Sustainability Matters: Ways You Can Reduce Your Emissions
- Energy efficient appliances and systems. If you have the means to do so or as your appliances need replacement, choose household appliances and heating and lighting systems with energy efficient options. When you’re not home, turn off or unplug appliances. If you are shopping for new energy saving appliances, here are some organizations to help you identify the best: conssumerreports.com, geenerchoices.org, energystar.gov
- Daily transportation. Choose public transportation or carpools instead of driving a car every day. Road transport is the top source of greenhouse gases. Don’t drive if you can walk or bike. Buy an electric or hybrid car as soon as you can. Even just regularly servicing your car, going easy on its brakes, and checking your tires can help you reduce your emissions by a small amount.
- Flying. Fly as little as possible. Fly nonstop if you can afford to, as this takes less energy.
- Lawn. Buy an electric or battery-powered lawnmower for your home if you have a lawn. A recent study found that using a new gas-powered lawn mower for one hour has the same carbon footprint as a 100-mile car trip.
- Building projects. In construction projects, use wood instead of cement. Cement is a high emissions material, whereas wood is renewable.
- Everyday diet. Become a vegetarian or vegan in order to stop buying high emissions products. No meat eating is one of the most effective ways to make a difference. Meat, cheese, and egg production have a high carbon footprint, as far as transport, fossil fuel use, and nitrate fertilizer use that leads to animals’ methane release. Even a few meals a day without meat can have an effect. Not only does raising livestock contribute heavily to environmental damage, but so do associated unsustainable farming practices like high water usage.
- Food waste and compost. Freeze excess food and use the leftovers in order to not waste anything. It takes energy to produce the food we buy at the grocery store. Start composting at home to prevent plant matter from reaching landfills, as it produces harmful methane gas when it decomposes. Compost can then be spread on crops as a natural fertilizer.
- Eat locally. Eat local produce to manage how much transportation is required for your food to get to you. Smaller farms, especially organic ones, generally tend to have better more sustainable farming practices and use less harmful pesticides and fertilizers.
- What you wear. Sell or give away clothes you no longer wear to prolong their lifetime and reduce your landfill contribution. Try thrifting clothing or buying second hand in order to stay away from fast fashion brands that engage in unsustainable production. Remember that fleece, for example, is a petroleum product. Be mindful of the fabrics you choose. Seek out natural fibers and organic cotton.
- How you wash. Washing clothes in cold water will reduce the amount of energy it takes to do a load. Do a full load in order to make the energy used worth it. Line drying clothes instead of drying in a machine can also reduce emissions. Use a natural detergent and if you use bleach, use a non-chlorine bleach. Don’t use toxic dryer sheets, there are eco-friendly alternatives. Remember that sunshine sanitizes your clothes, killing bacteria, fungus and mold.
- Drink tap water. Drinking out of plastic water bottles is unsustainable.
- Thermostat. Don’t set your thermostat too high or too low. Only use the energy you need. Use windows to get some fresh air instead of keeping your AC on all the time.
- Local politics. Get involved in local politics in order to help influence your city to shift toward energy efficiency. Local governments add to atmospheric damage by ignoring their carbon footprint.
- Carbon offsets. You can purchase carbon offsets to compensate for your own carbon usage. Purchasing carbon offsets means funding a sustainable project somewhere else in the world, in sectors such as agriculture and renewable energy systems.
- Keep track. Keep track of your changes and measure the emissions changes you are making. Measuring miles travelled via transportation, home energy usage, spending, and diet composition can help you calculate your carbon footprint. Share your progress with friends and family. Compare, analyze, and learn insights about how to improve.