Making progress on climate change requires us all to take action. An important first step is understanding our own environmental footprint and how to reduce it.
Here are 10 ways that you can reduce your footprint.
1. Reduce energy use
There are many ways to reduce energy use:
- Unplug your electronics when not using them, such us your cell phone chargers, computers, kettle, microwave or your blow dryer
- Switch to energy-efficient appliances when yours need replacing
- Install energy-efficient windows and insulation in your home
- Install water-efficient and energy-efficient toilets, faucets, washing machine
- Wash your clothes with cold water
- Dry your clothes outside on a clothes line and limit the use of your dryer
2. Consider solar panels
Putting solar panels on the roof usually makes financial sense, especially when governments offer subsidies to help with the initial costs. Although it requires an up-front investment, by producing renewable energy, it pays dividends to you and to our planet.
3. Choose LED lights
Replace your old light bulbs with super-efficient LEDs (light-emitting diodes) bulbs. They are cheap, effective, low energy and should last about 10 years – meaning you don’t have to buy old, energy-guzzling halogen lights every few months!
4. Get comfortable with public transportation
Choose to walk, bike and take public transit. If commuting to work by car is your only option, explore carpooling. And when you’re ready to trade-in your car, look for a hybrid or an electric option. Government rebates are sometimes available, making that electric car more doable than you may think.
5. Grow your own produce and plant a tree
Whether you live in an apartment or a house, consider planting a garden, shrubs and trees to reduce your carbon footprint. Trees and shrubs will offer lots of shade during the summer,
keeping your home cool. And a vegetable garden will help reduce the amount of food you purchase and may potentially waste.
6. Reduce food waste
Buy only what you need and eat more leftovers to prevent food waste. Try to reduce the need to buy more food as this will help limit the amount of packaging that will be sent to a landfill.
7. Don’t buy “fast fashion”
The simple rule here is to simply buy less. In today’s society, we tend to think of fashion as disposable. But, think of all the energy that went into producing that garment, and the heaps and heaps of clothing in the landfill. Before you discard a garment, consider donating it or offering it to family or friends.
8. Reduce your home heating and cooling
Turn off or turn down your air conditioning or heating when you leave the house or use a programmable thermostat that will manage your heating and cooling when you are away. When you’re at home, lower your thermostat by a degree or two in the winter and raise it by a degree or two in the summer. You likely won’t notice the difference but will save energy and reduce your bills.
9. Fly less
Air travel is one of the largest components of the carbon footprint. If your destination is close, consider taking public transportation. Ask yourself if you really need to go on that business trip or if you can schedule a teleconference. And if you have to fly, look into purchasing carbon offsets for your trip.
10. Buy from companies who have taken active steps to reduce their carbon footprint
An increasing number of companies are committing to reducing their carbon footprint. Consumers concerned about climate change buy products from companies with the same values and use their pocketbooks to encourage other companies to take action.
Anyone can make many of these simple changes. Our actions – no matter how big or small – do make a difference. We all share the responsibility to do whatever we can do address climate change and create a better future for generations to come.