On the heels of our country’s not-so-graceful exit from The Paris Agreement, I’ve been wanting to do something… anything… to make a difference, even if it’s a tiny one. Being that I’m just one person, I know that I probably can’t affect policy or convince a major corporation to take appropriate action, but I can do my part on a daily basis, and encourage you to do the same!
There are countless things that we can all do to reduce our carbon footprint, but I’m specifically committing to the five below. It’s not about making huge lifestyle changes, just taking the time to be thoughtful about how you go about your day. They’re all easy and totally doable for pretty much anyone. Pick one or commit to all five with me!
1. Be diligent about recycling. I’m kind of a psycho about recycling and always have been. We make sure to wash used jars before putting them in the recycling bin, and I always check before throwing things away, if I can recycle them or not. Being a stickler about recycling only takes a few minutes a day, but it really adds up. Think about how much trash you produce in a week, then multiply that by 52 to consider how much in a year. Anything you can do to cut that down helps.
A reader recently introduced me to TerraCycle, a great website that helps you recycle products that aren’t traditionally recyclable. They partner with individuals and companies to make a difference. I just signed up, and am looking forward to seeing what I can do with them.
2. Skip the plastic bags. Keep reusable shopping bags in your car, so you never forget to bring them to the grocery store. My rule of thumb is to put them straight back in after emptying them so I have no excuse. I also always keep a foldable bag in my purse or tote for unexpected trips to CVS or Whole Foods. BAGGU bags are my favorite because they fold up into a tiny case and aren’t bad to look at either!
I try to reuse produce bags as well. If they’ve only held apples once or twice, they’re probably good for a few more runs. I stick them in my shopping bags after emptying so they always stay together.
3. Drink with a reusable water bottle. I bring my S’Well bottle everywhere I go. Not only does it keep my water cold all day long (literally for 24 hours), but it prevents me from buying bottled water on the regular. Granted, I’m human and sometimes forget and need water, but I try to never leave my house without it.
I recently read that Americans buy more bottled water than any other country in the entire world… 29 billion (yes, billion) bottles a year. In order to make all these bottles, manufacturers use 17 million barrels of crude oil. That’s enough oil to keep a million cars going for twelve months (source). That is just crazy!
4. Eat locally and organically. Now that it’s summer, it’s a lot easier to buy organic meat, eggs, and produce from farmer’s markets. It supports your local farmers and cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions. According to the EPA, 13% of US greenhouse gas emissions result from the production and transport of food. (PS their site is down on Trump’s orders so I can’t link to this fact there right now.)
My goal is to visit my local farmer’s market weekly this summer, and buy as much as I can there (with my reusable bags, of course!) to do my part.
5. Cut down on beef and dairy. This one might not be as obvious but it takes a huge amount of resources to raise cows (which obviously produce both beef and dairy). Research led by scientists at Oxford found that simply cutting down on meat consumption (not even eliminating it completely) would make a huge dent in greenhouse gasses. They state that “adhering to health guidelines on meat consumption could cut global food-related emissions by nearly a third by 2050 (source).
Luckily I don’t eat a ton of beef anyway just because of preference, but when I do buy it for burgers or steaks on the grill this summer, I’ll at least try to buy it locally! If you happen to live in Fairfield County, Mike’s Organic has an amazing selection of local organic meats and produce.
I’m curious! What are your tips for cutting down on your carbon footprint?