How to Reduce your Carbon Footprint
Our carbon footprints are the result of many things we do and consume every day. Here are some ideas to get you started on your journey to a sustainable carbon footprint:
Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Travel
A lot of our emissions come from just being inefficient or not deliberate with our daily decisions. Every day think about how you could reduce how far you drive and pretty soon you’ll start identifying lots of opportunities:
Combine your trip with another.
- Carpool – Just once a week saves 20%.
- Check out your transit options – It may not work for you every time, but use it when it does.
- What about your bike? – Get in shape, too!
- Only a short distance? – Walk.
- Think it through – Do you need to take this trip at all?
- Optimise – Save this trip for later and combine with another.
- Telecommute – Work from home occasionally.
Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Car
Drive better – Studies have shown up to 30% of the difference in the mileage you can get from your car is due to driving habits alone. You could potentially save more than a ton of CO2 per year by:
- Accelerating slowly and smoothly
- Driving the speed limit
- Maintaining a steady speed
- Anticipating your stops and starts
Maintenance – Keep your car tuned up and running efficiently.
More Maintenance – Replace your air, oil and fuel filters according to schedule.
Tires – Keep your tires properly inflated (just this can save 200-300 kilograms of CO2 per year).
Vehicle Choice – Do you really need 2 cars? Could you get away without one at all? If not, make your next vehicle a fuel-efficient one.
Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Air Travel
Flying is about the single most carbon intensive thing we can do. For example, just one return trip of 2000 km results in nearly 1 ton of CO2-e, which is nearly half of your sustainable carbon footprint for a whole year! So, consider seriously whether you need to fly. Some other things to consider:
- Train – For some trips the train may be a good choice for you.
- Fly nonstop – Nonstop flights are better than connecting flights (for many reasons).
- When you get there – Do some research ahead of time to find better ground travel options (shuttles, transit, trains, etc.) at your destination.
- Lodging – Ask your hotel about their environmental commitment and steps they’re taking to reduce, offset.
- While you’re away – Turn your stuff off. Turn down your thermostat and your water heater; turn off your electronics (even smarter: unplug them to protect from electrical storms). What’s the point of things being on with no one there?
Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Home
Power – Consider installing solar panels or buying ‘Green Power’ (renewable)
Programmable thermostat – Costs about $50 or less and will save you that much or more in the first year. Weatherstripping and Caulking – Costs almost nothing while reducing your energy use, reducing drafts and improving comfort.
Lighting – Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) have that cool curly shape and save more than 2/3rds of the energy of a regular incandescent. Each bulb can save $40 or more over its lifetime. Read the box or instructions for safe disposal.
Heating and Cooling – Consider whether you really need to turn that heater or air conditioner on. Would some warm clothes or fan do the trick? Or what temperature do you really need to set it at? Also, keep your heating and cooling system(s) tuned. And when it’s time to replace, do your research and get an energy efficient system.
Insulation – Weatherstripping, caulking and insulation work together to save you energy, improve the comfort of your home, make it quieter and help you save money.
Water-Conserving Showerheads & Toilets – You can reduce water and heating costs, even in your bathroom. To save even more water, turn the faucet off when brushing or shaving. These simple changes and steps can save many thousands of litres of water annually.
Appliances – Always pay attention to the total lifetime cost, including energy—not just the price tag. Look for the ENERGY STAR label. And Bigger isn’t always better – Just get the size you need; do you really need that extra refrigerator in the basement? Electronics – Likewise, look for ENERGY STAR rating. And turn things off. If you’re going away or not using an item for awhile, unplug it to prevent “vampire” energy loss from electricity usage on standby.
Windows – These can be expensive, but when it’s time to replace them, replace with double glazed if possible to reduce your heating/cooling load.
New Home – Consider an energy-efficient home that uses passive heating and cooling, and is well insulated etc.
Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Life
A very significant part of your carbon footprint is not due to your direct energy use. It comes from everything you buy and use—goods and services. Pay attention to your consumption and waste habits, and you’ll find lots of opportunities to conserve.
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle
You’ve heard it before, but it’s still great advice. Manufacturing products produces an average 4-8 kilograms of CO2 for every kilogram of manufactured product.
Recycle your old electronic devices. Recycle or sell your old blackberry, PDA, laptop, iPad or iPhone.
Did you know that the energy used to produce, deliver and dispose of junk mail produces an enormous amount of greenhouse gas emissions? You can try to stop a lot of your junk mail with a sign on your letterbox, and you could also look into getting your name removed from the lists of direct mailers.
Buy locally if possible. Shipping burns fuel. And air freight creates a lot more carbon emissions than having it sent by rail or truck.
Eat less meat. If you’re already a vegetarian, you save at least 1,500 kilograms of CO2 per year compared to meat eaters. If you’re not a vegetarian, try to reduce the amount of meat you eat. Also, poultry is less greenhouse gas intensive than beef.
Don’t waste food. About one-quarter of all the food prepared annually in Australia or the U.S., for example, gets tossed, producing methane in landfills as well as CO2 emissions from transporting wasted food.
Consider composting your vegetable waste and growing some of your own veggies.
Reduce the Carbon Footprint of Your Office
Enable your power management – so your computer and monitor shut down.
Consider using ePlusGreen’s PC energy-saving technology – The system monitors/minimizes computer and printer energy usage. Do you need to print?- Consider saving a file on your computer, in a flash drive or emailing it.
Double-side print – Saves paper too.
Can you carpool or transit or bike to work? See above.
Open up – If you have windows you can open, use them to intelligently save energy.
Turn ‘em off – Only use the lights you need. If you’re using your computer you may not need your office lights on too.
Occupancy sensors – Shut off lights in unused rooms. Better, get your building to install occupancy sensors.
Bring your lunch – Or walk to the local eatery instead of driving..