Here are top twenty ways from which you can reduce your carbon footprint based on research by Union of Concerned Scientists and the groundbreaking climate solutions book Drawdown. Other top actions are also listed – from supporting climate reducing organizations to organizing community efforts to reduce our collective carbon footprint.
The first two are the most efficient ways to make a big impact in just minutes – the bottom line is that as many of us as possible need to become carbon neutral and these steps accomplish that goal. They also support the creation of long-term, large scale renewable energy plants and carbon reduction installations (such as methane capturing systems).
- Switch to a renewable energy option through your utility or a certified renewable energy provider (U.S. and Canada). The one of the most and efficient way is to plant some trees to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.
- Calculate your carbon footprint and buy carbon offsets from a certified provider (U.S. and Canada) (you can always reduce payments later as you make other changes).
The UCS chart offers guidance on the most effective steps we can take:
3. Minimize driving by setting concrete reduction goals and walking, biking, carpooling and using public transit as much as possible. Set a goal of walking or biking anywhere within 2 miles of your home. By using this you can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.
4. Take the time to research the energy efficiency of large purchases as these offer the biggest opportunities to reduce your ongoing impact:
- home (size, proximity to work/stores (check the walk score) and energy efficiency)
- equipment and appliances (energy star)
- autos (buy used, electric/hybrid, lowest emissions or choose a car-free lifestyle)
5. Minimize purchases of new products, especially resource-intensive, heavy or heavily-packaged products. Try to reuse the products as much you can and this small step can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.
6. Embrace a minimalist lifestyle. Declutter your home and donate unneeded items to charity. Buy, borrow or rent used clothing, electronics, house decorations and furniture, cars and other products whenever possible. By using old products not new one you can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.
7. Reduce energy use. Quick steps:
- Focus mainly on buying efficient space heating/cooling and water heating.
- Minimize use of fireplaces or wood stoves.
- Keep up on regular equipment maintenance.
- Add insulation and weatherstripping – especially for doors, windows, attic and attic door.
- Buy energy efficient office equipment.
- Take the zero-volt challenge to quickly and easily reduce your electric bill.
- Switch to LED lightbulbs.
- Check lights, appliances, and curtains every morning and night and anytime you leave home.
- Seal your heating and cooling ducts.
- Wash clothes in cold water and hang them to dry.
- Plant some trees.
- Install a programmable thermostat and don’t set it too high or low.
- Unplug unused electronics to minimize standby power consumption.
8. Check lights, appliances, and curtains every morning and night and anytime you leave home.
9. Consider installing solar panels on your home.
10. Reduce water use (buy low flow shower and faucet heads, water efficient toilets/washing machines/dishwashers, check for leaks, buy native drought-tolerant plants, etc.).
11. Compost your food waste. This is one of best and easy way to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.
12. Support organizations that educate, protect and empower girls and women (and stabilize our population) such as Camfed.org, Girls Not Brides, Tostan, and Population Services International.
13. Choose low energy-intensive activities (i.e., hiking vs. sky diving, kayaking vs. powerboats, electric vs. gasoline-powered yard equipment).
14. Recycle as much as possible, even when traveling, and buy products with recycle-able/minimal packaging. Search online for ways to recycle hard-to-recycle items in your local community. Don’t use plastic and try to use things as much as you can and this can help you to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint.
15. Fly less and, when you do fly, purchase carbon offsets (select “Individual” then click on the airplane icon to view the airplane carbon calculator). Here is explained how you can Reduce Your Carbon Footprint From Air Travel.
16. Vote like your future depends on it – because it does! Always vote in every election for the candidate who is most likely to support climate-friendly policies. Ask your elected officials to support a carbon fee and dividend policy to provide incentives for companies and individuals to reduce carbon emissions.
17. Support climate action organizations. Research the companies you buy from (especially ongoing purchases). If they aren’t reducing greenhouse gases themselves and supporting action on climate change, switch to a company that is.
18. Choose green hotels and encourage hotels you visit to green their practices.
19. Learn more about climate change and share what you learn with others (Climate Change: What Is It, Proof It’s Happening and What You Can Do About It).
20. Encourage and support greenhouse-reducing practices in your community:
- City/town (best practices: California and Minnesota in the USA and in Europe).
- Neighborhood (join with neighbors to walk through the excellent Resilient Neighborhoods program).
- Hold a junk mail reduction party with your neighbors, friends and family.