REDUCING YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT

The single biggest thing that an individual can do to combat climate change is to stop eating animals. Animal agriculture directly or indirectly accounts for 14.5% of all greenhouse gas emissions, compared to all transportation – every ship, car, truck, plane on the planet only accounts for 13%. (James Cameron)

Carbon Footprint is a measure of the amount carbon dioxide expressed usually as the equivalent in kilograms or tonnes of carbon dioxide – t CO2e released into the atmosphere by a single endeavour or by a company, household, individual through day-to-day activities over a given period.

Livestock, Animal Agriculture & Food

In 2006, the ‘Food & Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations’ (FAO), released a report called ‘Livestock’s Long Shadow (Environmental Issues and Options)‘, which revealed that 18% of global greenhouse gas emissions result from livestock.

Numerous subsequent studies have detailed the deleterious climate impact of livestock, animal agriculture and the animal foods industries highlighted in the 2014 documentary “Cowspiracy“.

More recent studies show that food system emissions could account for as much as quarter of all human emissions. That’s 12% from agricultural production, another 9% from farming induced deforestation, and a further 3% from things like refrigeration and freight.

Eating plant-exclusive vegan foods has been proven to reduce a person’s carbon footprint by just over 50% when compared to other dietary lifestyles:

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Source: www.shrinkthatfootprint.com

How Else Can You Reduce Your Carbon Footprint?

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint From Driving

  • Alternatives to driving. When possible, walk or ride your bike in order to avoid carbon emissions completely. Carpooling and public transportation drastically reduce CO2 emissions by spreading them out over many riders
  • Drive a low carbon vehicle. High mileage doesn’t always mean low CO2 emissions. All vehicles have an estimated miles-per-gallon rating. Electric cars emit no CO2 if they’re charged with clean electricity
  • Driving style. Speeding and unnecessary acceleration reduce mileage by up to 33%, waste gas and money, and increase your carbon footprint
  • Tyre inflation and other tuning. Properly inflated tyres improve your fuel mileage by up to 3%. It also helps to use the correct grade of motor oil, and to keep your engine tuned, because some maintenance fixes, like fixing faulty oxygen sensors, can increase fuel efficiency by up to 40%
  • Avoid traffic. Being stuck in traffic wastes fuel and unnecessarily creates CO2. Use traffic websites and apps and go a different way or wait.
  • Combine errands to make fewer trips. Remove excess weight from your car. Use cruise control

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint From Air Travel

  • General. Until petroleum-based aviation fuel is replaced, you should avoid flying when possible, fly less frequently, fly shorter distances, and fly economy class
  • Leisure Air Travel. Take fewer and longer vacations that are far away, and more frequent and driveable “staycations” closer to home
  • Work Air Travel. Increase your use of video-conferencing tools like Skype and Facetime
  • What class? Economy class is best, for the same reasons as carpooling and public transportation. Each flyer’s share of a flight’s carbon emissions is relatively less because it’s spread out over more people
  • That’s Economy class. When Prince William flies economy class, he’s leading by example. Then there’s Prince Alwaleed bin Talal al-Saud, or the Sultan of Brunei, who buy entire economy-size planes and convert them into flying palaces
  • Don’t fly on private jets. Fly first or business class if you must, because at least those seats always fill up anyway, and avoid private jets.
  • Don’t be a space tourist! Richard Branson’s “spaceline” Virgin Galactic seeks to right the injustice that “most of our planet’s seven billion people have had no opportunity to experience space” and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin promises “life-changing views” of what’s left of our planet

Reduce Your Home Energy Carbon Footprint

  • Insulate and seal your home. Reduce drafts and air leaks with caulk, insulation, and weather stripping
  • Appliances. Make energy efficiency a primary consideration when choosing a new furnace, air conditioning unit, dishwasher, or refrigerator
  • Lighting. Turn off lights you’re not using and when you leave the room. Replace incandescent light bulbs with compact flourescent or LED ones
  • Thermostat. Don’t set it too high or low. Install a programmable model to turn off the heating/air conditioning when you’re not home
  • Solar. Add solar panels to the roof of your home. This costs a little more than the above options, but many providers offer financing options which minimize upfront costs
  • Unplug Your Gadgets. Completely powering off your gadgets isn’t just good for your devices, it’s good for the planet. What’s even better is unplugging your chargers when they’re not in use. If you’re someone who always leaves your phone charger dangling from the wall, doesn’t power off your cable box and forgets to put your computer on sleep mode, many of your tech behaviors can use some adapting. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adopting these practices can save you $100 each year on your energy bill
  • Choose a Laptop Over a Desktop. Laptops, unlike desktop computers, are designed to be energy-efficient, because battery life is a major factor to laptop design – a laptop can be up to 80% more energy-efficient than a desktop. Energy-efficient LCD screens, hard drives, CPUs and adaptors all factor into making makes laptops much better tools for the planet.

Other Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

  • Water usage. Lower the amount of energy used to pump, treat, and heat water by washing your car less often, using climate-appropriate plants in your garden, installing drip irrigation so that plants receive only what they need, and making water-efficient choices when purchasing shower heads, tap heads, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines
  • Reuse and recycle. It has been estimated that 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from the “provision of goods,” which means the extraction of resources, manufacturing, transport, and final disposal of “goods” which include consumer products and packaging, building components, and passenger vehicles, but excluding food. By buying used products and reselling or recyling items you no longer use, you dramatically reduce your carbon footprint from the “provision of goods”
  • Support clean energy sources. Whenever you can, advocate for clean alternatives to fossil fuels, such as wind, solar, geothermal, and appropriately designed hydroelectric and biomass energy projects
  • Buy Local Food. Love eating watermelon year-round? That’s great, but chances are, it isn’t grown anywhere near where you live during the winter. Purchasing foods that are both in season and grown locally can drastically cut down the carbon emissions of the vehicles used to transport your winter watermelon across the country. According to the Worldwatch Institute, food travels 1,500 miles on average between the farm and the supermarket. We bet you can find foods grown closer to your home if you try to find them.
  • Plant a Tree. This classic way to give back to the environment is one of the most efficient ways you can cut your carbon footprint. Trees provide shade and oxygen while consuming carbon dioxide. According to the Urban Forestry Network, a single young tree absorbs 13 pounds of carbon dioxide each year. That amount will climb up to 48 pounds annually as trees mature. Just one 10-year-old tree releases enough oxygen into the air to support two human beings.
  • Print or Digital, Be Mindful Reading the News. People have been debating the environmental costs of consuming news online versus reading the print paper since the beginning of the digital media revolution. Newspapers, according to one study, cause roughly their weight in carbon emissions. That said, surfing the web expends energy, the amount of which varies based on the device you use.

    The best policy to adopt when it comes to news consumption is to be mindful. If you subscribe to a print paper, be sure to recycle your paper every day. If online news is your preferred medium, chose an unplugged laptop or e-reader, rather than a plugged-in device for the majority of your browsing time.

Sources: http://cotap.org/reduce-carbon-footprint, www.mashable.com, shrinkthatfootprint.com, www.carbonindependant.org

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