By Tania Longeau
Climate change is a terrifying reality. The science behind it is complex, and there are a lot of unknowns in terms of what it means for the future of our planet. One thing is for sure, though: Earth is in trouble. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, human activity creates 40 million metric tons of carbon dioxide every year. That’s equivalent to the amount that would be generated by a massive fire burning on a landmass the size of Africa for an entire year.
All the CO2 we are pumping out is taking a serious toll on the world in which we live. It traps heat on the planet and is a major driving force behind climate change. While completely stopping global warming would take massive efforts on a global scale, there are several things you can do in your day-to-day life to lower your impact. Read on to discover a few ways to reduce your carbon footprint in 2019.
Watch What You Eat
If you love chowing down on bacon or a nice juicy steak, you’ll probably be disappointed to learn that the meat you love has a huge environmental impact. Livestock releases a greenhouse gas known as methane, and packaging and transporting meat and other animal products produces a lot of carbon dioxide. In fact, the CO2 produced in making the ingredients for a single bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich is almost equal to the amount produced when driving a car four miles. Ouch. And, about those steaks … if you think it’s better for the environment because it comes from grass-fed cattle, think again. Grass-fed cattle contribute a third of all the greenhouse gases produced by cows, goats, sheep, etc.
Buy Secondhand Clothing
Check the tags on the clothes you are wearing. Unless you are committed to buying American-made products, it was probably manufactured in a factory thousands of miles away. Transporting clothing from China, Vietnam, and other nations requiresa huge amount of fuel. That’s not the only way that clothing is hurting the planet. The fashion industry produces 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions each year. Producing a single garment requires a lot of resources, too.
The next time you need some new clothes, head to your local secondhand store instead of ordering something brand new. Buying gently used clothing is much better for the environment, and it’s a good way to save yourself some money. Many thrift stores also use their proceeds to fund charitable activities or donate percentages of their proceeds to charitable causes.
Ride a Bike
Riding a bike instead of driving your car is a highly effective means of lowering your carbon footprint. The average passenger car releases just over 400 grams of CO2 per mile. Biking, on the other hand, releases zero. If you live close enough to bike to work, leaving your car in the garage and hopping on your bike can drastically lower your carbon footprint. Riding a bike is great for your health, too. When you have to drive, consider carpooling. Sharing a ride with other people has a smaller impact on the environment than several people driving alone. Also, consider other options like taking the bus or train.
Adjust the Thermostat
We all love keeping our homes nice and toasty during the winter months. The higher you crank your thermostat, though, the greater your impact on the environment. Turning it down even just a degree or two can make a huge difference, both in terms of lowering your carbon footprint and lowering your bill. Consider investing in a smart thermostat. These handy devices detect when you are away from home and automatically lower the temperature. When you’re back home, they turn the heat back up to keep you comfy. They work in the summer, too, to adjust your air conditioner when you are away.
If you aren’t already recycling, start now. If you are, make sure you are doing so properly to ensure that all of your recycling materials are being reused as they should be. Rinse out plastic, metal, and glass containers. Don’t throw bags in with your mixed recyclables. Be mindful of your local recycling facility’s policies and what materials they accept.
Recycle everything you can. Even things like electronics, tires, and inkjet cartridges can be recycled. Keep in mind, though, that such items usually cannot be thrown in with the rest of your recyclables. Instead, they must be dropped off at specified locations. Earth911 is a great resource that can help you determine where and how to recycle all sorts of things.
Skip the Dryer
If you have room to set up a clothesline in the backyard or place a drying rack inside your home, you can drastically reduce your carbon footprint by air-drying your clothes instead of putting them in the dryer. If you use your dryer 200 times per year, switching to air-drying could reduce your home’s carbon footprint by almost half a ton of CO2. And, if you are able to dry them outside on a clothesline, your clothes will smell amazing!
Unplug Your Appliances and Electronics
Did you know that appliances and electronics draw electricity even when they are not in use? Things that stay plugged in all the time account for about 10% of the electric bill in the average home. By simply unplugging things when they are not in use, you can save on your electric bill and lower your carbon footprint.
If everyone takes small steps to lower their carbon footprint, it could have a big impact on the environment. Consider your lifestyle and think about little changes you could make that could add up to a big difference. Even if you only do one thing to lower your carbon footprint, you will be actively doing your part to protect the planet for future generations.
Tania Longeau serves as the Head of Services for InkJet Superstore. Tania oversees a team of Operations and Customer Service Reps from the Los Angeles headquarters. Before joining InkJet Superstore, Tania was a team leader and supervisor working for one of the biggest mortgage and real estate companies in the country. She is a happily married mother of one who enjoys spending time with her family and reading in her leisure hours.
Don’t miss Leaders in Energy’s upcoming event on Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Fossil Fuels on May 29th! Early bird discount available through Wednesday, May 22nd. Ticket includes program, pizza, and beverages. Job seeker and student pricing available.