20 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Keeping our planet clean and healthy is a responsibility we all share. So to celebrate Earth Day, here are 20 ways to reduce your carbon footprint, courtesy of COTAP.org:
Reduce Your Carbon Emissions From Driving
- Find an alternative to driving when possible: Walk, ride a bicycle, or carpool
- Drive a fuel efficient vehicle: If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, opt for a hybrid or electric vehicle.
- Get a hitch-mounted cargo rack: If you don’t need the hauling capacity of a larger vehicle, then getting a small trailer or cargo rack is an economical and earth-friendly option.
- Change Your Driving style: Speeding and unnecessary acceleration reduce mileage by up to 33%, as well as wasting gas and money, and increase your carbon emissions.
- Good Vehicle Maintenance: Everything from properly inflated tires, to the correct motor oil weight, to oxygen sensors affect your gas mileage, and your carbon footprint. Make sure your vehicle is running smoothly to save up to 40% in MPG’s.
- Misc Tips: Combine errands to make fewer trips. Remove excess weight from your car. Use cruise control.
Reduce Your Carbon Emissions From Air Travel
- In General: Since airplane fuel is still petroleum-based, you should avoid flying when possible, fly less frequently, fly shorter distances, and fly economy class (more people in a smaller space… it’s like carpooling).
- Embrace the Staycation: Take fewer and longer vacays that are far away, and more frequent and driveable “staycations” closer to home.
- Make Video Conferencing Your Friend: There are dozens of options for video conferencing and remote meetings. Skype, Facetime, GoToMeeting, and FreeConferencing.com are just a few.
- Fly Economy: Economy class is best, for the same reasons as carpooling and public transportation. Each flyer’s share of a flight’s carbon emissions is relatively less because it’s spread out over more people.
Reduce Your Home Energy Carbon Emissions
- Insulate and seal your home: Reduce drafts and air leaks with caulk, insulation, and weather stripping.
- Choose Energy Star Appliances: Make energy efficiency a primary consideration when choosing new appliances like furnaces, air conditioning units, dishwashers, and refrigerators. ENERGY STAR labeled products are recognized as having superior energy efficiency.
Make an easy “switch” with Lighting: Turn off lights you’re not using or when you leave the room. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED bulbs.
- Check your thermostat: Don’t set it too high or low. Install a programmable model to turn off the heat/air conditioning when you’re not home.
- Go Solar: Consider adding solar panels to the roof of your home. You can add solar for your whole home, or just an appliance like a water heater. Many states offer incentives for selling money back to the electric grid.
Other Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Emissions
- Reduce Water Usage: Wash your car less often, take shorter showers, and turn off the water when brushing your teeth. You can also get low-flow shower heads, faucets, and toilets to reduce water usage.
- Reduce and Recycle: It has been estimated that 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the “provision of goods,” which means the extraction of resources, manufacturing, transport, and final disposal of “goods” which include consumer products and packaging, building components, and passenger vehicles, but excluding food. By buying used products and reselling or recycling items you no longer use, you dramatically reduce your carbon emissions from the “provision of goods.”
- Only Purchase the Food you Need. It has been estimated that 13% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the production and transport of food. Buy local and eat a more diversified diet including less meat and dairy to reduce your carbon emissions resulting from the use of fossil fuel-based fertilizers, pesticides, and gas required to produce and transport of the food you eat.
- Support clean energy sources: Support alternatives to fossil fuels (wind, solar, geothermal, and appropriately designed hydroelectric and biomass energy projects)
Make a Positive Change
- Plant a tree: Plant a native, climate-appropriate tree
Turn your yard into a garden: Lawns require lots of care and water. Use part of your yard for a home garden and reduce your lawn maintenance – plus you’ll enjoy the fruits (and vegetables!) of your labor.
- Support Earth-friendly Events: Look for events and groups in your area that are celebrating Earth Day, and join in the fun!
How do you reduce your carbon footprint?
Find more information at COTAP.org