How to Reduce Carbon Footprint

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How to Reduce Carbon Footprint

Every action of an individual is a choice toward reducing or increasing greenhouse emissions / Photo by Malp via 123RF

 

As individuals, there are many things that we can do to reduce the impact of climate change on our planet. If each of us does something about it, we can make a big difference. 

According to businessinsider.com, the climate goals set in the Paris agreement are harder to achieve because both emerging and developed countries are releasing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. There is an increased use in oil and natural gas, but there are ways that users can change their habits. 

Businessinsider.com notes that carbon dioxide emissions are rising continuously so it is very vital that we try to cut back on our carbon footprint. According to the New York Times, the average American emitted 16.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year in 2014. 

Every action of an individual is a choice toward reducing or increasing greenhouse emissions. Even though carbon dioxide outputs mostly come from large companies and factories, every person can still make a difference in reducing their carbon footprint. Here are some things that can be done to reduce carbon emissions. Some of these will depend on your location and family size. 

 

Eat lesser meat and more plants

Livestock contributes 14.5% of the greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans based on the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). Researchers in the UK found that meat eaters emit double the amount of greenhouse gas than vegans. 

According to IFL science, in the US alone, if everyone does not eat meat even for just a day, there will be 1.69 million tons of carbon dioxide cut. 

John Rogers, a senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists said that "If you're going to make one change in your diet to address the climate implications, the most effective choice for the average American is to eat less meat, especially beef." Most carbon emissions are created when food is grown and processed. Beef is very carbon-intensive because of the amount of plant food needed in raising a cow. As cows grow old, more methane is needed.  Pigs, sheep, and dairy are also carbon-heavy foods. 

Travel wisely

According to the US Department of Energy, aggressive driving and braking suddenly burn more fuel. To reduce carbon footprint, drive at constant speeds and hit the brakes slowly.

Keeping tires properly inflated can save about 400 to 700 pounds of carbon in a year based on Carbon Fund. If the tires are not properly inflated, more energy is needed to get the car moving and it creates more emissions. 

The most climate-friendly way to travel is via bus or train. If these are not options, the best way will depend on the situation, such as the number of people traveling together and what alternative to driving do you have. 

Air travel is a significant source of emissions. Your carbon footprint can be seen on the flight ticket. Longer flights may have more emissions. High-altitude emissions and nitrogen oxide emissions can have a warming effect. 

Giving up your car is a very effective way to reduce your carbon footprint. However, doing this can be very difficult. But if there is access to reliable transportation, people will find commute easier.

Household chores and appliances

Washing clothes eat up a lot of energy. The New York Times notes that 75% of the energy used by the washing machine goes to heating the water. Washing clothes in cold water lower down carbon dioxide emissions. 

Run the dishwasher when it is full. This will let you save water and decrease the carbon footprint. 

Turning the water heater a few degrees lower can also save a lot. You can save on heating, lower carbon footprint, and reduce the risk of scalding. 

Use energy-efficient bulbs to save on carbon dioxide. This can also help you save money. 

 

Using plastics bags or plastic bag substitutes

There are now many cities and states that ban single-use plastic bags. Plastic bags and their substitutes are not good for the environment. 

From the carbon emissions point of view, paper bags are worse than plastics because they require more fuel than plastics. Hence, the best choice is to use whatever bag you have until it is no longer usable.  

Even though carbon dioxide outputs mostly come from large companies and factories, every person can still make a difference in reducing their carbon footprint / Photo by Roman Mikhailiuk via 123RF

 

Weatherproof house

The fuel used to heat and cool a house or building is a major contributor to climate change and carbon emissions. The more efficient your house is, the lesser your bills, but it can also impact the environment. 

David Erdman, chair of Graduate Architecture and Urban Planning at the Pratt Institute said, "Density is the front line of design where buildings intersect with the environmental problem. It is the elephant in the room, and it's the most difficult thing to design for because everyone wants lots of space, views, and the like." This is why Hong Kong's carbon emissions meet the levels set by the Paris Accords. It is not the solar panels but the density and that people in Hong Kong walk a lot. 

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