Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gasses you consume during your ordinary activities. Greenhouse gases are gases that contribute to the warming of the earth, by absorbing infrared radiation and spreading the heat back to the earth and the oceans. The belief is that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming and climate change.
The chief greenhouse gases are:
- Carbon dioxide (CO2)
- Nitrous oxide (N2O)
- Methane (CH4)
- Fluorinated gases
Greenhouse gases enter the earth’s atmosphere in two primary ways
- Through human actions and activities (such as burning oil, coal and gas).
- Through GHG emissions (use of synthetic fertilizers, industrial processing, certain types of livestock farming, deforestation, use of fossil fuels and others).
You can determine your carbon footprint through free carbon footprint calculators online, like this one. You can do your part to preserve the planet’s limited resources by reducing your carbon footprint.
Listed below, you will find several simple lifestyle changes that you can make, to reduce your carbon footprint.
Install and Use a Programmable Thermostat in Your Home
This is one “set is and forget it” change you can make that can yield big results. Installing a programmable thermostat allows you to program the thermostat in your home, so that it uses less energy during the hours your home is empty, while keeping it comfortable during the hours when you are home.
Reducing your consumption of fossil fuels to heat and cool your home, not only saves you money, but it also reduces your carbon footprint, making it a good investment all around.
Upgrade Your Appliances and Other Household Items
While this is one that takes time and money, upgrading your appliances will pay for itself, over time, in energy savings alone. This is especially the case if you choose Energy Star appliances, certified to conserve energy and produce fewer emissions than appliances that do not have this valuable certification.
Switch to LED Bulbs
National Geographic claims that LED bulbs use up to 80% less energy than incandescent bulbs. Combine that with the fact that they last up to 11 years when burned 12 hours a day, and you have a real winner on your hands. Imagine the beauty of a bulb that only needs replacing every 11 years!
That’s less waste, less energy consumed and less heat put off in the operation of these bulbs. It’s a win for you, your wallet, and the planet.
Reconsider Your Vehicle
In many areas of the United States, cars are necessary modes of transportation but there are also times that we hop in the car, when it really isn’t necessary.
Global Stewards reports that nearly 28% of carbon emissions come from transportation. This is after the creation of countless laws and regulations aimed at reducing and minimizing these emissions.
One of the most important things you can do is switch to a vehicle that has fewer emissions and greater fuel efficiency. Making the switch from a car that gets 20 miles per gallon of fuel, to one that gets nearly 40, cuts your consumption and emissions in half.
You may believe it’s not practical, economically, to make the trade, but consider this: the average American drives 13,474 miles per year. At an average cost of $2.54 per gallon, a vehicle averaging 20 miles per gallon consumes an average $1,711.20 in fuel each year while one that gets 40 miles per gallon consumes only $855.60 a year in fuel. The more time you spend on the road each year, the bigger your savings will be.
Additional areas where you can reduce your carbon footprint include the following:
- Practice proper vehicle maintenance.
- Ride your bike when possible.
- Walk more for shorter errands (better for your health and the planet).
- Carpool (for work, school and out of town events).
- Purchase carbon offsets.
The key is to be aware of the amount of emissions you make each day and take action to reduce those numbers.
Reduce Your Waste
There are two big ways you can reduce your waste, that will be nearly painless, once you grow accustomed to doing them.
- Switch to refillable water bottles.
- Use reusable shopping bags.
You will find that these two small moves can have an incredible impact on the planet. U.S. citizens use nearly 100 billion plastic bags each year. More disturbing is the fact that nearly 50 billion plastic bottles are used in the U.S. each year and only 20% of those get recycled.
Replacing those two items with reusable bottles and reusable shopping bags, eliminates massive amounts of waste each year, reduces the amount of litter and helps to reduce the impact this litter and waste has on wildlife and ocean life.
Of course, these aren’t the only types of waste we produce but they do represent simple changes that can have huge impacts on the planet and the other animals that call it home.
Eliminate Energy Vampires
No these are not the things found in science fiction movies. They are no less terrifying to those who advocate for safeguarding the environment, though. Energy vampires are things that continue to use electricity when turned off.
As long as these items are plugged in, they will continue to draw electricity even though they are turned off. The EPA estimates that they cost households in the U.S. nearly $100 per year in electricity. While that doesn’t sound like a lot, imagine what a difference it could make in energy consumption, if every household eliminated them. It would make a tremendous difference.
Simple changes in the way you shop, consume electricity and drive your car, can have huge impacts on your carbon footprint. These are excellent examples of simple things you can do to get started and reduce your carbon footprint today!
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