What is Carbon Footprint?
Since the great era of industrialization and mechanization of machinery for transport and manufacturing, the rate of greenhouse gas emission has gradually increased, and it became even worse in the 20th century. Use of fossil fuels has been the biggest driver of the earth’s total greenhouse gas emissions, leading to an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere.
On this basis, carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compound emissions into the atmosphere caused by a person or an organization during the use of fossil fuels, and hence impacts on climate change and global warming.
According to Time For Change,
“A carbon footprint is defined as, the total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2). Your carbon footprint is the sum of all emissions of CO2 (carbon dioxide), which were induced by your activities in a given time frame. Usually a carbon footprint is calculated for the time period of a year. ”
The terminology was coined from ecological footprint which measures human impact on earth’s ecosystems. The greenhouse gasses are mainly emitted by transport, power plants, woods, industrial production, and combusting of fossil fuels such as petroleum and coal.
15 Ways to Reduce Carbon Footprint
Due to the ever rising amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it is imperative for individuals, groups, and organizations to undertake initiatives for neutralizing and offsetting carbon emissions. This can practically help to mitigate climate change and global warming, which threatens the sustainability of the world’s ecosystems.
Offsetting and neutralization mean the need for establishing and exploiting cleaner energy sources and seeking for opportunities for cutting down carbon footprint.
Here are the top 15 ways to reduce carbon footprint.
1. Explore alternatives to driving. When possible ride a bike or walk to prevent carbon emission. Use of public transportation and carpooling is also an impressive way of reducing carbon emissions because it reduces the number of vehicles on the road. With fewer vehicles on the road, it means less vehicular emissions into the atmosphere.
2. When buying a new car, choose a low or zero-carbon vehicle. Vehicles with low carbon emission ratings such as hybrid cars can help reduce carbon footprint. However, it’s even better considering zero-carbon emission vehicles since they prevent greenhouse gas emission completely. Electric cars emit zero-carbon dioxide if they are powered by clean electricity.
3. Drive smart. You need to limit car idling and unnecessary acceleration as it contributes to fuel wastage and more vehicular emission. It’s advisable you accelerate steadily and within the speed limit to conserve fuel and reduce carbon footprint. Another essential thing is avoiding car overload as it leads to more fuel consumption. Above all, ensure you are constantly conserving your car’s fuel.
4. Regularly maintain your car and ensure the tires are always correctly inflated. Well, maintained vehicles are more fuel efficient and emit fewer emissions which translate to a lesser impact on climate change and global warming. Also, cars that have well-inflated tires tend to improve fuel efficiency.
5. Reduce air travel. By cutting down flying when possible, flying shorter distances, fly less often, and flying in economic class people and organizations can considerably reduce carbon footprint. For instance instead of flying to attend an international meeting or conference, people can use video conferencing like Skype. Flying less means less air travel emission and flying in economic class corresponds to the emission reduction benefits of carpooling and use of public transport.
6. Turn off the lights when you leave a room. The electric energy used to light our homes, houses of worship, schools, and offices are generated from power plants that combust fossil fuels to produce the energy, releasing carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Turning off lights conserves energy and also reduces the electricity demands.
7. Install energy efficient bulbs. Use of energy efficient bulbs such as compact fluorescent light bulbs which consume less power in place of energy-hungry incandescent light bulbs can help conserve energy and reduces the overall effects of greenhouse gas emissions.
8. Utilize solar and wind energy. Whenever possible, consider installing solar and wind power to make use of the renewable energy instead of depending on the regular power grid. This helps to save energy and lots of cash in the long-term while at the same time avoids carbon emissions entirely. You may even need to check with your local government if they provide some grants or incentives on using solar panels that may reduce your upfront cost on buying solar panels.
9. Only use Energy Star appliances. Every time you buy a new appliance, only considers Energy Star products since they often meet the best requirements for energy saving and efficiency.
10. Support and buy green energy sources. Always push for cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels. Buying electric energy generated from green and renewable sources such as wind, solar, biogas, geothermal, and hydropower lessens tons of fossil fuel emissions that are normally released from the conventional petroleum driven electric generation methods.
11. Plant more and more trees. Trees act as the environment’s best and natural air purifiers because most plants use carbon dioxide to manufacture their food during photosynthesis. Besides, trees reduce cooling costs, attract rain and even provide shade. Shady landscapes will keep your home cool during summers and warm during winters.
12. Recycle and reuse items. Recycling and reusing materials such as plastic, metals, and paper among other materials as can help to reduce the amount of carbon footprint released during the extraction of virgin resources, production, processing, and transportation.
13. Do a home energy audit regarding the use of efficient energy. Request for an audit related to energy efficient solutions and ask about alternative energy utilization such as wind and solar. They may come up with some innovative solutions that may help you to reduce your energy consumption thereby saving money spent on electricity.
14. Install water-efficient household appliances. By installing water-conserving appliances used for cleaning and sanitary purposes such as dishwashers, washing machines, toilets, and shower heads, you can conserve water and heating costs. This helps to reduce energy wastage that usually contributes to more carbon emission during power regeneration at the power plants.
15. Eat less meat and dairy products. Meat and dairy production is greenhouse gas intensive. It requires many livestock breeds to produce meat and dairy products which are estimated to release up to 3000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. It’s even more if the processing and transportation emissions are included. Thus, eating less meat and dairy products can help reduce carbon footprint.