As global leaders are converging in Glasgow for COP26 and attempting to bring down the global carbon footprint, it is also a good time for us to do a self-evaluation. Every individual can also reduce his or her own carbon footprint by taking some simple, easy to manage steps.
Here are 15 ways you can reduce your carbon footprint:
1. Avoid animal products in your diet – 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.
2. Choose organic and local foods – 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. Reduce your food waste by planning meals ahead of time, freezing the excess and reusing leftovers.
4. Wash your clothes 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.
5. Shop responsibly – A good start would be to buy less stuff. And buy used or recycled items whenever possible.
6. Avoid using plastic bags – A good start of reducing your carbon footprint is avoiding single use plastic. Bring your own reusable bag when you shop.
7. Don’t buy stuff with excessive packaging – Any material with excessive packaging will mean more plastic used on the product. So avoid purchasing such products or ensure that the packaging can be recycled.
8. Buy laptops over desktops – If you are thinking of buying a computer, then opt for a laptop instead of a desktop. Laptops require less energy to charge and operate than desktops.
9. Use 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.
10. Switch lights off when not in use. This is the easiest thing to do and we should develop the habit to do so. When you leave the room switch off the lights and unplug your electronic devices when they are not in use.
11. Take shorter showers – Installing a low-flow showerhead to reduce hot water use can save 350 pounds of CO2. Taking shorter showers helps, too.
12. Take public transportation – Drive less. 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.
13. Walk more – Another way to travel is walking, especially for short distances. It will not add any emissions and will keep you fit.
14. Drive responsibly – Avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration. Some studies found that aggressive driving can result in 40 percent more fuel consumption than consistent, calm driving.
15. Avoid flying unless absolutely necessary – 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.
These are suggestions and measures that anyone can take to ensure they reduce their carbon footprint. We must all do our part to ensure that global average temperatures do not rise. The planet is suffering and we are also part of that problem. Try and implement these 15 points in your everyday life and tell your friends and family members to also do the same.