By Meriem Cherif
Lush greenery, flowing rivers, and clear skies— Earth is beautiful. Unfortunately, our treatment of the planet has been disheartening. With pollution increasing by the day, long term consequences are beginning to show themselves, like rising sea levels and larger wildfires. Luckily, we can work toward leading a life where we are conscious of the impact we have on Earth, by learning about our carbon footprint, and taking the necessary steps to reduce it.
An individual’s carbon footprint is their total contribution to greenhouse gas emissions, based on many factors like amount of travel, lifestyle, purchases made, and the products used. Filling out a carbon footprint calculator is a good way to gauge your environmental impact on the Earth, and make adjustments to lessen the number.
Perhaps the biggest contributor to a high carbon footprint is travel and transportation. With millions of cars on the road and hundreds of planes traveling overhead, carbon emission levels climb quickly. To reduce your impact, use public transportation and carpooling as much as possible (and safely). If you have a friend who takes the same route to work as you everyday, opt for driving each other and switching off each week. You will reduce your carbon footprint, have a friend to talk to on your commute, and save money on gas, too!
When it comes to flight, there are many organizations that can help you carbon offset your trip, by calculating the carbon emissions of the plane and determining a donation amount that can go to environmental efforts worldwide. My Climate makes the process quick and easy.
Another significant portion of our carbon footprint comes from the consumption of food. Since less water waste and greenhouse gas emissions come from growing produce, try making more vegetarian meals throughout the week, substituting meat for vegetables and grains. Another easy switch is to visit your farmer’s market rather than a large grocery store. When food is sourced locally, less carbon emissions come from transporting food down the highway in a truck, all the way from different states or even countries. If the farmer’s market is too expensive or hard to visit, buying in bulk is another fantastic option to easily shrink your carbon footprint. Not only does it save money, buying food in bulk reduces the plastic packaging waste that would go in landfills and spend up to 1,000 years decomposing.
Making little changes in your lifestyle can make the world of a difference for our environment, keeping the planet beautiful for generations to come!