4 Ways to Cut Down on Carbon Emissions
To cut down on carbon emissions, it’s crucial to understand what makes up a carbon footprint and the daily steps that can be taken to reduce it. As individuals who live on this planet and participate in communities, we have a specific responsibility to care for our environment. Just as we spend a few minutes or hours cleaning our homes every week, we should be intentional with how we care for our larger habitat.
Factory production, product use, and end-of-life disposal all use resources and energy. The emissions created by all of these processes are called “carbon footprints” — though these emissions include carbon dioxide, methane, fluorinated gases, nitrous oxide, and so many more.
Calculate the Carbon Footprint
The areas that often create the largest footprint include transportation, food, and buildings. Statistically, the average carbon footprint for US residents is nearly 16 tons, which is one of the highest averages in the world. Most other nations don’t even reach the double digits with their average carbon footprint.
Scientists want to see the global average drop to 2 tons per individual by 2050, but it is currently at 4 tons globally. Clearly, there’s work to be done.
To calculate a carbon footprint, you need to have the following information:
- Transportation miles by vehicle
- Home energy usage
- Shopping expenses
- General diet
You can find a carbon footprint calculator with a quick internet search. Then, the website should guide you through the process of calculating your carbon footprint. Most calculators also include actual steps that you can take to reduce energy use, waste, and emissions.
4 Ways to Cut Down on Carbon Emissions
Everyday Car Use
Transportation emissions top the list of factors that increase global carbon emissions in the world. In fact, a 2017 study showed that going carless for a year could reduce carbon dioxide by 2.6 tons. That might not seem like much, but it equals a little more than a roundtrip transatlantic flight. However, for some Americans, not having a car is just not practical.
Here’s how to still reduce carbon emissions:
- Ease up on the gas and breaks. This helps your vehicle to use fuel more efficiently.
- Check your tire pressure. Low tire pressure reduces fuel economy.
- Turn off your car’s AC when you can.
- Hit cruise control for highway driving.
- Don’t use your car’s trunk as storage as the extra weight will require more fuel.
- Carpool when possible.
New Car Purchase
Another way to actively reduce your transportation emissions is when searching to purchase vehicles. Many different types of cars can help reduce emissions and other fuel waste. Naturally, you also need a vehicle that fits your life, whether urban or rural.
Here’s what to consider for buying a more environmentally friendly car:
- Check the fuel economy. Some websites rate vehicles by their fuel efficiency.
- Consider hybrid and electric cars and if you have access to charging stations.
- Analyze the car brand’s factory production emissions.
- Seek the Smart Way certification, which ensures the 20% lowest-emitting passenger vehicles every year.
Food systems offer a unique way to help the environment. While we know that for our own bodies, we need to make healthy decisions, there are certain healthy eating habits than can also help the earth. A study released in the Environmental Research Letters Journal revealed that red meat can have up to 100 times the negative impact on the planet as plant-based foods.
While switching to a plant-based diet may not be ideal for your life, you can still take certain steps to help the earth and lessen carbon emissions. And even if cutting meat out entirely is out of the question, instead consider reducing your meat intake a few times a week.
Here are a few things to consider:
- Research what you’re eating and its impact.
- Check how to get protein from plant-based diets.
- Eat low on the food chain.
- Opt for locally-sourced animal products whenever possible.
A big way to cut down on carbon emissions is being aware of energy use and looking for ways to reduce energy. Some simple changes can not only benefit the environment but can also help to reduce energy bills. This is a win-win.
See if you can reduce energy use with these suggestions:
- Purchase energy-efficient HVAC systems.
- Check building ducts for good sealing.
- Look for ways to improve insulation.
- Learn more steps for efficiency with an energy audit.
- Switch to LED lightbulbs.
- Unplug unused electronics and turn out the lights when you leave a room.
- Hang dry your clothes.
- Install a programmable and smart thermostat.
Every part of life can be analyzed to cut down on carbon emissions. Businesses should check their buildings, transportation, manufacturing processes, and more. Individuals should analyze their home living, vehicle use, food consumption, and the businesses that they support. Every choice has an impact. While some businesses may not be able to take their work to zero carbon emissions, there are options to support sustainable projects that are doing eco-friendly work around the world.
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