Reduce Your Carbon Footprint - 10 Easy Steps
by Natashya Khoo on Nov 18, 2021
COP26 has just ended, and has sparked conversations of the impact of climate change in this day and age. With countries around the world coming together and making pledges to fight climate change, it might feel like we, as individuals, are too small to make a difference on our own.
While there’s so much that countries and corporations are doing (and need to do) to minimise their carbon footprint, we too can take little steps to help reduce the greenhouse gases generated by our actions. Here are 10 ways to cut down our carbon footprint!
1. Eat less meat
Making the switch to plant-based meals and products has been proven to be the most impactful way to cut down on your carbon footprint. Getting meat from farm to table is a process that involves resources like water, transportation and land. The less meat is in demand, the less resources will be spent on it.
Not everyone is able to make the full switch to veganism- and that’s okay! Checking if your meat is organically sourced, or eating less meat instead of cutting it out completely are great places to start.
2. Carpool/public transport
Let’s be honest- public transport is a great idea, but not everyone can afford long waits, especially if you’re a parent or in a rush for work. Try carpooling instead! If it’s for work, ask around the office to see if anyone lives nearby and could give you a ride. Working out a system where you take turns driving balances out the cost too.
If you’re going out and about, consider the public transport route if you’re not in a rush. If not, carpooling to your location is a fun way to catch up with your friends… and introduce them to some new songs for a fun car ride, maybe?
3. Shop pre-loved goods
Clothes swaps, thrifting and Buy Nothing groups have risen to popularity over the years. It’s a great way for the giver to declutter, and for the receiver to get what they need at a more affordable price point, if not for free.
More often than not, second hand items still have some good use in them if you’re patient enough to search for the good stuff. If items have some wear, a quick Google search and some elbow grease, and you’ll be able to fix it right up (more on that in #9)!
4. Buy better, not more
Of course, not all things can be hand-me-downs. When shopping for new things, remember: buy better, not more. What this means is to look for items that are good quality and that can stand the test of time so that you don’t have to refresh the item if it gives way.
Take the time to read up on reviews and ask around for recommendations. If it’s clothing or accessories, take a good look at the seams, adhesives and material. Pro tip: while clothes with polyester last long, producing the material causes both air and water pollution. Opt for sustainable materials like organic cotton or linen.
5. Shop zero waste items
Plastic check! Look around you- how many things are made out of plastic? No need to throw it out, but plastic takes forever to break down, and continues to pollute our landfills. For your buys-to-come, see if you can make the swap to wood or paper.
For toiletries and disposable items, you’d be surprised at the number of eco-friendly (and sanitary) alternatives. Reusable cotton wipes, menstrual cups, bamboo toothbrushes… the list is endless! A visit to your local zero waste store truly reveals a whole new world.
6. Bring your own ____
We all know about metal straws, but there are so many more ways you can minimise plastic usage. Bringing your own bottle, cutlery and even napkins (to replace single-use tissue paper) is a great way to reduce waste and ultimately, reduce your carbon footprint.
You may be reading so far and thinking- minimising the use of disposable items doesn’t make a difference. But think about it: the less plastic we use collectively, the less need there is for corporations to waste resources making more.
7. Bulk buys
There are so many benefits of buying things in bulk: less trips to the store, affordability, and having things at home when you need it. For items that can be stored long term, it’s a great option; for perishable items, consider rallying your friends or neighbours to make a bulk purchase together.
It might sound ‘scrooge-like’ at first, but one trip to the supermarket releases way less carbon emissions than multiple trips.
8. Calculate your carbon footprint
Our carbon footprint may be bigger than we realise, and calculators like this one can help us get a gauge of just how big it is. There are different calculators that business owners and larger corporations can use to calculate theirs, too.
Fun fact: Did you know that the country you live in has an effect on your carbon footprint? City planning and accessibility play huge roles in how you live your life. For example, some countries have more reliable public transport than others.
9. Fix, not replace
Have you heard of the line reduce, reuse, recycle? We’re about to blow your mind by telling you that this is actually the order of which you should be treating your waste.
Let’s use a plastic bag as an example. First, reduce waste by finding ways to not use a plastic bag in the first place. If it’s unavoidable, then reuse it as a trash bag. Only if all else fails, dump it into the recycle bin.
All this to say that if you’re thinking of recycling something old to replace it with something new, consider if the item can be fixed first. There are tons of tutorials online to fix just about anything, or even to upcycle it to use as decor or something else completely.
10. Don’t be shy about it
While saving the world one less carbon emission at a time is commendable, it might look ‘frugal’ to the people around you. You might even feel guilty for troubling others. When that happens, remember to educate your friends on why you do what you do. Finding a community to do this with is the best feeling, too!
You’d be surprised if they start doing it too ;)