Ways to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint with Manali Debroy

Kyoto Protocol or the Paris Climate change treaty, we humans have always tried to implement well-defined rules to protect nature. One thing that defies this logic is, how as individuals we are failing to do that. It is not the necessity of slamming a protocol or a treaty on the table to make each family member understand that dinner time is eight in the evening and not any time they want. But what makes people understand is the right education towards building a healthy habit of practicing this.

From cataclysmic storms to food shortage caused by the change in weather, there is no doubt that carbon pollution is leaving a toll on nature, including us. Melting icebergs, massive hurricanes, devastating floods, and earth cracking droughts are unmatchable forces. Having said that, let’s not jump right to the worst conclusion. There are still various actions that we can take every day to help in keeping the planet clean and healthy for future generations to come and have a chance to prosper.  

Our carbon footprint is the number and the amount of greenhouse gases that we produce throughout our lifetime. This includes gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, fluorinated gases, and others. There is a website that helps us to calculate our carbon footprint. That way we can check how can we minimize carbon footprints from our side. Check out carbonfootprint.com for more. Here are 10 ways below that we can start practicing helping reduce our carbon footprints. 

Start from our home!

The energy audit of our house will show us how much we use or waste energy. This was we can plan our home’s energy usage better. Some of the basic ones that we can practice are – switch off the lights when we are not at home (or room/bathroom), unplug electronic devices when not in use, use less air conditioning during summer and instead use fans – each step counts. Signing up for clean energy is a very good alternative we all should consider. 

The good old advice! – Be a vegetarian! 

No better times than now to consider the option. Eating low on the food chain has many proven benefits on health and spirits but let’s focus on our topic of concern for now. Switching to green vegetables, fruits, and nuts makes a better option than ravaging on meat because they constitute c.14.5% of manmade global greenhouse gas (feed production and processing). Every day that we forgo meat and dairy, we can reduce your carbon footprints by almost 8 pounds.

Tip: Start by the traditional Indian family regimes – Vegetarian Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

Go organic!

Let’s start buying locally sourced, organic, plant-based, unprocessed foods from local farmers or health food stores, etc. Minimizing food waste by planning our meals ahead of time and freezing the excess and reusing leftovers is a start. We should compost our food waste as much as possible.  

Redefine shopping – vintage and recycled

Yes, you heard me right! All the ladies out there (including me, of course), let’s try to buy less clothing. Keeping aside the fact that we use shopping as our ‘getting over something or someone’ therapy, let’s try to be honest and ask ourselves, ‘do we need these clothes, really?’ I am sure COVID has put senses in us already that tons of shopping for clothes and makeup are anyways pointless. Even if we want to indulge, let’s go for recycled items. 

And when you go electronic shopping, look for energy star products for appliances. As for a laptop or desktop, a laptop is always a better choice. Yes, it is more convenient, also that it requires less energy to charge than desktops. 

Let’s drive less!

Walk, take public transportation, carpool, rideshare, or bike to your destination whenever possible, and if I may say – most of the time! Make this a habit because this not only reduces CO2 emissions, it will make our life easier to reach wherever we want to. Simple, reduced traffic congestions! 

Filter your own water!

By buying packaged water we are doing the planet a major disservice. Beyond the environmental toll of the plastic waste, let’s just consider how far the water was transported before we bought it in the supermarket. People living in western countries and developed nations can generally rely on tap water. For people in India and other developing nations, we can start using a manual water filter. 

Change lightbulbs at home or office

Lightbulbs? Do we think they exist? Oh yeah, they do, but we hardly think about them until we have to change them. An easy fix we can make that will help the planet every day is to switch all of the lights in our house to compact fluorescent bulb (or LED bulbs). One bulb can reduce up to 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide. Imagine all the households and offices replace their energy-consuming tube lights etc. with these bulbs! 

Adjust the curtains and thermostats

Keeping our house two degrees warmer in the summer and two degrees cooler in the winter can save us big bucks in terms of energy bills. Similarly, turning off thermostats while we are not at home can save us up to 15-20% on the energy bills. 

Did you also know we can use simple tactics of keeping our curtains open during the days in winter to seep in the sunlight and close them while in the evening to keep in the warmth? Yes, we know but hardly keep in mind. Let’s keep in mind going forward. We owe more to our mother earth than this, but every step is important. 

Plant a tree

The best way to give back to our plant is to make it greener and planting trees is right at the top. This is the most efficient and ideal way to start cutting our carbon footprints. Trees provide shade and oxygen while consuming carbon dioxide themselves. Let’s rewind our childhood botany (science) lessons. 

Print or digital – be mindful!

A lot of debate has been doing the rounds on what reduces carbon footprints – print or digital media. Newspapers do cause roughly their weight in carbon emissions, but let’s be honest both have pros and cons. The best is to be mindful of our actions and how we choose to imbibe news. 

If we subscribe to a print paper, let’s be sure to recycle the paper every day. If we prefer online news, then let’s choose an unplugged laptop or e-reader, rather than a plugged-in device for the majority of our browsing time.