Ways we can reduce our carbon footprints

Stephen McHugh
This post was last updated on
August 20, 2022
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The need to reduce our carbon footprint has been well documented. There is a growing need to reduce our carbon footprints in order to save the world from undesired consequences, and leave it greener for future generations. I talked about this in a post prior to this one. In case you haven’t read it click the link below.

Causes and consequences of climate change

There are plenty of things you can do from our homes to being out and about to reduce your carbon footprint. Some of them are mentioned below, and based on my knowledge, research and understanding, and may not be exhaustive.

At homePin

Insulate your home well. This should enable you to reduce the temperature setting of your thermostat. See how heat is lost from your home and how much here.

Consider double glazing. Air is trapped between the two panes of glass and is a poor conductor of heat. It is here where heat loss is reduced by conduction.

Don’t use electrical appliances when not in use.

Don’t heat more water than you need to when boiling water in a kettle or cooking.

Use energy efficient light bulbs. These last much longer than traditional light bulbs and use less electricity to emit the same amount of light.

Don’t have the light on in a room when not in it.

Try to use less water, as water treatment requires energy, and therefore contributes to the greenhouse effect.

Spend less time in the shower and use it at a lower temperature. You could try and aim to strike a balance between hot and cold.

Consider washing clothes at lower temperatures

Consider using a heat pump.  More info on this here

Smart thermostats. These can set the temperature inside depending on the weather forecast and temperatures outdoors.

Consider smart devices, like smart laptops and mobile phones. When being charged up, these will automatically stop taking power when they’re fully charged.

Don’t leave appliances like your television on standby. 

Consider alternative options for clothes drying other devices like tumble dryers. Consider hanging them on the line to dry in the sun if it is warm and sunny, or on a clothes horse. I find they can dry within a day or two, especially in the summer. In the winter, when the weather is colder, put them near a radiator on a lower temperature, but still warm enough to dry them. 

Some houses use solar panels on their roofs to generate their electricity. These use sunlight and are not dependent on fossil fuels. Sunlight is also a renewable energy source.

MaterialsPin

Recycle cardboard, paper, cards, plastic bottles, envelopes, and food tins. A local food store near me has a facility for recycling plastic, like crisp packets and bread bags. Recycling paper can save trees and mean more carbon dioxide being taken up by the trees themselves. Trees can also be saved by opting to have certain important documentation being delivered to your email address, rather than having paper copies sent by post.

Plastic manufacture also requires energy. Therefore, recycling this more can mean less energy being used to make more plastics.

Metals used in the manufacture of food tins and other items like mobile phones and computers will have come from mining, which is a very energy intensive process. It can also threaten the natural habitats of any living organisms. The circuitry in mobile phones and computers will contain metals like silver as they’re good conductors of electricity, and help to conduct the electric currents there.

Food and drinkPin

Eat fruit and vegetables produced locally and in season. If you have sufficient space in your garden, consider growing your own fruit and vegetables. This practice can be seen at allotments. Eating fruit and vegetables produced locally means they don’t have to be transported nearly as far, resulting in a lower carbon footprint.

Have more in the way of a plant-based diet. Eat less meat and dairy products. Growing plants requires much less land than farming. Plants use carbon dioxide in photosynthesis along with water using the sun’s energy to make food and oxygen. In the case of farming, large amounts of land are needed to meet the farm animals which have to eat lots of food.

Consider reusing any plastic bottles you may have with water and filling them rather than buying more bottled water. Less energy is therefore used in manufacturing less.

Travel and transport

Means of transport like cars, planes and lorries are important sources of greenhouse gases. Most of them burn fuels which release these gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which traps heat.  More information about vehicle emissions here.

There are an increasing number of electric vehicles nowadays, and will probably increase in the future. However, both electric and petrol vehicles have their advantages and disadvantages. Read the link here on the Greenpeace website. I like the fact it mentions how electricity is getting greener all the time, and it’s recommendations for relevant companies and the government.

Don’t drive when it may be possible to walk or cycle. PinThis can enable us to go off road more easily, and to more tranquil areas where we may appreciate nature’s values. Some cities in some countries have lanes for cyclists only. 

If one must absolutely go by car, consider car sharing.

Consider having a holiday in your home country and closer to home. I don't fly so much. If I wish to travel to somewhere else in the country, my choice is to go by train.

 

What we wear and buy

Use the same plastic bags on more than one shopping trip, and buy less stuff and with less excess packaging. Be aware that some packages have a mixture of card and plastic wrapping. I’ve noticed this with packages containing ready made sandwiches.

Sell any unwanted items or give them to someone else. You could even consider donating them to charity organisations who’ll give them to those in need. Less energy will be used in manufacturing new ones and transporting them. In the case of books, you could be saving trees having to be cut down for the paper and card necessary to make them. More carbon dioxide will therefore be taken up.

When buying appliances like fridges and washing machines, check their efficiency ratings before making any decision. 

In nature

More trees could be planted. With more trees, more carbon dioxide is used by them in a process called photosynthesis to make their food. 

Consider throwing away food waste in a compost bin if you have one. PinRead more information about composting here. This can save food waste going to landfill sites, which are important sources of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. Keep your compost moist and aerated. Microorganisms break down the organic waste in the presence of oxygen and water into a mixture which can be beneficial for your garden, as it will contain important nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium to support growth of plants.

And finally

I hope this gives you some ideas and steps you can take to reduce your carbon footprint, and leave the world in a better state for future generations. Please feel free to add any important relevant information I may have missed, or to correct me on anything.


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