It’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the information out that regarding climate change, and feel that your impact won’t matter. But there are tons of small changes we can all make on a personal level which will contribute to collective difference on our carbon footprint.
One of the most significant actions you can take to reduce your carbon footprint is to stop eating meat and dairy (or less of it anyways). Animal agriculture is one of the most significant contributors to emissions and resource consumption. A single pound of beef takes over 5,000 gallons of water! Good news is that many restaurants, food providers, and fast food companies are taking notice and providing plant based alternatives. Most notably Burger King recently launched an Impossible Whopper, so you can still eat the burger, but without the guilt!
Greta Thunberg made her notorious trans-Atlantic voyage without the assistance of planes, taking instead to the seas, and furthering the idea of forgoing air travel. The Sweedes, have even given a name for shaming travelers for flying: Flygskam. While air travel amounts to a relatively small 2.5% of global carbon dioxide emissions, it is still higher than original predicted estimates. Cars are also culprits for carbon emissions, with the average motor vehicle emitting about 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide per year. So, if you can, consider carpooling, biking, going by bus, or if needed sailboat.
Most of us are familiar with the slogan reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s unfortunate that the US recycling rate is around 34.5%. If the number was to increase to 75%, the impact would be the equivalent of removing 50 million passenger cars from the roads. On a smaller scale, it only takes two recycled coke cans to save the same amount of energy is takes to run a computer during the work day.
Plastic is just another form of fossil fuels, and it is predicted by 2050 plastic production could be responsible for more than 13% of our planet’s carbon budget. Besides the carbon impact, we have all seen the videos of whales with plastic in their stomachs, turtles with straws in their noses. Plastic sucks, unfortunately it’s everywhere and almost impossible to avoid completely. Things you can do to decrease your plastic consumption include avoiding single use plastic products. Bring your own water bottle and utensils, carry a shopping bag with you, and buy in bulk.
Switching to online payments and doing paperless billing can have a significant impact on your footprint, saving 23 pounds of wood, and decreasing 29 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions per household every year. As a bonus there is often a financial incentive from companies to go paperless, and you can set up automated payments. Saving the planet and making your life easier in the process.