Get involved: Help out by reducing your Carbon Impact!
While it is true that most carbon emissions are created by about seventy companies in the world, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t also take responsibility for our own carbon impact. Here are some ways that you can help reduce your own carbon cost alongside that of your family and your community:
- Food: Food production and waste is responsible for about 1/3rd of all global greenhouse gasses. Eating locally grown, in-season, organic whole foods will limit your consumption of meat. Small, incremental steps to limiting meat consumption are a great choice, as animal farming is a leading cause of carbon emissions. Try to have at least one or two meals a week that are plant-based, then challenge yourself by adding more plant-based options to your diet. Avoid foods that are heavily processed and buy in bulk; Compost if and when you are able; Use your barbeque less, as charcoal grills emit 11 lbs of CO2 per hour, and gas grills emit 5.6 lbs of CO2 per hour; and most importantly, limit your food waste! Food waste is believed to be responsible for up to 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
- Transportation: Use alternative forms of transportations such as walking and cycling, which have the added benefit of being great for your health. If public transit is available, make use of it. Limit the number of trips you take with your car by combining multiple tasks in a single trip when able. If you have the means, transition to an electric vehicle (EV) or a hybrid. Using your car less will also save you money on gas or electricity!
- Buy Local: This is a great way to support your local economy, and it is an important way to help lower emissions. Locally-made artisan goods and locally-grown produce both often minimize the excess plastic packaging and transportation-related carbon emissions and is a simple way to make a difference.
- Waste: Purchase items with minimal or recyclable packaging when possible. If you are shopping in a locally-owned store, and are given the opportunity, be sure to express your wishes to store management. Make use of bulk stores and bring your refillable containers while doing so; Check out https://app.zerowastehome.com to find bulk refill locations near you. Limit the number of single-use items you use; For convenience, you can keep a set of metal camping cutlery in your car or bag so that you don’t need to take single-use plastic utensils when eating take-out. Shopping at thrift and second-hand stores is a preferred alternative to online “fast fashion”, as It has been stated that around 5% of total global emissions come from the fashion industry. Finally, using reusable cloth bags will help keep that plastic bag pile in the cupboard from falling on you when the door is opened!
- Energy: If you have the means, transition to energy-efficient appliances. Replace natural gas burning appliances with high efficiency electric appliances, such as replacing a gas furnace or water heater with an electric heat pump powered unit, or a gas range with an induction unit. Use a smart thermostat, and other smart home controls. Replace incandescent bulbs with LEDs. Turn off lights or other equipment when not in use. Use your computer, TV, and other “intelligent” electronics power saving features. Unplug electronics when not in use. Finally, washing your clothing on the cold cycle will save energy required to heat your water.
- Travel: Travel less, and if you must travel, fly less! If you must fly, plan for non-stop flights and longer stays on higher capacity aircraft. For vacations, explore your local area for interesting spots and adventures. You’ll be using less carbon than if you were to fly somewhere and you’ll be supporting the local economy.
- Volunteer: If you have the time, energy, and motivation, get involved with local organizations and volunteer. Take part in initiatives that involve cleaning up local parks or planting trees. Contact your local conservation authority to learn more about your local environment and ways you can help.
- Legislative: Contact your legislative authorities and demand they hold larger corporations and heavy emitters accountable for their carbon emissions. Encourage all levels of government to fund conservation measures, to reduce their own emissions by using all-electric buses and motion detecting LED street lighting, increase municipal EV charging availability, and offer subsidies for low-emission equipment, appliances, EVs, home installed PV’s or micro-wind turbines.
A lot of these suggestions involve doing things at a local level, and this is because as individuals, our actions have the most direct impact on our local environment. For more information, please read the books “The Story of Stuff” by Annie Leonard, and “Zero Waste Home” by Béa Johnson.
If you must have that BBQ, if you have to drive to commute or fly for business or pleasure, here’s how you can offset those impacts by having that Carbon ReCaptured.
Flexible Removal of CO2 From The Ocean
66 kg of CO₂ / yr
The price of fast fashion. Nature Clim Change 8, 1 (2018).
The Cost of Carbon: What Carbon is Costing You and the Planet
Did you know that in the United States 99% of carbon emissions from electricity generation come from burning coal, natural gas and petroleum and that these fuels make up about 62% of the total electricity generated?
To put that in numbers:
- Coal produces 767 million metric tons of CO2
- Natural gas produces 576 million metric tons of CO2
- Petroleum produces 13 million metric tons of CO2
The average American home uses 10,715 kWh (kilowatthours or the amount energy used to power a 1000 watts appliance for one hour) of electricity every year. If your power is supplied by coal that amounts to 23,894.5 pounds of CO2, or from natural gas 9750.65 pounds of CO2, or from petroleum 22,822.95 pounds of CO2 per year. Some homes use even more! Energy efficient appliances and proper window sealing, and good insulation can help reduce your personal carbon emissions and save you money in the long term. Being mindful of your thermostat can also help.
On average, your car may emit 4.6 million metric tons of carbon per year. This number assumes that you get 22 miles per gallon and drive 11,500 miles. Some vehicles may be emitting even more! Other harmful emissions from vehicles are methane, nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons; all of which are worse than CO2! Switching to hybrids or electric vehicles helps reduce your carbon footprint but both of those options have carbon costs as well. When possible, walk or cycle to minimize your carbon output. Or use public transit where available. These options will save you money as they are typically cheaper than fuel.
Planning on flying for business or pleasure? Visit https://www.icao.int/environmental-protection/Carbonoffset/Pages/default.aspx to calculate the carbon footprint of your trip.
Don’t forget to contact your legislative authorities and representatives to demand that they enact better and more sustainable standards to hold big corporate polluters to account so that humanity can have a better future.
Reducing your carbon footprint doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. In fact, it’s easy and it will save you money in the long term. Not only that but your health and the health of the planet will improve. A better sustainable future is possible, and a little effort goes a long way.