Everyday experiences have proven that reducing one’s carbon footprint is not very easy. It seems like every move is bound to increase that number. However, there are a ton of ways to minimize this: walking or biking, meatless Mondays, solar panels, etc.
Simply put, carbon footprint is “the amount of greenhouse gases—primarily carbon dioxide—released into the atmosphere by a particular human activity.” Its principal source is the burning of fossil fuels. Its calculation is somehow complicated as establishments’ and products’ carbon footprints can also be considered as your own. From the mode of transportation and production, these are taken into account when talking about carbon footprint.
Having known this, here are ways you can significantly live a greener lifestyle:
The idea of Meatless Mondays is to abstain from eating any meat-based protein for one day a week. This substantially reduces one’s carbon footprint as meat production entails carbon emissions from transportation, processing, and even feeding. As a matter of fact, according to environmental activist Denis Hayes, “The amount of carbon dioxide that is given off per pound of beef is, in fact, greater [than burning a gallon of gasoline].” Numbers also show that the median footprints of plant-based sources of protein are lesser than the lowest footprint of any meat-based product.
Most people raise concerns about getting enough protein, and there are several plant-based options for this–such as tofu, beans, peas, and nuts. Aside from the environmental effects, this shift in diet can improve health by reducing the risks of cardiovascular diseases.
Walking is said to have several benefits to our health. It’s a simple way to exercise without stressing the legs too much. It also encourages creative thinking and enhances thought processes. However, the convenience and time-efficiency that are often brought about by driving undermine these benefits. Instead of taking a walk to a store that’s just a block away, people choose to drive. Sometimes, people even go on drives to take a break and relax.
What people don’t know–or choose to ignore–is that cars are one of the leading sources of carbon emissions. They contribute to 26% of the greenhouse gases that continue to destroy the environment. Therefore, by choosing to walk to places, one can significantly reduce this number, reducing their carbon footprint while also improving their health.
Unlike Meatless Mondays and driving less, this option is more of an investment, but as the years go by, the savings from the energy bill will return this investment. Since the sun is an abundant source of this renewable energy, installing a few solar panels at home in Utah can help power lighting, which contributes 5% of the total energy consumption.
By using renewable energy to power businesses and homes, the burning of coal and other fossil fuels is reduced. The average annual energy consumption of an American household with solar panel systems is 8,288 kilowatt-hours (kWh), saving them 24% of the usual energy consumption.
The key is awareness
Sometimes, it’s easy to pay little attention to our impact on the environment, but the best way to incorporate eco-friendly practices into our lives is to learn more about what’s going on on the planet. Knowing the effects of individual decisions that we make every day can help us shift to a better option, may it be taking a walk, eating less meat, or investing in renewable energy.