Rising temperatures are the main contributing factors to climate change. In order to combat that, we need to evaluate how we consume. Cutting down on our single-use plastic consumption, for instance in the kitchen and bathroom, is a good start, but not enough. We need to take a look at how we can reduce our carbon footprint, and make every day Earth Day.
But first, what is a carbon footprint?
Glad you asked. A carbon footprint is the amount of those greenhouse gases that we emit. Greenhouse gases trap heat in the atmosphere, warming up the earth. This leads to a lot of natural catastrophes like floods, droughts, etc.
Most of our carbon footprint comes from food, transport, and housing. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the most abundant greenhouse gas that we create, and most of it comes from burning fossil fuels. Pre-covid, our CO2 levels were the highest it’s ever been. If we reduce our carbon footprint, we then reduce the amount of gases released, and help to lower the earth’s temperature.
How can you reduce your carbon footprint?
Plant carbon-absorbing trees or plants at home
Plants absorb the carbon dioxide that we breathe out as well as greenhouse gases. Animals that eat those plants absorb that carbon too, which is reabsorbed into the atmosphere when they die. This is green carbon and does NOT contribute to climate change. Green carbon belongs to the natural carbon cycle: it keeps the planet warm and is essential for life on earth.
Watch your fossil fuels consumption
- Switch to a provider that offers renewable energy sources
- Avoid investing in fossil fuels; go with ethical financial institutions instead
- Avoid products that contain petroleum (they are found in many beauty, skincare, and cleaning products)
- Join organisations that protect fossil fuels
- Watch out for greenwashing marketing tactics like “offsetting carbon footprints”
Avoid palm oil and pesticides ingredients
Palm oil plantations are a big contributing factor to deforestation, and palm oil (and its synonyms) is found everywhere. Pesticides create pollution and kill insects that are vital (such as bees), so try to buy organic food where possible.
Reduce your meat consumption
Meat production, especially cows and sheep, create the most greenhouse gas emissions compared to other animal farming. Additionally, clearing of land for livestock leads to deforestation. You don’t have to become a strict vegan, but eating more plant-based meals and cutting down on meat will drastically reduce your carbon footprint. If you’re eating soya, ensure that it’s ethically sourced soya.
Rethink your mode of transportation
If possible, use public transport that uses green energy, or cycle and walk whenever possible. You can also try electric scooter rentals, or select the green options when using shared rides like Bolt, Lyft, or Uber. If you need a car, as most of us living outside of metro areas do, try to invest in an electric car.
Use less electricity at home
Install solar panels at home in order to reduce your electricity use. Turn off computers, heaters, lights, fans, and any other appliances when not in use.
Try to avoid cutting down trees
On a daily basis, most of us are not actively cutting down trees, but we do use a lot of products made from trees. Use recycled paper when possible to avoid the cutting down of trees. During the holiday season, look into renting Christmas trees rather than buying a new tree every year.
Shop circular, not linear
Since the industrial revolution in the 1750s, we have been using a linear system where we produce, consume, and discard. This is incredibly detrimental to the environment. We should shop circular instead, only buying products made out of waste materials, or that create zero waste at the production level.
At an individual level, we can easily follow the steps mentioned above. But the reality is, deeper changes need to happen at a systemic level too. Environmental policies need to be put into place; corporations need to use green energy and sustainable resources; and circular economies need to be implemented for us to properly tackle climate change. On a positive note, circular principles are making their way into various production and manufacturing processes, as can be seen in these circular brands.