All around the world, governments, corporations and other powerful organizations are putting their weight behind tackling the global warming crisis. So much of this change is coming from the top that many people wonder how or even if changing their own habits will make any impact. The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, being part of that change gives you a powerful voice in how progress is made. Here are five very simple steps anyone can take to reduce their carbon footprint and live more sustainably.
The most important thing you can do to make a difference is to learn. It's hard to find a workable solution for a problem you don't understand. Start with the basics: Get objective facts about how the global ecosystem actually works. You may wonder "why is the carbon cycle important?" Well, read some good free biology articles on Wikipedia to find out how everything we do has repercussions for the rest of the world. Think of yourself as standing on an island in the middle of outer space...because you are! Above all else, stick to the science and forget the hype surrounding these issues; this crisis will be solved by gaining critical thinking skills, not abandoning them.
Even though renewable energy, especially solar power, has made great strides over the past few years, the overwhelming majority of our energy is still generated by fossil fuels. Lighting our homes takes up a lot of that energy. Incandescent lights are attractive, but they're the worst offenders when it comes to efficiency, with 90% of their initial power going into generating heat, not light. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) produce the same amount of light for 1/4 of the energy input, so consider them as an option, along with halogen lighting. Simply turning off the lights when you leave the room can save enormous amounts of energy over the long term too. Remember, natural light is always best for your health, so whenever possible, open the curtains instead of switching on those bulbs.
According to government research, the transportation sector accounts for the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions in the US, accounting for 29% of America's total output. If you live in the city, it's easy to grab public transportation or ride a bike, but for the rest of us, it's time to think smart about our commute. Laying off the gas and brakes is a big fuel-saver. So is not using air conditioning when you don't need to. Remember not to weigh your car down with too many items, because every added pound of mass means more energy needed to move the vehicle. Keep these things in mind and your wallet and your world will thank you.
You might not think that throwing away old items has an impact on carbon dioxide emissions, but it definitely does. New things have to be manufactured, and the industrial sector produces almost a quarter of our country's greenhouse gases. Go beyond just recycling and learn to find creative new uses for items you were planning to throw away. Take the Marie Kondo approach and don't buy things in the first place if they don't bring you joy or have a legitimate use.
A grocery store is a place where you can make some of the greatest impacts of all. Bringing your own bag instead of using paper or plastic is a good start. When you're shopping, look for products that have labels indicating a commitment to sustainability by the producer. These products will usually be noticeable for what they lack: extra packaging that does no good and creates plastic pollution. If you're shopping for new appliances, look for the Energy Star seal. The federal government even offers tax credits for efficient home appliances, so shop around for them.
It's tempting to see yourself as only a small part of the solution to our environmental issues, but in this case, the small things are the big things. Learn all the simple steps that you can take to make the world a better place.
Publish Date: September 11, 2021 6:43 AM