Over the past few years, the idea of reducing our carbon footprint as a global community has been a constant topic of conversation. While that is a massive problem to tackle, the good news is that every individual can be part of the solution to a global problem. There are a great deal of opportunities for each of us to reduce our carbon footprints each and every day and they require little effort on our part and only minimal lifestyle changes. So let's get started!
Americans generate millions of tons of trash a year. The more that we can recycle and compost instead of just throwing it into the trash, which ultimately ends up in landfills, the better it is for our environment. Your local municipality will provide detailed instructions on what you can recycle and how you should prepare it, but here are a few items that should generally always be recycled:
Plastics - including plastic cups, utensils, jugs and bottles
Glass - including glass bottles or other glass materials
Paper including newspapers, magazines and junk mail
Steel cans - including soup cans or other canned foods
Broken electronics - including old or broken TVs or radios
2. Reduce or eliminate single-use plastics
The fewer plastic products that you use and throw away, the fewer will end up in landfills. If recycling is difficult for you, try reducing or eliminating your use of single-use plastics and use alternatives instead. There are many brands and services now that specialize in environmentally friendly packaging and encourage reuse of their containers.
Shopping bags are a huge opportunity to reduce your individual use of plastic. These plastic bags are extremely harmful to the environment and can quickly and easily be replaced with reusable shopping bags which generally hold more items and are sturdier than plastic bags anyway.
3. Be aware of the energy usage in your home
This is one of the easiest ways to reduce your impact on the environment, by simply turning off lights and appliances when you aren't using them, you can conserve energy daily, which over time ends up being a significant reduction. Making sure that your hot water heater, air conditioning and/or heating are all set to a certain temperature and not adjusted often can also help reduce the amount of energy you use and ultimately lower your carbon footprint. Plus, as an added bonus, these actions will lower your power bills!
4. Drive less or carpool
Whenever you can walk or ride a bike to your destination or, if possible, carpool with other people. When you have to drive, follow these tips:
Service the vehicle regularly so it runs at its optimal efficiency
Check your tires to reduce the emissions they emit
Use cruise control on long drives to avoid acceleration/deceleration that your foot naturally does when pushing the pedal
All of these relatively small changes can make a big impact on our environment!