Carbon Footprints

Carbon footprint is a bit of a buzzword, but it is important to know if you want to live more sustainably. Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide that you personally put into the atmosphere. Depending on your lifestyle, you might have a big or small carbon footprint. You can check your impact here and see how you stack up. If your number was a bit of a shock and you’d like to do something about it, don’t worry. I’ve got simple tips that go beyond bolting solar panels to your roof and using hybrid cars (which are good ideas and if you can do them, do it).

One thing I’ll ask you to do is be smarter. Less driving means less gas usage and less carbon dioxide pollution, so drive smart when you can. Carpool with a coworker or group your errands together. Shop a little smarter, too. Buy products that use less packaging. Use those fabric, reusable bags when you’re grocery shopping instead of getting those plastic ones that just rip while you’re trying to get your stuff into the house anyway. I thought shopping with reusable bags was going to be a hassle but I don’t have a huge ball of plastic bags with holes in them stuffed in a drawer somewhere anymore. It has become a reflex.

If you can’t be bothered with all that, I get it. Maybe you aren’t a big planner or it seems like a hassle. Then this paragraph is for you, because it’s all stuff you can do stuff at home. Recycle and reuse things! When you create less garbage for our landfills, you reduce your negative impact on the environment. Put a recycling bin right next to your trash can and it will feel like almost zero effort! Install aerators on your faucets or just take shorter showers and less baths. Use cold water more often when you’re doing things like laundry and washing dishes. Heating water takes a tremendous amount of energy, so any changes you can make will have an impact on both your carbon footprint AND your wallet. How’s that for motivation?

Another thing that you can do as you go along is replace lightbulbs and appliances with more energy efficient models. I’m not suggesting that you toss out your fridge and trash all your lightbulbs right now – then you’d just be creating more garbage and defeating the purpose. I’m saying lightbulbs burn out and appliances break. When that happens, don’t just look for the cheapest options. Get something with a good energy star rating too. You may think they are more expensive – sometimes the upfront cost is a little more, I won’t lie – but they are cheaper to run over time, so you’ll make that money back (and then some).

I’ve got one more suggestion: take care of your stuff. That means doing the recommended maintenance on your car so it runs as efficiently as possible. It also means changing the air filter in your furnace when you’re supposed to. Seal leaks in your house when you feel drafts. Make sure your home is properly insulated so you don’t have to run the heating and cooling as much. If you have a constantly running toilet or a leaky faucet, fix them. All that maintenance will be a small inconvenience when compared to the financial savings and positive environmental impact.

See, I told you, these are little things that you can do easily. Try a few of them and see how you feel. Then do a few more. Your carbon footprint will decrease, your utility bills will decrease, and you’ll have more money in your pocket.