Earth Day is April 22, but you don’t need one day out of the year to make a difference. Making small changes to your everyday life can greatly reduce your carbon footprint. In fact 60% of the Average American’s carbon footprint is actually from indirect energy use – it comes from everything we buy and use – goods and services. So, this year, don’t fall for the greenwashed goods and marketing gimmicks that make pretense of offering quick fixes to complicated environmental issues (which usually involve consuming more stuff). Instead, look to these 7 things you can do on Earth day (and everyday!) to lower your carbon footprint and help ensure a sustainable planet for future generations.
Drive better. Speeding and unnecessary acceleration reduce mileage by up to 33%, waste gas and money, and increase your carbon footprint. So slow down. Apply this to your life as a general practice; stop speeding through life, man. Savor it.
Eat Local. Buy Local when possible: Shipping burns fuel. Approximately 13% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the production and transport of food. Transporting food requires petroleum-based fuels, and man fertilizers are also fossil fuel-based.
Don’t waste food. Are you getting flashbacks to childhood when your mom used this line in hopes of you eating your vegetables? Well, turns out she was right. About one-quarter of all the food prepared annually in the U.S. gets tossed, producing methane in landfills as well as carbon emissions from transporting wasted foods. Talk about yuck.
Eat less meat. Vegetarians may be onto something – they save at least 3,000 pounds of CO2 per year compared to meat eaters. If you can’t forgo the meat, keep in mind that poultry is less greenhouse gas intensive than beef. It takes a lot of resources to raise cows. So stay informed where your beef comes from – if you purchase beef from somewhere in Brazil, cows graze on land that used to be a tropical forest but was cleared for agricultural use. Deforestation is a top contributor to carbon emissions and thus climate change. Yikes.
Shut down the electronics. Enable your power management at work so your computer and monitor shut down. Don’t leave lights on. Unplug appliances when you’re not using them. So simple, right?
Be mindful of your water usage. Take shorter showers, wash your car less often, use climate-appropriate plants in your garden, instal drip irrigation so that your plants only receive what they need, make water-efficient choices when choosing shower heads, faucet heads, toilets, dishwashers, and washing machines.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. You’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times, but it’s because it’s great advice. By buying used products and reselling or recycling items you no longer use, you dramatically reduce your carbon footprint from the manufacture of products.
There you go, folks. What else do you have to add to our list? We’d love to hear it in the comments.