How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Work, Home, Shopping, and on the Road

Updated on May 1, 2018
Shopping at your local farmer's market is a great way to eat local
Shopping at your local farmer's market is a great way to eat local

Introduction

We all have a duty to reduce the effect we have on our environment. Here is a how to on how to reduce your effect on the environment while at home, on the road, at work, at the grocery store, and other helpful tips you can implement in your daily life. By practicing even a quarter of these tips, you can greatly reduce the effect you have on the environment.


At Work

  • Unplug- Many of us at work plug in our phones or keep our computers turned on even if we are away from our desks. Save energy by only plugging in your phone when you are using it and by shutting down you computer when you are away for an extended period of time.
  • Reduce Printer Use- If it does not need to be printed, then it should not be printed. Send as much as you can through email or other digital means.
  • Recycle your paper- Take any paper you cannot reuse to the shredder or recycling bin.
  • Green up your office space- Bring in plants to help brighten up your office space all while reducing the amount of CO2 in the air.
  • Bring a lunch- Save the trip to drive to a restaurant for lunch. Bring a lunch from home, it is greener and healthier.

At Home

  • Use energy efficient light bulbs- LED light bulbs last much longer than incandescent lights, while using up to 80% less energy. Not only will you be saving energy, you will be changing light bulbs less.
  • Recycle- Recycle as much as possible. If it can be recycled, it should be recycled. From plastic to glass and everything in between, recycle everyday you can. According to the EPA, recycling glass, aluminum, plastic, and paper could save 582 pounds of CO2 per year.
  • Use more cold water- Cold water takes less energy because it does not need to be heated like warm or hot water. Wash your clothes with cold water, take colder showers, etc.
  • Adjust your thermostat- Adjust your thermostat up in warm months and down in cold ones. This is extremely important if you are not home that often
  • Plant a garden- Plants reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Grow your own vegetables or plant some beautiful flowers, there are many options to make your garden your own
  • Use a clothes line- Dry your clothes outside on a clothes line. This is one of the biggest ways to save energy at home. It is important to note that one hour of running a clothes dryer is equivalent to turning on 225 light bulbs for an hour.
  • Buy ENERGY STAR labeled appliances- Appliances with the ENERGY STAR label are recognized for their efficiency over other appliances.
  • Use renewable types of energy to power your home- If you have the capital, consider buying a personal wind turbine, installing solar panels, or converting to geothermal energy for your home. While these may be expensive up front, they pay for themselves in the long run.

While Shopping

  • Buy less meat- While meat is a good source of protein and is generally delicious, it is a great source for greenhouse gases. According to National Geographic, consuming one pound of beef is equivalent to burning one gallon of gas. You don’t have to stop eating meat, but consider eating less.
  • Use reusable bags- Most stores offer reusable grocery bags for sale that can last years of trips to the grocery store. They are usually very cheap and they reduce the amount of plastic bags put out to the environment.
  • Paper bags > plastic bags- If reusable bags are not an option, keep in mind that paper bags are much more environmentally friendly than plastic bags. Paper bags are easy to recycle, and if by some reason they are trashed, they are biodegradable.
  • Recycle your plastic bags- If you currently have a surplus of plastic bags at home, most grocery stores have a container near the front of the store where these bags can be recycled. Instead of throwing them out, bring them in to be recycled.
  • Do not buy bottled water– Many of us buy bottled water due to its perceived superior taste and its convenience, but they are terrible for the environment. Buy a water filter for your sink or one for a bottle and buy a reusable water bottle that can be refilled over and over.
  • Buy local- Buying local food that is in season reduces the need for shipping of food from other areas of the US, or importing it from other countries. Shipping and transportation of food contributes a lot of greenhouse gas emissions.

On the Road

  • Carpool- Going to the same place? Share a ride! Consider carpooling with your friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. as much as you can. It reduces the amount of emissions in the environment and cuts down on your cost on gas.
  • Use public transportation- Many cities and towns have public transportation available that will take you almost everywhere you need to go. Consider using public transportation when you can.
  • Walk or bike- If you are going somewhere nearby, consider walking or bicycling there. It is a great way to enjoy a nice day and get some exercise.
  • Maximize your fuel efficiency- Drive keeping your fuel efficiency in mind, keep your tires inflated, avoid speeding, and keep your trunk free of excess weight. Also, be easy on the accelerator when going from a complete stop.
  • Get a car with great gas mileage- Trade in your truck or SUV for a smaller and more fuel efficient vehicle. Not only will it help you reduce your emissions from driving, it will save you time filling up.
  • Buy an electric car- Even better than getting a fuel efficient car, get a car that does not use any gas. Electric cars are the future and if you can afford it, you should buy one.

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