The average US citizen’s carbon footprint is about 20 tons. That means that they produce an annual amount of CO2 equivalent to the emissions from driving a car 50,000 miles. A variety of activities contribute to this footprint, including electricity usage, fuel consumption, and even food choices.
This post will break down what has the biggest impact on an individual’s carbon footprint and how to reduce it through simple changes in daily habits.
1. Reduce meat consumption
Some environmental experts believe that food consumption may be one of the leading contributors. It takes about 2,000 pounds worth of fossil fuels to produce enough calories for an average American diet. With so many people in America eating meat and animal products, there’s an undeniable toll on our planet. The average American eats roughly 8 ounces of beef every day which equates to over 100 pounds per year or 2 tons per lifetime!
On top of that, Americans also consume 6 trillion gallons of water each year while producing 1 billion tons of sewage waste annually. If we collectively cut our meat consumption we could dramatically increase the scale of production and subsequently reduce our impact on the earth’s natural resources.
2. Use energy-efficient appliances
The world is evolving, and with this evolution comes new inventions that are not only more efficient than the old ones they replace, but also they’re better for our planet. Take appliances for example; refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers, and dryers have all become so much more energy-efficient in recent years.
The refrigerator has seen a drastic reduction in its energy consumption by 75% since 1970 while dishwasher energy use has dropped by 50%. Clothes washer use has gone down by 45% while clothes dryer use went down by 34%. All of these changes have made appliance life easier in the environment. It is estimated that the use of energy-efficient appliances can reduce the carbon footprint by up to 30% overall.
3. Reorienting how we consume
There are many ways to support environmental sustainability through purchases. One way is by shopping at eco-friendly retailers who, for example, sell products made with recycled materials or organic cotton.
Another method involves growing food locally, this can benefit the environment by reducing the energy required to transport food from farm to table, and it gives people access to fresh, healthy produce. Urban farming has been a part of cities for thousands of years, but only recently have city planners, architects, and designers turned their attention towards sustainable urban agriculture.
The traditional backyard garden is being rethought and redesigned to take advantage of unused spaces in the city. Community gardens sprout up on abandoned lots and rooftops while farmers’ markets give the public a place to sell their homegrown produce and meet local farmers and producers. Some companies, such as Hamama, even offer plant and herb kits that consumers can grow at home; the kits are adapted for horticulture beginners. Hamama specifically focuses on micro-greens such as cilantro, sweet wheatgrass, and cabbage but there are other companies that sell large plant kits for tomatoes or carrots.
Composting can also play a big role in reducing your carbon footprint. You can plant new plants in soil using your compost as opposed to having to buy a pack of soil or fertilizer from a hardware store, which also comes in plastic packaging. Additionally, it will reduce the number of scraps being tossed into landfills, which are associated with releasing harmful quantities of methane into the atmosphere.
4. Use EcoCart for Chrome
What many people don’t know is that all the time we spend browsing the internet and shopping online we generate tons (literally, tons) of carbon emissions.
EcoCart is a free Chrome extension that offsets the emissions created from online shopping at thousands of retailers, right from your computer! EcoCart does this by working with online retailers to reduce the impact of shipping which is a very carbon-intensive process. Each package that travels to your front door has a unique carbon footprint, and EcoCart helps offset, or negate, that footprint for you.
When you activate EcoCart on one of our partner stores and checkout, EcoCart automatically funds certified carbon offset projects, like planting trees or building wind farms. Each project works to reduce existing carbon in the atmosphere, or prevent future carbon emissions. That means customers can get the same products they love at the same cost, but without a hefty carbon footprint.
Install EcoCart in just a few clicks and start shopping more sustainably.