7 Ways to Minimize Your Carbon Footprint

  1. Stop Eating (Or Eat Less) Meat – When you think of climate change, you don’t automatically think of cows and chickens being responsible. But raising livestock for consumption creates a large amount of fossil fuels and emissions. Red meat is more responsible for these emissions than their poultry counterparts. Animals that are categorized as red meat consume 11 times more water and produce 5 times more emissions then poultry. To get a single pound of beef, it takes over 5,000 gallons of water. (Animal Agriculture is the number one consumer of fresh water in the world- which is a leading problem for water scarcity.) The average american eats 8.5 pounds of meat per day, by cutting this number by nearly half you are making a huge difference in the environment. While the best option is to cut meat out of your diet completely (not just for your carbon footprint but also for health benefits) it is not an option for everyone. Small changes in your diet, like eating meat only twice a week rather than 4 or 5 times a week is a step in the right direction for saving the environment.
  2. Unplug Devices – What if I told you ‘Vampire Power’ was a real and scary thing. Every year (in the U.S. alone) $19 billion of energy is drained from vampire power. What is it? Whenever a plug is plugged in a socket, it is draining power. The cord doesn’t necessarily have to be plugged into anything either. By leaving your electronics unplugged if you are not using them you are saving energy. So even if your phone is powered down and plugged into the wall, its sucking energy and using the infamous vampire power.
  3. Drive Less – For years people have been urged to not use their cars as their number one means of transportation. Using public transport, walking or riding a bike has always been the solution to lowering fossil fuel emissions in the atmosphere. Currently there are over 65 million cyclists in the United States (a number that has risen in the past 5 years.) Many people opt to bike to work, especially with the addition of bike lanes. Major cities are also making it easier to not own a car. Populations are continuously rising in cities, which forced public transportation such as buses, trains and subways to become more effective. U.S. public transport saves roughly 37 million tons of carbon emissions every year. 
  4. Don’t Buy ‘Fast Fashion’ – Everyone loves a good sale, $5 for a t-shirt? Count me in! But what if I told you that $5 tee will end up in a landfill by next year? Mass production of clothing in the fashion industry allows for cheap prices, but with the ever changing fashion “cycles” it becomes outdated quickly. To justify buying the latest trends in clothing, we tend to go through our wardrobes and dispose of old pieces that are off-trend. Clothing that costed less is more justified to be thrown out, because “I only payed $5 for it- I got my use out of it.” When clothing sits in a landfill, it can cause water contamination from the dyes and carcinogens in the fibers, reduce biodiversity and have negative impacts on health. Not only clothing sitting in the landfill is harmful, but the shipping and production step is too. Chemical runoff from garment factories and the oil required to ship products overseas creating fossil fuels is detrimental to the environment. To combat this clothing dilemma, try re-purposing old clothing for rags, buying local and handmade pieces, buy vintage or secondhand, host clothing swaps with family and friends and donate old clothes you don’t want.
  5. Plant A Garden – A quick way to reduce your carbon footprint is to plant greenery. Plants absorb CO2, which is beneficial for humans and the environment. Planting a garden in a city setting is even better. Large cities often have the “urban heat island effect” which needs to be reduced. This effect is when heat is trapped in the surrounding areas from vast amounts of concrete, buildings and large groups of people. Creating green spaces, leads to better cooling which is a necessity with the climate change happening.
  6. Eat Local (And Organic) – Eating local foods that are in season are the best option. Food purchased from a store has been grown in an area far from you, and was picked and packaged early (to ensure it wouldn’t go bad before reaching the store.) Not to mention the fossil fuels emitted from the transportation it took to get there. Buying local also supports the local economy and promotes food security. 
  7. Line Dry Clothing – You can save 1/3 of your carbon footprint by simply line drying your clothing. A single load of laundry in the dryer uses 5 times more electricity than washing. Running the dryer is equivalent to turning on 225 light bulbs for an hour. The Tumblr dryer is one of the top energy-consuming appliances in a household. 

These 7 tips are a simple and easy way to lower your carbon footprint. They are all immediately effective and can be accomplished by everyone. Get out there and save the environment!

Thank you to Huffington Post for the original information. You can read more here.

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