10 Actions You Can Take Today to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
1. Change Your Lightbulbs
How often do you think about your lightbulbs? Chances are, not very often. An easy fix you can make that will help the planet every day is to switch all of the lights in your house to compact fluorescent bulbs. One bulb can reduce up to 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution during its lifetime. And if every house in the U.S. switched its bulbs, we could reduce the electricity spent on lighting by one half. Worth climbing up that ladder and whipping out your screwdriver, huh?
2. Unplug Your Gadgets
Completely powering off your gadgets isn't just good for your devices, it's good for the planet. What's even better is unplugging your chargers when they're not in use. If you're someone who always leaves your phone charger dangling from the wall, doesn't power off your cable box and forgets to put your computer on sleep mode, many of your tech behaviors can use some adapting. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adopting these practices can save you $100 each year on your energy bill.
3. Take Public Transit or Carpool
According to The Rideshare Company, the average American spends 18 days of the year in a car, each car emitting its own weight in carbon dioxide. The benefits of carpooling are quite simple to see. One car uses less gas than two and much less than three. Similarly, riding the bus or train to work helps to slash down the number of cards on the road. Still looking to organize the perfect carpool? These apps can help you set one up.
4. Choose a Laptop Over a Desktop
Laptops, unlike desktop computers, are designed to be energy-efficient, because battery life is a major factor to laptop design. According to Energy Star, a laptop can be up to 80% more energy-efficient than a desktop. Energy-efficient LCD screens, hard drives, CPUs and adaptors all factor into making makes laptops much better tools for the planet.
5. Filter Your Own Water
If you still buy packaged bottled water, you're doing the planet a major disservice. Beyond the environmental toll of the plastic waste from each 16 ounce serving, consider just how far your water was transported before you bought it in the supermarket. If you live in most western countries, tap water is perfectly suitable for consumption, especially if you use a filtration pitcher.
6. Adjust Your Curtains and Thermostat
Simple adjustments to moderate the temperature in your house can make a big difference for the planet. If you keep your house two degrees warmer in the summer and two degrees cooler in the winter you can save big bucks on your energy bills. Similar, turning off your thermostat while you're not in your home can save you 15% on your energy bill. Check out the U.S. Department of Energy for more thermostat tips.
Similarly, keep your curtains open during the day in the winter to let in sunlight, and close them at night to keep in warmth. During the summer, close the curtains during the day to keep out extra sunlight and open them at night to moderate the temperature, or even open them to let in a cool breeze. There are several energy-efficient curtains on the market that use insulation to further monitor your home's temperature.
7. Buy Local Food
Love eating watermelon year-round? That's great, but chances are, it isn't grown anywhere near where you live during the winter. Purchasing foods that are both in season and grown locally can drastically cut down the carbon emissions of the vehicles used to transport your winter watermelon across the country. According to the Worldwatch Institute, food travels 1,500 miles on average between the farm and the supermarket. We bet you can find foods grown closer to your home if you try to find them.
8. Plant a Tree
This classic way to give back to the environment is one of the most efficient ways you can cut your carbon footprint. Trees provide shade and oxygen while consuming carbon dioxide. According to the Urban Forestry Network, a single young tree absorbs 13 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. That amount will climb up to 48 pounds annually as trees mature. Just one 10-year-old tree releases enough oxygen into the air to support two human beings.
9. Print or Digital, Be Mindful Reading the News
People have been debating the environmental costs of consuming news online versus reading the print paper since the beginning of the digital media revolution. Newspapers, according to one study, cause roughly their weight in carbon emissions. That said, surfing the web expends energy, the amount of which varies based on the device you use.
The best policy to adopt when it comes to news consumption is to be mindful. If you subscribe to a print paper, be sure to recycle your paper every day. If online news is your preferred medium, chose an unplugged laptop or e-reader, rather than a plugged-in device for the majority of your browsing time.
10. Chose Energy-Efficient Kitchen Appliances
Though not the classiest option, microwaving your food is faster and often uses less energy than the stove. If a meal takes 15 minutes to cook in the microwave versus one hour in the stove, you'll save roughly 20 cents off your energy bill each time. The real task at which microwaves excel is bringing water to a boil — and you won't even sacrifice taste.
Five miles by train same CO2 footprint as lifecycle of one bee