As we continue to feel the dramatic effects of climate change – such as warmer temperatures, rising sea levels, extreme weather patterns, and devastating wildfires – it’s important to remember that each of us can make a difference to fight global warming.
And even though so many of our daily activities leave a carbon footprint, the silver lining is that each of us can change our behavior and make smarter choices that directly benefit the environment.
And so, if you’re searching for new and creative ways to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and live a carbon-neutral lifestyle, here are eight of the most effective ways you can fight global warming.
Reduce Your Digital Footprint
Whether it’s for work, travel, or leisure, almost all of our daily activities are now powered by the cloud. But did you realize that the internet – which is essentially a global network of data centers – has a carbon footprint the size of the entire United Kingdom?
Here are some simple and creative ways to reduce the emissions of your online activities:
Download Instead of Streaming
For content that you stream over and over again – like your favorite TV shows on Netflix or albums on Spotify – try downloading them instead. This way, you’ll only use a fixed amount of internet bandwidth – and you can enjoy them even when you’re offline.
Think Twice Before Replying to Emails
A recent UK study found that the nation sends 64 million unnecessary emails every day – often just to say “thank you” and “received” – which creates more than 50 million pounds of CO2 each year. Every email you don’t send is CO2 that doesn’t enter the atmosphere – so avoid hitting that reply button unless you really need to.
Unsubscribe From Unwanted Email Lists
Sadly, many of our inboxes are flooded with unwanted emails, and each one we receive – whether we need it or not – has a carbon footprint that contributes to global warming. The next time you receive an unwanted email, instead of just deleting it, unsubscribe from the email list as well. This will help to reduce your digital footprint – and clean up your inbox at the same time.
Maximize Energy Efficiency at Home
According to studies at the University of Michigan, the average American household creates 48 metric tons of CO2 every year – meaning that many of solutions for global warming start right at home.
To make your household more energy-efficient and save money along the way, consider these tips:
- Arrange a home energy audit to identify areas where you can save energy, water, and money.
- Wash your clothes in cold water, and air-dry your laundry whenever you can.
- Unplug or turn off appliances at the wall to avoid wasting power.
- Upgrade your CFLs and incandescent lights to LEDs.
- Insulate your home to stay cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
- Ensure your doors and windows are properly sealed to prevent droughts.
- When buying new appliances, select models with a high energy-efficiency rating.
- Save energy and money by setting your thermostat to 78F in summer and 68F in winter.
For more home energy saving tips, you can also check out the official American EnergyStar website.
Avoid Plastic Whenever You Can
Plastic might be the most practical and useful material we’ve ever created – but it also has a devastating impact on the environment. Not only does it pollute our soil, rivers, and oceans – but it’s also made from oil and natural gas and carries a significant carbon footprint.
Make Smarter Shopping Choices
A critical aspect of reducing plastic waste is simply to avoid buying it in the first place. Next time you’re in a supermarket or department store, pay close attention to your items and give preference to those that come in minimal, recycled, or biodegradable packaging.
Take Your Own Reusable Bags
Americans use a staggering 100 billion plastic bags every year, which requires 12 million barrels of oil to produce. And while plastic bags last for up to 1,000 years – we only use them for an average of 12 minutes. Instead, you can shop with durable bags that you can reuse over and over again – and save hundreds of plastic bags a year.
Shop at Local Markets and Zero-Waste Stores
If you’re keen to eliminate plastic packaging, buy as much as you can from local markets and zero-waste stores using your own bags and containers. It’s a great way to reduce your carbon footprint, eat fresher and healthier food – and support businesses in your local community.
Recycle Whenever (and Whatever) You Can
While it’s difficult to avoid plastic waste altogether, you can ensure that it’s properly recycled at the end of its use. In addition to joining national recycling events, be sure to sort your plastics (along with paper, cardboard, metal, and glass) in your household or community recycling bins – and encourage your family and friends to do the same.
Plant New Trees
Trees are incredible; they naturally absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, clean our air, provide food and shelter for wildlife, and even improve soil and water quality. And with increasing global warming – every new tree planted represents a valuable greenhouse gas emissions offset.
Thankfully, there are several ways you can help to plant new trees – both directly and indirectly:
- Plant trees in your own yard or garden, which can also help to shade your home in summer and block cold winds in winter.
- Join a community tree-planting program and work together with people in your local area.
- Donate to organizations such as One Tree Planted, or The Nature Conservancy, which can plant new trees on your behalf.
- Support companies and brands that plant new trees with each purchase.
- Support reforestation projects by purchasing forestry carbon offsets
And if you want to help the environment every time you browse the internet, consider using the Ecosia search engine, which plants new trees in many countries around the world.
Eat Climate-Friendly Foods
You can also reduce your carbon footprint by focusing on what you eat – and where it comes from.
Reduce Your Beef Consumption
Did you know that, on average, every 100g of beef creates almost 50kg of greenhouse gasses? If you want to help the environment through simple actions, try to reduce the frequency and quantity of your beef consumption, eat chicken instead, or join the millions of people doing “meat-free Mondays”.
Eat More Plant-Based Foods
With red meat creating 10 to 40 times more greenhouse gasses than vegetables and grains, every plant-based meal helps to reduce carbon emissions. And while you may not want to go 100% meat-free, a diet featuring more vegetables, fruits, grains, seeds, and nuts is better for the environment – not to mention great for your health.
Try Dairy-Free Milk
Milk is a staple of the American diet, but thankfully, there’s a growing number of non-dairy alternatives with a significantly lower carbon footprint. The next time you’re at the grocery store, try milk made from soy, oats, almonds, rice, or one of the many other varieties now available.
Eat Foods From Your Local Area
In addition to what you eat, your food’s environmental impact is also influenced by how far it travels before arriving on your plate. The ideal solution is to buy fresh food directly from farmers and growers in your community, but beyond that, you can also pay closer attention to the food labels at the supermarket. Try to buy more food from American producers, and where possible, those in your local state or city.
Purchase Renewable Energy and RECs
Solar panels and wind farms are some of the most effective global warming solutions, not to mention some of the cheapest. When you power your home or business – and perhaps even your car – with renewable energy, you’re not only using emission-free electricity, but you’ll also save a lot of money in the long-run.
If you want to make the switch to clean energy but don’t know where to start, consider these options:
- Install solar panels on your home or business and generate your own renewable energy.
- Buy 100% clean energy from your utility, and if they don’t offer it, switch to one that does.
- Join a local renewable energy co-op or explore investing in a local community solar or wind farm.
- Purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to offset your electricity use.
In the fight against climate change, it’s clear that renewables are the future of electricity. And in addition to reducing your carbon footprint, every investment in clean energy helps to make the technology cheaper and more accessible – meaning that we all enjoy the benefits.
Re-Think Your Commute
Transportation is one of the primary contributors to climate change, and to turn things around, we need to reduce the number of cars on the road, transition to electric vehicles, and offset the emissions from air travel.
And so, the next time you’re about to jump behind the wheel, consider these alternatives:
Walk or Cycle When You Can
Many people drive to work, school, or the mall every day – even if they don’t need to. For shorter trips, try to walk or cycle instead, even if it’s just a few times a week. Not only will you reduce your carbon emissions, but you’ll also save money on fuel and improve your health at the same time.
Utilize Public Transport
If it’s not essential to drive, try to take public transport whenever you can. A study in New York City found that when people took the subway instead of a private car, they reduced the associated carbon emissions by up to 80%.
Make Your Next Car Electric
If it’s time to upgrade your car, there are dozens of all-electric models available from brands such as Honda, BMW, Hyundai, Chevrolet, and many others. And to make it even more appealing, you can use the Federal EV Tax Credit to save up to $7,500 on your purchase.
Buy Carbon Offsets When You Fly
Sometimes, it’s simply not possible to travel a long distance in a short amount of time without using air travel. But when you do fly, you can still eliminate the greenhouse gasses by purchasing carbon offsets – allowing you to travel the skies guilt-free.
Offset Your Remaining Carbon Emissions
If you follow some or all of the advice above, you’ll make a significant contribution to the fight against global warming. But for the remaining carbon emissions that are difficult or impossible to eliminate, you can also purchase carbon offsets to balance out your remaining CO2 footprint.
At Terrapass, we invest in projects throughout the US that help to reduce, prevent, and eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. If you’re committed to building a cleaner and more sustainable world, consider purchasing carbon offsets for yourself, your family, or your business – and help to set an example that others can follow.
As we learn more about the climate, we’re discovering that global warming is a complex problem with many different causes and solutions. And thanks to improving technology, changing attitudes, better education, and new ways for each of us to make a difference – we’re finally on a path towards a carbon-neutral world.