Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: Easy Steps




photography of factory

Photo by Chris LeBoutillier

Climate change seems like such a huge problem that we worry that our own small actions won’t offset the huge polluters. This becomes a justification to ourselves to not make changes that are inconvenient.

But the truth is that most sweeping changes of human society started with small grass roots movements that took hold.

Here are some things that you can do this month to begin to reduce your carbon footprint:

  1. Switch to LED lights. Their initial cost is coming down and they use much less energy than incandescent or florescent bulbs for the same wattage of light. This reduces your energy bill and the amount of coal (or other carbon source) used to power your home. Turn off power to things you are not using. Be aware that electronics in sleep mode are still using power.
  2. If your energy provider gives you the option of choosing the source of your electricity, choose clean and renewable energy such as wind and solar power.
  3. Don’t buy more food than you can eat before it spoils. Decomposing food in landfills is a source of methane, which worsens climate change. Compost your scraps. Even an apartment dweller such as myself can compost. If you are an omnivore, eat one more vegetarian meal per week. Find sources for locally grown food and use them.
  4. Walk and ride you bike whenever possible. Share rides, use public transportation.

These are things that can be done without huge life-style changes.

Even more carbon reduction is possible when life changes are being considered. If you own your own home, consider installing solar panels, planting trees, use the highest standards of green energy and efficiency and non-toxic materials when repairing and renovating your home. Plant native species and edible gardens and use xeriscaping practices in arid regions.

If you need a new vehicle consider buying a hybrid or electric car, consider living car-free or car-light by moving closer to work and using ride-sharing services and public transportation.

Support the education of women and girls worldwide. This improves the lives of the individuals, their immediate family, their local community. Research shows that educated girls start their families later (instead of in their teens) and have fewer children.

Anytime you are about to purchase a new or replacement product consider the energy it uses, and how much toxic waste it will generate at the end of its lifecycle. Do you really need a programable coffee maker with electronics that become hazardous waste? Can you delight in the simple action of heating water in a kettle and pouring the hot water over the grounds? Do you need the T-shirt with advanced wicking technology for your weekly errands? How about wearing clothing made of natural fibers that can be composted when the fabric is worn out?

We vote for the changes we wish to see in the world with our time and our money. Don’t waste an opportunity to create the world that you wish to live in.

6 thoughts on “Reducing Your Carbon Footprint: Easy Steps

  1. Priscilla Bettis says:

    You’re right, lots can be done without huge lifestyle changes. I’d add hanging your clothes to dry though I admit I normally only hang ours halfway (dry them halfway in a dryer and then hang them up for the rest of the way). My biggest challenge is food packaging because some things we like to eat only come with plastic packaging.

    Thanks for posting this. You are certainly doing your part, Fawn.


    • Fawn says:

      I was hoping to point out the almost painless, low hanging fruit. With a little thought and effort it is possible to make huge reductions in one’s carbon footprint. And you are right about clothes drying and food packaging. Even the food I get from my CSA has an alarming amount if plastic bags and net.


  2. Lou Phillips says:

    Thanks for the reminders. We walk a lot w/o thinking about it, doing most of our shopping afoot. Got the LEDs. We keep talking up (in out co-op building)the benefits of going green – small steps in place, but so much more could be possible.


    • Fawn says:

      I do think that after you practice some of these things for awhile, they seem effortless and then one can work on more challenging things, like getting solar panels.


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