How to reduce your carbon footprint?

The adage of “Rome wasn’t built in a day” is pertinent now more than ever. Change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to change things. But climate change is real and happening at an accelerated pace. If steps are not taken to rectify and reverse the damage to the environment, the survival of our human race may be under threat. 

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What is a carbon footprint?


A carbon footprint is the total amount of toxic greenhouse gases, directly or indirectly released into the atmosphere to sustain our lifestyle. It is usually measured over a period of one year in terms of equivalent tons of carbon dioxide released. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines carbon footprint in the following words, “a carbon footprint is a measure of the impact your activities have on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced through the burning of fossil fuels and is expressed as a weight of CO2 emissions produced in tonnes.”

The highest carbon footprint is produced by the United States of America with the production of 16 tons of CO2 per person on average. Internationally, the production is approximately 4 tons per person. In order to keep the global temperatures from rising above 2℃, the average release should be under 2 tons per person by 2050.


5 R’s: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot, Recycle


It will take more than a few rallies and conferences to combat climate change. It will take a lifestyle change on every level. The general rule of thumb is to adopt the 5 R’s rule to aid in the fight against climate change. The 5 R’s are Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot and Recycle

    • Refuse: Avoid the use of non-biodegradable material like plastics that are difficult to decompose and pose a threat to the land, water and air. 
    • Reduce: Reduce your consumption in order to be more mindful of the way your spending pattern impacts your surroundings. 
    • Reuse: Reuse what you have in order to get the wear out of existing items in your wardrobe. 
  • Rot: Composting is a great way to manage waste from the kitchen in order to use it as a fertiliser for the garden. 
  • Recycle: Materials which cannot be decomposed should be recycled in meaningful ways to diminish their impact on the environment. 


Switch to Renewable Energy 


After the glorious revolution and industrial revolution, the landscape of the world has been transformed forever. Long gone are the days when people used to produce handmade products that were unique and rare to find. With division of labour and mass production, non-renewable sources of energy are used to sustain the demand. While these products have been made available for a larger population, it comes at a cost – environmental cost. The use of fossil fuels produces greenhouse gases which are rapidly depleting the ozone layer, raising global temperatures resulting in global warming which is a recipe for disaster. By switching to greener sources of energy like solar or wind energy, the harmful effects can be negated while still being able to reap the benefits of renewable energy. 


Conserve Water


We are able to perform our daily takes because of energy consumption. Energy is produced using water when water is moved upwards, usually up a hill, and then treated to produce electricity. Energy is required in this process. In most energy production procedures, carbon dioxide (CO2) is released into the air which contributes to global warming. Therefore, water use is one of the contributing factors to carbon footprint which is often overlooked. The environmental impact can be diminished by focusing on water conservation and its reuse. This will help protect the freshwater sources. 


Be Conscious of Your Shopping Pattern 


Clothing articles are predominantly made from cotton. It requires 7,000-29,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of cotton. Fast fashion pushes the demand for production of cotton to keep up with rising fashion demand. This stresses the already stressed water resources. The processing of textiles consumes water but it is also one of the major contributing factors of water pollution. Untreated water containing harmful substances are released into water bodies which not only contaminate surface water, it also pollutes groundwater sources of water. In some cases, algae is developed which further contributes negatively to the carbon footprint. According to UN Environment 2019, 8% of the global carbon emissions are caused because of the fashion industry. Therefore, it is incumbent to practice conscious consumerism in a move towards sustainable lifestyle. 


Minimise Driving, Encourage Walking 


Reports suggest that one-fifth of global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are produced due to transportation. If we only consider carbon dioxide emissions, then the percentage is 24% of total carbon emissions. That is a considerable amount considering the world is facing the grave challenge of global warming at an alarming rate. The stakes are high and every little effort counts. One way to do that is to minimise transportation to reduce our carbon footprint as they emit harmful gases when energy is consumed. An easy alternative is to prefer walking for shorter distances or adopting cycling as part of the lifestyle to play our part for the greater good. 

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