How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

If you listen to the scientist and the facts they present, you’ll agree that climate change is a real thing, Although it seems like big corporations are the ones that will turn us around, I’m here to say, that the impact we have as individuals will be the real sparkplug for change.

Hopefully, as individuals, we can make big course corrections with our ballots. While this opportunity might not happen as often as we would like there are other ways we can make the change.

We can also reward those companies that focus on green products and services by using them over their not-so-green competitors.

Either way, there are choices and actions we can take every day to reduce our impact on the Earth. This article will be a guide showing you how to reduce your carbon footprint by making small changes in your day to day life. With a collective effort from everyone, we can make a difference.

What is the Carbon Footprint?

To start this guide off we need to know what we’re reducing. As defined by our carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated by our actions.

When these gases are left in the atmosphere, it leads to the warming of the planet. As individuals, our biggest contributor to the carbon footprint is our travel, food, consumption, and housing energy. I’ll take a closer look at these items and discuss what we can do to lower our footprint within these contributors.

How to Calculate Your Carbon Footprint

The type of food you eat, the kind of car you drive, how far you drive each week, and a bunch of other variables will contribute to the amount of your carbon footprint. Here is a simple tool to help you calculate your carbon footprint, and it will also show how you rank relative to others like you.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint with Travel

As you probably guessed, our travel emits a large amount of carbon. A great way to start reducing our individual footprint is to rethink how much we travel. While going without a car, or getting an electric vehicle would be ideal, it’s also fairly unrealistic.

If we’re going to reduce our carbon footprint, there’s no use in being pie-in-the-sky about it. If we set our expectations too high, they’ll be hard to follow and you’ll return to your old ways. So here’s a few things you can do today to help reduce your carbon footprint when it comes to travel.

  • Drive Miss Daisy – What I mean here is to go easy on the gas. Driving efficiently will not only be easier on your gas mileage it will be better for the environment.
  • Carpool – Carpooling is a straight-forward approach to reducing emissions and gases, which lead to a healthier environment. Not to mention, by carpooling there are fewer cars on the road, fewer cars idling at stops, which helps with traffic congestion and is easier on our roads.
  • Tire Pressure – Did you know that every gallon of fuel a vehicle consumes results in 20 lbs of carbon dioxide release, contributing to escalating environmental pollution. If you’re getting poor gas mileage because your tires aren’t inflated to their recommended pressure, you’re contributing more than you need to be. Be sure your tires are at the proper PSI year-round.
  • Use Cruise Control – Similarly to properly inflated tires, by using cruise control you can get up to 15% better gas mileage. Again, better miles per gallon translates to fewer gas emissions.
  • Longer Vacations – Yeah, use up some of that vacation time you’ve been accruing. By taking longer vacations, hopefully, you’ll travel a bit less. And when possible, use direct flights. Just like a vehicle, the constant stop and start (take-off and landing) produce more emissions.
  • Pack Light – This goes for any kind of travel. If you’re driving, don’t carry around unnecessary weight, it will only hurt your gas mileage. If flying, the more you pack, the heavier your carbon footprint. Think light weight!

What kinds of foods we consume is another contributor to our carbon footprint.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint with Food

Learn how to reduce your carbon footprint at home by reducing the amount of waste.

Just to address the elephant in the room, yes, cow farts and burps are a contributor to emissions. An even bigger concern when it comes to cows is how much of an impact it takes to have a hamburger sitting on our plate.

Meat and dairy production is one of the world’s biggest sources of climate-altering gases. This is because feeding and tending to cows take up a lot of land and resources to maintain.

When carbon-absorbing land is converted to farmland the carbon loan into the atmosphere increases. Without the forest and wetlands there to absorb the carbon and methane gases, we are contributing to global warming.

One report shows that over 12 million acres are converted to agriculture production each year. While we need farmland to feed hungry mouths, how much farmland is necessary?

And when beef requires about twice as much land per gram of protein as other animal proteins (chicken and pork), and 20 times as much land as the equivalent amount of protein from beans, we need to consider our food intake. Here a few things to chew on regarding our carbon footprint and eating.

  • Eat Local – A significant amount of greenhouse gas emissions are produced as a result of producing and transporting food, so buying local can help reduce this impact. It also helps to keep your money local and grow the local economy.
  • Eat Less Beef – This is kind of a no-brainer. A study from 2017 says red meat can have up to 100 times the environmental impact of plant-based food. I know that going vegan isn’t for everybody, so start small by switching out the burger for a chicken sandwich. This allows you to still get animal protein while helping the environment.
  • Use Less Disposable Dinnerwear – Sometimes using disposable dinner wear is inevitable. But don’t use it, just so you don’t have to clean it. If you are using disposable containers when possible use climate-friendly containers and dinner wear.
  • Reduce Your Food Waste – Americans waste about 40% of the food they buy. To help with this, here are a few things you can do.
    • Review your fridge and use things that are still fresh before they spoil.
    • Buy in bulk. If you’re going to actually consume all the food, you might as well pay less, and reduce the amount of waste in packaging.
    • Don’t cook for an army. If you’re planning meals, make sure you’re cooking the right amount of food. Leftovers have a way of getting tossed in the trash.
    • Use your freezer. If you do have leftovers or are buying family packs, use your freezer to help prevent food from spoiling.
    • Use doggie bags. Not so much at home, but when you go out. If you can’t eat the entire meal, take it home, so it doesn’t get put in the trash.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint at Home

Learn how to reduce your carbon footprint at home.

Similarly, to making changes at the dinner table, there are things we can do around the house to reduce our impacts. In the average American home, 25 percent of energy is used to heat spaces, 13 percent is used to heat water, 11 percent is used for cooling and the remainder is spent on appliances.

With the global pandemic happening (at the time of this article) a lot of us are spending much more time at home. As you go about your house, here are a few things you can do to help reduce energy consumption at home.

  • Lower The Heat – If you can, use a programmable thermostat to keep the house just a few degrees cooler during the winter and few degrees warmer during the summer. Use fans during the summer, and put on a sweater during the winter to help minimize any comfort impacts.
  • Set Your Water Heater – I love a warm shower as much as anybody, but how often do you crank it all the way up? Probably, hardly ever. Water at 120 degrees is sufficient for home use. Any energy used to heat water, that isn’t needed is wasted energy.
  • Turn Off Lights – Your parents probably told you this as a kid, because they were paying the power bill. Now that you’re paying the bill, turning off lights, when they’re not needed helps reduce your bill and saves the environment.
  • Use A Laptop – Just about everyone has a home computer these days. If you can, go with an energy-saving laptop vs a desk computer.
  • Replace Old Light Bulbs – Light bulbs have made leaps and bounds since Edison brightened our lives with them. Using energy-efficient, long-lasting light bulbs is an easy swap to make.
  • Set The Fridge – Just like your house temperature and your hot water heater, setting your refrigerator at an appropriate temperature can help reduce energy consumption. Setting it between 35-38 degrees is great. And do the same with the freezer. Zero degrees is recommended.
  • Choose Energy Star – When it comes time to replace appliances, look for products that are certified by Energy Star. These energy and water-efficient products use less energy to operate and are better for the environment.

All of the things mentioned above are things you can do to reduce your carbon output. There are things you can do to your house that will help with conserving energy.

By conserving energy, we help reduce the amount of carbon production it takes to produce that energy. Here is a list of things you can do to make your home more energy-efficient.

Home Energy Efficient Tips

  • Seal your home well. Over time, houses can start to leak a bit, and constantly using energy to cool or heat your home, only to have it leak out, is not only costly but wasteful.
  • Check your attic, window, and doors for spots that might leak heat or a/c.
  • Insulate your home. This goes without saying, but using insulation will help reduce energy consumption.
  • Install solar. Solar is becoming more affordable and if you’re in your house long enough, the long-term savings can add up. You can start small by using DIY solar panel systems, or go big and totally convert your house. Either way, using renewable sources will reduce your use and dependence on the power grid.
  • Replace any old windows that aren’t energy-efficient.

Reduce Carbon Footprint as a Consumer

Stop single use plastic packaging to help reduce energy, and help stop climate change.

The final topic I want to discuss is consumption. Not so much food consumption, but the act of being a smart consumer. While it’s easy to blame the government or big companies, what we buy as individuals have an impact. Being more aware of the products and services we consume, can help reduce our carbon footprint. Here are a few things to keep in mind as a consumer.


When it comes to buying new clothes, yes, it’s necessary for when your clothes get worn out, but be wise about buying clothes in excess. Some things to consider when shopping for clothes:

  • Purchase fewer new clothes for fashion – While you don’t need to walk around in bell-bottoms (though I’m not saying you shouldn’t) but shopping vintage can save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Consider how much use you’ll get out of them – hile movie stars are notorious for getting outfits that they wear once on the red carpet, don’t let this influence the number of times you should be wearing your clothes. Before buying consider if this article of clothing is one that you’ll wear repeatedly or only a few times.
  • The type of fabric matters – The type of fabric the clothing is made from, has different impacts on the environment. Try using natural fabrics like wool over synthetic material.
  • Donate your old clothes – If it doesn’t fit the kids anymore, get a tax deduction, and donate it to a non-profit. Better yet, donate it to another family that has kids who could use the same clothing. This keeps it out of the landfill and the clothing gets more mileage.


Outside of shopping for clothes, like at the local grocery store, be sure to use your own bags. If you’re only buying a few items you can carry, skip the bagging altogether. And when it comes to produce, skip the plastic bags unless absolutely necessary. Any kind of single-use items that require packaging is a no go as well.

Why is Reducing Your Carbon Footprint Important?

If you’re reading this I’m guessing you have a certain level of understanding of climate change and global warming. The thirty thousand foot view of why it’s important is because greenhouse gas emissions trap heat. This heat is warming our globe, and as a result it’s changing our climate.

While climate change has been on-going forever, the continuous warming we’re experiencing is unlike any change humans have ever had to live with. The changes we’re currently seeing are causing havoc, and the future is uncertain if the temperature of the planet continues to increase.

Conclusion of Minimizing Your Carbon Footprint

It can be difficult to make some of the changes mentioned above, but by starting small, we can all do our part to help the environment. The big takeaway is using energy-efficient and water-saving products and services. Consider the small adjustments you can make to consume less.

If you want to save yourself some money and never have to buy another battery again, learn how to refurbish your current batteries here.

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts