8 easy things you can do to decrease your carbon footprint
With Australia facing longer and more dangerous bushfire seasons each year and the Amazon rainforest being lost at a rate of 150 acres (roughly the area of a football field) every second, you may understandably be concerned about your carbon footprint.
The current climate situation might seem insurmountable, but we can all play our part. It's not an all-or-nothing fix -- every positive change, no matter how trivial, is worthwhile. And if there is enough momentum with personal changes, the systemic solutions that are necessary are more likely to follow.
Even seemingly inconsequential adjustments are helpful if enough people commit to them, so don't obsess over leading a zero-waste lifestyle. Just look for ways you can be gentler on the earth by reducing your consumption of resources and your production of waste.
These products represent eight easy things you can do to decrease your carbon footprint in 2020 and beyond. Because you can't remove yourself from the modern economy entirely, but you can be more mindful of how you interact with the world.
1. Waste less while heating your home
Google Nest Learning Thermostat: $249 at The Home Depot
If you can reduce the amount of energy you use at home, it follows that your carbon footprint will decrease -- not to mention your energy bills. Average users of Nest thermostats save 12% on heating and 15% on cooling. It's also a hugely convenient way of controlling your heating and air conditioning to make sure you're using both in an energy-efficient way.
Suptikes Door Draft Stopper: $8.49 at Amazon (was $19.99)
Something as simple and inexpensive as this draft stopper means you can probably turn your thermostat down a degree or two since it stops hot air from leaving the room and cold air entering via drafty doors. Make sure your home is properly insulated to ensure that you aren't wasting energy by letting hot air escape.
2. Buy shoes that aren't wasteful
Allbirds Women's Tree Runners: $95 at Allbirds
Choosing to buy from eco-friendly companies decreases your carbon footprint compared to buying similar products from manufacturers with poor eco-credentials. Not only do these trendy sneakers earn their green credentials by being made entirely from trees, but they're also made by a company that buys carbon offsets to make itself carbon neutral.
Rothy's shoes: $125+ at Rothy's
The basic flat shoe is found in millions of closets around the world, but the carbon cost of buying new clothing and footwear might have you tempted to scour the thrift stores. Luckily, you can buy new with a small carbon footprint if you buy from an eco-friendly brand. Though you'd never guess it, Rothy's popular flats are made from recycled plastic bottles.
3. Educate yourself on other changes you can make
Sustainable Home by Christine Liu: $16.78 at Amazon
Making changes around the house, such as upcycling old items or growing your own vegetables, goes a long way to reducing your carbon footprint. This book is jam-packed with handy tips for creating a sustainable home, room by room, so you can take the advice that works best for you and your family.
4. No more lights left on
Wyze 800 Lumens 60-Watt Equivalent Smart Light Bulb: $11.98 at Home Depot
This lightbulb has a two-pronged carbon-reducing approach. First off, thanks to LED technology, it's the equivalent brightness of a 60-watt bulb but only uses 9.5 watts, decreasing the amount of power it consumes. Secondly, it's compatible with smart home systems, so you can turn it on and off remotely and are therefore less likely to leave it on when you don't need it.
5. Be smart in the kitchen
Bee's Wrap Reusable Beeswax Food Wraps: $12.75 at Amazon (was $18)
Reducing your reliance on plastic (especially single-use plastic) will see your carbon footprint reduced. Using beeswax wraps (or a plant-based alternative) instead of plastic food wrap will keep plastic out of landfills and save you money over time since you can reuse your beeswax wraps indefinitely.
Eco-Life Home Design Wheat Fiber Bento Box: $22.99 at Amazon
Taking a packed lunch to work rather than grabbing takeout helps decrease your carbon footprint by avoiding single-use containers. Even better if it means you're more likely to use up your leftovers rather than throwing them out and contributing to food waste. This wheat fiber bento box will also break down in a commercial compost facility when it finally wears out.
6. Drive less
Devinci E-Cartier Urban Bike: $2,218.99 at Backcountry (was $3,169.00)
Cycling is a far more eco-friendly alternative to driving, but not all of us are up to the task of commuting long distances, especially in hilly areas. An e-bike gives you the boost you need to go further and faster. Opting to bike instead of drive or take a bus makes a hugely significant difference in your personal emissions.
7. Seriously, no more plastic bottles
Hydro Flask Wide Mouth Water Bottle: $44.95+ at Amazon
We all know why bottled water is bad (a small 17-ounce bottle takes about 828 grams of carbon to produce -- more if shipped from overseas), but it's easy to get caught needing a drink when you're out and about. Committing to carrying a reusable water bottle is a simple yet effective way to decrease your footprint, plus it will save you money in the long run.
8. Update your appliances
Samsung High-Efficiency Front Load Washing Machine with Steam: $648 at Home Depot (was $899)
Considering how often the average household uses its washer, switching to a highly efficient ENERGY STAR rated model, like this Samsung, will reduce both your energy bills and your carbon footprint. Aim to replace each of your home appliances with energy-efficient alternatives as they wear out.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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