7 ways to reduce your Carbon Impact
#1: Resist Fast Fashion
Where there once 4 seasons, global fashion retailers are pushing more and more fashion cycles in an effort to get you to buy cheap clothing more frequently. There is a hidden cost behind those clothes.
Unless it is organic cotton, it is genetically modified to resist cancer-causing pesticides that sicken workers who are directly exposed, end up in your food supply, pollute waterways, and are absorbed by your skin with long term negative health consequences.
Because the garments are so cheap, we don't think twice about discarding it. Tons of clothing ends up in landfills to make space for the next cycle of fast fashion. Most of what is donated has the same faith. Only a fraction of what is donated actually makes it way back onto the body of another person.
The only solution is to stop the cycle. Invest in a collection of sustainably and ethically made clothing that stands the test of time in both durability and fashion.
#2: Stay Put, Get Moving, Travel Less
With bike lanes becoming more prevalent in cities across the country, the number of people opting to hop on a bike instead of jump in a car has increased dramatically in the last few years. There are now more than 65 million Americans that cycle on a regular basis.
Air travel multiplies your carbon footprint dramatically. If you fly for work or pleasure, air travel is probably responsible for the largest part of your carbon footprint. Avoid it if you can. Be considerate if you can't. Since landings and takeoffs use more fuel and produce more emissions, use nonstop flights whenever possible. For shorter trips, driving emits fewer greenhouse gasses.
#3: Stop or Reduce Consumption of Animal Products
The single biggest contribution to the global climate crisis is our consumption of animal products, including seafood and dairy.
Its contribution is greater than all transportation combined. Industrialized agriculture is responsible for more deforestation than every other contributor. It is the single largest consumer of freshwater resources, using more than 5000 gallons for a single pound of beef. It contributes to more air pollution than anything else. All by a long shot.
At a minimum, reduce your consumption of animal products. Reduce portion sizes, opt for meatless Mondays, look for the increasing options for dairy alternatives in the supermarket.
#4: Kill The Vampire
It might surprise you to learn that essentially every cord that remains plugged into an outlet even when the device is turned off or in standby mode is pulling electricity. In the U.S. alone, “vampire power” is responsible for draining up to $19 billion in energy every year.
The connectivity of technology is part of why our devices leak energy. Even when the TV is off, for example, it’s still ready to receive a signal from the remote to power on at any time. Regularly available power means your devices can respond quickly when you decide to use them. This feature comes at a cost, both in terms of your electric bill and less noticeably, your carbon footprint.
Most households have many devices that use vampire power in standby mode. Simple solution? Leave your electronics unplugged at all times, unless you’re actually using them.
#5: Clean Is The New Dirty
The average washing machine uses 13,500 gallons of water per year. That is as much water as you will drink in your lifetime. Not all garments need to be washed after each wear. Working at a computer doesn’t cause soiled clothes unless you spill your cup of coffee. Towels that are used to dry your just cleaned body don’t need to be washed each time either. Instead, air it out or hang to dry and wear it again.
90% of energy consumed for washing comes from heating water. Modern detergents - make sure you use an eco-friendly one - are optimized for cold water washing. The tumble dryer is responsible for 90% of the energy used for the laundry process overall. You can accomplish a 99% energy savings by washing cold and hang drying.
Hang drying has the added benefit that your clothes will last much longer. Nothing is more destructive to fabric than a tumble dryer. Just look at how much fiber is collected in your filter each time you use it.
We all know that we should recycle. Duh. No brainer. So instead of giving you the talk about using the big blue bin, here are some tips on how to recycle BETTER.
- Make sure it’s clean! One single dirty product can contaminate an entire bale. It can ultimately cause recyclable items to get redirected into a landfill.
- Flatten cardboard. This will save space in your bin and make room for more recycling.
- Look for products made out of recycled materials when you shop.
- Identify which types of plastic your building and neighborhood will accept.
- Before you recycle, think about reducing your waste and reusing items in a new way.
- Spread the word! Encourage others to recycle with you.
#7: Give your home a sustainable upgrade.
Some improvements can be done immediately and are cost-free; others will take longer and require more investment. Many of the improvements can be applied when renovating, or for new builds:
- Install energy saving bulbs in your home. Energy is saved when incandescent light bulbs are replaced with compact fluorescent lamps or LED bulbs.
- By installing solar panels and temperature regulating walls, it will make the house cooler as well as eco-friendly.
- Compost your kitchen waste.
- Choose appliances that have the ENERGY STAR certification. Choosing an energy efficient appliance for your home can lead to hundreds of dollars saved per year – as well as great energy performance.
- Insulation will help in saving money and energy as well as making the house more comfortable. It will maintain a comfortable temperature inside regardless of the outside temperature. Insulation allows the temperature to remain balanced even in winter or summer.