee that the benefits outweigh the problem. In fact, the better choice for most families would be to downsize from two cars per household to one, and to rely on bicycles or public transportation for moments when two vehicles may be desired. Additional considerations would be to shorten commutes by choosing jobs closer to home, or consider working from home to reduce the need for an additional vehicle further.\r\n\r\nRent, Borrow, or Go Digital\r\n\r\nAnother area to downsize consumerism is when it comes to things like books, DVDs, CDs, and videos. Rather than going out and purchasing physical copies of these items, consider purchasing digital copies or borrowing them from the local library. These digital copies lead to no additional waste, and items borrowed from the library are used again and again producing less waste and delivering the same pleasure.\r\n\r\nEven better? It doesn\u2019t cost anything to borrow from the library allowing you to save money as well. If the library doesn\u2019t have what you want or you can\u2019t wait for the latest hit movie that\u2019s on a gigantic waitlist, consider renting DVDs rather than buying them.\r\nDownsizing Energy Consumption\r\nHomeowners throughout the U.S. use a lot of energy. Whether it\u2019s heating the home, cooling the home, or lighting the home. But, there are steps you can take today to downsize your energy bills month after month while keeping your home comfortable throughout the year.\r\n\r\nInvest in a Programmable Thermostat\r\n\r\nAccording to the U.S. Department of Energy, \u201cyou can save as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning your thermostat back 7\u00b0-10\u00b0F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting.\u201d Programmable thermostats allow you to program the thermostat for lower energy use when you\u2019re at work during the day. During the winter months, you can program it to keep the home cooler by about five degrees while you\u2019re out of the home during the day, and keep it warmer during workdays during the summer. This will help you save money on utility bills while also doing great things for the planet.\r\n\r\nInstall a Whole House Fan\r\n\r\nA whole house fan can reduce your reliance on air conditioning, which consumes much more energy, during the summer by keeping your home cooler longer into the day. In spring and fall months, it can negate the need for air conditioning at all on many days and during the summer as well in some areas of the country.\r\n\r\nUse Tankless Hot Water Heaters\r\n\r\nBecause tankless water heaters produce hot water on demand, less energy is wasted in the operation of these water heaters. You also eliminate worries over running out of hot water on days when everyone is clamoring for shower time.\r\n\r\nConsider Solar Hot Water Heating\r\n\r\nWhile solar hot water heating will not substitute completely for a hot water system, it can help to reduce the costs of operating one while also reducing the energy consumption of the system.\r\n\r\nInstall Solar Panels\r\n\r\nSolar technology is evolving. Solar power allows you the opportunity to not only power your home, but also to sell excess power to the energy company. This means you may be able to offset energy costs you can\u2019t cover for the home, or eliminate them completely.\r\n\r\nInstall Motion Activated Lighting\r\n\r\nMotion activated lights will turn off after a certain amount of time if movement in the room isn\u2019t detected. This helps to save money on electric bills without worrying about children or other family members remembering to turn off lights that aren\u2019t in use.\r\n\r\nOf course, the ultimate challenge is to be mindful of the energy you consume in the course of a regular day. Keep doors closed. Turn off lights as you leave the room. Stop sleeping with televisions on. Turn down the heat at night while you sleep. We make choices daily that can downsize our dependence on utilities.\r\nDownsizing Clutter throughout Your Home\r\nThere is some truth to the saying that \u201cless is more.\u201d When you have fewer items cluttering your home, you tend to appreciate the items you do have. Downsizing clutter may sound more like an impossible mission, but it is possible. Here are a few things you can do to make it happen.\r\n\r\nPurge Your Home of Unnecessary and Unused Items\r\n\r\nGo through closets, drawers, pantries, and cabinets. Get rid of everything you haven\u2019t used in the last year. Eliminate food items that are out of date. Get rid of all clothes that do not fit now (the one exception would be kids clothes that you\u2019re waiting for kids to grow into or your wedding dress).\r\n\r\nEliminate Unnecessary Paper\r\n\r\nFirst, call all utility and credit card companies and request electronic billing. Then, place a shredder right next to your mail station for convenient shredding of junk mail, which is nearly all that remains once you\u2019ve eliminated recurring bills. Also use the shredder to get rid of packaging, invoices, and other documentation that comes along with packages you receive in the mail.\r\n\r\nDigitize Photo Collections\r\n\r\nGet rid of the loose photographs around your home and switch to digital albums instead. This allows you to backup the photos in cloud storage, and allows you to pick and choose great photos to display in digital photo albums that flip through images of family and friends \u2013 old and new.\r\n\r\nSmall changes to downsize your mindset can net massive results for the sake of the planet and your family budget. Stop waiting to make the big switch, and adopt small changes to downsize your life you can put into play today.\r\nLink to Us!\r\nIf you found this article useful and shareable, please copy and paste the following into the html code of your website or blog: Learn More About Going Green at the <a href"https:\/\/www.plushbeds.com\/blog\/green\/downsizing-to-reduce-your-carbon-footprint\/">PlushBeds Green Living Blog<\/a>.