A person’s carbon footprint is the amount of greenhouse gases (primarily carbon dioxide and methane) they emit in a year through activities like driving a car, consuming new products and using fossil fuels. According to the EPA, greenhouse gases from the human activities have been the most significant contributor to climate change since the mid-twentieth cenury. The emissions target for long-term sustainable living on earth is an average of 2 tons of carbon dioxide per person per year. Unfortunately, in industrialized nations, the average person currently has a carbon footprint of 11 tons.
Being eco-friendly doesn’t need radical lifestyle changes like going vegan and living off-grid. The following tips for reducing your carbon footprint are simple to implement and inexpensive. In fact, many of them can save you money while helping to save the planet.
Change your light bulbs
If your electricity is generated from coal, the power used by a single incandescent light bulb over one year would require the production of up to 100 pounds of carbon dioxide. One of the easiest ways you can reduce your carbon footprint is by replacing your incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light (cfl) or LED bulbs. Both types of low-energy light bulbs use less than 20% of the electricity of incandescent bulbs that last up to 15 times longer. While changing your light bulbs requires an initial investment, over time you’ll save money on your electricity bills and the cost of replacement bulbs.
Adjust your thermostat
If your thermostat controls both heating and air conditioning, you can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 1,050 pounds per year by turning the temperature down by 3 degrees F in winter and up by 3 degrees F in summer. If you have a programmable thermostat, you can reduce emissions even more by setting the timer to lower the temperature during times when your family is away from home or asleep. In the winter, wear warm layers and only heat your house to the lowest comfortable temperature. In summer, use electric fans to keep cool and reserve air conditioning for the hottest days.
Eat locally and seasonally
The EPA estimates that 13% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions come from food production and transport. Seek out farm shops or farmers’ markets in your area and buy direct from the producer. Farmers often sell fresh, seasonal produce at bargain prices. When you do buy fruit, vegetables, meat, or seafood from supermarkets check, check the label of the country or origin and avoid imported foodstuffs.
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