So you want to go green and reduce your carbon footprint? Well then, the first step is understanding what a carbon footprint is.
The Environmental Protection Agency defines carbon footprint as, “A measure of the greenhouse gases produced by activities of a person, family, school or business that involve burning fossil fuels.” That includes pretty much everything you do at home or work, which means there are a lot of ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Here’s my top 10 list:
Energy-proof your home: These are all tips you’re read about before — switch to florescent light bulbs, make sure windows and doors are properly sealed, check you insulation, maintain your furnace and other heating/cooling equipment, etcetera. You’ll save money while reducing your carbon footprint.
Recycle and Reuse: Recycle and reuse whenever and wherever possible. Buy and use less!
Shopping : 1) Buy local, organic or fair trade food and produce. There’s a better chance such foods were produced in an environmentally friendly fashion, and locally produced foods don’t have to travel as far to get to your plate; 2) Avoid excess packaging, plastics, etc.
Running errands : Consolidate errands and shopping trips. When you get in the car to run an errand, try to think of at least two more errands you can do while out.
Lawn care: 1) Use native plants for landscaping. Natives are more tolerant of local conditions and will require less care and watering; 2) Plants are a great way to offset carbon, so don’t be afraid to plant trees and shrubs; 3) Consider a reel mower rather than a gas or electric powered mower, especially if you have small yard; 4) Make a compost heap for leaves and kitchen compostables.
Water usage : 1) Don’t buy bottled water, which leaves a huge carbon footprint because of its plastic packaging and wide distribution. Try reusable bottles and a home filtration system; 2) Water your lawn early in the morning to increase efficiency; 3) Use cold water in situations where you’d normally use hot or warm water; 4) Turn down the water heater if you’re going to be away from home.
Cleaning products : Use biodegradable cleaning products, such as peroxide-based or vegetable-based cleaners.
Transportation : 1) Make sure your car is tuned up and has properly inflated tires. A simple tune-up can increase your gas mileage by 4 percent or more, while proper tired inflated tired can add up to 3.3 percent; 2) Consider riding a bike, walking or using public transportation when possible; 3) Organize car pools.
Community involvement: See what you can do in your neighborhood to reduce carbon footprints. A couple of ideas include community gardens, community “libraries” for lawn and garden (or other) tools; there is really no limit to the kinds of things that can be done at the neighborhood or community level.
Families concerned about their impact on the environment can “think globally, act locally” by going green to help reduce its carbon footprint.
Sources: CarbonFootprint.com; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; U.S. Department of Energy