Everywhere we go and everywhere we turn we see or hear about carbon emissions. It is a major concern internationally and world leaders have attended conferences that talk about how to reduce carbon emissions and save the earth from climate change. Carbon is everywhere, from the air we breathe, the food we eat and the items we purchase. Most people are likely hearing about carbon emissions right now and wondering what that is all about. Carbon in its most basic form is an element; actually one of the most common elements for life on earth.
Carbon is literally the basis for life but it requires in-depth knowledge and understanding. Everyone is an Earth hero and with great power comes great responsibility. The more we know about carbon, and carbon emissions, the better equipped we are to make a positive difference. It is important to understand what carbon footprint is, in order to participate in its reduction.
So what exactly is carbon emission or carbon footprint?
Well, the science of climate change is complex and can be overwhelming and when it comes to the impacts it has on the future, there are still a lot of unknowns. Carbon footprint, however, is the total amount of greenhouse gas emissions that come from production, use and end-of-life of a product or service. It is made up of carbon dioxide – the gas that is mostly emitted by humans – and others like methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases which trap heat in the air and cause global warming. Individual carbon footprints mainly come from transportation, housing and food.
While real solutions to a reduced carbon emission requires global action and effort, on individual level, you can also bring a change through the choices you make in your day to day life to reduce your personal contribution to the effects of climate change. Here are ways to reduce your personal carbon emission into the atmosphere:
Energy at home
Look around your home and identify ways in which you can be more energy efficient; check for any chance of energy wastage and fix that. You can switch to LED lights to help you save energy. Although they cost more, they use a quarter of the energy and last up to 25 times longer. Switch off lights when you leave the room and unplug your electric devices when they are not in use.
Instead of using fossil fuels to power your home, you can choose to use solar energy instead, and also install solar water heaters to reduce the amount of energy you use in your home, the utility costs and of course the amount of carbon emissions into the atmosphere. While at it, you can also install a low-flow showerhead to reduce hot water use. Taking shorter showers helps too.
The feeding pattern
Check out the food chain pyramid and always eat low on the food chain. This means that your meals should include more fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. It is a fact that meat and dairy contributes to about 14.5% of man-made global greenhouse gas emissions mainly from production and processing of the foods. Every day that you forego meat and dairy is a day you reduce your carbon footprint.
Choose organic and local foods that are in season over processed foods. Transporting food from far-away places by truck, ship, rail or plane uses fossil fuels for fuel and cooling to keep the foods in transit fresh until they reach you. You can also reduce your food waste by planning meals ahead of time, freezing the excess and reusing leftovers instead of dumping them. And if you have to dump your food then compost them instead and re-use it as manure for your small garden in the backyard.
An average car produces about 5 tons of CO2 every year although this is dependent on the type of car, its fuel efficiency and how it is driven. So making changes on your transportation can bring about a huge change. You can chose to drive less and take more walks instead, or use public transport. If it is a short distance then choose to walk. If you must drive then avoid unnecessary breaks and accelerations as this form of aggressive driving results to 40% more fuel consumption than consistent, calm driving.
You can also choose not to self-drive and take the bus instead, or carpool with friends – this reduces fuel consumption and stack emission in the sense that, you will all be using one car instead of everyone moving around in their own car. Also, bike to your destination, where possible as this not only reduces carbon emission into the atmosphere, but also eases traffic congestion on the roads.
Take good care of your car by keeping your tires inflated and ensure proper maintenance is done regularly. Combine your errands and run them all at once to reduce your driving. Avoid flying if possible, especially when taking shorter trips because air travel is responsible for the largest part of carbon footprint. If you can’t avoid flying, then you can offset your carbon emissions by paying an amount of money to organizations that work towards promoting sustainable development and increasing the use of renewable energy. The money you pay will go towards climate protection projects.
And because climate change affects the entire world and requires the government to take action, ensure you practice your political right and vote by choosing representatives who will take action to phase out the constant use of fossil fuels and clean the environment as fast as possible to reduce the effects of climate change in record time.