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Sustainable Living

The 35 Easiest Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

by |December 27, 2018

Reduce your carbon footprint with these 35 easy tricks. Photo: MilicaBuha

In the face of the recent  National Climate Assessment report on the threats of climate change, the Trump administration continues to try to roll back environmental policies. Individuals, however, can make a difference by reducing their personal greenhouse gas emissions. While there are many ways to do this and save energy—such as insulating your home, putting up solar panels, and planting trees—the following are the simplest and easiest changes you can make. They require little effort or financial investment.

First calculate your carbon footprint

Your carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases—including carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases and others—that you produce as you live your life. The Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project determined that in order to hold the global temperature rise to 2˚C or less, everyone on earth will need to average an annual carbon footprint of 1.87 tons by 2050. Currently, the average U.S. per capita carbon footprint is 18.3 tons. By comparison, China’s per capita carbon emissions are 8.2 tons. We all have a ways to go to get to 1.87 tons.

Calculate your carbon footprint at carbonfootprint.com to find out how you’re doing. The EPA’s carbon footprint calculator can show how much carbon and money you will save by taking some of these steps.

Here are some of the easiest ways you can start to shrink your carbon footprint.

Food

1. Eat low on the food chain. This means eating mostly fruits, veggies, grains, and beans. Livestock—meat and dairy—is responsible for 14.5 percent of manmade global greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from feed production and processing and the methane (25 times more potent than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere over 100 years) that beef and sheep belch out. Every day that you forgo meat and dairy, you can reduce your carbon footprint by 8 pounds—that’s 2,920 pounds a year. You can start by joining Meatless Mondays.

2. Choose organic and local foods that are in season. Transporting food from far away, whether by truck, ship, rail or plane, uses fossil fuels for fuel and for cooling to keep foods in transit from spoiling.

3. Buy foodstuffs in bulk when possible using your own reusable container.

4. Reduce your food waste by planning meals ahead of time, freezing the excess and reusing leftovers.

5. Compost your food waste if possible. (If you live in New York City, you can find a compost drop-off site here.

Clothing

6. Don’t buy fast fashion. Trendy, cheap items that go out of style quickly get dumped in landfills where they produce methane as they decompose. Currently, the average American discards about 80 pounds of clothing each year, 85 percent of which ends up in landfills. In addition, most fast fashion comes from China and Bangladesh, so shipping it to the U.S. requires the use of fossil fuels. Instead, buy quality clothing that will last.

7. Even better, buy vintage or recycled clothing at consignment shops.

8. Wash your clothing in cold water. The enzymes in cold water detergent are designed to clean better in cold water. Doing two loads of laundry weekly in cold water instead of hot or warm water can save up to 500 pounds of carbon dioxide each year.

Shopping

9. Buy less stuff! And buy used or recycled items whenever possible.

10. Bring your own reusable bag when you shop.

11. Try to avoid items with excess packaging.

12. If you’re in the market for a new computer, opt for a laptop instead of a desktop. Laptops require less energy to charge and operate than desktops.

13. If shopping for appliances, lighting, office equipment or electronics, look for Energy Star products, which are certified to be more energy efficient.

14. Support and buy from companies that are environmentally responsible and sustainable.

Home

15. Do an energy audit of your home. This will show how you use or waste energy and help identify ways to be more energy efficient.

16. Change incandescent light bulbs (which waste 90 percent of their energy as heat) to light emitting diodes (LEDs). Though LEDs cost more, they use a quarter of the energy and last up to 25 times longer. They are also preferable to compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs, which emit 80 percent of their energy as heat and contain mercury.

17. Switch lights off when you leave the room and unplug your electronic devices when they are not in use.

18. Turn your water heater down to 120˚F. This can save about 550 pounds of CO2 a year.

19. Installing a low-flow showerhead to reduce hot water use can save 350 pounds of CO2. Taking shorter showers helps, too.

20. Lower your thermostat in winter and raise it in summer. Use less air conditioning in the summer; instead opt for fans, which require less electricity. And check out these other ways to beat the heat without air conditioning.

21. Sign up to get your electricity from clean energy through your local utility or a certified renewable energy provider. Green-e.org can help you find certified green energy providers.

Transportation

Because electricity increasingly comes from natural gas and renewable energy, transportation became the major source of U.S. CO2 emissions in 2017. An average car produces about five tons of CO2 each year (although this varies according to the type of car, its fuel efficiency and how it’s driven). Making changes in how you get around can significantly cut your carbon budget.

22. Drive less. Walk, take public transportation, carpool, rideshare or bike to your destination when possible. This not only reduces CO2 emissions, it also lessens traffic congestion and the idling of engines that accompanies it.

23. If you must drive, avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration. Some studies found that aggressive driving can result in 40 percent more fuel consumption than consistent, calm driving.

24. Take care of your car. Keeping your tires properly inflated can increase your fuel efficiency by three percent; and ensuring that your car is properly maintained can increase it by four percent. Remove any extra weight from the car.

25. When doing errands, try to combine them to reduce your driving.

26. Use traffic apps like Waze to help avoid getting stuck in traffic jams.

27. On longer trips, turn on the cruise control, which can save gas.

28. Use less air conditioning while you drive, even when the weather is hot.

29. If you’re shopping for a new car, consider purchasing a hybrid or electric vehicle. But do factor in the greenhouse gas emissions from the production of the car as well as its operation. Some electric vehicles are initially responsible for more emissions than internal combustion engine vehicles because of manufacturing impacts; but they make up for it after three years. This app rates cars based on their mileage, fuel type and emissions from both the production of the car and, if they are EVs, from generating the electricity to run them.

Air travel

30. If you fly for work or pleasure, air travel is probably responsible for the largest part of your carbon footprint. Avoid flying if possible; on shorter trips, driving may emit fewer greenhouse gases.

32. Fly nonstop since landings and takeoffs use more fuel and produce more emissions.

33. Go economy class. Business class is responsible for almost three times as many emissions as economy because in economy, the flight’s carbon emissions are shared among more passengers; first class can result in nine times more carbon emissions than economy.

34. If you can’t avoid flying, offset the carbon emissions of your travel.

Carbon offsets

A carbon offset is an amount of money you can pay for a project that reduces greenhouse gases somewhere else. If you offset one ton of carbon, the offset will help capture or destroy one ton of greenhouse gases that would otherwise have been released into the atmosphere. Offsets also promote sustainable development and increase the use of renewable energy.

This calculator estimates the carbon emissions of your flight and the amount of money needed to offset them. For example, flying economy roundtrip from New York to Los Angeles produces 1.5 tons of CO2; it costs $43 to offset this carbon.

You can purchase carbon offsets to compensate for any or all of your other carbon emissions as well.

The money you pay goes towards climate protection projects. Various organizations sponsor these projects. For example, Myclimate funds the purchase of energy efficient cookstoves in Rwanda, installing solar power in the Dominican Republic, and replacing old heating systems with energy efficient heat pumps in Switzerland. Cotap sustainably plants trees in India, Malawi, Mozambique, Uganda and Nicaragua to absorb CO2; you can sign up for monthly offsets here. Terrapass funds U.S. projects utilizing animal waste from farms, installing wind power, and capturing landfill gas to generate electricity. It also offers a monthly subscription for offsets.

Get politically active

35. Finally—and perhaps most importantly since the most effective solutions to climate change require governmental action—vote! Become politically active and let your representatives know you want them to take action to phase out fossil fuels use and decarbonize the country as fast as possible.

 


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Kalpna Hickin
Kalpna Hickin
3 years ago

thank you for this information, I do my share but could improve. As the richest people on earth use more carbon their should pay carbon tax.

OzDoc39
OzDoc39
Reply to  Kalpna Hickin
3 years ago

I do agree with you Kalpna, the richest people use an average of 1000x times more (the richer the more they use), since they have mansions (requires a lot more power), boats, private aeroplanes etc. Their Co2 emissions are through the roof, so carbon tax for the rich (especially ultra rich) would go a huge way to offsetting their extravagant lifestyles and the world in general and wouldn’t even impact them hardly at all.

Yutang Xie
Yutang Xie
Reply to  Kalpna Hickin
1 year ago

Yeah, there should be rules for emitting Co2 (like your electric reading shouldn’t be above a reasonable number) or there’ll be fines. Taxes will be for the extra emitters, like the rich people. Taxes depend on their wealth and how much they emit.

Wolf Kesley
Wolf Kesley
Reply to  Yutang Xie
1 year ago

Agreed. Taxes these days are getting harder to pay and by the time I’m dead, we will probably still have a lot of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. But then again, some things DO need carbon dioxide to live.

ceswert
ceswert
Reply to  Yutang Xie
6 months ago

PGE CA is starting to make customers more aware of electric usage via monthly comparisons of your home’s usage versus more acceptable usage based on a number of specifications. Rates are also increasing based on when it’s more expensive to use during a 24 hour period. Our high rate time is 4-9PM

MushroomHunting
MushroomHunting
Reply to  Kalpna Hickin
6 months ago

All these rich people don’t even care about this Earth. I mean Jeff Bezos went to space! Vladimir Putin has a yacht that’s roughly 2 million dollars. AND THEY DO NOTHING ABOUT IT. They could be helping their home, but children(or people who have been rich their whole lives) don’t understand anything about poverty. And they never will. We need to make a change for the better of humankind.

johnny
johnny
Reply to  MushroomHunting
14 days ago

I totally agree. But also I think you mean $200 million. $2mill wouldn’t even pay for yearly upkeep for super yachts. I know as my friend works on one, and the maintenance costs are over $10mill per year 🙂 Peace.

Joseph Mitchener
3 years ago

In your list of “ways to reduce your carbon footprint” I notice that you forgot to mention the single most important thing a family can do: have one fewer children. Do I sense fear of stating the unpopular?

Jim
Jim
Reply to  Joseph Mitchener
3 years ago

Popular or not, you may be wrong because people are both the cause of and solution to all their problems. People are not wolves. With wolves and chickens, the more wolves: the fewer chickens, and the fewer wolves: the more chickens. With people, it is just the opposite: the more people you get more chickens not less. That extra kid may contribute to sustainablility.

Anthony
Anthony
Reply to  Jim
2 years ago

I see your viewpoint. If one is living sustainably and encourages other people to do so, the benefits of that person living on the planet (through getting other people to reduce their environmental impact) likely exceeds the personal carbon footprint of that person.

Diane
Diane
Reply to  Jim
1 month ago

Jim, I agree!

George Agamaite
George Agamaite
Reply to  Joseph Mitchener
1 year ago

Or getting rid of family pet, 30% of CO’3 related to meat production

Eau
Eau
Reply to  George Agamaite
1 year ago

Family pet = meat production? Benefits of pets is tremendous – safety, assist handicapped, therapy animals, provide comfort and companionship, reduce blood pressure and anxiety, etc
.If you are referring to the fact that they eat pet foods, most pet foods are made from meat scraps (parts not sold for human consumption) and include vegetables.
Also, changes in feed for farm animals has reduced gas emissions.

Tasneem A
Tasneem A
Reply to  George Agamaite
1 year ago

I don’t think that a family pet can be produced to meat but you have the right idea

unknown
unknown
Reply to  George Agamaite
1 year ago

ANIMAL HATER

Melissa L Meier
Melissa L Meier
Reply to  unknown
10 months ago

Lol you all are all for less babies but not for less pets. Lord the internet is funny.

How about we start raising our children to be more earth friendly?? How about we expect companies ( including pet food) to produce in ways that are good for the environment? Why do we need to get rid of kids or pets?

KathleenM
KathleenM
Reply to  George Agamaite
1 year ago

I guess this is an old thread, but birds for instance eat the same things as their vegan owners. We had broccoli spears, edamame beans, a few pasta rotinis, a few spoons of corn kernals, and the parrot had some organic Harrison feed pellets with vitamins, plus a splay of fresh pea pods. I had mung dahl on quinoa later on with kale, he had another round of pellets for dinner, apple juice and pea pods. Parrots need adopting, if anyone wants a good pet, check your computer for parrot rescue or exchange sites. Lots of loving companions that need homes….and they like what we like to eat….bananas and oranges, but mostly local stuff, zuccini and corn this time of year and into fall.

Al
Al
Reply to  Joseph Mitchener
1 year ago

They fear underpopulation spesifically, which is already a danger in places like China & Europe, where the elderly outnumber anyone under 12

Emma
Emma
3 years ago

Thanks for the tips. However, #32 which advises non-stop flying is unlikely to be true most of the time as non- stop flights tend to burn large quantities of fuel carrying the additional fuel mass. In general a 50/50 split is the most fuel efficient way to take a long flight.

Doug
Doug
Reply to  Emma
11 months ago

Charge by weight for flying (person + luggage)

Bruce Wade
Bruce Wade
3 years ago

Maybe we should consider adding one more idea. #36. Save carbon rich material from turning into CO2. Reduce your carbon footprint by keeping dead plant around longer. A leaf falls on the ground and is decomposed this year. I dry a leaf and put it a book and can be there in 100 years.

James
Reply to  Bruce Wade
2 years ago

This is what the Japanese government does: if you build a house of wood, you get a huge cheque of about $8,000USD from the government for storing CO2 in your house.

Patric
3 years ago

Your point about eating less meat, er maybe even going full vegan is incorrect. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter one thing what you eat. Meat might be responsible for more greenhouse gasses, but for vegitarians they cut down millions of acres of forest eacht year to provide the room to grow their crops (Just look at the soy farms in Brazil and the palm olive fields in Malaysia). Deforestation causes far more greenhouse gas emission than cattle, and it also takes away the only means by which CO2 can be removed from the air. This problem is caused by overpopulation, not meat.

Sarah Fecht
Admin
Reply to  Patric
3 years ago

Hi Patric,

We can both agree that deforestation is a big problem for climate change. However, it takes 12 pounds of grain to make 1 pound of beef. It is therefore much more efficient, and requires less land and deforestation, if we just eat the grain itself. It’s like cutting out the middleman, only the middleman = cows 🙂

Other interesting stats here: http://holdthebeef.org/#new-page-4

elizabeh
elizabeh
Reply to  Sarah Fecht
2 years ago

cows can and do eat grass. Grass is a huge CO2 sink. Buy grass fed. Broccoli will use more land and give you less nutrition. Hooved animals walked this earth in large numbers before humans concentrated them in fences and farms.

Renee Cho
Renee Cho
Reply to  Patric
3 years ago

Actually 70 to 75% of the world’s soy is used for animal feed for chickens, pigs, cows and farmed fish. After beef, which is #1, soy is the second largest cause of deforestation.

glenda wachter
glenda wachter
Reply to  Patric
3 years ago

I am a vegan and have solved the problem of soy and palm oil. I don’t use either, and am a healthy
vegan.

Alan
Alan
Reply to  Patric
2 years ago

Solution could be to stop over eating, veg or meat and stop wasting food. I think food industry should also be penalized. One of the culprits in my opinion are supermarkets. They buy cheap and more and waste a lot as their pricing takes wasting into account. Local govt should monitor and penalize if they waste food items and simultaneously reduce the expiry date of the food items, this will deter industry to mass produce anything edible. These are scalable and I believe would be very effective.

Doug
Doug
Reply to  Alan
11 months ago

Packaging is also a problem. A 750 ml bottle for wine weighs 750 gm – very inefficient. Lots of energy wasted even if recycled. Ban wine, beer, drinks in glass bottles?

acarnes
acarnes
Reply to  Patric
2 years ago

I’m an Ag student and I’m actually doing some research for an Ag Issues project for FFA and I noticed that you might be thinking of this the wrong way. I grew up on a commercial cattle ranch and I obviously agree with you that cutting out meat isn’t the way to go. Growing up in a rural farmland area and being a member of FFA I have always thought of the crop industry and the cattle/meat industry as a united industry: the Agricultural Industry. But I of course realize that not everyone has this experience. I don’t know if this is going to make much sense but what I’m trying to say is that this issue is not CROPS vs. MEAT. We as the agricultural industry raise cattle for dairy and meat products AND we grow the crops necessary for people who choose to be either vegan or vegetarian. It’s not really two separate industries that are competing for your attention, it’s only one. I cannot say anything about other places like Brazil and Malaysia but here in the United States, the agricultural industry is CONSTANTLY working to improve our methods of farming and ranching to emit less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. I would also like to say that I am slightly disappointed in an institution like Columbia University for blaming climate change on cattle burping methane into the atmosphere. Cows do burp methane into the atmosphere, this is true, but what people always seem to forget is that this is a part of the natural carbon cycle. Key word there: NATURAL. These cattle have been doing this since the beginning of ranching methods and before that, the hundreds of thousands of Bison that used to roam the great plains did the same thing. We cannot blame cattle for doing what they are designed to do. Anyway, sorry for rambling on, hope that this possibly helped someone.

Zach
Zach
Reply to  acarnes
2 years ago

Acarnes, this is really poor logic. Cows do “naturally” produce GHGs. But we have 94.8 million cows in the US. That’s almost 1 cow for every 3 people. There is nothing natural about industrial agriculture, and quantity of the GHG source is more important than whether or not it existed in some capacity pre-industrialization. As someone mentioned above, it takes 12 lbs of grain to make 1 lb of beef (not to mention water!). If more people move to substitute more plants for beef, you can feed the same amount of people with less cows, as that 12 lbs of grain can feed more people than 1 lb of beef. This clearly reduces carbon footprint, as it reduces overall consumption and agricultural production per person. This may not be in your best interests as someone going into the Ag industry, which I’m sure informs some of your opinion there, but that doesn’t make it any less true.

deeee
deeee
Reply to  Zach
11 months ago

hello, the supermarkets wouldnt know what hit them if we all ate less meat, that would reduce in food wastage too, but im sure they would adjust!

Eau
Eau
Reply to  acarnes
1 year ago

Can’t believe anyone would give a thumbs down for facts.

Frances Griffiths
Frances Griffiths
Reply to  Patric
2 years ago

Only 6% of the crop grown on land cleared in Brazil for soya production, goes to feed people. 94% goes to feed animals and chickens to provide food for meat eaters. It takes much less land to feed people directly with plant food than it would to grow the food to feed the animals with which to feed those people. If we all are a vegetarian or vegan diet we would need less land and more could be left as wild forest to absorb and store carbon.

michael
michael
Reply to  Patric
1 year ago

Hey Patric, I just think that your forgetting that we use a large areas to grow crops to then feed live stock, much more then it would take to feed the human population. Also cows produce methane.

Jack
Jack
Reply to  Patric
1 year ago

they cut down those forests to make room for livestock it takes a lot less room for a vegetarian or vegan diet than one that has meat I am not vegan or vegetarian but you have a thing backwards.

Maz
Maz
Reply to  Patric
1 year ago

Hi Patric, I definitely see what you are saying with regards to Soy production. Indonesian and Malaysian Rainforest are cut down for both palm oil and soy production. This accounts for around 10% of the problem each, which is still a significant proportion. Beef production, however, is 85% of the problem and a lot of Soy Beans are grown as cattle feed as grazing ground is not possible without the rainforest. This means that beef and dairy production are the huge contributors to climate change as they also include a vast proportion of the requirement for soy. If veganism isn’t for you, you’d be better to switch to white meats such as chicken as they take up less physical space and require less logging or land degradation than beef production (but still have greater carbon and ethical implications than a vegan diet).

KathleenM
KathleenM
Reply to  Patric
1 year ago

Lancet studies in England put out a study. We cannot save the planet unless we stop herding beef. Cows grow for 2 years minimum before industrial harvesting=a lot of methane farts and belches. Ruminants. The study showed less beef and less lamb on the plates of the world to save the planet. Also think of all the heart surgery from grease in our blood vessels these days. Less beef, then less colon cancer too, better health. The surgeon general in the US has stated it, but cattlemen won’t let the warning be printed on the meat packages. Eating red meat has been proved to be hazardous to human health. Lobbyists deny the truth. Big meat is full of toxic material in the animal fat, and big fish too. The meat eaters make vegans pay for their medical bills, which are enormous. Japanese eat dolphin which is loaded with mercury.

It took 150 million years to create the rain forest in Brazil. They should grow river turtles, not cattle, if they want meat in the Amazon. Cows weren’t meant to live on rich fertile forest land, trees live there and have rights to the soil they created via vegetation. It takes 1,000 gallons of water to make a pound of beef meat. Meat eater’s clothing is so hard to clean that maids must make hot, hot water and use lots of toxic soaps.

Why not just live clean? Lots of good nuts and apples to harvest. Tropical people are happy with bananas and peas, pineapple and all that juicy variety. They hardly eat the meat they grow on the fields they have created from destroyed forests. Rice is almost the divine of foods, with ginger and turmeric. Some beans and squash keep the soil good, and healthy soil grows all kinds of fruits and trees. We need good soil.

Cows eat too much before slaughter. If you must eat animal, better to eat rabbits and turtles, frog’s legs and snails. Use some locust “meat” to make your burgers. People can eat sea urchins that overpopulate the shores. People could fish them with a knife. Pig farms will have to close too. All that pollution and putrid decayed matter pigs produce will at last be gone. Farms were once sacred to nature. Soil was fertile, and so plentiful was food. The world was an Eden which will return. Nature has always favored that which really sustains her. There is enough vegan matter to feed all the billions of folks alive today, but it isn’t sourced out well. Too many meat eaters eat too much of it. Almost all of it … via the large industrial cow farms.

Henry
Henry
Reply to  Patric
11 months ago

Patric, I agree with you at a certain point: Brazil, has and keeps the world largest green are. Only 8% of its territory is used to produce meat, beans, coconuts farms and so on. It is the only country in the world that does somethong to keep his green area. I know about it, I lived 20 years in South America and I know how tough they are regarding keeping their green amazon. I used to work for the government, I used to work with territory planning and development of sustainable activities such as economics based o local vocation and load capacity of the environment.

Aryani
Aryani
Reply to  Patric
1 month ago

There is a massive misconception about soy. (77%) Most of the soy grown is used worldwide is used exclusively as animal feed and only 7% is used for direct human consumption. Soy is a great source of nutrients to the human diet. https://ourworldindata.org/soy#:~:text=More%20than%20three-quarters%20%2877%25%29%20of%20global%20soy%20is,as%20tofu%2C%20soy%20milk%2C%20edamame%20beans%2C%20and%20tempeh.

David
3 years ago

Hello there! Terrific points about energy conservation and carbon footprint reductions. Props to the author(s)!
I happen to run a blog devoted to renewables and energy efficiency and thought one of my articles about energy audit tools might be useful to your readers if you incorporate it in this article.

Here it goes: https://www.everysolarthing.com/blog/energy-audit-tools/
There are no ads or affiliate links whatsoever.

Either way, keep up the important work of spreading a word about environmentally friendly lifestyle.

Anthony
Anthony
3 years ago

How can I reduce my carbon footprint and still be warm

Neil Leary
Neil Leary
Reply to  Anthony
3 years ago

Lots of options. Get a programmable thermostat and set it so that you are comfortable but not crazy hot or cold; seal air leaks in your home; add insulation; don’t leave doors & windows open when running furnace or AC; reduce the temperature setting of your hot water heater to 120 F; choose to live close to where you work and shop so that you can walk, ride a bike, or take public transit; show up at public meetings to advocate for mixed use zoning, higher density zoning, public transit; choose renewable energy if your state/city allows you to choose your electricity supplier; eat a bit less beef, switching to a bit more poultry and/or grains, beans, veggies; buy less stuff – take care of what you own, make it last a long time, reuse, repair, use reusable water bottles and coffee cups, don’t waste $ on flashy objects that end up not really bringing you joy. No doubt you and others can think of even more options.

The point is, we don’t need to live hard, cruel lives of depravation to reduce our carbon footprints. A lot can be accomplished through thoughtful choices.

Zach
Zach
Reply to  Anthony
2 years ago

A good old fashioned sweater.

I know people who keep the heat at 80 and wear a T-shirt around inside when its 20 degrees out. Its a reasonable sacrifice to make to live at a comfortable 65, and if you can’t handle that, Goodwill has sweaters for cheap.

Tasneem A
Tasneem A
Reply to  Anthony
1 year ago

buy thrifted clothing !!!

Elisa
3 years ago

Can you say more about how using reusable bags reduces the carbon footprint please? we are trying to pass a bag ban in my town and need all the solid scientific data we can get.

ImUG
ImUG
Reply to  Elisa
2 years ago

Going politically active doesn’t necessarily lower your carbon footprint, it can force the entire country’s carbon footprint down, and as a result, yours. For example, if you voted for a law to shut down a coal powered power plant and replace it with a solar or wind farm, you would be cutting down on an entire organization’s carbon footprint, and not just your own.

Doug
Doug
Reply to  Elisa
11 months ago

A plastic bag is equal to about 1 drop of crude oil. Driving to the supermarket consumes at least 10 drops of oil/petrol per kilometre. Bags are litter but driving is much worse for carbon footprint.

Kathryn
Kathryn
Reply to  Elisa
6 months ago

not a scientist or anything, but in order to produce single-use plastic bags they have to use crude oil and this produces a lot of greenhouse gases/carbon emissions, and they only get used once! with reusable cloth bags (sometimes people have reusable bags made of other materials), it has a different amount of emissions produced (generally less, if it’s cloth and not plastic) and then this also pays off because you aren’t producing more emissions each time you go shopping because you can reuse the bag. But someone mentioned that cars use more crude oil than a plastic bag, which is true, so walk/ride to the grocery store, or make sure you are running other errands at the same time in order to not waste fuel or anything 🙂 (and buy an EV if u can!)

Siti Nur Amalia
3 years ago

Thanks a lot for the tips..
by the way, you mention that better to wash in cold water.. what will happen if we wash with warm water?is there any risk?

Linda
Linda
Reply to  Siti Nur Amalia
3 years ago

I don’t think there’s any risk except that it takes energy to heat water, therefore higher carbon footprint

Corinn
Corinn
3 years ago

This is very informative always trying to cut down on my impact especially since we never know when we’re gonna need filtered air don’t want it to be in my life time but at this rate it might

Hi
Hi
3 years ago

We all need to work harder to save our environment

Sharron
Sharron
3 years ago

Finally an article that actually lays out what each of us can do. The problem seems so overwhelming.

Ricky
Ricky
Reply to  Sharron
2 years ago

Yes it may do but all helps even just small things. Just thinking about what we can do will lead to positive changes be it small to start with but may be a big thing in the near future.

isabelle lupton
3 years ago

I think all of these re great ideas, but to add one, i would like to say that we try to make clothes out of the scraps of cloth that are going to the landfill.

Elizabeth Carss
Elizabeth Carss
Reply to  isabelle lupton
2 years ago

And repair your clothes

Doug
Doug
Reply to  isabelle lupton
11 months ago

Recent gift was a rug made in Scotland from recycled wool.

isabelle lupton
3 years ago

hello, i am in 4rth grade, and my idea is that we try to get things that will fill the landfill, so when we don’t buy them, they will go to the landfill. when we buy fancy cloths, that is wasting water, which is not good, but old cloths are used, so you are not using new ones!

Kennedy
Kennedy
Reply to  isabelle lupton
2 years ago

I see your point but another point of view is, if you start buying the product constantly, the company will produce more, and the more product you make the more Co2 is produced through the factories.

BeccaH
BeccaH
3 years ago

people need to keep protesting in Brazil so the president of Brazil can stop doing bad stuff to the earth

Elimay
Elimay
3 years ago

hi i am in 4th grade and i think you should turn of all the light when you leave the house,use self chargers to charge your phones,and have solar panels insted of wasting electricety.

Elimay
Elimay
3 years ago

ride a bike or walk if youare going somewere.also if it is a mile drive if ir is less then walk or drive

Becca/<3 dogs
Becca/<3 dogs
3 years ago

hi i’m Becca and i’m in 4th grade my idea is i think we need to stop cutting down trees because it uses up a lot of units

Becca/<3 dogs
Becca/<3 dogs
3 years ago

we have to try to help the planet

Jonas
Jonas
3 years ago

I am wondering about point 12. Do you have any more information about why a laptop should be more efficient than a desktop. I thought its just the same parts put together in a different housing.

James King
Reply to  Jonas
2 years ago

Desktops are plugged in so can use whatever power they like and function well.
Laptops need to be portable so the longer the battery life, the better. Therefore, a laptop needs to be more eco to increase their sales as people buy laptops with longer battery life.

Anas
Anas
Reply to  James King
1 year ago

But you also need to put in mind the performance. If loading a video on a laptop takes 2 hours to upload on a desktop it might take only 45min. Desktops have an amazing performance. Also on a desktop, you can put it in performance mode where the ratios are equwielent.

Doug
Doug
Reply to  Jonas
11 months ago

Laptop components are designed and fabricated to use less power.

Seymour Diamond
Seymour Diamond
3 years ago

Just came upon this site in search of ways I can reduce my own carbon footprint and found some good ideas that I will try to implement. I have found that corporations, in their search of profits, tend to move their manufacturing off shore to jurisdictions where there are little or no environmental rules and then import these products back to western countries. I believe that we need a Carbon Footprint Tax on goods imported from polluting countries and that this tax be dedicated solely to reducing national carbon footprints eg. Converting coal fired generating plants to gas etc. Not sure how feasible this concept would be but it would be a way to entice polluting countries to clean up their own environmental practices. As we are having our federal elections this month in Canada I will be visiting each candidate in my riding to suggest this idea.

Patrica Pattington
Patrica Pattington
2 years ago

what does getting politically active have to do with my carbon footprint ?

Gwen
Gwen
Reply to  Patrica Pattington
2 years ago

Going politically active doesn’t necessarily lower your carbon footprint, it can force the entire country’s carbon footprint down, and as a result, yours. For example, if you voted for a law to shut down a coal powered power plant and replace it with a solar or wind farm, you would be cutting down on an entire organization’s carbon footprint, and not just your own.

Anonymous
Anonymous
2 years ago

I do my part and after reading this article, I feel my husband and I definitely exceed these points. We hardly go out, so therefore we are not driving, we shower twice a week, we wash clothes on cold, (we don’t have that many loads because we don’t go out so therefore it’s basically pjs and underwear we are washing, we haven’t travelled in 18 years, we hardly eat meat, (we don’t eat much as it is), we do not buy clothing and use the clothes we have whether they are worn out or not, where we live, (Hudson Valley, no one cares what you look like), so therefore we are not getting rid of 80 tons of clothes a year. We sit in the dark at night, we hardly watch tv, we don’t use our computers. I’m 53 and he’s 69. We basically stopped living. However, what are your thoughts on pellet stoves to heat the home? We live in a trailer.

Cameron
Cameron
2 years ago

Thank you so much i needed this ◕‿◕

Kella
Kella
2 years ago

This is a helpful article and thank you. I am curious, at the institutional level, what are top tier schools like Columbia doing to demonstrate their commitment to going green? Limiting staff air travel, requiring alternating in office and WFH staff schedules, etc. These institutions are leading the charge in thought, which is incredibly important, but are they also implementing these ideas more broadly?

Sarah Fecht
Admin
Reply to  Kella
2 years ago

Hi Kella, thanks for your interest! You can read an overview of Columbia’s sustainability initiatives here: https://sustainable.columbia.edu/

Naveen Mittal
Naveen Mittal
2 years ago

Good Information on carbon footprints reduction.
Actually everybody is nowadays aware that how to reduce the carbon footprints, but the question is? are we really honest in following the same?
Lets commit that we will do atleast our part and if everyone will do his part… than the mother earth will be green and healthy!

Josh
Josh
2 years ago

I disagree with the suggestion to buy a laptop over a desktop, a laptop has a much lower life cycle and is not easily upgradable. If you got a desktop instead, while you might use more electricity, it is better due to avoiding more computer parts being thrown away. Desktops being upgradeable means you can swap parts that need to be upgraded instead of buying a whole new system everytime it becomes unusable. For example a monitor does not become unusable at the same rate as a CPU, but by getting a laptop you end up getting a new monitor everytime you get a new system despite the older one being perfectly fine.

Sally
2 years ago

Thanks for sharing! Avoiding flying is hard. But the pandemic has had a huge impact on air travel and we are seeing more and more of our clients (honeymooners) take road trips. Hopefully this has helped reduce their carbon footprint.

ANIMEGURL FOREVER
1 year ago

If u become vegan u will have a lower carbon footprint

Carbon Offset Providers
Reply to  ANIMEGURL FOREVER
1 year ago

Agree…. but we also have to stop burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and cement production. If we can do this, only then carbon footprint can be reduced.

RDL
RDL
1 year ago

Stop shopping at Trader Joe’s. Most of their packaged goods are made in Turkey, China, Vietnam, Bulgaria, etc. Orange carrot juice made in Turkey in glass bottles shipped to your local TJ’s and sold for 2.99 is a carbon disaster. TJ’s is mostly frozen dinners, highly packaged and processed foods, many with artificial flavoring and colors, high sodium and sugar and non-local produce wrapped individually in plastic and stryofoam. Walmart has better governance and transparency. Avoid Trader Joe’s at all costs.

stevie
stevie
1 year ago

thank you for helpimg me on a assinment i am going to make the world a better place

Mya
Mya
1 year ago

growing your own food and owning a few chickens is a really good way to help I think. Usually eggs from commercial farms are mass produced and are less quality.

Citizen
Citizen
1 year ago

Don’t buy toys that require batteries.

Hoe Sway
Hoe Sway
Reply to  Citizen
1 year ago

but what if I want to

Doug
Doug
Reply to  Citizen
11 months ago

Don’t go to or support: car races, hot air balloons, boats with motors, joy flights, cruise ships, jet skis etc.

Opinions
Opinions
1 year ago

Live healthfully. Healthy living & preventative care saves lots of resources.

This means cultivating a healthy body. Keeping a healthy mind

The healthcare system is full of high consumption (huge industry sector, single use everything, high energy resources.). I’m grateful resources exist but it’s best to consciously live the best you can in hopes of needing it as little as possible.

Eau
Eau
1 year ago

Animal feed is now being used that produces less methane in cows.

Btw, if you get breast cancer, the first thing you are told is do NOT eat soy. Many products include soy; oils labeled ‘vegetable oil’ are often 100% soy.

Also, not kidding: we tried plant based ‘fake meat’ and we had indigestion and gas for days.

Let’s go with Gore’s plan – less people. Not sure how he plans to achieve that.

Eau
Eau
1 year ago

Al gore has done really well with this ‘carbon offset’ business. He went from being worth $2 mil to hundreds of millions. His house in Nashville uses huge amounts of energy.

crusty bum hole
crusty bum hole
Reply to  Eau
1 year ago

oh shoot guys this is a major problem.
we have to…..
CHANGE
it’s so nice people care about this subject, soon all we’re gonna here about is this.

Payton Fritz
Payton Fritz
1 year ago

i think everyone should start to be more observant and have more respect for the things and people that put this world into shape. I also think pollution is one of the main problems and some people can fix that but chose not too and it has damaged our world.

Mark Bell
Mark Bell
1 year ago

no one Ever Looks at a Shark and Tells Him That he is Destroying the Environment By Eating Other Fish. So Why do People Look At Meat Eaters and Say we Destroy The Environment?

Doug
Doug
Reply to  Mark Bell
11 months ago

If there were 8 billion sharks there would be no fish.

Jennie M Talley
Jennie M Talley
1 year ago

I am beginning my journey to reduce my carbon footpring

Tyler
Tyler
1 year ago

I agree with all these things, but the 8.7 tons per capita is misleading for china as china has ~1.3 billion people inside their nation while America only has ~350 million, If you don’t know per capita is basically per person. So while china may have a lower per capita they have 3 times more people. if china had the same amount of people as the united states it would equate to ~32.3 tons per capita, giving them a much higher per capita than the U.S.

Tyler Scicluna
Tyler Scicluna
1 year ago

To say myself, I think this will help our planet during COVID and to increase the population of endangered creatures.

Marian Chamberlain
Marian Chamberlain
1 year ago

Great information. Thanks.

Angela T. Cannavo
Angela T. Cannavo
1 year ago

I’m in the midst of reading the article right now. SO GLAD TO HAVE FOUND U!!! I only recently heard on NPR that residential homes emit more carbon than I ever knew about and am madly trying to learn of all of the ways that we can contribute for the good of the climate. Am very excited to hear this news. Thank you all so much for being there and for the work that you all are doing!

Bob
Bob
1 year ago

Love this article!

HII
HII
11 months ago

#savetheworld

Mikala
Mikala
Reply to  HII
9 months ago

Yes save the world please our world needs help! *^*

Doug
Doug
11 months ago

Every aspect of everyone’s life needs to change.

Jon Tommins
Jon Tommins
Reply to  Doug
11 months ago

okay.

Santosh
Santosh
11 months ago

Everyone must go vegan.

Cole
Cole
Reply to  Santosh
9 months ago

You can’t say everyone “Must” go vegan. It is healthy to eat meat and other stuff, not everyone can be vegan it can make people sick if they were raised eating meat. Same with vegetables if someone who was raised eating vegetables then meat may make them sick. All though neither meat or vegetable community is wrong. Though I find it rude for you to say “Everyone must go vegan” I do support you for being vegan 🙂

Last edited 9 months ago by Cole
S.R.
S.R.
11 months ago

I think some of yall are all missing the point of the article.

John Q Smith
John Q Smith
11 months ago

? What do all our congressmen and Senators drive??

Kavita Prakash
Kavita Prakash
9 months ago

Simple and applicable suggestions – Fantastic article, thank you