How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Carbon Footprint

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Carbon footprint refers to activities we undertake that add or release greenhouse gases e.g. methane and carbon dioxide to the environment/atmosphere. Greenhouse gases affect life through climate change.

Reducing your carbon footprint is considered a daunting task but with the following easy-to-follow guidelines, you can play your part towards enhancing energy conservation.

      I.    Carbon Footprint Reduction in Your Home

This can be obtained by considering the following measures:

Use of Compact Fluorescent to Standard Bulbs: Statistics indicate that compact fluorescent bulbs save more than two thirds the amount energy compared to standard bulbs or regular incandescent. By switching to the use of energy saving bulbs, you reduce your home energy carbon footprint. However, it is important to note that, some fluorescent or energy saving bulbs contains mercury. Before purchase, check labels and purchase the ones with ‘low-mercury levels’ label.

When not in use, or after leaving the room, turn off the compact fluorescent bulbs.

Home Weatherproofing: This saves energy by minimizing the total amount of air or heat energy that leaks from your home. Insulation and window paneling can do this. Sometimes, weatherproofing may be costly but important since it will save you much money in the long run when you do end up cooling or heating your home.

Around doors and windows, consider adding weather strips or some caulking to help eliminate drafts thereby keeping your cooling and heating systems better in terms of energy conservation.

Minding Electronics: When purchasing electronics, do not only pay attention to the price tags, consider the overall lifetime cost including energy consumption and utilization. Electric appliances with an Energy Star Label are most recommended. When not using electronics, ensure they are unplugged from electricity sockets regardless of how energy efficient they are.

Some people do not remember this last measure unplugging from sockets when not in use; such people should buy a power strip. A power-strip contains an ‘off’ button that shuts down all appliances connected to it when not in use.

A Programmable Thermostat should be installed to turn off air or heat conditioning when you are not in your house. Most of them cost around $50. Note that more than this amount will be saved within the first year of thermostat use.

Considering Alternative Forms of Energy: These include wind power, hydro and solar among others. Most utility companies provide an option of green energy via solar or wind power. If your company does not provide this option, you can purchase your own solar panels.

Some solar companies finance solar projects. This helps in the elimination of high electricity bills. Surplus produced electricity via solar energy can also be sold back to the grid

Drying of laundry outside: Do not always use a dryer every time you do your laundry. Take advantage of free sunlight outside and hang your clothes (under the sun) on a clothesline to dry.

Fix shower heads and toilets that are water conserving. Consequently keep water heating costs on the low and when brushing or shaving, turn faucets off.

The heating and cooling systems should always stay tuned and on replacing them, consider those with high-energy rating.

      II.    Reducing Your Carbon Footprint through Food

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This can be attained through:

Purchasing local products: Statistics show that the food industry is the highest contributor towards carbon dioxide emissions. To curb this, purchase food products that are available locally i.e. those not transported for longer distances to reach your nearest market center. Also, give preference to natural foods and not processed ones.

Consequently, consume foods that are in season; if you crave for foods not in season, remember they have to be shipped from elsewhere through combustion of petroleum-based fuels, which is not good for the environment.

Having your own garden: If you have sufficient space in your backyard why not starts a garden and grows food for your consumption? This will save you both money and time initially spent driving to the market for food purchases thereby reducing your carbon footprint. Any extra food grown can be donated or given out as charity.

Reduction of red meat intake: Livestock industry accounts for up to 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, particularly methane when raising cattle. Red meat consumption is only encouraged from free range and grass fed livestock. Meat from Brazil is not considered the best for consumption since most livestock there graze on cleared land initially for tropical forests. Deforestation contributes greatly to carbon emission and climate change.

Purchase less packaged foods: Less packaged foods mean less waste after consumption thus overall reduction on carbon footprint. Alternatively, choose reusable bags over disposable ones.

      III.    Reducing Your Carbon Footprint When Travelling

If wherever you are going is not far, why not walk or ride a bicycle? In addition to reducing your carbon footprint, you will keep fit, healthy and save yourself a lot of money. Also, consider carpooling with your colleagues or use public means instead of driving.

Do you really need that trip? If not, why not optimize by saving it and combining with another? Such daily decisions are essential in reducing inefficiencies and emissions to the environment. Occasionally, work from home by telecommunication and save that trip for another day.

      IV.    Reducing Carbon Footprint for your car and, or when driving

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If you must use your car, observe better driving habits that will reduce car emission. This can be ensured by maintaining a smooth acceleration and steady speed when driving. Not forgetting anticipating stops and starts. Unnecessary speeding and acceleration reduces mileage by up to 35 per cent. It also wastes money and gas, and increases your carbon footprint.

If you will be driving a lot, buy yourself a green car e.g. Chevrolet Spark, the Buick Encore and the Prius Call with perfect green ratings. Remember to also combine errands to minimize the number of trips and use cruise control to remove additional car weight.

Again, consider the use of gas efficient vehicles and buy a car for the right purpose. Why buy a SUV or minivan if you do not need additional space or a 4WD vehicle? These types of vehicles are expensive and with their increased aerodynamic drag, they consume a lot of gas.

Regular car maintenance will also ensure that car air, oil and fuel filters are working properly thus improved efficiency of car emission control system. Properly inflated tires help in maximizing gas mileage.

Finally, maintenance optimizes motor oil utilization. When faulty sensors (oxygen sensors) are fixed, fuel efficiency increases to up to 45%.

      V.    Reducing your Carbon Footprint from air travels

Long distance travelling should be by train or bus and not an airplane. This is because airplanes emit a lot of carbon dioxide gas. If an airplane has to be used, consider a direct one with no stop over. Not switching planes will not only reduce your carbon footprint but also ensure convenience in your travels.

It is also essential not to fly on private jets. Fly with others in either business or economy class (the same way as carpooling or using public transport). Again, minimize air travels for work or business, by embracing technology via Skype and video conferencing tools.

      VI.    Reducing your Carbon Footprint by Re-using and Recycling

Find local solutions to products; each time a new shirt is made or food shipped, energy is consumed. It is therefore advised to purchase new items only when it’s really necessary. Every time new products are shipped, a lot of carbon dioxide is emitted. Therefore, find local solution instead of purchasing online products.

Recycling old materials instead of disposing them in landfills helps in reduction of methane gas production. Consider Re-using everything as much as you can from old chairs to clothing instead of damping them. Some old stuff can also be sold locally for additional income.

Understanding area recycling system: Depending on your country, things that can be recycled vary. It is therefore important to understand local rules that govern individual recycling systems. Recycle items like paper, aluminium and glass among others.

Statistics indicate that 30% of greenhouse emissions are from production and provision of goods i.e. manufacturing, packaging and transportation of final goods to consumer markets. By Re-cycling and Re-using, carbon footprint reduction (in production and provision of finished products) is ensured.

Use of Compost Pile: Waste food in compost pile can be used in your garden to enrich soil. This reduces need of manufactured, fossil-based fertilizers and pesticides.

Proper Disposal of some items e.g. batteries should be observed. Always utilize services of hazardous waste facilities near you. Some companies have collaborated with Call2Recycle- a recycling organisation; to help in proper disposal and recycling of materials such as cell phones and batteries.

Old electronics can also be taken to nearby recycling centers instead of disposing them in landfills.

      VII.    Reducing your Carbon Footprint through Water Conservation

Taking Short Showers: Short showers are essential in terms of saving both energy (for heating water) and water. According to statistics, water-conserving shower heads save up to fifty-seven liters of water for an average ten-minute shower.

Washing machines and dishwashers. It is estimated that 22% of water consumption in homes is from laundry and dish washing. Therefore, these machines should be run only when full and necessary. When in use, the right settings should be used.

System Leakages should also be checked regularly to avoid wastage. Do regular pipe maintenance and repairs to ensure less water is wasted.

Consider Climate when landscaping: Not all climates should have green grass. For maximum water conservation therefore, grow plants that suit your climate. This will reduce your overall landscaping work thereby conserving both water and energy.

Wash your Car less often or use services of car wash professionals to reduce the amount of water wasted. An average sized vehicle uses up to 145 gallons of water when washed. This water can be conserved if we washed our cars less often. Professional car washers drain used water into the sewerage system (and not storm drains) therefore reduced impact on marine ecosystem.

      VIII.    Reducing your Office Carbon Footprint

A lot of energy is wasted in our offices without knowledge. The following simple practices are essential in energy utilization;

  1. When using computers, enable power management tools to shut down or ‘sleep ‘when in idle mode. This minimizes energy usage. Again, utilize services of ePlusGreen’s personal computers.
  2. Ask yourself whether you really need to print that document. If not, email it, save it as file in your PC or flash drive. If you have to print, optimize the paper by double printing.
  • While in office, switch of the lighting system and draw curtains to utilize free sunlight. This will save money and from energy wastage.
  1. If you have unused rooms in your office, ensure lights are off. Better still install occupancy sensors.
  2. Lastly, consider walking to the eatery for lunch instead of driving. If far, carry packed lunch from home.

Every person has a responsibility of reducing individual carbon footprint. The above are some of the ways of going about this. In addition, think about your lifestyle decisions and find opportunities through which you can contribute further to reduction of your carbon footprint.

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