Always wanted to lower your carbon footprint and do good for the environment but can’t find something that works with you and your lifestyle? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! At the end of the day almost everything you do will have an impact on your carbon emissions. From the foods you choose to the way you hang with your friends, you can choose to either increase or decrease your carbon footprint, and help our planet earth.
What is carbon footprint?
Basically, it’s our impact and contribution to climate change. It’s the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions measured in carbon dioxide equivalents to support human activities. It’s those greenhouse emissions that cause climate change and warm the planet.
How to calculate carbon footprint
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a very handy tool to calculate the carbon footprint of your household. Once you do that, here are my top 10 realistic and simple ways to lower your carbon footprint, reducing carbon emissions and greenhouse gases on an individual level:
- Party busses and limo rides are so 2010. If you want to tour the city with a group of friends hop on your bikes. Make your own biker gang, peddling around to your favorite restaurants and local breweries. This makes for a really fun summer night, heck; it might even turn into a tradition or weekly rendezvous.
- Growl...er. Love indulging in your favorite local craft beer? Visit the brewery and pick yourself up a growler. Not only will you be saving the use of cans and extra bottles but you’ll look really cool when you show up at a party with their awesome branded oversized bottle.
- Raise the steaks. Making your favorite steak dinner? Why not swap it out the meat for a cauliflower steak Changing the foods you consume on a regular basis can have a drastic effect on your carbon footprint. Worldwide, livestock is one of the largest contributors to environmental problems, due to deforestation, desertification, overuse of freshwater, inefficient use of energy, diverting food for use as feed and emission of greenhouse gases. United Nations Environment Programme (2012). Growing greenhouse gas emissions due to meat production. Accessed 6/5/13 from http://www.unep.org/pdf/UNEP-GEAS_OCT_2012.pdf
Plant-based proteins in general require less arable land, water and fossil fuels than their animal based counterparts. Conservative estimates indicate that animal proteins can require up to 6 times as much land, 26 times as much water, and 2.5 times the fossil fuels as plant-based proteins. Reijnders, L., & Soret, S. (2003). Quantification of the environmental impact of different dietary proteins. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Accessed on 2/13/14 from: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/78/3/664S.full.pdf+html All it takes is starting to swap in one plant-based meal a day and you’ll be well on your way to lowering your carbon footprint.
- Life Unplugged. Have you ever noticed how many appliances you have in your house that are plugged in at all times? Toasters, blenders, and coffee machines, just to name a few, are some of the culprits that will be still using up energy while being plugged in, even though you might not be using them. Solution? Unplug them when you’re not using them. I’m not one for clutter, so I keep these small appliances in my cupboard until I need them. You’ll soon find yourself with the clean chic living space you’ve only seen in magazines.
- Run commute. Practicing for your next marathon? Get in your training on your way to and from work by running there! Just find a small fitting back pack to pack your work clothes in and anything else you need and you’re set. Too many miles running to and from work? Carpool to work with a co-worker then run home. This will not only lower your carbon footprint by leaving your car at home, you’ll also be feeling good.
- The new bookworm. Say no to buying the daily paper or your favorite magazine and download it onto your mobile reader. Just think of all the paper you’ll be saving! Say bye-bye to ink stained fingers and hello to your favorite novel, paper, short story and blogger all with the point of a finger.
- One person’s trash..... Or should I say closet? Getting sick and tired of your old clothes but aren’t ready to part with them just yet? Hold a clothing swap with some of your friends, bring the clothes you’re not willing to get rid of completely, for something you’ve always loved of your friends. This will not only be great for the wallet, you’ll also be lowering your carbon footprint at the same time.
- Just say no....to junk mail. How many times do you have to open your mailbox to find it spilling over with junk mail before you do something about it? Here’s a couple steps to de-clutter your inbox: One: If you’ve subscribed to any flyers you can call the company and unsubscribe and sign up for their online version). Two: decorate a beautifully scripted sign for your mail person so they know you mean business.
- The Mason jar queen. This is what my friends call me. Why? Because I re-use all my mason and old pasta sauce jars to restore my bulk goods and to use as drinking glasses. Why not?!
- If it’s yellow let it mellow. Enough said.
Like any good album, there’s always a bonus track and in any good column there’s always a bonus tip.
- Check it before you wreck it. I challenge you to take your label reading to the next level and start looking for sustainable packaging in the foods you choose to purchase. One of the hottest things right now is PCR packaging. This stands for Post-Consumer Recycled Plastic, rather than packaging your products in virgin plastic, companies are using plastic that would otherwise end up in their landfills. All Vega tubs use PCR tubs. Now that’s something to brag about. Learn more about PCR and making the world a greener place on Vega’s Sustainability Page.
What do you do to reduce your carbon footprint and stand up for the planet? Post about it using #VegaTeam so we can see.