If people make simple lifestyle changes, they can help rein in consumption that is accelerating the climate crisis.
A new study found that making basic commitments could contribute to emissions reductions required to keep global warming down to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The study, conducted by Leeds University academics and analyzed by the global engineering firm Arup and the C40 group of world cities, was published on Monday, accompanied by a campaign to push people to make a leap to live a more sustainable way of life.
“This ends once and for all the debate about whether citizens can have a role in protecting our earth. We don’t have time to wait for one group to act, we need ‘all action from all actors now,’” said Tom Bailey, co-founder of the “Take the Jump” campaign, per The Guardian.
The effects of climate change are already widespread and there is only a “brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future,” according to the latest assessment of climate science by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
In case you’re interested in calculating your carbon footprint before you begin the journey, use this. If you want to learn how much money and carbon you can save by taking some of these steps, use the Environmental Protection Agency’s calculator.
Here are some of the ways to shrink your carbon footprint when it comes to food, clothing, travel and home.
Meat and dairy production are major contributors of greenhouse gas, causing up to 14% of emissions globally, according to one study. In fact, five meat and milk companies produce more combined emissions every year than major oil companies.
Most experts agree that cutting down on meat is a better choice for the environment because resources like feed, water and land are extensively used, while vegetarian or pescatarian diets are even better for the environment. Eating low on the food chain, in general, is advised. This means eating more vegetables, fruits, grains and beans.
Reducing food waste by planning ahead and reusing or freezing leftovers, as well as composting food waste, can further lower your carbon footprint.
Trendy, cheap clothes often get tossed out fast. Around 85% of textile in the U.S. ends up in landfills, as the average American throws out an estimated 81 pounds of clothing each year, according to BBC. Additionally, most fast fashion, produced in countries like China or Bangladesh, is shipped to the U.S. and that requires fossil fuels as well.
Buying vintage or recycled clothing can significantly reduce waste. As for washing clothes, 90% of the energy used by your washing machine goes towards heating the water. The cleaning enzymes in the detergent are also designed to work better with cold water. Washing laundry in cold water can save up to 500 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
Walking, riding a bike, carpooling or using public transportation can offset emissions. An average car emits close to 5 metric tons of carbon dioxide each year.
A majority of electricity mostly comes from natural gas, so switching up your personal transportation options is a good idea. Avoiding unnecessary braking and acceleration while driving can also be helpful, as studies show that aggressive driving can result in 40% more fuel consumption.
As for air travel, avoid flying when possible on shorter trips. Additionally, flying nonstop can eliminate more fuel used for landings and takeoffs.
Most energy used in a home goes toward heaters, hot water and air conditioning, while a small percentage is used on appliances.
Turning down heat and the water heater, and turning off lights and appliances when not using them, are helpful habits. Lightbulbs waste 90% of energy they use, while light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, use a quarter of the energy and last 25 times longer.
If possible, keep electric products and home appliances for at least seven years or make sure to recycle your products properly.