Reducing the Carbon Footprint 101

As you have probably read Maria’s article on Global Climate Change, I have thought of posting a few tips on how to reduce your personal carbon footprint. I have to underline here that if you haven’t had the chance to read her article yet, I strongly suggest you to do so. You won’t regret it, I promise. Now, we can move forward and understand, firstly, what the carbon footprint is, and secondly, what can we do to reduce it.

Carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gasses produced to directly or indirectly support human activities. Take for example the production of those delicious biscuits you eat in the morning for breakfast, or the electricity you use to charge your phone. Energy must be consumed and, usually, the result of its costs is the emission of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, such as methane, nitrous oxide and fluorinated gasses.

So what is left, is to apply some basic steps and eventually minimize the production of greenhouse gasses that trap the heat into the atmosphere, consequently increasing the temperature and causing climatic fluctuations. Below you can find a list of tips to reduce your carbon footprint:

  • Support local facilities. For example, on Saturday morning I usually take a walk to the farmers market and make a haul of the groceries I intend to consume during the week. By doing so, I spend far less money than I would doing otherwise, I show gratitude towards the farmers who have been working hard and actually eat seasonal and tasty food. The carbon emissions are in this way decreased due to the fact that the transportation distance is much shorter, but also because the farmers had used more sustainable techniques to produce the goods.
  • Plant-based diet. There are more and more studies being published on a daily basis that support a whole plant-based diet. The highest percentage of carbon emissions comes from cattle and crop (which is mainly produced to feed the cattle and not humans) cultivation. Switching to an alimentation based on plants not only improves your health, but also decreases the demand for meat and dairy production. I’m not suggesting you should become vegan, no; I suggest you to stick to the local production whenever possible, and instead of buying too much, buy the right amount. Food is not to be wasted!
  • Second hand. Buying used clothes, for instance, might seem odd for some people. Believe me, I have been there. But once you get into a super cool second hand store, you have just entered a new world. It is way cheaper and it boosts the creative side. We hear a lot about fast fashion nowadays and the most upsetting thing is that many people along with Mother Earth suffer from it.
  • Capsule wardrobe and minimalism. Even though we like to have everything handy, possessing a lot does not necessarily mean we are satisfied. For the last two years or so I have significantly decreased the number of possessions, and as a result, I am much happier and organised than I used to be. I have a few basic clothes that I can twist and re-twist and I spend far less time trying to find a suitable outfit. Same applies to having less objects.
  • Walk, run, cycle. Having a car is amazing, but it does not justify our way of using it. Every morning that I take the bus to university – even buses emit greenhouse gasses – I see traffic jams full of cars with only one person in them. Why? Then there is also the “I don’t feel like walking, running, etc.” excuse, which is basically the pure confirmation of our laziness. Cycle, skate or walk; it is a way to be more present, to notice, and to exercise.
  • Get creative. Whenever I want to buy something, I ask myself: “Am I going to use it?, Can I make it myself?” – “YES and YES!” So for example, I really want to eat cookies for breakfast. The easiest way would be to go to the store and buy a pack of them. Instead, I make them myself. I use the flour from my farmer friend, honey from my neighbours, etc.. Or whenever I need to nurture my skin and hair, I make some detailed research on the recipes online and proceed by mixing all up. At the beginning you might find it unsuccessful, but through time you learn and get creative. It is important here to stick to the 5 R’s, which stand for Refuse, Reduce, Recycle, Repurpose and Reuse.
  • Solar power. There are already a few very nice solar-powered appliances, take the power bank for example that charges your phone thanks to the solar power. A disadvantage here is that the material used for the production of that power bank, as well as for an electric car, is exploited from deep sea minerals and mine grounds from Africa. Thus a better mechanism is the dynamo, which maintains a magnetic field through rotating and can lastly be used for power.

I could go on and on with the list but I think you get the point. Our actions should not be underestimated at all. We have the ability and the knowledge to embark on the transformational path, in order to improve life. The most important thing you should keep in mind is that failure is inevitable. However, once you accept it, success awaits.

Have a good one!

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