Just like Big Foot roaming the Pacific Northwest, we also leave major footprints behind… the kind that can affect the environment in a ‘big’ way. That’s right, a lot of what we do and experience throughout our daily lives can create greenhouse gas emissions. Whether we realize it or not, we have a direct impact on how much carbon dioxide enters our atmosphere. And too much CO2 is not good for me or you.
The average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is roughly 16 tons [cue the Tennessee Ernie Ford song], one of the highest rates in the world. For comparison, the global average is closer to 4 tons. In order to curb the rise in global temperatures, the average global carbon footprint per person needs to drop under 2 tons by 2050. So how do we go from 16 tons all the way down to 2 tons!? Well, I’m sure you’re brimming with curiosity! In fact, there are changes, even small adjustments, that a person can do on their own that can make a big difference.
Let’s start with a fun exercise: If you’re curious about how large of a carbon footprint you, personally, are leaving – take a gander at this Carbon Footprint Calculator.
Then peruse the following ideas to incorporate into your own daily lives:
- Drive less. If you were to go carless for a year, you could save about 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide. You can try taking a train, bus, or even ride a bike. For most people though, getting rid of your vehicle is a bit extreme. For me, hell would have to freeze over before I consider biking to work. However, here are some helpful hints to make your commute more “climate-friendly”. A person can reduce emissions by going easy on the gas and brakes. Regularly servicing your car, ensuring your tires are properly inflated, using cruise control, cutting down on A/C, and carpooling are all easy changes one can make to your driving habits.
- Eat less meat. This one is particularly tough for me because I LOVE meat. No offense to the veggie-only eaters out there but there’s not many things more delicious than a grilled ribeye steak. But experts mostly agree that cutting down on meat, especially red meat, is a better choice for the planet. This is because the production of red meat uses a lot of feed, water, and land. There are also the cows who pass off a lot of harmful methane gas (the dreadful silent but deadlies). Overall, eating further down the food chain (such as the Mediterranean diet) is a good way to reduce your carbon footprint and also stay healthy!
- Waste less. I’ve written about this topic in other blogs but it’s a BIG topic. On average, Americans waste 40% of the food they buy. To me, that’s essentially throwing dollars away. Some simple solutions are to plan meals ahead of time, be wary of buying in bulk, be creative with leftovers, and freeze food not needed within a couple of days!
- Home Energy Solutions. In the average American home, a lot of energy is wasted on heating, cooling, and appliances. There are a handful of small changes that can be made without renovating an entire home or breaking the bank. A programmable thermostat can be used to keep the heat or A/C from running when you’re not at home. Another idea… try turning down the water heater. Do you really need to bathe in scalding flames? Or consider unplugging lights and appliances when not in use (also known as energy vampires). And those curly looking light bulbs? Yep, LED lights use up to 85% less energy and last almost 25x longer than your traditional incandescent lights. Finally, when buying new products, such as appliances, look for that Energy Star symbol which means it has been certified to be energy efficient.
This is just a short list of what anyone can do to reduce their carbon footprint. Many ideas I have blogged about previously, such as recycling, are easy ways to make a long-term environmental impact (and to create those good vibes that you’re doing something to help!).
Here at the Stump Farm, where White Raven Financial is located, we actively try to reduce our carbon footprint either on the grounds, or in our everyday lives. The office is tightly sealed and insulated to be more energy efficient. LED bulbs are used for lighting. And the flooring is made from cork, which happens to provide excellent thermal and acoustical properties! Come visit us to see how else we are reducing our carbon footprint!
Thanks for reading ~