Small, simple steps that considerably lower your carbon footprint

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the issues facing our planet. But there are ways you can make a positive difference with small changes, like reducing your carbon footprint by recycling or using public transportation whenever possible!

Thousands of tons of greenhouse gasses are emitted into the atmosphere every year. And so, by reducing your personal impact, you can help slow climate change and improve air and water quality for yourself and generations to come. 

Reducing your carbon footprint can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Unfortunately, not all of us can afford expensive changes like buying a new car or getting solar panels installed on our roof. 

Luckily, you can make a few simple changes every day that don’t cost anything or take very much time at all. Here are 10 simple ways to start: 

Take your cup along

Taking our reusable cup with us the next time we pop over to our local coffee joint is a small but significant way to reduce our reliance on plastic and its toxic effect on the environment. 

This simple step helps reduce landfills, save marine life, and lower the amount of plastic and styrofoam-burning gases harmful to the environment.

Eat less meat- particularly red meat

Animal agriculture produces 14.5% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Methane is one of the most harmful greenhouse gases- it is 20 times more potent than CO2 when it comes to trapping heat in our atmosphere. Cows, sheep and goats emit methane through belching and flatulence. 

The good news is that you don’t need to go vegan or even vegetarian. You can cut your emissions simply by avoiding meat and cheese one day a week. Check out the Meatless Monday movement.

Grow a garden

The benefits that come with planting your own garden are numerous; you can save money on groceries, grow ingredients for homemade meals, and ensure the quality of what goes into your body. But it’s not just good for you; it’s also great for the planet because it helps cut down on transportation costs and means that fewer resources are being used for packaging production. But those aren’t the only benefits. There are so many good reasons to grow a garden! For example, did you know that planting certain plants could help reduce household carbon emissions by up to 40%? This brings us to our next step to: 

Keep indoor plants

Most people keep indoor plants because they’re aesthetically pleasing. However, there are a ton of benefits to having them. Plants such as the peace lily have been known to improve the air quality of a home by up to 60%. Snake plants absorb carbon dioxide at night, produce oxygen, and are known to be beneficial to people with airborne allergies.

Ride your bike or walk instead of driving

One easy way to start is to ride your bike or walk instead of driving whenever possible. Not only will this save money on gas, but it will also prevent harmful pollutants from entering our air supply.  

Globally, transportation makes up for 24% of carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion. In Australia alone, transport accounts for 17% of all emissions.

Walking and cycling may not be an option for everyone, depending on where they live or work, but most of us can choose to ride public transportation, carpool with co-workers, or use a bicycle for small errands.

Changing your driving habits will immediately impact the environment and your wallet. 

Shop Local

Another way to decrease your carbon footprint is by choosing to buy local, unpackaged produce when possible – e.g., at farmer’s markets or through community-supported agriculture programs.

By buying food that has been grown within 100 miles of your home, you are dramatically cutting down on fossil fuels expended as well as supporting the surrounding economy. 

Additionally, because unpackaged fruits and vegetables are not wrapped in plastic packaging, it puts less waste into landfills than buying packaged products every time you shop.

Be 'light-conscious'

By using natural light during the day in place of electric lights or substituting electricity-guzzling appliances with more energy-efficient ones, you can further reduce your impact on the environment.

You can also avoid using too much light at night by simply turning off unnecessary lights in your house. This reduces emissions from power plants that rely on fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas to generate electricity.

Also, try using compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) instead of traditional light bulbs – they use about 70% less energy!  

Take shorter showers to conserve water

Did you know the average Australian uses 340 litres of water per day? Showers alone use 9-19 litres of water per minute, depending on what type of showerhead you have, so switching to a water-saving showerhead is also a good move.

Taking a shorter shower may not seem like much to make a significant impact on our carbon footprint. However, the reason behind it boils down to this: more than 50 per cent of the average person’s daily energy usage happens at home, and much of that energy is spent keeping us at the ideal temperature. 

Since hot water is such a drain on our energy resources, cutting back on hot showers helps save water and reduces the amount of greenhouse gases we release into the atmosphere.

Recycle as much as possible

Australia produces 10kg of waste per week, per person, according to this finding. That’s 540 kilos a month! 

The good news is recycling can make a big difference. Recycling just one aluminium can save enough energy to run your television for 2 hours.

Aluminium cans, cardboard, plastic bottles, etc., can all be recycled and turned into new products. Watch this video to get your creative recycling juices flowing! 

Unplug electronics when they're not in use

Every little bit counts! This one’s especially important- don’t leave things like chargers plugged in 24/7 (which you shouldn’t be doing anyway). Leaving something like a cell phone charger plugged in drains energy even when nothing’s connected, so unplug it to save the planet and your wallet.