It is essential to understand that your carbon footprint reflects the impact you, your family, or your school have on the environment regarding the overall quantity of greenhouse gasses you create.
Many of our actions result in carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, which contributes to the acceleration of global warming and climate change. This article will try to point out, understand, and provide a solution to reduce your carbon footprint.
What are Greenhouse Gases?
Greenhouse gases trap heat, causing the Earth to get warmer. It is estimated that human activities have been responsible for nearly all the rise in greenhouse gasses during the previous 150 years. The leading source of greenhouse gas emissions, especially in the US, is burning fossil fuels for electricity, heat, and transportation.
Here are the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
Transportation: Almost all greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation. Our cars, trucks, ships, trains, and planes make a lot of greenhouse gas emissions because they use fossil fuels. Over 90% of the fuel used for transportation is made from petroleum, primarily gasoline and diesel.
Electric production: Electricity production accounts for the second-highest greenhouse gas emissions. About 62 percent of our power comes from the combustion of fossil fuels, most of which are coal and natural gas.
Industry: The primary source of greenhouse gas emissions from industry is the combustion of fossil fuels from specific chemical processes required to produce commodities from raw materials.
Commercial and Residential– Carbon dioxide emissions from companies and houses are generally caused by the burning of fossil fuels for heat, the use of specific items that contain greenhouse gasses, and trash disposal.
Agriculture– Livestock, agricultural soils, monocultures, and grain production contribute to agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Forestry and Land Use: Land areas may act as a sink (by absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere) or as a cause of greenhouse gas discharges (by emitting them). Managed forests and other lands in America have, since 1990, served as a net sink, i.e., they have absorbed more CO2 from the atmosphere than they emit.
How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
One of the most powerful things that we must do as individuals to make a difference in the environment is to reduce our carbon footprint. Our carbon footprint reflects the impact we have on the environment, and to live more sustainable lives, this is essential for us to understand. Keep reading. I will try my best to define and provide solutions to reduce your carbon footprint.
In November 2017, transportation-related carbon dioxide emissions overtook electrical generation-related carbon emissions as the primary source of global warming gasses. Why? Coal is being phased out in favor of renewable energy and natural gas to generate electricity.
According to a 2017 study conducted by experts at Lund University and the University of British Columbia, going carless for a year might save around 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to saving enough carbon dioxide to fly round-trip across the Atlantic. But what can you do to avoid driving? Consider taking the train, the bus, or, even better, riding a bicycle to help the fight against climate change.
Let’s be honest, though. You will probably need to get behind the wheel. So, here are some suggestions to help you have a more environmentally responsible trip:
1. Take it gently on the gas and the brakes – Driving more efficiently can aid in the reduction of carbon emissions. According to Brian West, a fuel and engine research expert from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which studies energy usage and solutions in the United States, you should drive “as if you have an egg under your foot”.
2. Maintaining your vehicle regularly will help it run more efficiently.
3. Check your tires. Properly inflated tires are more efficient. “Low tire pressure will hurt the fuel economy,” said Mr. West.
4. During rush hour traffic, try to avoid stopping and starting, which generates more greenhouse gasses than traveling at a steady speed.
5. Ride-share with friends or group your trips – Carpooling is more efficient than driving alone and will save you money and carbon dioxide emissions.
6. Emissions can creep up due to air conditioning and extensive city driving. Reduce these as much as possible.
7. Use cruise control when you are driving. This will help save on fuel.
8. Don’t fill your car with unnecessary items that you won’t use throughout your trip to reduce energy consumption.
While food systems are complicated, and research on the best environmentally friendly diet is still in its early stages, experts agree that reducing meat consumption, particularly red meat, is better for the environment.
This is because the production of red meat consumes a significant amount of feed, water, and land. Cows themselves emit methane emissions, which contribute to global warming and climate change.
As a result, experts believe that following a vegan diet is likely to be the most beneficial for the environment. According to a study published in 2017 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, red meat can have an environmental impact of up to 100 times greater than plant-based foods.
It is estimated that beef produces over six pounds of carbon dioxide per serving. In contrast, the quantity of carbon dioxide produced by rice or legumes or carrots, apples, or potatoes is less than half a pound for each of these foods.
Overall, experts agree that eating low on the food chain as much as possible is an excellent approach to lower your carbon impact while also staying healthy. This means loading your plate with veggies, fruits, grains, and beans. Even a simple substitution of carbon-intensive meats such as beef and lamb with chicken can make a difference. Better still, switch out a couple of meals every week and try vegan or vegetarian options. This protein card can help you make environmentally sustainable (and wallet-friendly) food choices at the grocery shop.
This is a significant issue: Americans squander almost 40% of the food they purchase.
Fortunately, there are simple strategies to reduce your food waste (and following these suggestions will also help you save money.):
-Take stock. Check your refrigerator regularly to see what you already have, and establish food shopping lists before going to the store to avoid purchasing items you don’t need.
-Keep an eye out for bulk. Low-cost food may appear to be a fantastic deal at first glance, but it is not if you don’t end up consuming it before it expires.
-Plan. Don’t cook more food than you’ll be able to consume. Make sure you plan for the amount of food for the number of people dining.
-Be more creative. Instead of throwing leftovers, you might reuse them for another meal.
-Freeze. Frozen fruits and vegetables are an excellent way to prolong their lives, cutting down on food waste. So, instead of throwing out an apple that you will eat next week, freeze it and when you’re in the mood for something sweet, slice it up and eat it with yogurt or mix it with other ingredients.
-Check out local outlets. Locally-owned supermarkets and corner stores may sell food close to expiring, reducing your food waste even more.
According to estimates from the Natural Resources Defense Council, 25 percent of the energy consumed in the average American house is used to heat rooms, 13 percent is used to heat water, 11 percent is used for cooling, and the remaining is spent on appliances. According to Noah Horowitz, a senior scientist and head of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Center for Energy Efficiency, making even minor adjustments to these may have a significant impact.
-Turn down the heat. If you have an automatic or smart thermostat, you should use it. It would be best if you also kept the blinds closed to help maintain a consistent temperature inside.
-Change your lightbulbs. Instead of incandescent bulbs, consider LEDs or CFLs, which use less energy and last longer. These lights are also typically more efficient than standard incandescent bulbs at converting electricity into light.
– Invest in clean and renewable energy. Solar technology is becoming more and more accessible for everyone. While reducing your carbon footprint, you can also save a couple of bucks in the long run.
-Turn off appliances and light on unused rooms. Leaving devices turned on in unused spaces, like the basement or attic, can cost you money in excess energy.
-Switch out an old appliance for a more efficient one. Old fridges can be energy hogs – said Mr. Horowitz. This can cost you up to $100 a year to run. So if it’s about 15-20 years old, it’s a no-brainer to recycle it and purchase a modern one.
We don’t realize how much our daily activities and decisions contribute to a significant carbon footprint. Inadvertently, we’ve contributed significantly to global climate change. And we happen to be the only ones in a position to reverse the damage and create a flourishing future for the next generations. At the end of the day, we all play a role in a more sustainable tomorrow.