10 Simple Ways To Reduce Your Personal Carbon Footprint

February 17, 2020

10 Simple Ways To Reduce Your Personal Carbon Footprint

Climate change is something we all are responsible for.

It is not a problem for other people to fix but something where if we all take small steps with our own personal behaviour then the combination of all will bring significant change.

10 simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint

It is difficult though to see how our own individual actions contribute to climate change let alone take action to fix them

How can you fix the problem if you don't know where to start?

Here are 10 simple ways on how we all can start to reduce our own personal carbon footprint:

1. Eat Less Red Meat

We are not advocating eating no red meat just cut down on the number of times per week you eat red meat. 

Livestock -meat and dairy-is responsible for 14.5 per cent of manmade global greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from feed production and processing and the methane (25 times more potent than CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere over 100 years) that beef and sheep belch out. (blogs.ei.columbia.edu)

Just limiting your meat consumption can make a huge difference. Greenhouse gas emissions from agribusiness are an even bigger problem than fossil fuels. So while we often talk about cutting our reliance on fossil fuels – and this is still critically important – we rarely discuss red meat. 

Red meat production is particularly to blame, it consumes 11 times more water and produces 5 times more emissions than its poultry counterparts. You don’t have to become a vegetarian, but eating meat less frequently (the average American eats 8.5 ounces of meat per day!) will significantly help the environment. 

To get a single pound of beef, it takes over 5,000 gallons of water – as the number one consumer of freshwater in the world, animal agriculture is drastically increasing the problem of water scarcity.

Don’t forget to inform others: many people simply don’t know about the connection between meat and climate change. (huffpost.com)

The heavy impact on the environment of meat production was known but the research shows a new scale and scope of the damage, particularly for beef. The popular red meat requires 28 times more land to produce than pork or chicken, 11 times more water and results in five times more climate-warming emissions

When compared to staples like potatoes, wheat, and rice, the impact of beef per calorie is even more extreme, requiring 160 times more land and producing 11 times more greenhouse gases. (theguardian.com)

2. Start a Garden

Whether you live in a house or an apartment, planting some greens is a quick and easy way to reduce your carbon footprint. 

We all know plants absorb carbon dioxide – a beneficial relationship for humans, that we should all be seeking to nurture. 

Plant some bee-friendly flowers, a few trees, or a vegetable garden. Balcony gardens are great for urban dwellings. 

Cities often need to reduce the “urban heat island” effect – basically, cities tend to be hotter than rural areas because of vast pavement areas, concrete buildings, and increased human activity. 

Creating more spaces for plants, grasses, and trees can mitigate this effect and lead to better cooling, which will be a necessity with worsening climate change. Help avoid the “heat island” effect by planting trees for shade, or maybe try a green roof or community garden. (huffpost.com)

Grow your own vegetables.

By growing as much food as you can in your back yard – you are cutting carbon footprint percentages. Ambitious gardeners that use their garden to replace 20% of bought food, reduce their carbon footprint by about 68 lbs of CO2 per year! (cabaus.org)

Start composting food scraps and lawn clippings. Compost is the perfect solution to the fertilizer problem. By composting food and yard scraps at home you are both reducing the amount of waste transported to landfills or sent to incinerators, you are also creating some nutrient-rich soil that can be used to feed your garden! 

Put a caddy in the kitchen next to trash and recycling receptacles to conveniently collect scraps, then use an outdoor compost barrel to turn your waste turn into an organic nitrogen source for your garden. (cabaus.org)

Use plants as part of your decor as they can help to cool your interiors. Some plants like Calatheas can also help to purify toxins in the air, giving you a cleaner and fresher environment, reducing the need to make use of air purifiers.

Eat Fruit and Vegetable is season

3. Eat Seasonal Foods

Eat foods that are in season. 

Try to buy the majority of your food as local produce. Making the majority of your plate plant-based foods is healthier and better for the planet.

Eating seasonal also means eating local, which is great for the environment. When you support local farmers, you don’t have to worry about how far your food travelled to get to you. 

It doesn’t have to sit in traffic for days, spewing exhaust fumes into the air. It gets to you quickly, without polluting the air. (goingzerowaste.com)

Check your local farmers market to see what foods are in season near you. Get to know the farmers there and feel free to ask them about their farming practices.

4. Doing Your Laundry

Wash your clothing in cold water. The enzymes in cold water detergent are designed to clean better in cold water. Doing two loads of laundry weekly in cold water instead of hot or warm water can save up to 500 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. (blogs.ei.columbia.edu)

The traditional method of line-drying your clothing is much better for the environment. One dryer load uses 5 times more electricity than washing – by simply line-drying your clothes, you can save 1/3 of their carbon footprint. 

When washing your clothes in the washer, consolidate your laundry and run fuller loads to save water. But avoid overloading as it will use more energy.

Use a lower temperature to reduce the electricity needed to heat up the water. Plus, washing in a cooler temperature will avoid your clothes shrinking in the wash.

Where possible, hang your clothes out to dry rather than throw them in the dryer.

5. Reduce Your Electricity Usage

Within the last couple of years, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have become cheap and effective. If you have any energy-guzzling halogen lights in your house – many people have them in kitchens and bathrooms – it makes good financial and carbon sense to replace as many as possible with their LED equivalents. 

Change incandescent light bulbs (which waste 90 per cent of their energy as heat) to light-emitting diodes (LEDs). 

Though LEDs cost more, they use a quarter of the energy and last up to 25 times longer. They are also preferable to compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs, which emit 80 per cent of their energy as heat and contain mercury. (blogs.ei.columbia.edu)

They should last at least 10 years, meaning you avoid the hassle of buying new halogen bulbs every few months. Not only will your CO2 footprint fall, but because LEDs are so efficient, you will also help reduce the need for national grids to turn on the most expensive and polluting power stations at peak demand times on winter evenings.

Switch lights off when you leave the room and unplug your electronic devices when they are not in use. 

Lower your thermostat in winter and raise it in summer. Use less air conditioning in the summer; instead opt for fans, which require less electricity. 

6. Driving Your Car

Drive less. Walk, take public transportation, carpool, ride share or bike to your destination when possible. This not only reduces CO2 emissions, but it also lessens traffic congestion and the idling of engines that accompanies it. 

If you must drive, avoid unnecessary braking and acceleration. Some studies found that aggressive driving can result in 40 per cent more fuel consumption than consistent, calm driving. (blogs.ei.columbia.edu)

Take care of your car. Keeping your tires properly inflated can increase your fuel efficiency by three per cent, and ensuring that your car is properly maintained can increase it by four per cent. Remove any extra weight from the car.

tips for reducing your water usage

7. Water Usage

Reducing your water usage is essential: There’s only so much water on this earth, and we can’t make any more of it. 

Did you know 96.5 per cent of the water on earth is too salty for human consumption? Two-thirds of the remaining freshwater is locked away in polar ice, glaciers, and permanent snow. 

Melting it won’t help, seeing as most of it will just end up as seawater. That’s why it’s so important to cherish the water we have. 

Here are a few ways to help conserve water and protect our waterways:

When you brush your teeth, be sure to shut off the water while you lather up. Don’t leave it running: Only turn it on when it’s time to rinse your mouth out.

Take shorter showers. A fun way to do this is by listening to a 5-minute song, then shut the shower off when it’s over. 

Don’t flush things down the toilet to dispose of them. One flush can waste up to 5 or 7 gallons of water!

8. Ignore Fast Fashion

Many major clothing retailers practice what is known as “fast fashion” – selling an endless cycle of must-have trends at extremely low prices. 

In society, we think of fashion as disposable – after all, if I only pay $4 for a t-shirt you might not think twice about throwing it away. 

Heaps and heaps of clothing end up in the landfill, often to justify buying the latest styles.

We’re talking over 15 million tons of textile waste – with quantity over quality, fast-fashion retailers can charge next to nothing for items that are mass-produced.

They push these garments to sell by creating more fashion “cycles” or “seasons” – where there used to be 4 per year, there’s now often 12 to 15. 

There’s also the issue of contamination: almost half of our clothing is made with cotton, and unless it’s labelled as “organic” cotton, there’s a high chance that it’s genetically modified cotton sprayed with lots of pesticides 

9. Using Appliances

You might be surprised to learn that all electronics suck energy when they’re plugged in, EVEN IF they’re powered down.

Anytime a cord is plugged into a socket, it’s drawing energy – so although your device isn’t charging, you’re still contributing to your carbon footprint. Simple solution? Leave your electronics unplugged at all times, unless you’re actually using them. 

Frequent use of a tumble dryer will add to your energy bill to an extent that may surprise you. 

10. Home Insulation

Rather than always relying on cooling devices, make use of window furnishings like curtains, blinds and shades to help lower the temperature at home.

Installing solar window films will also help to reduce the amount of heat entering indoors.

Make sure your windows and doors are adequately insulated. 

If we all make an effort to reduce our own personal carbon footprint it will go a long way to caring for this beautiful planet we all call home. 

Interesting Statistics

  • Keeping your tires properly inflated can increase your fuel efficiency by three per cent, and ensuring that your car is properly maintained can increase it by four per cent. (blogs.ei.columbia.edu)
  • Currently, the average American discards about 80 pounds of clothing each year, 85 per cent of which ends up in landfills. (blogs.ei.columbia.edu)
  • Some studies found that aggressive driving can result in 40 per cent more fuel consumption than consistent, calm driving. (blogs.ei.columbia.edu)
  • Reducing the mileage of the average new car from 15,000 to 10,000 miles a year will save more than a tonne of CO2, about 15% of the average person's footprint. (theguardian.com)
  • Apple says 80% of the carbon footprint of a new laptop comes from manufacturing and distribution, not use in the home. (theguardian.com)

Other Articles You May Like

  • 7 Instant Ways To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint (huffpost.com)
  • The 35 Easiest Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint (blogs.ei.columbia.edu) 
  • How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint (nytimes.com) 
  • Top 20 Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint (globalstewards.org) 
  • The best way to reduce your carbon footprint is one the government isn’t telling you about (sciencemag.org) - Top strategies to combat climate change contain a surprise
  • Household Carbon Footprint Calculator (www3.epa.gov) - An interactive calculator to estimate your household's carbon footprint. This tool will estimate carbon pollution emissions from your daily activities and show how to reduce your emissions and save money through simple steps.
  • Ways to reduce personal carbon footprint (en.wikipedia.org)


Photos courtesy of

Photo by Karsten Würth on Unsplash

Photo by Linus Nylund on Unsplash

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