5 EASY WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT
MARCH 17, 2021
What does reducing one’s carbon footprint really mean? Your carbon footprint is an accumulation of all the greenhouse gases that living your life puts out. Things as simple as the food you eat to more complex issues like travel all contribute to your carbon footprint. As citizens of the world, I believe it’s important to stop every so often and think about the small things we all do that affect the whole collective and world at large. Sometimes it feels overwhelming, but like I’ve stressed before, small changes have the potential to add up to tremendous positive contributions! There’s a lot of fear surrounding the whole carbon footprint issue, but I advocate for a different approach, one that comes from love instead of fear. For example, taking action from a place of love for your planet, fellow human, and various wildlife species carries a much different energy than doing something based out of fear of what will happen if you don’t. So with love in mind, I offer you these 5 easy ways to reduce your carbon footprint:
1. Start composting! Instead of throwing away uneaten food, food scraps, and even your coffee grounds, compost them and take part in the fascinating cycle of using decomposing organic matter to make new and highly nutritious soil. It’s kind of magical to see all that old food, typically thrown away only to be wasted and release methane in landfills, transform into rich soil with minimal human effort. Amazon, Etsy, and your local hardware store all sell different types of composting bins. I prefer the large plastic (recycled plastic!) made in the USA tumbler bins. They’re excellent at keeping critters out and heat in, which makes for an ideal environment for the food to decompose. Just give them a spin every few days and you’re good to go! To learn more about the science of composting, please search it up on the internet and learn just how easy it can be to reduce landfill waste and create your own soil, which can be used in vegetable gardens, flower gardens, in-home potted plants, or anywhere that soil is needed. Heck, you could donate the soil to your local community garden. Can’t figure out an easy way to compost on your own, but still want to participate? No problem! There are many urban pickup services available. Here is a link (we are not affiliated in any way with this service): https://compostnow.org/compost-services/
2. Shop locally, especially food. Buying locally grown foods is a wonderful way to reduce your carbon footprint and support small local farmers. Buying organic produce ups the ante even more because not only are the toxic chemicals used in many pesticides not great for your body, they’re not great for the environment either. When large areas of land are farmed with pesticides, the pesticides leach into the soil and shed off into the waterways, creating toxic run-off. As we have seen, the more people demand alternatives to commercial farming, the more we have options for sustainably grown organic foods. Farmer’s markets are all over the place in Los Angeles and there’s definitely at least one per day of the week. Locally grown food supports farmers, requires less transport, less gas, and less cooling devices to keep food from spoiling. Getting to know your local farmers gives way to becoming more familiar with the seasons and natural growing conditions for different foods, as well as a higher appreciation for the food we are so fortunate to enjoy.
3. Buy second hand. Thrift store or consignment shopping is another way to reduce your carbon footprint because you’re buying the goods without contributing to the energy output that making those goods require. Did you know that the fashion industry alone is the second largest industry in the world and consumes more water than the entire United States irrigation system? That’s a lot of water saved simply by buying second hand. I personally love thrift store shopping because I love a good deal and always end up finding something really cool and unique. I also love it for my kids because kids grow so darn fast, it’s hard to keep up with their clothing needs. The one deterrent I used to face when wanting to thrift store shop was time--it definitely takes more time to search racks of clothing, not even sure if you’ll find what you need. Well, like so many things, the internet has helped us solve that problem. Websites like https://www.thredup.com/ make the whole thrift-store shopping experience waaaay easier! And buying second-hand is not limited to fashion. Apps like OfferUp and Craigslist make buying vintage or recycled household, garden, and even business items so easy. Your planet and your pocketbook will thank you.
4. Bring your own bags. During Covid, many of us ditched the effort of bringing our own bags to the grocery store because we weren’t allowed to bring them inside. If you’re still not allowed to bring your own bags into the grocery store, may I suggest still taking your own bags along for the trip and doing your own bagging in your car. I use both reusable and disposable bags because I use whatever I have, which always ends up being a mixed bag (sorry, I couldn’t help myself). Again, bringing your own bags doesn’t have to be limited to grocery shopping. I’ve been known to take my own bags to Target, the thrift store, and yes, even the mall!
5. Old reliable--reduce, reuse, recycle. The three R’s were embedded in many of our brains years ago, but I bring them up again because they apply to so many different aspects of our lives. They also cultivate creativity as they pose the question: how can I reduce, reuse, and recycle in different ways? Perhaps reducing energy consumption by turning off lights when you’re not using them. Yes, I will risk sounding like your dad by saying, “turn off the lights in there!” Maybe you switch to more reusable and less disposable products, like silicon snack bags and cloth shopping bags. And possibly you see recycling as more than just collecting aluminum cans and something broader. For example, recycled (or secondhand) clothing, sporting equipment, or toilet paper made from recycled paper. Before throwing something away, ask yourself, is this something I or someone else can reuse? Or can it be recycled into something else (artwork, anyone)?
Suggesting ways to reduce one’s carbon footprint has the potential to come off as preachy and holier-than-thou, but let me assure you that I am on this ride right alongside you, friends. I, nor my family, are perfect by any means and each day is a learning experience. Becoming eco-conscious has been a process for me as I tend to critically question most fads that go mainstream. The more I learn about being eco-friendly, the more I realize that it’s really more about being thoughtful and caring to the world and environment beyond my own space and time. Some of these things we take the trouble to do may not affect us at all, but rather affect the future in a positive way. As a mother, I do care about the future because I am raising people who will likely live there. And I may never see my state submerged in water because of melting ice bergs, but I do care about the polar bears who rely on adequate ice floes to hunt and sustain themselves. Mother Earth is strong and powerful and some forces of nature are beyond anything human, however, it feels good and helpful to pay attention to the way I live within this world. Therefore, I choose to try and live as harmoniously as I can.