Just by living, buying and using stuff each and everyone of us contribute to the generation of greenhouse gasses emission and create a carbon footprint. Good news is that you can keep a modern lifestyle and help the environment at the same time if you take these 6 steps to cut down that carbon footprint.
1 – Reduce your use of fuel powered means of transport
Cars are the No. 1 contributor of greenhouse gasses emission in America, responsible for a quarter of the total, so is no news that you should reduce their use to the minimum. Always prefer public transport or carpooling -which shares the carbon footprint among all users- or walking and biking that also benefit you with the exercise.
If the car is unavoidable, follow this recommendations:
- Always keep your car tuned and with all the suggested maintenance done.
- Keep the tires correctly inflated and checked.
- Make the car as light as possible, without junk in the trunk or unnecessary accessories.
- Reduce the stops and starts in your way and don’t leave it idle wasting fuel while waiting just for the AC.
- Consider switching to an hybrid or a full electrical car.
2 – Upgrade to a smart HVAC system
The next 17% of the global emissions are caused by heating and cooling our houses, so here is where you need to put the bigger effort at home.
Modern and well maintained heating, ventilating and air conditioning system are more efficient in providing comfort and saving energy. And the investment of a new HVAC can be insignificant with the incentives and rebates available.
For a smart climatization of your home you need to:
- Keep the filters, ducts, pipes and vents of your HVAC clean and checked by professionals regularly.
- Take care of the insulation of the building and switch to low-e glass in your windows to improve your comfort with the minimum dependency on your HVAC usage.
- Install smart thermostats and smart vents to zone the climatization needs of the house.
3 – Reduce your power usage and go solar
Almost in the same range of HVAC on greenhouse gasses emissions is the overall power usage of a house. By adding the power consumption of lighting, appliances and electronics you can reach 15% of your household’s carbon footprint.
To reduce the impact of your electrical power usage in your carbon output you need to:
- Change your lighting to Energy Star certified bulbs and fixtures.
- Monitor the energy consumption of your appliances and consider upgrading the old ones for more efficient alternatives, especially washing/drying machines and refrigerators that are highly consuming.
- Install switchers to power outlets and power strips to cut off electricity to idle electronics without the need of unplugging them.
- Take advantage of some of the Solar Upgrade Incentive programs and convert to clean ecological solar energy with the advice of a solar contractor.
4 – Buy used, reuse and recycle
The non-food consumer goods we buy amounts for another 10% of Americans’ carbon footprint so avoiding the unnecessary shopping is the first step to reduce it. And remember that those goods also generate extra waste that need to be disposed and potentially harm the environment.
If you really need something, think if you can buy it second-hand or ask it borrowed, like the Tool Sharing clubs you can find in some neighborhoods.
There are other small areas where you can reduce waste by reusing and recycling:
- Wash and reuse food containers as seasons decoration or hand-made toys, carry your own containers to pick take-outs and drink filtered tap water instead of bottled.
- Avoid extravagant fashion clothing and choose good quality pieces that you can use more years. Always donate one thing before buying other and you will keep your closet tidier at the same time
- Host a swap party and encourage your friends to host other exchange meetings.
- Search for recycling facilities of materials you know to dispose more frequently.
- Ask your contractors and servicemen about the disposing of used materials and construction waste and hire only environmentally committed companies.
5 – Pay attention to your yard
Keeping a nice tended garden can make a huge impact on your emissions and most of the time is forgotten in the calculations. The power usage of the lawnmower, the waste generated with leaves and trimmed plants and the water to irrigate the soil adds to the carbon footprint.
To be eco-conscious with your garden you need to:
- Improve your lawn’s water design to reduce your water consumption.
- Use native plants and trees that better develop with the existing soil, to avoid the use of fertilizers.
- Increase the paved areas with paths and patios to reduce the need of grass and the consequent irrigation and mowing.
- Create rock gardens and use planters that need less water and soil to decorate your outdoors.
- Prefer home-made compost and natural pesticides to commercial fertilizers or poisons for your plants and trees.
6 – Consider the impact of your diet
The meat production amounts to one third of US agricultural emissions, and by reducing the average meat consumption -270 pounds per year- to a half, a ton of carbon can be saved. And, like consumer goods, food can generate waste that need to be taken care of.
You can reduce the impact of your diet by following this easy tips:
- Separate organic waste and make compost with scraps and spoiled produce.
- Introduce Meatless Mondays and try to extend the meat-free days with vegetarian recipes.
- Reduce take-outs and fast food to avoid packaging waste.
- Reduce the consumption of sweet carbonated drinks like sodas and coolers because they highly impact the environment with their manufacturing process and have the least nutritional value.
As you can see, from the most straightforward -like reducing your car usage- to the most elaborated -like increase vegetables in your diet- there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint and improve the impact your whole household have on the environment. But why stop there? Go further and join your local Environmental Organization to learn and share more tips and Change for better!