We all hear about reducing our carbon footprint, but what does it mean? To put it simply, reducing your carbon footprint reduces the number of actions that lead to the generation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases trap heat in our atmosphere and make our planet warmer, leading to global warming. The largest source of greenhouse emissions from human activity is from burning fossil fuels for heat, electricity, and transportation.
By making these small changes to your daily routine, you can start to reduce your carbon footprint and help Mother Earth.
1. Eat Locally
Shopping locally has numerous benefits for the environment and can dramatically reduce your household’s carbon footprint. Produce at the supermarket needs to be transported across hundreds of miles and stored in a cool environment. This expends a lot of energy and increases carbon emissions. Shopping at a farmers’ market cuts out transportation, gives you fresher produce, supports your local farmers, and keeps your dollars local to support your community.
There are a bunch of farmers’ markets that are open on Saturdays throughout Kitsap County. Kingston’s Public Market is open from May – October on Saturdays from 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM. Poulsbo Farmers Market and Bainbridge Island Farmers’ Market are both open from April – November on Saturdays from 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM.
2. Use Different Transportation Options
Biking and/or using public transportation significantly reduces your carbon footprint. Washington State is even starting to switch to clean energy for ferries by converting its diesel-fueled ferries to hybrid-electric propulsion.
Though this information is helpful, we understand that these options don’t meet every household’s needs. There are times where you cannot avoid driving your car. Luckily, there are ways in which you can drive your vehicle to be more energy-efficient and reduce the vehicle’s carbon emissions. One way is to keep your car up-to-date and make sure your vehicle meets your state’s emissions standards. Turning off the air conditioning and utilizing cruise control on long trips can reduce your carbon emissions as well. If you are in the market for a new vehicle, consider purchasing an electric power car or a hybrid option. These cars often cost less to operate in the long run.
3. Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
Let’s not forget this catchy phrase that our teachers taught us. Some of us may have fallen out of practice, but no time like the present to start back up!
Here are some steps you can take:
- Reduce your consumption by merely buying less. Avoid items with a lot of packaging, and reduce the amount of unnecessary electricity you are using.
- Reuse certain household items to help reduce your consumption and save money over time. Buy reusable bags, kitchen towels, compostable sandwich bags, and beeswax storage wraps. They’ll cut down your waste, are easy to use over and over, and can reduce your plastic consumption.
- Recycle items that are at the end of their lifespan. Reusing an item can only last so long, so make sure you dispose of it correctly.
4. Conduct an Energy Audit
Your house may be using energy inefficiently, raising your electricity bill. By performing a simple energy audit and making small changes around the house, you can reduce both your electricity bill and carbon footprint at the same time. Common ways we use energy in our home inefficiently are leaving unnecessary lights on for long periods, not unplugging electronic devices when they’re not in use, and using incandescent light bulbs.
Incandescent light bulbs waste a lot of energy because much of it is converted into heat. Switching to LEDs might be a little more expensive up front, but they last 25 times longer while only using a quarter of the energy. To take this up a notch, check out our guide to solar power.
Excessive use of water can also add to our carbon footprint. Taking mindful and shorter showers can help. And, lowering our water heaters to 120˚F can save hundreds of pounds of CO2 emissions a year.
Stopping or slowing the pace of climate change won’t happen overnight, but by implementing small changes to our daily routine, we can reduce our collective impact.