Tread Lightly: How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

March 31, 2021 4 min read

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Source: kram-9/Shutterstock.com

When the world first went into lockdown due to the coronavirus, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions temporarily fell by 8.8 percent in the first six months of 2020. Unfortunately, the positive news was short-lived. Not long after lockdown measures were lifted, CO2 emissions increased once again, and experts predict that they’ll make a full rebound during 2021 and beyond.

If we’re to make meaningful progress towards our climate change goals, we need government-implemented policies and programs designed to help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions — plain and simple. But there are also plenty of personal steps you can take to help save the planet. Read on to find out how to reduce your carbon footprint to make a positive impact on the environment.

What Is a Carbon Footprint?

A carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gas emissions an individual contributes to the environment. Greenhouse gases — such as carbon dioxide and methane — trap heat in our atmosphere and cause global warming.

Put another way, your personal carbon footprint is a measurement of how much your lifestyle impacts the environment. It’s calculated by adding up all the emissions from your activities — from the groceries you buy to your daily commute. You can calculate your carbon footprint by using this online calculator from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Figuring out how to reduce your carbon footprint can be tricky when you don’t know where to begin. However, making small changes to your daily routine — like using plastic-freelotion bars instead of bottled lotion and biking to work — can make a positive impact on the environment. Here are a few ways to get started.

1. Practice the Three Rs 

Remember the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle. The stuff we buy — whether it’s the latest iPhone or a cozy sweater — takesa lot of energy to produce. Plastic in particular has a massive carbon footprint because it’s made from oil or natural gas, which is one of the reasons why many of us are making the switch to low-waste products.

Here are a few ways you can put the three Rs into practice:

  • Reduce your waste by consuming less and being mindful of purchases. Look for plastic-free versions of the items you use daily. A few simple swaps — like using a high-quality wooden dish brush instead of a plastic dish brush — can greatly reduce your personal carbon footprint.
  • Reuse items to keep them out of landfills. Shop at second-hand stores and find ways to repurpose items to help extend their lifespan.
  • Recycle as much as you can. Recycling requires less energy and produces less waste than making items from scratch.

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2. Drive Less

One of the best ways you can reduce your carbon footprint is by driving less. According to the EPA, transportation is the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions — and of carbon dioxide, in particular. 

While walking is one of the greenest ways to get around, it’s not feasible for everyone. Instead, try to reduce how much time you spend driving by using these strategies:

  • Use public methods of transportation, such as trains, subways and trams.
  • If possible, ride your bike to work.
  • Set up a carpool with coworkers and friends.
  • Work from home if your employer allows it.

3. Consume Less Meat

grazing cows on farmland

Source: matuska/Shutterstock.com

Eating less meat is essential to curbing climate change. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, livestock is responsible for 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gases.

Switching to a plant-based diet can lower your carbon footprint and improve your health. If you’re a meat-lover, start small by cutting back on how much meat you consume each week. Also, try to choose chicken over carbon-intensive beef whenever you can.

4. Reduce Your Food Waste

Did you know that food waste accounts for roughly six percent of greenhouse gas emissions? A substantial amount of energy and natural resources go into making our food, and when we waste still-edible food, it produces methane — a powerful greenhouse gas that is much more potent than carbon dioxide.

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to cut back on food waste:

  • Make a grocery list and buy only what you need.
  • Usesilicone food covers to save your leftovers without using plastic.
  • Freeze food that you can’t eat right away.
  • Do a food waste audit to see what you toss out the most.
  • Get creative with leftovers and choose ingredients that can be used in many different meals.

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5. Optimize Your Home

When we think about lowering household energy use, many of us think about installing solar panels. But if that’s not doable, there are plenty of other ways to “green” up your home. (Bonus: Some of them may help cut your utility bill!) 

  • Install a smart thermostat to improve energy efficiency.
  • Insulate your home by insulating your roof, caulking your windows and checking for leaks.
  • Switch to energy-efficient LEDs.
  • Conserve water by installing low-flow showerheads.
  • Invest in a green future by switching to renewable energy sources.

We’re All in This Together

We only have one Earth, so let’s take care of it together. At The Earthling Co., we’re doing our part to lower carbon emissions by shipping plastic-free and using 100 percent recyclable materials. We also carbon offset your package!


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