How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
Advocacy The little things add up. Every person can take small steps to reduce their carbon footprint, which has a major impact on global warming.
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The little things add up. Every person can take small steps to reduce their carbon footprint, which has a major impact on global warming.
In order to reduce the carbon footprint of your home and life, it is important to understand the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The United States’ domestic greenhouse gas emissions, in 2012, were from the following sectors:
32 percent electricity
28 percent transportation
20 percent industry
10 percent commercial and residential
10 percent agriculture
To take direct action in reducing one’s own carbon footprint, the most important areas to focus on are your electricity consumption and your transportation habits, which total approximately 60 percent of all the greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. Reducing our electricity consumption and transportation not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but ultimately saves each of us money.
With respect to electricity consumption, it is first important to find ways to be more energy efficient and use less. For example, one can do a better job of turning off lights around the home or office. Make an effort to install more energy efficient light bulbs. Upon replacing old appliances, select new Energy Star appliance or simply upgrade your homes’ windows and insulation.
"Reducing our electricity consumption and transportation not only reduces greenhouse gas emissions, but ultimately saves each of us money."
Always opt for the support of renewable energy sources, which do not generate greenhouse gas emissions. Your utility company might provide the option to support green electricity for a small premium. If not, you could also purchase Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which are the environmental attributes, associated with renewable energy produced.
The transportation sector, which is the U.S.’s second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, includes all of our cars, trucks, busses, boats and planes. Similar to our electricity consumption, it is first important to find ways to use less transportation, which is reliant on fossil fuel combustion. For example, one can walk more often or decide to ride a bike. Maybe families can consider taking fewer trips. Carpool with colleagues or work a telecommuting schedule. Even purchasing more local products require less shipping and therefore are better for the environment.
When we do commute, we can opt for more efficient routes and use more efficient forms of transportation such as commuter rails.
In addition to electricity consumption and transportation habits, it is also important to understand the sources of global greenhouse gas emissions are slightly different than in the U.S. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), global greenhouse gas emissions are from the following sectors:
26 percent energy supply
19 percent industry
17 percent land-use and forestry
14 percent agriculture
13 percent transport
8 percent residential and commercial buildings
3 percent waste and wastewater
The land-use, forestry and agriculture sectors account for approximately 31 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, it is important for U.S. consumers to support more globally sustainable forms of forestry and agriculture. This includes, but is not limited to, using less paper, supporting sustainably certified products, and purchasing organic products which do not use petro-based additives such as fertilizers and pesticides. Ultimately, being a smart consumer and learning where your favorite products are coming from and what the companies are doing to reduce greenhouse gasses emissions is paramount.