Going green in your everyday life is a great way to conserve energy and help stop global warming. There are a lot of things you can do to live green, and we’ve put together a comprehensive list of 50 ways to reduce your carbon footprint to help you get started.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint From Food
1. Start your own compost
Composting helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that come from the decomposition of organic matter that takes place in landfills. You can start your own compost at home simply by collecting all of your food scraps and storing them in your freezer. Composting your organic waste is a great way to supplement or replace synthetic fertilizers. You could even start a community composting project through your apartment building or neighborhood.
2. Participate in Meatless Monday
Give up eating meat at least one day a week. If every American chose not to eat meat just once a week, it would save 1.4 billion animals and be equivalent to taking 500 thousand cars off the road. Whole Foods, for example, has a “Meatless Monday” program where you get a discount for purchasing a vegetarian meal.
3. Buy locally sourced food
When you support the produce grown closest to you, you reduce the emissions it takes to transport the food to your grocery store or favorite restaurant. A fair amount of the greenhouse gas emissions involved in the production of your food come from its transportation. Even better: grow your own food!
4. Start your own garden
By growing your own food, you eliminate the emissions that come from the transportation of goods to your local markets and mass grocery stores. Here is how to start your own garden. You can really up your garden game by building a rain garden that helps prevent erosion and runoff from torrential rain storms. They’re both beautiful and sustainable.
5. Only buy groceries you need
When you go grocery shopping, only buy what you need for the week in order to minimize waste. Try not to not buy in bulk unless you know you will be able to eat everything before it goes bad. You are unnecessarily increasing your carbon footprint by failing to use all of the food you buy.
6. Donate excess food
Even when we try our best to only buy what we need, we can still end up with excess. If you end up with more food than you can eat, make sure you donate it to a local soup kitchen or someone in need, especially if it will go bad within the next few days. This helps reduce someone else’s carbon footprint and helps you prevent unnecessary increases to your own.
7. Buy ethically sourced honey
A bee will only produce about a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. This means the mass-produced honey you see in most grocery stores is made by artificially inseminating bees to produce more honey. These inhumane practices with bees are causing their species to rapidly die out. If you want honey, buy it from a local farm whose practices are ethically sound. Buying honey from small scale beekeepers will reduce your carbon footprint. You could even try to become a backyard beekeeper yourself!
8. Eat at sustainable restaurants
Nowadays, many restaurants pride themselves on being “farm to table.” This means they get their food directly from local farms, or as close to one as they can get.This cuts down on carbon emissions from transportation and from irresponsible farm practices. If you decide to go out to eat, choose to go to places that serve sustainably sourced food.
9. Store your food properly so it stays fresher for longer
Look up exactly how to store each product you buy. There are many websites that can help you determine exactly how to keep your food and produce the freshest it can be. By getting the longest shelf life out of your food you will decrease your carbon footprint from transportation to the grocery store.
10. Buy food that is in season
Certain produce requires a lot more time and energy to get to your local grocery store. To help cut down on these emissions from transportation, consider shopping for food that is in season. There are several websites to help you determine what is and is not in season in your area.
11. Go vegetarian at home
If it isn’t ideal to transition to full vegetarianism, try cooking vegetarian at least one day a week. It will get you into the habit of cooking at home without relying on chicken or red meat. It also gives you the ability to prepare vegetables in the way you prefer or even create your own dishes, lowering your meat consumption and your carbon footprint.
12. Cook more meals at home
Americans waste roughly 50% of all food produced. Instead of going out, ordering a big meal, and only eating half of it, go home and cook a smaller meal. This way, you won’t contribute to the restaurant’s overall waste, and you will also save money!
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint From Water
13. Use a reusable water bottle
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. In order to reduce your plastic usage by the pound, buy a reusable water bottle that you can use everyday. Plastic production leads to a lot of carbon emissions so you’ll be lowering both your water and carbon footprint!
14. Take shorter showers
Considering a shower uses about 2.5 gallons per minute, cutting your shower time down by 5 to 10 minutes can save you between 12 and 25 gallons per shower. Pumping water to your home and heating it both use a fair amount of energy. You can reduce your carbon footprint by eliminating unnecessary water pumping and heating.
15. Use less hot water
By washing your clothes in cold water, and using cold water to wash your dishes, you can save the energy it takes to heat the water. Make sure you use your hot water wisely too, you can always take the leftover water from your kettle to wash your dishes!
16. Buy plants that require less water
If you choose to have plants in your home or around your home, make sure that you do not overwater them. Rather than having automated sprinklers, water them when the plants actually need it. Even better, buy and upkeep plants that do not require much watering at all.
17. Water your lawn less
Many people have a timed sprinkler system for their lawn, even when it rains. Instead of wasting water and money, only water your lawn when it needs it. Just remember it takes energy to pump water so the less you use, the smaller your carbon footprint will be.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home
18. Recycle at home
Recycling and composting are two major ways to reduce your carbon footprint. By recycling your plastics and putting your food scraps in a personal compost pile, you can instantly reduce your environmental impact at home.
19. Replace your old lightbulbs
Changing out any old or dimming light bulbs is an easy way to save energy in your home. Old light bulbs and incandescent light bulbs take up excess energy, so replacing them with LED lights can conserve thousands of watts of energy each year.
20. Insulate your home
Insulating your home will help control your indoor climate so you stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer without driving up your energy bills. You will save more energy (and money) from season to season.
21. Replace your old windows
Older windows let unwanted air sneak in no matter what season it is, making you change the thermostat more often. When replacing your windows, you will likely offset the cost with the energy savings in just a few months. You can also go the cheaper route and insulate your windows by covering them in plastic.
22. Unplug your unused appliances
Without even realizing, the machines that you keep plugged in - like your coffee maker or digital alarm clock - can drive up your energy bill. Your coffee maker, for example, may be using excess energy to run its clock, so make sure to unplug or turn off any unused appliances while you are out of the house.
23. Use a dishwasher instead of hand washing dishes
When you hand wash dishes, you use 2 gallons of water every minute, whereas a dishwasher only uses 4-6 gallons per cycle. This means you can wash almost 4 times the amount of dishes and use half the amount of water by switching over.
24. Lower your heat and air conditioning
Whenever you leave the house be sure to turn down your heat or shut off your air conditioning. You can even have a device installed, such as the Wiser Air Smart Thermostat, to help you do this automatically.
25. Turn off your ice maker
By shutting off the ice maker in your fridge, you can actually decrease your energy consumption by 12-20%. Ice makers have their own heating systems and mechanics to move ice from one place to another, so shutting it off when you don’t need it you can easily save energy.
26. Monitor the temperature inside your fridge and freezer
Make sure your fridge is between 35 and 38 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure it’s not too cold or using too much energy. You should also check the fridge seal to make sure no cold air is escaping.
27. Don’t put hot objects immediately into the fridge or freezer
If you let your leftovers cool before putting them in the fridge, less energy is required from your fridge to keep them cold. Your fridge is one of the biggest consumers of energy in your home so any added efficiency helps!
28. Clean out your fridge more often
You can reduce the energy your fridge uses by cleaning out any food you are not going to eat. When food sits in the fridge, it takes up space and energy. Clean out your fridge weekly, but don’t leave it too empty, otherwise it won’t maintain its cold temperature.
29. Install solar panels
Going solar is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. By installing solar panels, you have the potential to offset up to 100% of your electricity usage depending on how many panels you install and how many kWhs you use each month.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint When Traveling
30. Check your tire pressure
Flat or quickly flattening tires can really hurt your gas mileage. With new tires, you can maximize your miles per gallon, and for every gallon of gas saved, 20 pounds of CO2 won’t be released into the atmosphere.
One of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint is by carpooling with friends. Whether you are going to dinner or driving to school, use one vehicle to get there. Depending on how often you carpool and the distance you drive you could save thousands of dollars and gallons of gas.
32. Use public transportation
If you are in an area where public transportation is accessible, use it! By using public transportation, you can drastically increase your energy savings and reduce the number of cars on the road.
33. Ride your bike or join a bike share
Alike to using public transportation or carpooling, riding a bike takes cars off the road and lowers emissions. Riding a bike is an extremely energy efficient form of travel, so make sure to go out and ride if your area is bike friendly!
34. Drive Smart
Make the decision to drive on highways and higher speed roads so that you minimize starting and stopping of your vehicle. You’ll get much better gas mileage if you’re moving at a constant speed and in an efficient gear!
35. Travel by car or train instead of flying
When you go on a trip, try to travel by car or train instead of flying on a plane. You will help prevent thousands of pounds of non-renewable energy sources from being released directly into the atmosphere during air travel.
36. Spend more weekends traveling close by
Instead of traveling far away for the weekend, spend more time at tourist sites, restaurants, and museums close by to where you live. You can use public transportation to visit sites near by and often walk from place to place minimizing your carbon footprint from transportation.
37. Utilize technology to reduce work-related travel
Instead of traveling for business meetings, connect with people online with services like Skype, FaceTime, and UberConference.
38. Fly economy class
Alike to carpooling, flying economy class spreads out carbon emissions across masses of people. A handful of people flying on private plane, for example, will each make a larger (negative) impact.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint From Clothes
39. Recycle your old clothes
You can donate your old clothes to a charity or even brands that have a good return policy. H&M, for example, launched a garment collecting program back in 2013 that lets you drop off and recycle garments in any condition to any H&M store in the world.
40. Shop at secondhand stores
Instead of buying everything new, check out your local thrift stores to shop for clothes.
41. Buy fair trade clothing
Many stores now sell “fair trade” or sustainably manufactured clothing. Threads for Thought is one example of the many sustainable brands today.
42. Only shop for things you need
Spend less time shopping solely for pleasure. Instead of buying all the clothes you want, try shopping only for what you actually need. You’ll take fewer trips to the store and eliminate the wasted energy used to make unnecessary purchases.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint From Wellness
43. Try more holistic remedies
Instead of taking prescription medications and antibiotics, try more holistic remedies. When you take too many antibiotics, you start to wipe out the good bacteria in your body, making you (and even others) more susceptible to illness.
Also, consider that whatever goes into your body will eventually go into our sewage system. So, the more prescribed medications you use daily, the more will go into our shared water supply. By using fewer antibiotics, you can reduce the presence of antibiotics in our water system and help keep it clean. Healthcare, including pharmaceutical production, in the U.S., makes up 8% of the nation’s carbon emissions. Stay healthy but cut your footprint where you can!
44. Buy natural products
You should be able to read and properly pronounce every ingredient in what you eat. This general rule should also apply to what you put on your skin. For example, even though you aren’t actually ingesting your hand lotion, you are still absorbing it through your skin.
You should read the labels on everything you buy, because if a product is mostly made up of chemicals, then you will ingest chemicals and, again, bring them into our water system through your shower or sink. Instead, use natural cleansers and moisturizers such as handmade soaps and coconut oil. Chemical manufacturing causes tons of carbon emissions so do your part to cut down!
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint in Your Community
45. Go to events that support the environment
There are a lot of eco friendly festivals and concerts that support the environment, such as the Environmental Film Festival. Even Coachella and Bonnaroo are known for their environmentally friendly set ups.
46. Plant a tree
This is a much larger task, but, if you come together as a community and plant trees in your local parks, you can make a huge impact. Forests in the U.S. sequester 10% of our carbon emissions so planting trees always helps to cut down on your footprint.
47. Volunteer for a Community Garden
This can bring your community together as well as grow more local, fresh produce for everyone in the surrounding area.
48. Support local businesses
Buy from local business instead of wasteful big-box stores. Not only will you help support your local co-op, pharmacies, and restaurants, but you’ll reduce waste.
49. Join a community solar program
If you can’t install solar panels on your own roof or property, join a community solar program. You can buy into shared solar projects and earn savings on your energy bill based on your share of solar production each month. Arcadia, for example, offers the first nationwide community solar-savings program.
50. Use clean energy
Reduce your carbon footprint at home in 2 minutes when you sign up your house or apartment for clean energy with Arcadia.
Feature image courtesy of Vegan Liftz