The icecaps are melting; the forest fires are multiplying; natural wildlife habitats are slowly becoming extinct; and pollution with greenhouse gas emission mushrooms. The consequence? We are snatching away a valuable component of our legacy- a clean environment.
The solution- either to wait around for government policies for sustainable development or adopt an individualistic approach by being mindful of how your actions affect the environment.
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All your individual steps to prevent climate change can be amalgamated into one and fall under the umbrella of carbon footprint. On an individual level, reducing your carbon footprint is where you should begin.
This article throws some light on the fundamental ways you can use to minimize your carbon footprint to save the climate. Since everything starts by gaining awareness, learning more about carbon footprint is a logical place to begin.
What is the carbon footprint and how it affects climate change?
Carbon footprint is the sum total of carbon (and other equivalent greenhouse gases) emitted (directly or indirectly) by a single human based on the activities he/she undertakes. These activities are varied, and the carbon footprints of each person, organisation and nation are different.
Technically speaking, the carbon footprint is calculated by knowing the amount of carbon dioxide emission by all your activities within a given time frame.
The concept of carbon footprint reasons that climate change results from greenhouse gas discharge which majorly stems from human activities. Therefore, we should make amends to monitor our activities to moderate its production. The first step in this direction is to opt for sustainable development.
But why are carbon dioxide and its equivalents a major concern when it comes to causes of climate change? As shown in the chart below, the carbon dioxide projection- the prime greenhouse gas- is predicted to be on a continuous upshot. This means 5,000 million metric tonnes of CO2 in the air to increase by 2040.
If this is not alarming, then what is? If the rate of carbon dioxide continues to surge at this rate, global climate change will be unmanageable. Therefore, it is necessary to control the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, because an excess of it traps redundant thermal energy, resulting in temperatures rising.
So, controlling the presence of greenhouse gasses is a vital step to prevent climate change.
There are many activities to monitor that stabilize carbon dioxide production. All these activities fall under two broad categories:
The primary footprint includes all those activities that lead to the direct emission of greenhouse gases and its supplement gases by direct combustion of fossil fuel. This includes driving a car, flying in a private or commercial plane, exhaustive use of electronic devices like air conditioners and all your everyday activities that lead to the direct combustion of fossil fuels.
The secondary footprint refers to the indirect emissions of carbon dioxide resulting from activities of human consumption. For instance, the waste and gas emulsion during the production, transport, usage and degradation process of a commodity you purchase will count as a secondary footprint. Therefore, it is suggested by environmental activists to shop mindfully as the commodity production process coughs up greenhouse gases and adds to your carbon footprint.
From the above categorization, it is evident that we need to control both primary and secondary footprints to manage to stop climate change.
Since it is difficult to keep track of all the activities, here are the simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint.
How to Stop Climate Change- Reduce Carbon Footprint
Extracting the gist from that infographic, here is a clear breakdown of the steps in which you can prevent climate change at an individual level:
1. Go Green With Travel
As per the report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, 6,677 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent were released into the air. Out of this, transportation is the biggest source, releasing 28% of the total share. Thus, making smart transportation choices is the best place to begin.
Make your commute green by opting for smart and sustainable ways to travel. This has major implications and comparatively reduces noise pollution as well.
Transportation is a big part of urban life, so being mindful of how you choose to travel is necessary. Carpooling and public transportation are viable options for eco-friendly travel. Then again, electric cars, mopeds, two-wheelers and bicycles are always the best.
2. Look What You Eat
Can food also have an impact on the environment? Well, yes! Whatever you choose to put in your body also has environmental repercussions. Meat and dairy production is another leading cause of greenhouse gas emissions. As per the above-mentioned report, it is suggested that developed countries should reduce their meat consumption to 90 g/person/day. This will dramatically lower the methane and CO2 emission of animals and conserve the energy used in the most resource-intensive product- livestock. If you reduce animal protein in your diet by half, it can reduce your carbon footprint by at least 40%.
There has been a massive boost in meat consumption over the past years. The meat consumption report by ABARES, income, population and ongoing economic growth is responsible for the rising demand and consumption of meat. This demand leads to energy usage in the refrigeration of meat for storage, transportation and preservation.
The solution? Adopt a plant-based diet if you want to prevent climate change. This does not mean that you have to go vegan or become a vegetarian. But it is practical to become flexible with your diet.
You must also pledge to waste less food because 10 per cent of U.S. energy is dedicated to growing, processing, packaging and shipping food. All this energy goes down the drain when you choose to throw away food. Maintain a minimal lifestyle and cook/buy as much as you can consume.
As far as managing food waste is concerned, make it a priority to recycle organic waste. Since decomposing biodegradable waste in landfills releases methane gas accounts for 3% of the European Union’s greenhouse gas emissions, composting is a viable resort.
Eating locally grown, seasonal food is another food habit to develop. This burns up fewer food miles and cuts down the energy consumption used in transportation.
3. Monitor Your Water Wastage
The earth is furnished with a limited water supply; it does not replenish itself. The same amount of water goes through the water cycle over and over. Thus wasting water is not only water pollution but exploitation of a natural resource. Consequently, the more water is wasted, the more energy it takes to clean it up. Moreover, the popular ways water is wasted include excessive use of tumble dryers, heating and treating water. Apart from this, leaving the tap open, taking long shower baths, frequent boiling and regularly buying bottled water are some activities that add to energy consumption, building up your carbon footprint.
4. Go Big With Waste Management
The increase in the waste we produce has become a weighty issue. It covers large areas of land and adds to land pollution. As it lies there in the landfills under the open sky, it oozes a pungent smell and produces methane and carbon dioxide (dominant greenhouse gases). Most of it also mixes with surface and groundwater, resulting in water contamination.
Thus, the terrible implications of poor waste management can be controlled when we know how to tackle waste at an individual level.
Three words- reduce, reuse and recycle.
Manage your consumption to reduce waste. Also, make smart choices for storage. Avoid plastic bags and containers. Use disposable resources like paper bags, pouches, utensils, straws, and cardboard cartons. For daily use, go for Tupperware made from reusable materials. Always remember that every plastic commodity you use will take more than 500 years on average to decompose.
Reuse and recycle is only a smart way to utilize items that you would otherwise throw away. This means finding alternate everyday use cases. Here, the exploitation of paper is a big example. The paper receipts for billing can be totally avoided by going digital or using tissues can be moderated and reusing materials for diverse purposes is how you reuse them.
5. Educate Yourself and Others
The final way to spread environmental awareness is to speak about it. Be more vocal and educate others. Use literature and other credible sources to demonstrate and support your cause. Today, there are many social media platforms and online forums where you can educate others about environmental change and the underlying causes.
Show people all they can do at the individual/organizational level to preserve and protect our planet.
6. Be Smart With Energy Use
The biggest cause of carbon footprint is exhausting fossil fuels to produce energy. The most prominent reason why fossils are burnt is to fulfil human demands. Less wastage of energy means less exhaustion of resources and more in-stock for the future. Consequently, you also save up. So, conserve energy by using 100% green power and switching to renewable sources like geothermal energy, solar energy, hydro energy, tidal energy, biomass energy, and wind energy.
Now, the next time you have a thought that says 'I'm just one individual. My efforts will be insignificant.', this is the bookmark you need to revisit; because it is the little drops of water that fill the ocean.
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