Not all of us can afford to drive a hybrid car or install solar panels in our homes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reduce your carbon footprint. Actually, there are a lot of ways to go green on the cheap; here are just five of them that you can practice on a daily basis:
1. Buy Local and Organic
It’s estimated that the average American meal travels 1,500 miles to get from farm to plate. That means the average American travels the equivalent of 4,500 miles a day just by eating. Not to mention, the pesticides used on crops account for 3 percent of the 100-year Global Warming Potential.
As you can probably imagine, transporting food over such long distances is a huge fossil fuel suck, emitting tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In combination with the harmful effects of pesticides, simply eating can be hugely damaging to the environment. But, buying local and organic is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Food you buy at the farmer’s market travels significantly less distance, and is usually organic.
2. Bike to Work
The average 10 mile round-trip commute 5 days a week for a year uses 124 gallons of gas and emits 1.3 tons of CO2, if you’re driving a midsize car.
Over a lifetime, that gas and CO2 emission can really add up. One of the best ways to cut down on your CO2 emissions, and your gas bill, is to bike to work. Obviously not everyone has the option of biking to work, but if you’re considering it, this interactive infographic from BikeGuard might help you decide.
Biking is not only good for the environment, but it’s obviously great for your health, too.
3. Ditch the Bottled Water
Yes, you should definitely be drinking water, but you shouldn’t let your hydration habit kill the planet. Bottled water is a double negative: the plastic used to make the bottles is made from petroleum, and most bottles end up in the trash instead of recycling.
A more environmentally and wallet-friendly solution is to buy a water filtration pitcher or a reusable filtered water bottle. This ensures that you can guzzle all the filtered water you need in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way.
4. The Three Rs: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
This tip almost goes without saying. Almost. Western countries are known for excessive and wasteful consumption; Americans alone create 4.4 pounds of waste each per day. You can change this by actively reducing how much you use; be conscious of what you buy and use, don’t use products with excessive packaging or other wasted materials.
Take time to reuse whatever you can, like plastic bags, paper bags, and water. Whatever you can’t reuse, make sure you either compost or recycle.
5. Unplug When Not in Use
Powered down electronics and appliances still use energy when they’re plugged in, known as vampire or standby energy, and can not only drain your wallet, but also waste fossil fuel generated energy. Appliances and electronics such as your TV, home computer, printer, coffeemaker, cell phone charger, and internet all use energy even when they’re turned off. The only way to avoid this is to unplug your appliances and electronics when you’re not using them. Is this a pain? Yes, but it’s definitely less painful than long-term CO2 emission. Oh, and don’t forget to recycle your electronics when you’re done with them.
Reducing your carbon footprint doesn’t have to be a painful, life-altering decision. There are plenty of little, everyday habits you can change in order to “go green.” If you feel like committing to all five of these steps is too much, try taking them one at a time.