What Can You Do to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint?

Focus on the things you can control in your daily routine.

PUBLISHED JAN 29, 2023 4:38 P.M.
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Ever little bit helps in the fight against climate change.

Ever little bit helps in the fight against climate change.   Pics of My Life   Shutterstock

The looming reality of climate change can be so overwhelming that one is left feeling helpless. But there are many changes we can make to reduce our own carbon footprints. Any actions that an individual can take to lighten one’s footprint is a step toward combating climate change and reducing humanity’s impact on the environment. 

But where to start? It’s the beginning of a new year—a great time to make resolutions that include efforts to be more environmentally conscious. Here are some manageable ideas to help shrink your carbon footprint and join the fight against climate change by focusing on things you can control: your home, your transportation, and your diet.

1. This Little Light of Mine

Sometimes the best thing you can do is to not let it shine. Is natural light sufficient? Are you leaving the room? Do you use energy-efficient light bulbs? Can you get motion-detected lights instead of outdoor lights you leave on all night? Can you unplug electronics that you don’t use regularly? Are you using energy-efficient appliances? All of these things make a difference—and you’ll be rewarded with a lower energy bill.

2. Blowing Hot and Cold

Invest in a smart climate control system for your house that cools or heats multiple rooms at once, using less electricity than stand-alone units. And the age of your system matters as well, as older systems use freon gas that is proven to be harmful to the environment and has been phased out in favor of less-harmful products. Read more about how to go green on your HVAC unit.

3. Take Your Foot Off the Gas

Use public transportation, walk, or bike—this mantra tops many lists on how to tread lightly on the earth. Transportation is a major source of carbon emissions, so using mass-transit alternatives to driving can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. On short trips around the neighborhood, try walking or biking. Electric bikes are becoming an increasingly common transportation alternative and the prices are coming down to make them more budget-friendly.

4. Drive Responsibly

If your commute is not conducive to using mass transit, there are other options. Carpooling with one other person cuts emissions in half. And working one day a week at home without driving would reduce emissions by one-fifth. If you have to use a car, there are ways to improve fuel efficiency. Go easy on the gas and brakes to reduce emissions, regularly service your car to keep it more efficient, and keep your tires inflated at the right levels for optimal performance.

5. Eat Lower on the Food Chain

Animal agriculture is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, so switching to a plant-based diet can have a major impact on your carbon footprint. The cattle industry is by far the biggest culprit, so even cutting out or cutting down beef will greatly help. Eating fish is also a positive step, but make sure your fish is caught with sustainable practices.

6. Reduce Plastic Use

In addition to accumulating as toxic waste in landfills and the planet’s oceans, single-use plastics contribute significantly to carbon emissions. Using refillable bottles, reusable bags, and products with minimal content or packaging can make a big difference. Most importantly, making these types of consumer choices can lead companies to make more environmentally friendly changes down the road.

7. Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is

You can support nonprofits that plant trees and support reforestation efforts. Trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, so planting trees and supporting reforestation efforts can help reduce your carbon footprint. Many airlines offer ways to pay to offset the impacts of your tickets and show you routes that have less of a carbon impact—for instance, non-stop flights generally emit fewer emissions than flights with one or more connections.

8. Pressure Your Peers (Politely)

Now that you’re a climate change warrior, you can share your lifestyle changes with your networks in person or via social media. The more people understand the importance of reducing carbon emissions, the more we can collectively take action to combat climate change. Peer pressure can be a good thing! Every individual action makes a small difference; working together, we can make a big difference. Here are some suggestions on how to have a productive conversation.


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