Stuck finding a good 2013 New Year’s resolution? Here’s a great one: reduce your carbon footprint. The first step in reducing your carbon footprint is to first calculate your footprint and then set a goal.
How to measure your carbon footprint
There are a number of carbon calculators that you can use to calculate your annual carbon footprint. Here are a few:
How to reduce your footprint
Once you have an inventory of your emissions, then you’ll be able to see the largest opportunities for reductions. We have listed a few of the easiest ways to reduce your footprint here:
Five tips for reducing your carbon footprint
- Drive/Fly less. Some say this is close to impossible living in a freeway-dominant state that is the size of a small country. It’s easier today though than just a decade or two ago, given the convenience of increased bus routes in Houston or San Antonio, or rail lines in Dallas-Fort Worth. For short commutes, consider walking or bicycling, which offers cardio benefits as well. And let’s not let the vast states of Alaska, Idaho or Montana continue outbiking Texas (we rank pretty low compared with most other states in the nation). If the drive or flight is a must, consider carpooling or purchasing carbon offsets for your flight.
- Conserve energy. There are many ways to do this today. Use energy efficient light bulbs, appliances and electronics. Turn off the lights when leaving a room. Power down electric items plugged into a power strip with one flick of a button. Insulate your home. Not only do you reduce carbon emissions by conserving energy, you also come out ahead financially.
- Go meatless. While Texans love their meat, studies show that livestock contributes nearly 18 percent toward global greenhouse gas emissions. There’s a fairly new trend gaining ground called “Meatless Mondays,” and it means foregoing a burger or pork chop for just one day a week. Totally doable. The dual benefits include fewer emissions and improved health. If abstaining from meat once a week isn’t your thing, consider buying more locally produced food, which also contributes to reduced carbon emissions.
- Buy used. It’s better for the planet as well as your pocketbook. According to NARTS (National Association of Resale Professionals), resale retail is on the upswing, growing almost seven percent in the last two years. Maybe the adage is true: One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. In any case, when you purchase used items, you reduce the shipping/transportation, energy and resources that go into manufacturing new items, and thereby reduce carbon emissions. Plus, you get to brag to your friends about how much money you saved.
- Print double-sided. More offices are seeing the economic value of printing on both sides of a piece of paper. However, this tip should encompass all paper usage. The paper industry is the nation’s fourth largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. An article in The Daily Green offers the following additional tips: use cloth dinner napkins, shred used office paper for packaging, rediscover your local library, reuse paper bags, pay bills online, use dish towels instead of paper towels, and buy recycled paper.
You may feel that your individual efforts to reduce carbon won’t move the needle – but you’d be surprised how your actions inspire others to make changes.
In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Take the opportunity to make 2013 a carbon-reducing and more environmentally conscious year. And good luck!
Why reduce your carbon footprint?
Greenhouse gases are heat-trapping gases, which contribute to catastrophic climate change. Among those gases, carbon dioxide (CO2) is the largest contributor. Plus, Texas leads the nation in greenhouse gas emissions, a ranking we should not be proud of and one we can do something about.
The effects of climate change include melting glaciers, more frequent wildfires, longer periods of drought in some regions and an increase in the number, duration and intensity of tropical storms in others, shifting plant and animal ranges, loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise, and longer, more intense heat waves.
So, in order to reduce the carbon emissions contributing to this climate change, we continue to raise awareness and seek solutions. The science is clear. Human activities – emissions from fossil fuel combustion such as coal, oil and gas in power plants, automobiles, industrial facilities and other sources – are a leading source of these emissions. Therefore, we offer the preceding easy tips on ways to reduce your carbon emissions.
Find out more about how EDF is working to fight climate change.
EDF staffer Delia Barrack and intern Carolyn Knight contributed to this post.