Eco-Friendly AF: Reducing your carbon footprint and what that actually means
The first time I heard someone talk about reducing their carbon footprint was from a colleague of mine years ago, back when living a green lifestyle to me meant that I was recycling and composting. My colleague told me that he and his soon-to-be wife were going to Italy for their honeymoon, and that he was especially looking forward to it since they had committed not to fly on airplanes beyond this one time unless absolutely necessary, in order to "reduce their carbon footprint". I pretended to know exactly what he meant, nodding my head in agreement with something inane like "Yeah, I hear that" and then proceeded to google exactly what the eff a carbon footprint was. I learned that a carbon footprint is basically the total amount of greenhouse gas (specifically, carbon dioxide) your activities in daily life as a human being produce. In a slight panic, I wondered whether I was also going to have to stop flying places I loved. I was not ready to give up on my long-term dream of summers in Europe (and winters anywhere hot). What I discovered, though, was that while never flying again was definitely a commendable effort, it was also on the extreme end of things and that there were other ways in which I could have an impact--without committing to spending my days riding around in a horse and buggy within a 100 mile radius of my home.
So, if you're like me and in the process of moving towards a greener lifestyle but aren't willing to go to extremes, here are 5 easy steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint in a practical, realistic way.
1) Eat less meat
30% of the world's land surface is dedicated to raising livestock for food consumption, and while these animals are being raised they produce approximately 18% of all greenhouse gases (according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization). Less demand for meat means less greenhouse gases being produced. Implementing even 3 meatless meals into your overall food consumption per week would create a significant impact on reducing your carbon footprint.
2) Buy local, organic food as much as possible
Non-organic farming is harmful to the environment in that it non only uses chemicals derived from fossil fuels, but it also uses a significant amount of energy to transport and implement these synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. On the other hand, because organic farming uses natural substances such as manure and compost for it's fertilizing, this practice requires significantly less energy and stores much more carbon in the soil--keeping it in the ground and out of the atmosphere. Similarly, buying local means--you guessed it--way less energy is required to transport the food to your doorstep. So while that doesn't mean you have to give up bananas, try focusing on seasonal ingredients when you can such as apples and squash in the fall and berries and tomatoes in the summer.
3) Walk, ride your bike, or carpool
This may seem obvious, but it bears reminding. Even if walking or taking public transit to get to work might not be an option, that doesn't mean you can't implement greener transportation methods close to home. Where possible, walk or ride your bike to get groceries, and if you know more than one person going to the same location, opt to carpool--even if it means having to talk when you'd rather just tune out and listen to a podcast.
4) Switch to energy efficient appliances and lighting
If it's time to upgrade your home appliances, look for ones that are marked as Energy Star efficient. New refrigerators use 40% less energy than older models; Energy Star dishwashers use 25% less energy than other models; and Energy Star washers and dryers use a whopping 50% less energy than other models. Next time you need to change a lightbulb, considering buying an LED bulb. While LED bulbs are expensive, they can last up to 15 years. But if you're not keen on spending your hard-earned dollars on LEDs, at least consider changing to high-efficiency incandescent bulbs, such as Philips' Halogen Bulbs sold through Home Depot and Amazon.
5) Purchase carbon offsets
This is an easy way for businesses to operate on a carbon neutral platform. For example (shameless plug) GoJava's delivery vehicles are carbon neutral because we purchase carbon offsets, however this option is not only for businesses. Home owners who want to reduce their CO2 usage but are also more interested in the Pay-A-Guy model for home care can purchase offsets affordably through companies like Bullfrog for as little as $16.25 a month.
Thank you for reading and considering how these small changes in your life can make a big impact on the environment. If you have any topics you'd like us to shed some light on, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep It Green!
From The GoJava Team