39 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

If you’re not wondering how to reduce your carbon footprint, you should be. According to the overwhelming majority of scientists (as in basically all of them), carbon footprint reduction will literally make or break our collective futures. Should we fail to reduce carbon emissions, we can expect extreme weather conditions, food shortages, higher global temperatures, climate wars, refugee crises, droughts, disasters, and more. It’s all real and arguably closer than most of us would like to think.

While real climate action will require changes of every conceivable variety, a number of companies, governments, and individuals are already doing their part. Should you be likewise asking yourself how to reduce carbon emissions, then you too are making progress. Of course, that still leaves us with the lingering question: how does one reduce his or her carbon footprint?

We can’t provide you with some sort of magic bullet, nor will we request that you uproot your entire lifestyle. What we can do is point you toward specific measures that will reduce your carbon footprint by reducing carbon emissions. Adopt as many as you can and spread the word in the process and you’ll be helping us build a sustainable future. Without further delay, here are 39 ways to reduce your carbon footprint.

Driving

Brands like Tesla and even most major automakers are developing electric vehicles at a revolutionary pace. In fact, some experts predict that diesel engines will soon be a thing of the past. Until prophecy becomes reality, here’s how you can reduce your carbon footprint when getting from point A to point B.

1. Use Other Means of Transportation

There’s never been a healthier spectrum of driving alternatives than there is at this very moment. Everything from public transportation to bikes to electric scooters is at your disposal and ready to work wonders. That’s not to mention carpooling, which is an effective way to reduce carbon emissions without resorting to extremes. Plus, would it kill you to get out and take a long walk every now and then?

2. Drive an Electric or Hybrid Vehicle

The electric vehicle market is getting more affordable and more exciting with each passing year. What began with just a few choice models and manufacturers has since become a highly competitive sector. As a result, you have tons of options when it comes to finding a quality electric or hybrid vehicle. It also makes for a wise investment, given the possibility that gas-fueled models might go extinct in the near future.

3. Get a Cargo Rack if You Need More Space

Some of you only need extra storage room on occasion, though that doesn’t stop you from buying a minivan or SUV. Unfortunately, those types of vehicles tend to chew up fuel at a higher rate than their compact counterparts. Consider going with a hitch-mounted cargo rack (not a roof-top box) instead, which doesn’t cost much and opens up all kinds of extra storage potential.

4. Change the Way You Drive

It might be fun to hear the vroom of your engine as you accelerate for no good reason, but you’re reducing mileage and wasting gas in the process. Drive smart and you’ll be reducing emissions instead.

5. Properly Maintain Your Vehicle

Keeping your tires inflated and your engine tuned are just two ways to improve efficiency and reduce your carbon footprint. You should also make sure you’re using the proper grade of motor oil.

6. Stay Out of Traffic

Here’s one carbon footprint reduction pointer that no one would argue with. After all, who likes being stuck in traffic, which increases CO2 levels? No one, that’s who.

7. Consolidate Your Errands and Appointments

Streamlining your routine is another tip that doesn’t just reduce carbon emissions, but improves your overall state of well-being. Stop being a scatterbrain and line up your errands and appointments so that you can knock them out in one trip.

8. Keep Unnecessary Weight Off Your Vehicle

Anything that slows your car down is going to affect fuel economy. If you went camping a month ago and still have all that gear in your car, take it out.

9. Use Cruise Control

Have you seen what they’re doing with cruise control these days? In some cases, the car will automatically slow down or stop without manual input. Just be sure you’re driving one of those cars before you take your foot off the brake. In general, using cruise control is a great way to curb your speedier tendencies, thereby improving gas mileage and reducing carbon emissions.

Air Travel

Don’t worry, we won’t get all Green New Deal on you. On the other hand, try to keep the following carbon footprint reduction tips in mind before booking that next flight.

1. Fly Less

We know, we know: there’s a whole world out there to explore and your Instagram feed is getting stale. However, commercial airlines use petroleum-based aviation fuel and we need to help push them toward sustainable alternatives. That means flying less and maybe even rethinking your next globe-spanning vacation.

2. Embrace the Staycation

Odds are there are a ton of cool destinations within driving distance, only a sliver of which you’ve actually visited. Before you fly to another must-see hotspot on the other side of the planet, consider hitting up the ones nearby.

3. Use Video-Conferencing Tools

Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, you can get business done without leaving your own time zone (or even your own home). That brings us to video conferencing, which delivers a face-to-face experience, minus the tuna fish breath and awkward conversation. It’s about time.

4. Fly Economy Class

Remember how you complained about being packed in like a sardine the last time you flew economy class? As it turned out, you were learning how to reduce your carbon footprint and you didn’t even know it. Sometimes, a little less space can go a long way.

5. Don’t Fly on Private Jets

If you own or frequently fly on a private jet, we have a lot more to discuss about carbon footprint reduction than just this. In the meantime, please consider a more sustainable alternative. And by “more sustainable,” we mean literally anything else.

6. Don’t Go to Space

Again, this one’s just for all the millionaires and billionaires out there. Maybe you’re out of things to conquer and space is the final frontier. Maybe space is the only terrain big enough to handle your outsized ego. Whatever the case, you’re using up a lot of fuel.

Home Energy

Reduce carbon emissions on the homefront by way of the following methods.

1. Keep the Home Sealed and Insulated

By reducing leaks and drafts, you’re cutting down on energy use. Before you get handy with the caulk and weather stripping, do some research to see if your local government offers any incentives.

2. Use Energy Efficient Appliances

As with our cars, our appliances are getting both smarter and more efficient. Whether you’re shopping for a new air conditioner, refrigerator, oven, or any other major appliance, look for an Energy Star label or alternative sign of energy efficiency.

3. Upgrade Your Lighting Habits

Yes, even our lights are getting smarter these days, but don’t take that to mean you should start slacking. Do your part (and reduce carbon emissions) by turning off lights when they’re not in use, and only buying compact fluorescent or LED bulbs.

4. Be Like Goldilocks With Your Thermostat

When it comes to your home thermostat, follow the Goldilocks model: not too high, not too low. You should also buy a programmable unit that can regulate the temperature in your absence, turning the furnace or A/C off when you’re not home.

5. Turn Your Water Heater Down

Here’s one for all the savvy carbon footprint reducers out there: by turning your water heater down to 49°C (120°F), you can spare the planet from about 550 pounds of CO2 per year.

6. Go Solar

Solar panels are getting cheaper every year, which isn’t too mention all the subsidies programs out there. Add them to the roof of your house and you might even end up saving in the long run.

Food

Imagine a world without fast food and milkshakes. Well, you’re going to end up in one if you don’t cut down on the fast food and milkshakes. Of course, that’ll be the least of our problems (and yours) should the worst climate scenarios come to fruition. Here’s how you can reduce your carbon footprint in the food department.

1. Eat Local and Organic

The production and transport of food is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 13% of those emissions in the US alone. Along similar lines, a number of mass production fertilisers are fossil fuel-based and bad for the environment. Reduce your carbon footprint and improve your health by eating local, organic food, which you should be eating anyway.

2. Don’t Have a Cow, Man

We won’t resort to extremes by telling you to eliminate beef and dairy from your diet, though it probably wouldn’t hurt. Heck, we won’t even talk about methane and its reported effects on the atmosphere. What we will say is that the cattle industry uses up a ton of resources when operating on a massive scale. Teach that industry a lesson by eating beef or dairy only on special occasions and avoiding cheap or imported products when you do.

3. Buy Food in Bulk

And while we’re at it, bring your own bags.

4. Waste Less Food

When we say you should waste less food, please don’t take that to mean you should eat more food. If anything, order or cook exactly what you intend to consume and nothing more. Sorry, Cheesecake Factory.

5. Compost Your Food Waste

Everybody’s getting in on the composting craze and it’s time you started. In the process, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint. Yay!

Water

Like food, water is key to our very survival. Also like food, you can expect to see less of it if the planet keeps going in the wrong direction. Reduce your carbon footprint by taking the following measures.

1. Wash Your Car Less

To which you might respond, “But my car is my baby! Don’t you dare tell me how often I should wash it and blah blah blah blah.” Look, do you want to reduce your carbon footprint or not?

2. Cultivate a Climate-Appropriate Garden

Everything from region to soil type to exposure will affect the kind of plants you should grow, and which ones will result in the greatest carbon footprint reduction. Do your research and garden accordingly.

3. Instal Drip Irrigation

By putting in a drip irrigation system, you’re ensuring that your plants get just the water they need. You’re also reducing your carbon footprint.

4. Purchase Water-Efficient Appliances

We don’t want you to stink, otherwise, we’d tell you to cut down on the number of showers you take. However, you can reduce your carbon footprint by using a low-flow showerhead. Along similar lines, you can find water-efficient versions of faucet heads, toilets, dishwashers, and washing machines.

Clothing

If you’re hoping we’ll advise you to join a nudist colony, you might be disappointed. Here are some things you can do instead.

1. Buy Secondhand Clothing

Whatever hot trend is going around right now has been around before. That’s not to mention all the popular retro styles that are back in fashion. As a result, you can find plenty of great stuff in the vintage or secondhand market, saving money and reducing carbon emissions in one fell swoop.

2. Use Cold Water When Washing Your Clothes

Spoiler alert: cold water still gets the job done. Using it for your wash also spares the planet from hundreds of pounds of CO2 per year.

Shopping

Consumerism is fairly ubiquitous and part of every capitalist society in one way or the other. However, there are still ways to improve your shopping habits for the modern age. Here are some of them.

1. Buy Less Stuff

For every one thing you need, you’re probably buying five things you don’t. Stop doing that.

2. Bring Your Own Bag

This should be the norm by now and with your help, it will be soon. Whether you’re shopping for groceries or goods, bring a reusable bag, if not many reusable bags.

3. Avoid Buying Items That Go Overboard on the Packaging

No, we don’t need a presentation box for the other presentation box, inside of which is a plastic-wrapped gadget that probably doesn’t even work.

4. Use a Laptop in Lieu of a Desktop

Thanks to Apple and other tech brands, laptops rule. They also require less energy to charge and operate than standard desktop computers.

Offsetting

Match your carbon footprint reduction with carbon offsetting to round out your climate change action plan. Start with the following measures.

1. Donate to the Cause

At this very moment, there’s a renewable energy company or reforestation project that can use your support. What are you waiting for?

2. Plant Trees

If you have the means and the seeds (or the saplings), you can reduce carbon emissions and bring a little beauty into this world.

3. Reuse and Recycle

While not technically an “offsetting” measure, you should be buying recycled products and reselling the products you no longer use.

FAQ

Does recycling reduce your carbon footprint?

Recycling is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. It keeps trash out of incinerators and landfills, both of which cause emissions. Also, making recycled products usually takes up less energy than making products from scratch.

How can I reduce my environmental impact?

You can reduce your environmental impact by cutting down on beef and dairy consumption, switching to efficient appliances, using less water, buying less stuff, and wasting less food, among other things.

Why should we reduce our carbon footprint?

Should we as a species fail to reduce our carbon footprint, the consequences range from disastrous to catastrophic. In the near future, humans can expect to see more droughts, more climate-related disasters, food shortages, wild swings in temperature, refugee crises, and more.

What is your carbon footprint?

Your carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gasses produced by your individual actions.

How can you reduce your carbon footprint at home?

To reduce your carbon footprint at home, you can use less water, waste less food, compost, switch to energy-efficient appliances, turn off lights when they're not in use, and buy a programmable thermostat, among other things.

How can you lessen your carbon footprint?

You can lessen your carbon footprint by reducing beef and dairy consumption, switching to efficient appliances, using less water, buying less stuff, composting, and wasting less food, among other things.

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