Climate change is the biggest threat we face and right now it’s changing at a rapid state. Earth has always had cycles where it would warm up or got colder, but those cycles would take millions of years. Now, within a period of about 200 years we are reaching levels that in the past brought about extinctions.
The main cause of climate change is global warming and global warming is caused by the greenhouse effect. The greenhouse effect is a natural process of trapping the sun’s warmth in a planet’s lower atmosphere. This allows the Earth to maintain necessary conditions to host life.
So you wonder where’s the problem? The problem is that daily human activities maximise the greenhouse effect. These daily human activities leave a trail, a (carbon) footprint and in the end contribute to Earth’s temperature increasing even more. Let’s see what the dictionary says about carbon footprint.
“Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organization, or community”.https://www.dictionary.com/browse/carbon-footprint
While we can’t fight against big corporations and corrupted businesses we can all do something to improve our personal habits. So today I’m bringing you 11 easy changes you can make to minimise your carbon footprint.
Minimise Your Carbon Footprint With These 11 Changes
Choose local and organic foods.
I’ll be honest, it took me a while to figure out how food affects the environment and carbon footprint. Just think how many factors are necessary for food to arrive on your plate. It has to be grown somewhere, right? Reason why many of the forests are being cut down. Then there are emissions produced by processing, transporting, storing and cooking.
One great way to minimise your carbon footprint is to simply make smarter choices when buying food. That means buying locally and buying organic food. When you buy your foods from farmer’s market you don’t have to worry about how far your food traveled to get to you. Plus you’re supporting small family businesses.
Organic farming methods have a much lower impact on the environment than conventional methods. Organic farms must use natural methods for soil fertilisation and pest control. Furthermore, organic food is grown in fertile soil full of nutrients.
Eat less meat.
Further talking about food’s carbon footprint, let’s talk about meat. Now, I know this isn’t for everybody and I won’t force anything on anyone. Simply want to talk about how animal agriculture affects the environment. It is the leading cause of deforestation and second largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gas emissions.
On average, 70 billion animals are raised annually for human consumption. In addition, one third of worldwide grain production is solely used to feed livestock. Out of all the meat produced beef requires a whole lot more resources than other meat.
So that’s statistics and if it concerns you there’s a really simple way to reducing your carbon footprint – eat less meat. You can reduce your food’s carbon footprint by a quarter simply by cutting out red meat such as beef and lamb. Furthermore, the carbon footprint of a vegetarian diet is about half that of a person who eats meat.
Substitute your plastic products.
It is devastating seeing how much plastic is being used and how it affects nature and wildlife. Thousands and thousands of marine animals die each year from ingesting plastic bags or suffocating on them. Unfortunately, plastic bags aren’t the only items polluting our waters and killing animals.
Did you watch that video of people helping the turtle by pulling out a plastic straw from its nostril? It’s a harsh and sad reality so I would like you to read this article before we move on. I hope the article was enough to convince you to make some changes in the products you’re using.
For example, a cotton/reusable shopping bag that you can always carry in your purse. Mine has a really beautiful print of a bird on a tree branch and I love it which is a bonus point. Just imagine how much you can do by saying no every time a cashier asks you do you need a bag (because you have your own).
Another three great substitutes for plastic products you can make are:
- bamboo tooth brush instead of classic plastic one
- your own water bottle (preferably glass) instead of always buying water in plastic bottles
- reusable metal straws instead of plastic straws
Recycle whenever you can.
Talking to people this is the one thing they can’t be bothered with and dislike in a way. Personally, I think it just comes down to whether you’re lazy or not. Recycling and reducing waste play an important role in climate change and climate protection.
The best and easiest way to help you start recycling is to create a ‘recycle zone’ in your home. I found this great post on 20 DIY Home Recycling Bins so see which one would be easiest for you to make. Properly recycle any plastic, paper, metal or glass you come in touch with that you cannot reuse, reduce or refuse.
I never really understood how much water people waste on little things and may not even realise it. That is until I started watching YouTube videos. Then I saw people leaving the water running when brushing their teeth or getting ready for a shower. That was never the case in my household so it came as quite the shock to me.
So please, please, please pay attention to how much water you’re using, well in this case, wasting. Turn your tap off when brushing your teeth. There is no need for water to be wasted for 2 minutes while you do it. And if you do so you could be saving up to 3 – 4 gallons of water per day. That is between 11 and 15 liters.
Same thing goes for when you’re about to shower. Once you’re ready and you’re in the shower, turn the water on and make your showers shorter. Another thing you can pay attention to is when washing the dishes. If you hand wash them, turn the tap off while you scrape and scrub them.
Furthermore, if you take about 15 – 20 seconds to wash your hands with soap turn the water off when you do so. It doesn’t seem like much but just think about how many times in a day you wash your hands.
One bad thing I used to do during summer months was to keep the tap running until really cold water came in. Once I realised how bad that was and how much water I was wasting I simply filled up a large water bottle and kept it in the fridge.
Wash your clothes in cold water.
When doing laundry most of the washing machine’s energy (about 90%) is used towards heating the water. To be perfectly clear, there is no need to wash your laundry at high temperature if it’s only “dirty” from the sweat. Super simple, almost effortless way to minimise your carbon footprint is to wash your laundry on cold cycle. It will save you some money as well!
Line dry your clothes.
Further speaking of clothes, another great way to minimise your carbon footprint is to line dry them. Average household’s carbon footprint that uses the dryer is an estimated 2,400 pounds a year (around 1088 kg CO2e).
Besides saving energy and money ditching the dryer will also save your clothes. High heat in the dryer along with tossing and tumbling can ruin the fabric. If you like to read about more reasons to line dry your clothes you can do that here.
Fossil fuel power plants burn carbon fuels such as coal, gas or oil generating heat to power steam turbines. These power plants can then generate electricity but by burning carbon fuels they produce large amounts of carbon dioxide.
Approximately 40% of global CO2 emissions are emitted from this process. There are a couple of easy changes you can make in your everyday routine that will protect the environment (and your wallet as well).
Easy ways to save electricity:
- unplug electronics you’re not using
- close curtains and doors during summer to stop excessive heat from coming in the house
- improve insulation for winter months to keep the heat in
- turn off unnecessary lights
- run full loads of laundry
- keep your fridge temperature between 2°C – 3°C
- take colder showers
Plant a tree.
Planting trees is an effective way to minimise your carbon footprint. I remember back in school we always used to say that trees are the lungs of the world. And that really is the case because trees breathe in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen.
This means that by planting trees you can help clean the air and fight climate change. Get involved with people in your local area to see how you can plant a tree or simply do it in your own garden. There are also online options to plant trees by making donations such as OneTreePlanted and Grow Trees.
I grew fond of minimalist lifestyle. There is something so liberating in owning only the things you actually use and like. Let’s take clothes for example. The average person wears about 20% of clothes in their closet. That’s 80% of clothes just sitting in the closet, collecting dust. 80%!!, sorry I have to emphasize it.
Perfect way to declutter your closet is to get everything on a pile and throw away things you don’t like, doesn’t fit you anymore and you haven’t worn for a year. To prevent your closet from bulking up in the future is to follow a one-in one-out rule. Meaning for every new item you buy, you must throw one out.
Less is more so here are some other minimalist hacks you can do aside from clearing your wardrobe:
- simplify your wallet
- get rid of old magazines and paperwork (hint: recycle, don’t just throw away)
- keep your workspace tidy and clear
- shop less
- delete apps you’re not using
- unsubscribe from unnecessary e-mails
- always keep on decluttering
- reuse what you can
One of the easiest ways to minimise your carbon footprint is to drive less. Instead of driving a car to work ride your bicycle, take a bus or simply walk. This applies not only for going to work, but also going to the school, shops, when visiting a friend, etc.
Take advantage of the nice weather, especially when summer takes over (get your vitamin D!). Aside from minimising your carbon footprint, doing so will help you stay active and healthy. It’s a win – win situation.
Of course you don’t have to do all of these tips so choose the ones that suit you the most and you can implement immediately. We have to do whatever is in our power to leave a better world behind. For ourselves, for our children and the generations to come.