Your carbon footprint refers to the greenhouse gases you release when driving a vehicle or eating foods containing high levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Your car, food, and how you heat your home all have an effect on our carbon emissions levels.
Reducing emissions through reduced driving, using cruise control, and not accelerating can help. Opting for plant-based diets and buying local is also more eco-friendly.
1. Drive less.
Driving accounts for much of our carbon footprint. If possible, opt to walk, use public transit, or carpool instead to reach your destination. Following speed limits and accelerating slowly helps limit pollution; cruise control makes life simpler by maintaining a constant speed without needing to shift gears constantly.
If driving is necessary, try to limit long trips as much as possible, and consider flying instead of driving if possible. A round-trip flight emits more greenhouse gas per kilometre than short driving trips do and travel in economy class can cut your carbon footprint nine times more efficiently than first-class seating.
Purchase local food to reduce your carbon footprint. Producing and harvesting crops takes energy; transporting them is even more energy intensive; raising animals for meat consumption uses up even more resources; disposing of food waste generates methane gas emissions—another powerful greenhouse gas!
Companies can contribute to reducing their carbon footprints by designing products with sustainability in mind, eliminating single-use items, investing in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, and biodiesel for powering their operations, and switching over to lower-carbon fuel sources like biodiesel fuels.
2. Switch to energy-efficient light bulbs.
Switching to energy-efficient light bulbs can have a dramatic impact on our carbon footprint. They use far less electricity and produce much less heat, drastically cutting back on our overall energy use and emissions.
Start by replacing bulbs you use most often, like outdoor lights and in your family room or kitchen. These investments provide the quickest return and can save money over time.
Once you’ve replaced your regular bulbs with LED versions, consider installing dimmers to control how much energy is used and motion sensors that trigger lighting when someone enters. Not only will these measures cut energy usage and bills significantly lower, but they will also make your home more energy-efficient overall. In addition, obtain an energy audit of your home to assess where you may be wasting energy and prioritise upgrades that could provide the greatest savings, such as blower door testing, thermal imaging, or duct testing, as well as a professional inspection by an energy efficiency specialist.
3. Reuse utensils.
Many items we purchase, like utensils, food, and electronic devices, have an associated carbon footprint. Each step in their life cycle emits greenhouse gases into the environment, from mining raw materials, transportation, and use until eventual disposal. Reusing and repairing items instead of purchasing new ones can significantly lower our collective emissions footprint.
Single-use plastic utensils are an inexcusable waste of resources and energy to produce, contributing significantly to ocean pollution as they end up in our waters. Furthermore, their decomposition in landfills produces methane gas emissions, an effective greenhouse gas. Switching to reusable stainless steel utensils could significantly lower your carbon footprint.
Student Housing and Dining Services and UC Davis Sustainability have come together to offer students and staff free utensil kits; check out upcoming tabling events to collect one! Each kit contains knives, forks, spoons, chopsticks, and straight and bent straws (plus a straw cleaner), all packed in a convenient neoprene carrying case. You may also find some in your dining hall, nearby restaurants, or food trucks around campus.
4. Turn down your water heater.
Every time you drive a car, switch on lights, charge your phone, or run your dishwasher, you are contributing to climate change by emitting greenhouse gases produced through human activities such as deforestation, energy consumption, and manufacturing processes.
These gases include methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulphur hexafluoride; carbon dioxide is the chief contributor. All these greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, leading to changes beyond nature’s ability to manage.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions may seem impossible, but there are simple things you can do to make an impactful difference. One such action would be switching over to renewable energies like wind or solar power as part of your plan for sustainability.
Reduce your carbon footprint by adopting a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and grains, shopping locally from environmentally responsible companies, and selecting organic products. Finally, lower the temperature on your water heater to 120°F to save money and prevent mineral buildup.
5. Buy local.
Shopping local helps small businesses and communities remain viable while simultaneously reducing carbon emissions from transportation costs.
However, buying locally can sometimes have its drawbacks when supplies and equipment need to be shipped in from elsewhere; this can offset any potential savings from purchasing locally.
Businesses can have an effective environmental footprint by choosing to use recycled or refurbished office and IT equipment, reducing waste production, and restricting water usage. Even large organisations can make an impactful statement about their commitment to environmental responsibility by incorporating sustainable practices into their daily practices and habits.
Agriculture consumes considerable energy. Planting, harvesting, and transporting crops require considerable resources. Raising livestock accounts for 14.5 percent of human-caused global greenhouse gas emissions, predominantly methane (25 times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere than CO2) and nitrogen oxide emissions. One simple way to lower your carbon footprint is to eat less meat from grain-fed animals raised on deforested land, as well as choose products with minimal packaging waste.